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The Megatrends of Game Design, Part 4
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The Megatrends of Game Design, Part 4


December 24, 2008 Article Start Previous Page 3 of 4 Next
 

Megatrend VIII - The aging of players

As economists well know, the consequences of the evolution of demographics are silent, but tremendously powerful. The aging of the gaming population is one such example. This aging is, of course, purely statistical; there will always be as many young gamers as ever, but today's younger players will age just like the rest... and will keep on playing.

The good news is that the gaming population will keep on growing; however, it will have an increasing number of "old" players (i.e. those above 35 years of age).

How are these players different from their younger counterparts?

As slow as this evolution is, it is unavoidable. It will create a new category of players, or at least new needs. We do not approach gaming in the same way if we are 20, 35 or 50 years old. What can we expect?

  • Older gamers will increasingly hold a greater interest in themes that are presently uncommon or poorly developed, such as economic or political simulations.
  • These players will be less likely to invest themselves in complex games, primarily due to lack of time.
  • They will assign a greater importance to game-generated emotions and moral dilemmas.
  • It will become increasingly difficult to establish suspension of disbelief for such players. Mature gamers will have a harder time becoming immersed in less believable plots or universes.
  • These consumers will not be covered by the traditional video gaming press.
  • Lastly, they will possess greater purchasing power for impulse buying.

What can we expect in regards to game design?

To satisfy this new class of player, publishers will either have to adapt their existing products, or will be compelled to develop games specifically for this new target audience.

  • Less fantastical characters and situations
    Video game characters often possess a marked lack of believability. Yet, it is quite possible to give real depth to game characters, including those of action games. Metal Gear Solid 3 is a good example of this.

    The use of real screenplay writers, at least as consultants, should become a more widespread practice. Let us not forget that a professional screenplay writer also knows how to write good dialogue, an important component in the final quality of the work.
  • New kinds of simulators
    Today, political simulators are almost non-existent. I can only think of Republic, Tropico and the American presidential campaign simulator published by Ubisoft. Yet, it's an extraordinarily rich domain: such games could conceivably feature a direct link with current events, thus giving them an extended lifespan.

    Real economic simulators are also very rare, since designers do not take into account two important parameters of economic reality: the absence of certainty on business action results, and the importance of the human factor. Today's economic simulators are more like emulators of theoretical economic models rather than representations of reality.

    We can also imagine the appearance of hybrid products, such as garden simulators or half-training, half-gaming products. A driving simulator could thus have a module for analysis of the player's performance and a real-time adviser, as if an instructor were at his side. Imagine a rally simulator with the late Colin McRae as instructor!
  • Games allowing several generations to play together
    For those who have children or grandchildren, playing with them is one of life's great rewards -- that is, assuming we can find an activity of common interest. A video game could do the trick; after all, it is already the case with very young children who love to play their favorite educational game while sitting on their parents' knees.
  • Adult games
    We all know the financial weight of the sex and pornography market. Games will be its new vector of development. We are starting to see erotic MMOs, and we can also expect to see half-game, half-socializing website hybrid products. Here, we once again find some of the previously addressed megatrends, such as games relying on micro-transactions and multiplayer gaming. Again, megatrends feed off of one another.

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