Being a frequent visitor to Game|Life I waited anxiously to see what Chris Kohler et co would have to say about my game. I was a little disappointed that we failed to capture Chris' imagination, but found his arguments against the game well expressed. Those who simply dismiss the game as a casual PopCap wannabe because you 'can't die' have always frustrated me too much to respond to, but Chris' statement of 'because I don't feel the lows, I can't feel the highs' (paraphrased) makes sense to me.
I was very interested today to find a video feature on Game|Life comparing two of 2008's more controversial titles - POP and Mirror's Edge. Chris Kohler takes the side of Mirror's Edge and Chris Baker argues for POP (the embedded video is included below).
One thing CBaker said that really made me smile was (paraphrasing again) that even though he found the game easy, he still felt a sense of disappointment in himself when he needed Elika to save him - effectively that he internalized the sense of failure. He did not need the game to remind him he failed.
This was something we talked about a lot internally when trying to convince ourselves that the Save-Me mechanic would not be universally despised by the hardcore gaming set. Our rational, simply put, is that people who play a lot of videogames are good at them and generally don't fail a given sequence very often. When they do fail, they likely punish themselves for said failure ("oh you lame n00b! This game is so easy, why can't you pass this one stupid level! dj00 suxjirz") and would likely prefer to not have to see a loading screen upon each failure (I don't think anyone can argue that loading screens add to the enjoyment of a game).
The fact of the matter is very few people can win POP without failing (we have an achievement for those who manage to win without having to have Elika save you too often, and our stats are showing us that very few people have gotten this on a first play through). People fail in POP all the time - those who are able to take something from that failure seem to be the ones who enjoy the game the most. Those who can't feel a sense of failure without a dripping blood-red 'game over, you suck' screen - less so.
Labels: Prince Of Persia