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Kinmii

Non-Gamer Appeal

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You can get mnovie goers interested in your game by adding good grpahics and niec cinematics. You can get writers interested through intriquing, well writen storyline. You can get all gamers interested by publishing a game. Guys will always be interested in games, jocks, goths, punks, preps, etc. The real question is, how do you get the attention of the 13-19 year old female who has no interest in computers or games at all? How do you make a game that appeals to them, draws them in, and keeps them playing?

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Kinmii

I believe there was an extensive discussion on this some time back. The results were inconclusive.

I am not of the female persuasion and make no claims to understanding people who are. I''d say the challenge is not in getting girls per se to play games, but in getting any non-gamer to play games. Many people view their computer as a tool at best and a terrifying enigma at worst, and it''s hard to convince them that computer games are worth the time and trouble. Furthermore, current games are designed for "gamers" and expect their players to have skills honed on earlier games; try learning mouse-and-key control for FPSes from a background of nothing but Word, all while rude teenagers are mocking your lack of "sk177z," whatever that means.

It''s very hard to try to make a game for people who don''t play games. There have been some successes: the Sims was popular with a wide variety of people, and games like Tetris or Solitaire with a very quick learning curve are usually received well. But any game that requires significant investment of time and effort to play is probably not going to be a good "first game" for anyone, girl or no.

I hope to see some real discussion of this matter; the last time this topic was brought up it attracted far too many chauvinists.

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You can''t have "civilization" without "civil".

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The Sims was a good example of a game with unusually wide appeal, and the various other sim type games (Sim City, etc) have also been quite successful at drawing in people who would not normally play games. I think also that the Creaures series had potential, but didn''t quite live up to it.
It seems to me that the common element of these games is the concept of creating and nurturing something, making something that is truly unique which genuinely belongs to the player. Just look at the success (however brief it may have been) of the virtual pet devices. Maybe this is a factor that we, as game designers, should consider. Even if it doesn''t bring in the non-traditional gamer, it makes for an interesting player experience and encourages the formation of online fan communities.

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Totally agree with SplittingTrashcan about the skill-base.

I think another important thing to note here is that many "non-gamers" develop a mentality that computer games are anti-social, unhealthy and time-wasting, for some reason more so than watching TV or a movie.

My sister, who is two years my senior, is a perfect example of the way most (MOST) girls I''ve met see computer games.

She likes Solitaire, Tetris, Joy Joy Kid, any short puzzle game. There have only been two exceptions. After watching me play, she got hooked on the Simcity-like Pharaoh, and on a brilliant adventure game which succeeded in incorporating full motion video well, Gabriel Knight 2. I''m guessing she liked GK2 for the same reason many women like mystery novels. Plus the guy in it was kind of cute. As for Pharaoh, I guess it''s a similar attraction to the Sims.

2 things I take from this.

1. She needs to be introduced to something by seeing someone else playing it.
2. All the above-mentioned games have something in common: No competition. Apart from beating a high score in Minesweeper, there''s no competing against other players.

On consoles it''s a slightly different story. I think she played her boyfriend on his Playstation quite a bit.

Trevize

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"there is no significant risk to your health
she used to be beautiful once as well" - radiohead

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I meant to include all non gamers and not just females I appolagize for that.

The reason your sister plays her boyfriend on the playstation is simple. Think about how much non-gamers play consoles on their own. None. They are non gamers and must be encouraged to play. PLaying it with her boyfriend is conceding to do somethign she''s not interested in so she can spend time with him and he be pleased they are doign somehting he really likes at the same time. It has nothign to do with the console.
I also do not agree that seeing a game being played makes a non-gamer want to play it. Many girls have boyfriends ho play a lot of games let''s have Diablo as an example, and never gain interest in it, perhaps because Diablo IS, admiteddly, incredibly boring to watch someone play. Maybe this is a bad example because of it''s dark and heavily violent nature, you can take a sport gaem as an example, but that may be because of it''s sport nature. There are always fans of something in particular who will play games that are based on that, like sports.
SO again the original question comes to hand, how do you make aa game that appeals to non-gamers. Let''s set up what we''ve gathered so far;

1. Quick Learning Curve: Easy to control and simple to use.
2. Somethign That Is Their Own: Giving the player a feeling of true accomplishment to actually be able to see not only the effects of what they have created or caused, but see that thing istelf and to watch to grow and change according to their decisions.

Let''s run these two things down. RPGs have quite a bit of number two in them allowing you to heavily influence outcome and to costumize your own characters, btu it is not as tangible as for example building a city. RPGs also have NONE of number one and are complex and difficlut to learn and master.
Puzzle games which must be defined into three categories as Mystesque, 3d puzzle, and thought, puzzle games. All of these are quality games, btu none consist of both of these areas.
Sports games lack from both qualities, but also have a bit of both.

Are we looking for a game that has a high quantity of JUST these two qualities?

