A Chilly Diversion for Magnetic Individuals

I played through the first episode of Strong Bad’s Cool Game for Attractive People last week, and was pleasantly surprised by it. Granted, my motivation to play was more to do with wanting to see what my former colleague Mark Darin was up to than with being a fan of Homestar Runner — although I did enjoy a few Teen Girl Squad movies back in the day, I’ve never been a devout follower of the site. Still, I found the writing reasonably clever and the art style delightfully iconic. Mark did a lovely job as lead designer; despite the fact that there was a slightly confusing backwards puzzle at the start, I was never stuck in the game for very long, and enjoyed having silly minigames to poke at in the meantime. [1] All in all, it was a good couple of hours of fun, and I wait for the next episodes in anticipation.

One thing I noticed, however, was how much my enjoyment of this particular game stemmed from having played it on the Wii. Unlike titles such as Zack & Wiki, the gameplay proper was exactly identical to the PC version, and there was a decided lack of Wiimote gesture-based gimmickiness. Yet, the fact that I was sitting on a couch with a remote-like object in my hand psychologically impacted me in such a way that I was far more willing to sit back and watch the fully-voiced dialogues and cutscenes in their entirety than I generally am when I’m playing a game on the computer. I didn’t even turn on subtitles, which, as I’m sure I’ve implied before, is very unusual of me, even in games of similar quality in terms of voice acting.

What I’ve learned from this revelation, as a result, is that I need to pay more attention to the affordances of whatever medium I’m designing gameplay for. When I use a computer, I’m accustomed to continuously interacting with it. When I watch television, I’m conditioned to be somewhat more passive. Since I spend more time writing PC games than console games, the whole idea of always giving the player something to do becomes far more important. Hmm…

Footnotes:
  1. Ron, on the other hand, complained vehemently about not knowing what to do, most likely due to the aforementioned backwards puzzle. Hence, your own mileage may vary.
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