Teaching an old gamer new tricks

January 26, 2011 at 10:19 pm | Posted in Gaming Article | Leave a comment
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The gaming industry is trying its best to reach out to expanded audiences and direct lucrative markets to its biggest core franchises, by making them more accessible to newcomers or diverting advertising spend into alternative channels. But has this been successful? How do casual or lapsed gamers really feel about Halo, Zelda and Final Fantasy? As a little experiment I thought I’d try introducing friends and family members to some of my favourite core games and see how they reacted when left on their own with them, with no prompting by myself and no help with controls, instruction, terminology etc.

The first guinea pig is my friend Darren. Now Darren is 30 and a good example of the type of lapsed gamer that played games when they seemed cool, but drifted away when he thought they were just for kids. He used to play WWF and FIFA games on the Mega Drive in his early years, then Gran Turismo, GTA and LMA Manager on the Playstation in his teens. At Uni he graduated on to a PS2 and stuck with the game series’ that he knew and loved like GTA, FIFA and Gran Turismo. Outside of these familiar franchises nothing held his interest; Ico looked boring, Halo was full of stupid aliens running around and Zelda looked like it had been made for five-year olds.

Darren isn’t the kind of gamer that gets drawn into fantastical worlds very easily. He doesn’t have the patience to learn complex controls or deal with deep gameplay mechanics. He is averse to new ideas; the prospect of controlling Pro Evo, for example, terrifies him. To cap it off, he won’t touch anything on a Nintendo console (except Goldeneye on the N64) and isn’t a fan of retro-styled games.

Thinking about it, Darren is the gamer equivalent of Karl Pilkington: he is set in his ways, doesn’t like to stray too far from what he knows, and doesn’t have the capacity to accept things on an artistic or spiritual level.

 

For the first experiment I picked out Fable 2 on the Xbox 360. Darren told me he’d really liked Final Fantasy 8 on the PS1, mostly because of the story and amazing (for their time) graphics. He wanted me to find something with a good story that wasn’t too boring. I chose Fable 2 because I personally thought the story, writing and voice acting on the whole were pretty damn good. I also thought the open structure and range of things you can do would appeal to Darren, in a similar way to Grand Theft Auto. Plus the controls and gameplay were pretty easy to get to grips with. The visual style was the deciding factor, given the stylised, comical, medieval characters and locales. I wanted to see if Darren could look past the bright colours and unrealistic setting. If he could learn to appreciate the design behind fantasy games, maybe he could one day be able to accept something like Wind Waker or Mario Galaxy as an engaging and enjoyable experience…

 

Only time (and his diary) will tell…

 

 

“At the start of the game I was with my older sister.  She kept going on about living in the castle, I’m not sure why but we decided that we were going to run around and look at it.  We ended up in the town centre where this guy was selling magic stuff.  He had this music box that he said was magic.  He didn’t say what it did or anything, just that it was magic.  My sister decided that we were going to have it after talking to some mysterious lady.  It was 5 Gold!!! That’s quite a lot considering the price of Gold, I’m sure that I would have been better off getting the 5 Gold and then asking for one of those envelopes from one of them Cash my Gold companies…Problem was though that we didn’t have any Gold so we had to go and earn it.

 

There was a lot of work available in this town so that wasn’t a problem.  Some policeman had dropped 5 warrants which needed getting, A drunk had last some wine, James Cordon wanted to deliver a letter, A shopkeeper had 5 massive beetles he needed killing and I cant remember what I did for the last one, probably something irresponsible and dangerous considering I’m about 5 in this part of the game and grown ups are offering me Gold to do things for them……..

 

We got this music box; I wasn’t impressed with it really.  My sister turned it on and it disappeared.  That was a bit rubbish.  We then went to bed.  We were woken up by a guy who wanted us to go with him to the castle…again, probably not being as responsible as we should have been we went with this bloke to his castle.  Luckily it was the castle he wanted to take us to and not his basement or the back of his Cortina.  Things took a turn for the worst however at the castle, it seemed that the prince or scientist or whatever he was who lived there was scared of us.  He didn’t explain why but basically said that he had to kill us.  He killed my sister, but not me! I survived.  That led to the bit where I was being looked after by that woman off TV adverts. I think she was the Bisto mum…..

 

I’ve just got out of some dungeon thing.  I then had to go to some town and im just chatting to people.  I dance for them or pull angry faces and that alters the way they feel towards me.  There very easy to impress these people.  I think im gonna be a bit inconsistent with the whole good/evil thing.  I’ll alternate it.  My favourite bit was James Cordon asking me to take a letter to his gf. She gave me 1 Gold when I did it.

 

Did I mention that before I went to this town I had to go and deal with some bloke who was robbing people who used the road I had to take?  It was the only road to this place and they closed it while this bloke was at large.  So I went off to deal with this guy.  He had some other guys that worked for him but they were quite easy to beat.  They appeared in 3’s.  They could have easily overpowered me had they all attacked at once but they seemed to stand still for quite a while which let me beat them quite easily.  Then the leader appeared and that’s when I realised I wasn’t dealing with a gang of professional villains but somebody who may have had some mental health issues.  He was dressed in some bones and fur and was making some growling noises.  He again was quite simple to beat; at this point I noticed there were some people in a cage.  He had locked them in there for some reason.  I went into the hut to get a key and have a look through his stuff.  I found 100 Gold!! Result!!  There was a bed in there as well so I had a lie down.  When I got up there was some weird bloke stood next to the cage telling me he would make it worth my while to give the people in the cage to him.  I didn’t though, I let them go.  The weird guy didn’t really say anything but I think he was a bit upset.

 

I’ve been told to look out for gargoyles and talking walls, but I haven’t seen any yet.  I must say that Lee’s suggestion that this game is similar to GTA in that you knock around towns and the only difference is that this is set in medieval times is massively inaccurate! Maybe he should have said that:

 

“Fable 2 has a big user world similar to the GTA series, but the towns and people are very different.  Don’t expect to be able to walk into a Burger Shot, but do keep an eye out for mysterious buildings that are keen to converse with you” “

 

These are Darren’s thoughts from his first weekend with Fable 2 – check back soon for more!

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