Sunday, March 7, 2010

Three-dimensional games, part 3

In the last part of "Three-dimensional games," I showed you how it is possible for players to look at games from different dimensions and that we must establish which dimension or dimensions we are talking about as we share our opinions.  Ideally, we should look at both dimensions--diversion and sport

However, looking at both dimensions still does not guarantee an argument-free conversation about a game.  The reason is that people can perceive either of these dimensions differently than someone else perceiving the same dimension.  Keep in mind that we took all diversions and all sport and collapsed them into two simple straight lines.  A straight line does not do either of them justice.

So this method is not a catch-all, but it does have its use when properly employed.  Yes, how we perceive these dimensions may be different, but we can synchronize our dimensions using touchstones.  Find a game (ideally, multiple games) both of you have strong opinions on and find out where each of you places it (ideally, them) along the diversion dimension and then along the sport dimension.  There is no "right" answer to this question.  It is merely to calibrate your perceptions to another person's.  If I say that a chair is ten feet away and you say it is two feet away, it's probably because you are closer to it than I am--no reason to get into an argument over that.

When we talk about theory and opinion, we are talking about things that are abstract.  We can't take out the measuring tape and prove who is wrong or who is right.  We have to keep the lines of communication and our mind open--open to new ideas, open to old ideas, and most importantly, open to change.  There is absolutely nothing gained when you "win" an argument about video games.  The only way to get anything out of a conversation is learn something you didn't know before.

So go ahead and assign random numbers to the "fun factor" of a game.  It's all relative, anyway.  If I say a game's fun factor is a "2," do the math and tell me what your equivalent number is--maybe it's an 8, or maybe a 0.5.  Now we know where both of us stand--and it can be fun to compare "fun factors," anyway.  You'll find out more about the person you're talking to and about yourself, which is the whole point.

I hope we can all use this "dimensional" method to better communicate our relationship to games and game genres.  If it doesn't work for you, then don't use it.  Find the metaphor that works.

In the next part (last part?) we'll finally add that third dimension, expression, into the mix and find out why I find most AAA titles flat.

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