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开发者应该摒弃过时的用户观念

发布时间:2013-08-26 16:49:22 Tags:,,,

作者:Leigh Alexander

最近我出席了一个游戏大会的座谈小组,其组织者讨论的是如何吸引更多人参与他们的活动,并降低准入门槛,以便让游戏文化更受欢迎。座谈小组成员谈论了他们参与多样化活动的经历,以及让非玩家对可玩性展览产生兴趣的方法。

大家的谈话引来了观众的反馈,多数观众看法极具建设性。但有位年轻人举手表示他不喜欢易用性理念。他称如果《暗黑之魂》更为友好化,那么他对这款游戏的兴趣就会大打折扣。在他说话的时候,有一群袖手旁观的男人也高喊着支持他的观点。

Soulsville(from edge-online)

Soulsville(from edge-online)

当然,他的观点与座谈小组的谈话并没有太大关联,当时大家讨论的并非如何将困难的游戏做得更简单一点或者冲淡传统电子游戏元素,而是如何同那些很少接触游戏之人分享游戏热情。其他参与者试图将谈话扳回正轨,但他们几乎每个人都强调自己喜欢《暗黑之魂》,但其他人可能会觉得这款游戏的难度太吓人了,好像更受欢迎的游戏会剥夺他们的信誉一样。

我也喜欢《暗黑之魂》。这次谈话让我想起了自己过去所写的呼吁游戏多样化的文章所引来的读者评论。我当时认为:人们将易用性与多样化与整个游戏媒体“档次下降”联系起来了。这究竟是怎么了?

我想起数年前大批传统游戏开发者和富有经验的工作室元老纷纷转战移动和社交游戏领域(最初始于Facebook平台)的现象。这些开发者已经步入了一个由于婚姻和家庭等因素而不再适合长期加班工作的人生阶段。除此之外,他们也自己也不再享有玩40多小时的游戏这种奢侈生活。

Facebook游戏市场的膨胀预示着开发者社区一个令人不安的认同危机的到来,其过程伴随着Zynga的崛起。为何要花费数年的技能、经验和信念进行游戏设计,并设计通过迫使玩家经历障碍和夹点来盈利的产品?这不只是因为行业对社交游戏盈利机制的道德焦虑,这类游戏频频请求他人赠予物品等设计也着实令人不满。

即使EA等传统公司进入了由Zynga主导的生态圈,Facebook游戏泡沫的破裂也清楚地验证了人们早期对这类游戏设计完整性和可行性的担忧。但Facebook游戏开发者仍在寻找他们无聊工作中的道德中心,他们当中有人不时跳出来宣称:我们只是想制作自己妈妈想玩的游戏,你妈妈难道就不能是游戏用户吗?

“妈妈用户”成了Facebook开发者宣扬自己游戏合理性的一面大旗,而当“社交游戏”的商业和设计模式出现问题时,他们就可以理所当然地将庸俗的设计归咎于此类用户的“低级趣味”了。

还记得Wii发布大会吗?任天常这款家庭友好设备亮相时,粉丝却因为当时缺乏消息而对其困惑不已,不解自己所钟爱的品牌为何要将主机宣传为一种健康设备。面向更广用户的产品宣传似乎就是对老玩家的一种背叛。该动作控制器的流行时间相当短,因为其长期应用很有限。任天堂努力将Wii用户升级为Wii U用户似乎可以说明很多新用户购买了Wii,但很少人会长期追随其中的游戏。这些骨灰级玩家因为游戏公司吸引其核心文化圈之外的群体而备感不适,并觉得那些“外来人”对游戏的兴趣很短暂、投机取巧和不相关。

最近行业试图向此前未曾接触游戏的群体开放大门的举措却只产生了令人失望的结果——至少是严肃的粉丝会认为此举令人失望,因为Wii或《FarmVille》的乐趣并不只是因为其暂时性而“失败”。

Farmville(from edge-online)

Farmville(from edge-online)

这次对话所遗漏的一点在于Wii和Facebook在加强游戏大从众吸引力方面都有丰富的学习经验。不少社交游戏品牌仍然占据主流,例如《Candy Crush Saga》等热门游戏,现在也不宜过早定论社交游戏在推动更广大用户进入游戏市场方面毫无建树。

但关于大众用户更愚蠢这个简单化的论断,则是一种限制我们迎合更多不同游戏开发和体验视角的误区。我们该如何向玩家和开发者呈现受欢迎的游戏而不将其引向充满心机的游戏?这是我们将面临的一大挑战。(本文为游戏邦/gamerboom.com编译,拒绝任何不保留版权的转载,如需转载请联系:游戏邦

Too many gamers think diversity means dumbing down – it’s time to forget that outmoded view

Leigh Alexander

Recently I sat on a panel at a games event where the organisers were discussing ways to attract more people to their festival, and lowering the intimidation barrier to make games culture more welcoming. The panellists talked about their experience with diversity initiatives and ways to spark non-gamer interest in playable exhibitions.