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I''d like to comment on the "general appeal" that gets the attention of infrequent gamers by relating it to one of the most complex genres; Computer Role-Playing Games.

I''ve only played them for the past five years, despite being a computer gamer for at least 18. The reason why I hadn''t touched one before is that I found them far too complex, especially with all of the statistics up front during chracter creation. What reason did I have to ever get into CRPGs? Just a little one called Final Fantasy 7.

On many occasions the FF series has been called a kiddie''s RPG due to it''s simplification of the interface and game mechanic. But that''s one of the major reasons that makes millions of Japanese buy it within the first week of a release (the other two major reasons being the story and the eye-candy.) Though I haven''t touched one since the Eigth installment, I found the gameplay enganging enough to go back and play both the Fourth and Sixth installments.

In reality the statistics were still there, just hidden from plain view and with pre-determined distributions for each of the party''s characters. The games are nearly as complex, if not more complex (due to the magic systems), than a typical CRPG. They just don''t drown the player with the details, thus making it "easier to get into" for those who don''t play computer / video games much.

I, personally, have moved on to more "traditional" RPG fare; mainly the Diablo series, with it''s very obvious character statistics, but also a few other titles closer to the defacto D&D rules (2nd and 3rd.) Most infrequent gamers will not move past simplified RPGs, because of the ease the interface presents.

The whole point of the meandering babble? It''s not how complex your game is, but how complex it appears to the player.

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quote:
Original post by SonicSilcion
I, personally, have moved on to more "traditional" RPG fare; mainly the Diablo series, with it''s very obvious character statistics, but also a few other titles closer to the defacto D&D rules (2nd and 3rd.) Most infrequent gamers will not move past simplified RPGs, because of the ease the interface presents.

The whole point of the meandering babble? It''s not how complex your game is, but how complex it appears to the player.

But Final Fantasy 6 seems to have far more stats than Diablo, as I remember it. FF6 has about 6 or 7 attribute stats (few of which meant anything to me ), several status stats, all your scores for your magic spells, and so on. And all of this for 4 characters at a time. (Even more, when you consider that you might want to evaluate all your party to decide who to take with you.)



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Kylotan,

It''s true that the FF series is not as simple as it could be. But I agree with SonicSilcion''s main point: CRPGs are a lot easier to get into when you work with predetermined characters and less obvious stats. FF7 is pretty simple as RPGs go; although Materia linking is a fairly complex system, combat is self-explanatory and the menu system, once you get used to paging through it, is fairly self-explanatory and informative. As for the particular stats, you don''t have to worry about them... your characters automatically choose where to put "points" when they advance in level, and they always get better at something, so why be concerned? The only stats that really matter are ATK, DEF, MAG, and MDEF: the whacking stats.

The ultimate extrapolation of this is the adventure game: your character has no visible stats at all. I think that simple adventure games would make great introductory games, especially some of the LucasArts ones. First of all, there''s no way to "lose". If you don''t do something right, you can just try again until you figure it out. Second, the controls are generally intuitive (in the better ones): Move, Look at, and Use are pretty self-explanatory, and inventory is generally represented by a tab of icons, just like non-gamers are already used to using on their desktops. Perhaps most importantly, they generally are of very high quality, with amusing plots, interesting characters, and well-written dialogue - they make you want to play, just to see what people will say and do next.

Of course adventure games aren''t for everyone, but I thought they might be worth bringing up.

---------------------------------------------------
-SpittingTrashcan

You can''t have "civilization" without "civil".

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quote:
Original post by Kinmii
The real question is, how do you get the attention of the 13-19 year old female who has no interest in computers or games at all? How do you make a game that appeals to them, draws them in, and keeps them playing?



The real question would be why you''d want to do this. (I don''t mean this to be sarcastic, I mean to address your goal.)

If you''re looking to get them into games to educate them about computers, for instance, then that''s one thing.

But if you''re looking to make gamers out of them, then I think you''d need an entirely different approach.

Assuming the latter, you''d probably have to take the route that Hasbro took with a much younger female audience, namely pull in content that they''re already interested in. In the case of younger girls, Hasbro scored massive hits with its Barbie games. Maybe for girls of the 12-14 set, you could use Britney Spears (pardon my ignorance if this is totally off base, but hopefully you see what I mean.)

Older females who didn''t grow up with computers will (like older males) be harder to get involved. The real question becomes what non-computer games are they interested in, and in what settings. My guess would be games which are rich in subtle socialization, multiplayer, and have a high degree of human interaction. You Don''t Know Jack might be a good model, because everyone can crowd around the computer and there''s potentially a tactile aspect.

I think that if you''re trying to reach all non-gamers, or even a particular gender, you''re going to run afoul of the kind of problems faced by mass media creators, namely that of the least common denominator. I think that it''d be easier to specialize, and create games that tie in with specific established interests (a Parappa the Rappa music creation game for music buffs that ties to a popular artist, for instance; a detailed undersea exploration game for animal lovers; etc.)


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