Gamer’s Instinct – The Language of Video Games

March 29th, 2008

zelda wind waker gamers instinct

Have you ever noticed that when you start playing some games that aren’t necessarily ‘pick up and play’ games that you instantly can come to grips with the gaming environment without previous instruction? That you already understand how to play before the game has taught you. Have you then tested this example with a less experienced player (maybe a friend or parent) only to find that they take a considerably longer time to adapt?

It is said that a positive quality which game players posses is the ability to adapt to the ever changing variables within their environment. That is we can move form one experience to another (be it virtual or real life) and adapt quicker than our non game playing counterparts. This strange phenomena to adapt to different games, naturally is something I wish to explore. For the sake of this article I will dub this phenomena; ‘Gamer’s Instinct’.

How Do We Form a Gamer’s Instinct?

Simple, through playing games. As we play games our brain begins to notice patterns, we notice that we can use a particular technique to dodge some enemies and not others, we notice that if we jump down a hole we lose a life. Game developers use learning by trial and error (or learning by curiosity) to teach players how to play the way they want their game to be played.

For gamers, years of play has resulted in an insurmountable catalog of stored expectations. We know that breaking pots will reveal secret goodies and that killing all of the enemies in a room will make that invisible wall disappear. A ridiculous number of these variables are stored in our subconsciousness as we play.


Gamer’s Instinct doesn’t have to be a skill forged out by years of constant adaption. Gamer’s Instinct varies significantly based on experience. As human beings everyone has some sort of Gamer’s Instinct, even if they’ve never played a game before. We all have our own expectations of how to play.

Gamer’s Instinct varies dependent on the games which we choose to play. Someone whom plays a lot of first person shooter games obviously has built up a large amount of Gamer’s Instinct within the FPS genre and as such they can move from different FPS games/maps/scenarios with little time required to adapt.

On the other hand gamers who play a great variety of games are much better at adapting to any game and not just on a set genre.
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The Lack of Global Recognition of Video Game Narrative

March 27th, 2008

video game narative vagrant story

Last Sunday was Easter Sunday which for me meant a day with the family that consisted of a stereotypical Australian BBQ lunch followed by watching the preceeding game of (Australian Rules) footy on TV. Over lunch my family conversed over a series of topics such as religon, multiculturalism, television etc. One of the topics that really caught me was cinema and movies.

Our conversation on this topic essentially consisted of family members suggesting movies that truely had a significant impact on them, so much so to warrant the expression “you have to see this movie”. I’ve been thinking about this phrase a lot over the past few days and what it genuinely means.

What I realized was that it takes something really quite extraordinary to warrant such a phrase from anybody. People don’t use this term unless they really mean it. So there I was thinking of how I could contribute to the conversation, I was running through a list of movies which in recent years had moved me considerably. What I discovered was that I could not think of any movies to suggest, all that I could collectively gather were names of video games.

This is where the flood gates started to open I think. The family were throwing around names of movies left, right and centre and despite the thematic being set around movies I realized that the real conversational theme was narrative. We were sharing ideas of stories which had captured our imaginations. Movies in this case were only the medium for which narrative could operate.

This is where I actually started to feel greatly offended because even though narrative in movies was the focus of our discussion there was no way that my family would ever talk the same about narrative in video games. Never would they talk of games like Abe’s Oddssey, Shadow of the Colossus, Silent Hill 2 or Metal Gear Solid.

For me, in the past 10 years of my life nothing has captured my attention and danced with my emotions quite like video games. Video games allow the potential for much more engrossing experiences through interaction. Yet despite all of this, normal, average people such as my family remain clueless on such essential experiences. I heard a fact that even if a video game is a huge success, it still only reaches less than 3% of the global population. This is the sad truth.

So this typical family exchange had drilled home the point of where video games stand amongst ordinary consumers. It will be quite possibly decades (I predict) until video game narrative is garnered with the same respect of movie narrative. You think about the production of blockbuster video games in comparison to blockbuster movies. In both cases an incredible amount of effort is poured into each and yet movies receive worldwide acclaim where as video games acclaimed on a comparatively minute scale. Just something to think about.

Need Some Content Feedback

March 25th, 2008

super mario bros 3 mario shellLately I have been pondering over the direction in which I would like to take this blog in the future and about how I can further advance my writing while staying open and accessible to casual readers. You can read some of these thoughts here. To aid my thinking I have decided to do a bit of market research and find out what sort of content you, my audience prefer.

I have created a new site poll which you can find on the right hand menu which asks the question.

What Sort of Content Would You Prefer to See on the Site?

I have selected fou of the most popular posting categories in the video game blogging niche, that is:

  1. Video Game Design – analysis of video game design techniques
  2. Industry Coverage – information and observations on the happens within the gaming industry
  3. Video Game Critique – impressions and reviews of video games
  4. Software Discussion – history lessons, observations and general discussion on software

I haven’t actually posted very much on video game design yet, it is an itch that I am currently scratching and you’ll see the result of that soon.

So help me out and let me know what you most enjoy reading on the site. I am also very happy to hear any general critique be it good or bad.