I was recently watching a 64 year old computer gamer try and play “Call of Duty: Modern Warfare 2″ on the XBox 360. It was not any fun for him by any stretch of the imagination and turning the difficulty setting down really did not help him much at all. On the easy level he did not die quite as fast but he still died far too often to get into the fun of the game.
Here is a guy that would love to play these types of games but is not going to pay 60$ to get punished time and time again. Now he is an extreme case and maybe you are saying not significant, but where on the line of ages between 25 - 64 are the majority of these games become frustrating and how much potential market is it really?
This does seem to tie into another trend I have notice a lot recently. Every time I meet someone and they find out I work in games they always say ”I used to play a lot of game”. So I always ask them why they stopped and the most common response is ” I got frustrating … I died to much”. Loosing long term customers in my age bracket is not really acceptable in any industry.
Watching his struggle two things became clear.
Call of Duty and a lot of other FPS Games do a couple of things that make these issues a punishing problem in general:
We could go and give players longer to react to audio and visual cues but that would just make the game too easy for the rest of us and only partly solve their problem. Instead what if we gathered each individuals reaction times for the environment they are in. Then the game could auto tune for the individual characteristics of each user instead of making the assumption that people are all the same.
Info games would want to acquire:
Just like the little test many games do were they ask you to look up and then set your invert Y setting. Games could ask you to use the directional stick to point to were a sound is coming from, quickly put the cursor over a target. Basically a simplified version of the DMV reaction test would be all that is needed.
This information to turn on things like:
Why is this important, the market for our games is still expanding and now including older and older people. Not all of them want to just play Wii bowling or Peggle so we need to make our more in depth games are also inclusive. Also we have to ensure we do not lose our current gamers, they should never get frustrated and have to give up on their favorite types of games. It seems like a lot of their frustrations can be compensated for and we can ensure they never throw down the controller.