Most Users probably already have this knowledge and won’t get much out of a transmission like this, but if you have ever wanted to introduce family or friends to video games or you’re actually a newcomer this is the transmission for you. Even if you just want a working knowledge for buying video games for someone else, this information will enable you to make the right choice, and help you cut through the strong views that buzz around the game industry. Buying a video game with little knowledge is not only bad for gift giving, but can be bad for a hobby and the industry as well!
A single bad purchase won’t kill the game indsutry, but a series of bad decisions can cause trouble as with anything in life. If enough people aren’t informed in a marketplace and buy a bad product, merchants and producers will then think that providing a sub-par product is all they’ll need to do. If the consumer does not care about the quality of their purchase, then profits can be increased by decreasing quality and thus establishing a new status quo. I think you get the picture.
To prevent that, this transmission will teach you how to make informed choices about whether a game is good or if it will be something you like without spending most of your day researching and playing it.
Developers and Publishers
Video games are made by game developers, and the development team is made up of writers, artists, musicians, programmers and even some manager types who are probably making sure people aren’t being lazy. Development teams can be as little as one person, or as big as hundreds, so it’s a given that some people will do more than one job.
How a game plays, what happens and anything else that’s an important part of the experience is decided by a designer. They communicate their vision of the game to the rest of the team as the game is made. You can think of the game designer as a movie director. The director has to visualize each shot and have the on-set crew capture it. So if someone has a favorite director they know what to expect from their other films. It’s not typically necessary to learn who’s the senior or lead designers are and it can be enough just to learn the name of the game developer since the quality will stay mostly the same.
People need to get paid for all this work though. Just like a movie studio executive holds the purse strings, it’s the game publisher who will fund and then help distribute the finished game. Some publishers are also developers, but a publisher doesn’t normally need to be involved in the development process beyond making sure those “weird creative” types in the development team hit their deadlines. Some developers would love if there was no publisher involvement, but that’s all another transmission for another time.
Once you’re familiar with the quality of games a developer puts out you can simply look on the game box to see which developer made it. Sometimes a game developer will fail to meet their usual standard if perhaps they’ve taken on a licensing deal or they just had very little development time to really work on the product. Licensed games that come out with a motion picture can run into this dilemma since the game’s development cycle gets dictated by the movie’s release as well!
Just like literature, music and film, games have genres. Some characteristics of a game lend better to some genres than others. By understanding genres and what you like you can even better pinpoint what game you may like. If you like story and don’t mind spending the time to get immersed in a whole new world, you might prefer an adventure game. If you would rather get into a game you can play in short spans without overcoming a great learning curve you might like puzzle games. Here is a list of some popular genres with characteristics you can expect from them.
First Person Shooters (FPS) – The player will have a gun and need to shoot their way through bad guys from a camera set in the first person perspective. These games can usually be played in long or short sessions. Modern first person shooters are made to be approachable by players of different skill levels but can take a few hours of practice if you’re new to them. There’s an emphasis on online multiplayer with most first person shooters usually featuring co-operative and competitive modes.
Sports Games – The player takes the role of a person playing a sport. They can be played in long or short sessions depending on the sport in the game. Generally the controls usually aren’t very complicated but can be depending on certain sports. These also can be played online sometimes with co-operative and competitive modes.
Puzzle Games – The player solves puzzles. It can be as simple as just solving a series of puzzles or can involve a complex narrative. Puzzle games are usually played in short sessions, but can last for long sessions if the player is engrossed. Controls and game mechanics likely aren’t hard to grasp; allowing for easy pick up and play. Puzzles games are mostly played in a single player mode but some can be played online in co-operative and competitive modes.
Adventure Games – The player takes the role of an adventurer who will battle foes, explore locations, talk to people, and gather items. These games are best played in long sessions and have objectives that may take a while to complete. Controls are usually not hard to get the hang of but can be difficult with some titles. They don’t usually feature co-operative or competitive online modes.
Platformer – The player takes the role of a character who must run and jump through levels, focusing on getting over obstacles. Typically a good game for beginners but can also be very challenging and suited for experts. It depends mostly on the title. Controls will usually be easy to pick up as the challenge comes in timing the jumps. These games don’t usually have online play but can have single console multiplayer.
Fighting Games – The player controls a character who’s moves are related to fighting; dodging, punching, kicking, blocking, etc. This game can be enjoyed in short or long sessions depending on the skill and desire of the player. A beginner can get some enjoyment out of the game but a more experienced player will get more from the it by investing the time to learn the character moves and how they work. These games can be played in a single player mode, competitively on a single machine and in a competitive online mode.
Role-Playing Games (RPG) – Role-playing can mean a lot of things but classic RPGs have emphasis on text; reading dialog and story, selecting actions from menu. For this reason it can be something a beginner can pick it up but might require an investment in time to get all the details of the combat system. The player takes the role of a character or group of characters that do what an adventure game protagonist might. These can be played in single player mode and sometimes online co-operative and competitive mode.
Simulator Games – These games are usually played in longer sessions. Controls can be as simple as a game of The Sims or as complex as a flight simulator. Learning how to control it is a big part of a game. These games are usually preferred by more experienced or players that are driven by curiosity. They are typically not multiplayer and more a single player experience.
This is a rough estimation of what someone can expect from these genres. By determining the amount of time you have and the level of interest you have in each genre you can figure out what game you’d like and as well as anticipate the quality by determining who made it. As with anything this isn’t fool-proof but it’s the best way to judge if you might like a game short of reading multiple online and print reviews or playing it yourself.
Developing the knowledge and skill that is the hallmark of a game enthusiast is just something that will take time. Everyone’s a beginner and its not uncommon that some people pretend to be more than that without making the effort of becoming informed. Let your interests guide you and go for what you like most. Even if your conclusions are that you don’t really seem to like video games. You will have at least tried and there are always a few trail blazers in the game industry who might make something new that you later find you like.
Get informed and have fun!
Ethership by Michael Talley