At SIGGRAPH91, graphics researcher and digital artist Loren Carpenter stood near the front of an 5000 seat auditorium in a Las Vegas hotel. In the seats in front of him, the attendees held cardboard paddles, one side of which was red, the other green. Behind him was a giant screen covered in blinking and shifting red and green dots. After a few moments, the audience figured out what Loren already knew. A camera was trained on the auditorium and was feeding images into a computer that then displayed the color and polishing of every paddle in the room. The audience cheered and began to wave back and forth in unison.
The screen changed to classic video game Pong. The only difference was that instead of all white paddles, the paddles were two-toned, with a green upper half, and a red lower half. Loren took the stage and addressed the crowd. “Okay guys. Folks on the left side of the auditorium control the left paddle. Folks on the right side control the right paddle. If you think you are on the left, then you really are. Okay? Go!”
The ball began to move across the screen and the paddles twitched to life. The paddles move to a height calculated from the relative number of red and green paddles. If everyone shows the same color, then the paddle will move to either the extreme top or the extreme bottom. However, if some show the opposite color, then paddle will stop somewhere in the middle. Surprisingly quickly, the crowd began to play effectively, even when the speed of the ball increased.
Every so often, Nintendo gives modern gamers a famicom, Super Mario Bros, and the original instruction booklet, and let them go at it. This year 90% failed to finish world 1-1.
We watched the replay videos of how the gamers performed and saw that many did not understand simple concepts like bottomless pits. Around 70 percent died to the first Goomba. Another 50 percent died twice. Many thought the coins were enemies and tried to avoid them. Also, most of them did not use the run button. There were many other depressing things we noted but I can not remember them at the moment.
I know it’s depressing, but playing SMB on the emulator just now, I sucked just as hard. I have also never beat it. What type of king sends a couple of plumbers to rescue his daughter instead of sending in the Royal Marines? Maybe one that’s in with goombas?
I understand why the gamers skipped over the instruction manual. Modern “manuals” are worthless. They’re pretty much two pages of disclaimers and an incomplete picture of a controller. Mandatory tutorials are much better. I also shed no tears for having to draw your own maps. However, complaining about lack of weapons, and bottomless pits are just stupid. We live In a world where video games are full of dubious “achievements”, purchasable overpowered power-ups, and games where you autoheal. It’s kind of depressing.
UPDATE: Wed Jul 10 04:39:19 CDT 2013
Play me off, Keyboard Cat.
On advice of a coworker, I downloaded “Koi Pond” to my iPhone. Gloria said that it was popular with her three year old daughter.
The “game” is just what it says &endash; it’s a koi pond. There is what’re that you can interact with (the main attraction for her daughter and Maximilian), fish to watch swim about, lily pads to place. You can spend real money to buy more fish and ponds, but there really isn’t a point to do that. There are no goals. No achievements. Just you and the pond.
Contrast this with “Koi Pond 2” where I can’t open it without facing a pond full of dead fish because I haven’t logged in and cleaned a fish filter. All the advantages of having a koi pond: watching the fish, the sense of calm, are gone and replaced with the grind of maintaining a pond, and all the guilt and the daily grind of a tamagotchi. All the traps / trappings of contemporary casual gaming are there: daily play rewards, a store that takes real money, unlockables. Far from feeling rejuvenated, I feel like my soul has been sucked dry every time I open it.
Kotaku’s sexy videogame costume contest is complete, and the winner is “sexy companion cube.”
I think the outfit seems a bit too boxy. If this was a real costume, it would probably feature a grey bikini top with pink hearts over the nipples for adults, and a grey princess dress with foil pink hearts vomited all over it with a pink tiara for girls. Goddamn I hate Halloween costumes.
I play more than my share of flash games, most of which are only okay. Occasionally, there’ll be one that’s actually original, rarer yet, one that’s clever. Last year, John Cooney (JMBT02 Studios) released Achievement Unlocked, a commentary on the trend of creating dubious “achievements” in games. (Hell, even /. got into the act.) Which, judging by the comments on Kongregate, sadly, I believe flew over the heads of the majority of the players.
Now Raitendo has released You Only Live Once. A game that lives, up to it’s title, and unsurprisingly, has pissed off the majority of the Kongregation.