The conversation solicited feedback from the audience, and was mostly fruitful. But at one point a young man raised his hand and said he didn’t like the idea of accessibility. He described how much less he would enjoy Dark Souls if it were friendlier. As he spoke, one of a row of men who’d had their arms crossed throughout shouted a supportive “woo!”

Of course, his point wasn’t really relevant to the discussion, which wasn’t about making hard games easy or diluting traditional videogames but about how to share a passion for games with others who may be less exposed to them or have preconceptions about them. Other participants tried to get the discussion back on track, but nearly every one of them preceded their statements with the reinforcement that they liked Dark Souls, they really did, but other people might find it too intimidating. It’s as if they felt expressing a preference for easier, more welcoming games would somehow rob them of their credibility.

Now, I like Dark Souls, I really do. But that turn in the conversation crystallised some thoughts I’ve had since reading argumentative comments on articles I’ve written calling for more diversity in gaming. Oh my goodness, I thought: people associate accessibility and diversity with the ‘dumbing down’ of an entire medium. How did that happen?

I remember the mass exodus just a few years ago of traditional developers and experienced studio execs into the mobile and social space, which at its outset was highly focused on Facebook. These developers were entering a stage of life when marriage and family meant it no longer suited them to work the usual long hours. But more than that, they no longer had the time themselves to invest in the all-consuming 40-hour games they used to make.

The Facebook boom heralded an uncomfortable identity crisis in the developer community, coinciding with the rise of Zynga. Why take years of skill, experience and faith in the medium of design, and work on products designed to forcibly monetise consumers through friction and pinch points? It wasn’t just the industry’s moral unease with social game monetisation, though. It was hard to admire endless cartoonish requests for farm goods and not see the player as a bug-eyed bobblehead eager for White Mystery Eggs.

Even though traditional houses like Electronic Arts bought into the Zynga-led ecosystem, the Facebook bubble has clearly since burst, validating a lot of those early concerns about the integrity and viability of that kind of game design. But while Facebook developers were still searching for a moral centre in their dubious work, many kept coming back to one common statement: they wanted to make games their mum would like, and isn’t your mum a valid audience member?

The ‘mum audience’ became the flag around which Facebook developers tried to rally, and when problems emerged in the business and design of ‘social’ games, perhaps it’s understandable that some gamers, leery of Facebook to begin with, began to associate ‘appealing to women’ with tacky design.

Remember the Wii launch conference? At the unveiling of Nintendo’s family-friendly machine, fans were baffled by the lack of news on beloved brands in favour of the console as a health device. The pitch for a wider audience felt like a kind of betrayal to long-term gamers. It turns out that motion controllers had a fairly short-lived popularity arc, with limited long-term applications.

Nintendo’s struggle to convert Wii owners into Wii U owners seems to support the idea that a lot of new audiences bought a Wii but few developed a long-term relationship with games. Gamers stung by the notion that a game company would appeal to anyone outside their core culture now can point to the interest of ‘outsiders’ as fleeting, gimmicky and irrelevant.

Recent attempts to open up the gaming market to previously unreached players have resulted in disappointment – or at least what serious fans would call disappointment, since the pleasures of the Wii or FarmVille are hardly ‘failures’ just for their impermanence.

What is missing in the conversation is that both the Wii and Facebook are rich with learning experiences about enhancing the mass appeal of games. A handful of social brands still dominate mainstream play, like Candy Crush Saga, and it’s too early to say that social gaming hasn’t played a role in evolving the ways wider audiences can be reached.

But the simplification of the argument – a broader audience is somehow a stupider one – is a misconception that’s constraining our efforts to welcome more diverse perspectives to game development and play. How will we show players and developers that being welcoming doesn’t automatically lead to gimmicky games? That’s the important challenge for the future.(source:edge-online


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