Archive for July, 2007

Persuasive Dr. Kawashima

Tuesday, July 17th, 2007

Persuasive games receives quite a lot of attention, and rightly so. The videogame “platform” is in many respects ideal for conveying messages in a powerful way. The idea, as I understand it, is this: if you could turn your message into an interactive experience, that will make your message more contagious. This is because games add interactivity to the power of ordinary video (sound and moving images) and interactivity done right engages us. This seems to be what people are doing with games such as “Fatworld” and “Airport Security”.

I have just begun reading “Persuasive Technology” by B.J. Fogg and cannot say that I know anything about the theories and ideas behind persuasion in interactive media, but I hope that the book will shed some light on the subject.

There is, however, one thing that immediately came to mind as I browsed through the foreword. I played a lot of “Brain Trainer” on my Nintendo DS a few months back and I was stunned with the efficiency the game captivated me and persuaded me to come back to it time and time again. At the time I thought a bit about what the game was doing and how it affected me. I came to the conclusion that the key was the guy on the screen – Dr. Kawashima. He actually got to me like he was a real person.

When I started up the game and the good old Doc greeted me, he said something like “Hello Mikael, good to see you again. It seems like you have been away for almost five days now.” He could as well have added “Shame on you!” because that’s how I felt. The next day I fired up the game. I must confess I did it partly to keep the Doc happy.

That, to me, is persuasive power!

Of course, there is a fine balance here. The good Doctor in that game is a double-edged sword. It’s been months since I played the game. It sits in a drawer at home and I am reluctant to start it up again. Why? I am half-expecting the Doc to tan my hind for being away for so long.

I feel that there are immense powers here that just waits to be unleashed. Cleverly designed games can convey powerful messages efficiently. Furthermore, I believe more “traditional” games can benefit by applying techniques for making better tutorials, create more intuitive interfaces and generally hook the player to the game.


Okami

Monday, July 16th, 2007

I played about four hours into “Okami” this weekend and boy is the game cool! Some initial impressions:

The game is absolutely stunning visually. The graphic style is beautiful. Radiant! The only setback was the lack of 16:9 support.

The controls feel a little “flimsy” at times. I noticed it mostly when getting inside houses and trying to maneuver through doors, up ladders etc. In combat they are absolutely spot on, though, and while running around, they do feel very good – not as tight as in “Twilight Princess”, but almost there.

Storytelling is good. I played “Animal Crossing” and was already somewhat used to the semi-synthetic bubble-bobble voices. The main problem is that the game opens with a lot of cutscenes. The first two hours or so are heavy with narrative but after that the game loosens up and becomes more about gameplay.

Some of the puzzles are overly simple and the game goes a long way totally explaining exactly what you should do to solve a puzzle, and it does so several times.

The “Celestial Brush” gameplay feels fresh and tunes extremely well into the tone and style of the game. There are so extremely much about “Okami” that makes it a close cousin to “Twilight Princess” and the Zelda series. “Ocarina of Time” had the ocarina, “The Windwaker” had the windwaker and “Okami” has the brush.

The RPG elements are certainly interesting and adds a layer to the game that is different from Zelda. I guess I need to play more until I get a grip on how it works in the long run.

I picked up the game for a bargain. It was released in the EU early 2007 and can be bought for about 20-30 Euro (at least here in Sweden). Although I haven’t played that long, I can definitely recommend the game. It’s very interesting and one of the most beautiful games ever.


Resident Evil 4 Wii edition

Sunday, July 1st, 2007

I picked up the Wii version of RE4 two days ago. I have only spent some 4 hours with the game so far, but I am extremely pleased with how the port turned out. It looks exactly like the GC version (which was beautiful), but plays much better. The Wiimote is spot on for aiming and shooting and although the controls are not as good as mouselook for look and aim it is definitely blowing two-stick controls to pieces.

The game’s controls really prove that the Wiimote has enough precision for shooting games (I can’t wait to play “Metroid Prime 3: Corruption”). And with this precision it also proves that it would be great for controlling games in other genres in a more intuitive way. I would, for instance, love to see “Pikmin 3” on the Wii.