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Is limited interaction in games actually a problem?
Is limited interaction in games actually a problem?
September 17, 2012 | By Eric Caoili

September 17, 2012 | By Eric Caoili
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More: Console/PC, Design



"A game's capacity to output rich, nuanced information exceeds that of film or television, yet a player's capacity to reply with equivalently rich and nuanced statements is massively constrained by our input devices and our game designs."
- Former Ubisoft and LucasArts creative director Clint Hocking explains the "Fat Pipe-Thin Pipe" problem with games that limit the ability of players to react to the rich information presented in today's complex games.

For example, an in-game character can communicate emotions to players through subtle body language (e.g. pupils dilating, blushing), or a change in the tone of their voice, yet players often have only a limited range of actions they can respond with.

One way to solve the problem is to increase the bandwidth for players, which can be accomplished with new input devices that enable players to communicate their intentions and reactions through motion, voice, or even facial expressions.

Another way is to design different sorts of games, perhaps ones that take advantage of the analog inputs to deliver more nuanced reactions. But that leads to a variety of new challenges, such as trying to figure out appropriate interaction models, defining the goals of these games, etc.

And there's also the question of whether or not this is a problem that needs to be fixed. Maybe that inequality in bandwidth players experience with games, or the absurdity of responding to nuanced scenarios with simple reactions, is what makes modern single-player games so entertaining?


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