About For Whom Our Games Are

Jan is the designer in Aevum Health company responsible for leading the construction of the Calaval game world. He has been playing computer, tabletop and role playing games for almost as long as he can remember. In his blog entries he discusses his relationship to games and world design and occasionally also gives updates on the development progress of the company products.

About For Whom Our Games Are

 

Sometimes it is hard to draw the line between a casual gamer and a hard core one. When we first came up with the idea of making a computer game one of my more business oriented friends told me to think about market segmentation and the type of gamer I was looking to make the game for. This prompted me to think about the definition of a gamer. Since at least I would be part of my target audience, I started with myself. It turned out to be more complex than I had thought. I could not tell whether I am a hard core gamer or something quite different.

I got my first computer pretty exactly 30 years ago. I liked the arcade games all right, but I really got hooked only when I got a PC and tried out Sierra adventures and the great Origin Ultima series. At that time I also got the chance to play tabletop role playing games. We started with Dungeons and Dragons first edition followed by AD&D and Rolemaster. Before long I wanted to see if I could be the game master. Once I started building fantasy worlds, I learned it is possibly the most enjoyable thing there is.

Ultima 7 Ultima VII Part Two: Serpent Isle by Origin Systems, Inc. One of my favorite CRPGs ever.

No-one is a pure embodiment of one type of gaming. When we talk about casual or hard core and of PC gamers, console guys, LARPers, puzzle gamers, ARGers, etc. we should consider these terms more like behaviors or stats assigned to a person rather than comprehensive descriptions.

 

Skip a couple of decades ahead and the amount of work I put into the campaigns I create has become more absurd than practical. It is probably not worth it trying to simulate the logistics of how news spread in fantasy nations or building process diagrams for minor non-player characters just to ascertain they always make informed and character-appropriate choices. And I do this only so that I could avoid “cheating” i.e. always have answers ready for my players instead of having to make stuff up on the spot. It probably isn’t healthy when updating your campaign takes more time than people actually spend playing it…

This makes me hard core, right? Such unfettered nerdiness should earn me a place among the extremists. And still, whenever I try to bring my World of Warcraft character into the player versus player Arena games or, gods forbid, play a Dark Souls game, I get my ass handed to me faster than I can say my name. I wouldn’t even consider loading StarCraft II if I thought someone was watching. When it comes to games happening in real time, I am best suited for the ones designed for small children.

It appears I am a gamer with some devoted aspects and some sides with barely a casual level of competence. As it is, the definition of gamership has more than one dimension – actually many more. This realization really made me wonder in what all possible ways a consumer of structured interactive entertainment should be defined.

No-one is a pure embodiment of one type of gaming. When we talk about casual or hard core and of PC gamers, console guys, LARPers, puzzle gamers, ARGers, etc. we should consider these terms more like behaviors or stats assigned to a person rather than comprehensive descriptions.

And perhaps more importantly: Since gamers come in such a rich variety of combinations and definitions, might there still be a niche out there that was not yet totally saturated with unparalleled storytelling and mechanics. This would give us a chance to do our part of finding unique combinations and catering for both old school gamers and people who may not yet even know they are gamers.

This is what we are currently doing with Otherkin. We put together something of the old the – fantasy adventure with a good story, and something new – mobile motion tracking as extra control mechanism. In this way we hope to reach a multitude of different people: traditional and not so traditional gamers, sports enthusiasts, fantasy fans and perhaps even to those that don’t think of themselves as entirely human.

It is a privilege to be here. I am looking forward to all the great fun we are going to have together in Calaval.

To all different kinds of hard core gamers and casuals out there: Welcome aboard.

Jan

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