Saturday, March 25, 2006

Trip Report

On Monday, I spoke at the Serious Games Summit, part of the Game Developers Conference. I was on a panel discussing the incorporation of human characters into serious games. My thesis (presented in 8 minutes and 22 seconds), was that you can't have human interaction without language, and natural language required the inclusion of reality, and reality is too big to fit into a computer. Fortunately, it was possible to build toy languages to match the toy universes we create in software, and I had done just this with Deikto. I invited anybody with further interest to take a brochure; about a hundred people did just that.

Dave and I walked the Expo floor where we waded knee-deep through sewers of techie-schlock. We did, however, examine three technologies for face generation, which I shall refer to by the nationality of the vendor:

1. British: GeneHead, at Primarily for animation purposes. They have primitive controls for setting emotional expressions. The results look good.

2. Japanese: Motion Portrait. Their website has nothing to show, the product is not yet released. This was the most impressive of the three. They had a camera set up facing a blank background. They sit an attendee down in front of the camera, take a picture, feed it to the computer. The computer crunches for about a minute, and then they begin an animation in which the subject's face is animated with a variety of facial expressions. They do feature recognition automatically! Very impressive.

3. Russian. I was not impressive by this group. Their facial models are rather doll-like in appearance.

Now, here is how we evaluate these options. Our objective is to deliver any specified face with any specified emotional expression to our player. If we have a hundred faces and a hundred emotional expressions, that's ten thousand different images -- too many to build by hand. So there are three basic ways to do this:

A. Software that allows us to create a face, and then manually set up an emotional expression on that face. This would require ten thousand separate editing actions on Paulo's part -- rather tedious. Right now, that's the best we've got.

B. Software that allows us to create a face, and separately create an emotional expression, and then apply that emotional expression to that face, and save the result. This would still require ten thousand actions on Paulo's part, but it's a MUCH simpler task, something we can build up to steadily. This is probably the best we can hope for at present.

C. Software that renders the face directly. We simply send it a message saying, "Draw Face #27 with Emotional Expression #83" and it renders the face automatically. This would be fabulous, but at present is not available. However, it is conceivable that one of these products might evolve into something capable of doing this.

Another important consideration is platform independence. All of these products are built for Windows machines and are written in C++. That means we can only use them inside our own studio. It's not a killer problem, but a definite inconvenience.

Thursday was an action-packed day. I drove to Santa Cruz and spoke to a class of 150 undergraduates in a course on games. It's always fun to mix it up with students.

In the afternoon I drove back to San Jose for the rant session on which I was speaking. While walking through the floor, I ran into a professor at a Portuguese university who wanted to invite me to speak at a conference he's setting up for September 26th-30th.

The rant session was illuminating. There were six of us. The first rant was wonderful -- a lady making fun of the sexist imagery that is so common in games. The second rant was disturbing. The ranter, a business guy, ranted about game designers who bring unrealistic financial expectations to the table, failing to understand that a game must sell enough copies to earn its costs. It's this kind of thinking that keeps the games industry mired in its rut. Any entertainment medium that insists that each and every product must be financially successful will surely stagnate. The wisdom that this big shot fails to understand is that a company must be strategically conservative and tactically liberal. You take chances on a wide range of products, and the one hit pays back all the misses.

Another speaker ranted against the people who rant about the lack of creativity in the industry. I am caricaturing his position when I say that he argued that innovation wasn't as important as execution -- but that was the basic direction of his comments. He said something very close to "it's more important to learn how to copy and adapt other people's ideas well than to create new ideas." Are you beginning to see why the games industry is so stagnant?

My rant, that there's nothing to rant about because the games industry is already brain-dead, went across OK. I hit pretty hard, saying that the panel was like a bunch of doctors gathered around the bedside of a brain-dead patient, arguing how to restore her to life and vivacity. I said that I preferred to walk down the corridor to the maternity ward, where there was a newborn infant called "interactive storytelling" that had a much brighter future. I ruffled some feathers and triggered some hostile questions. One guy in particular was pretty exercised, insisting loudly that there's really no difference between games and storytelling. There were also some people who fervently thanked me afterwards for having the courage to say what nobody else would say.


Anonymous Joseph Limbaugh said...

I wish I could have been at the rant session. Sounds very entertaining. I can't believe that two of the rants were against people being critical of the games industry. Seems counter-intuitive to me ("Grrr, my rant is about people ranting! How I despise them!").

A friend of mine is a writer for the game and film industries, and an avid gamer himself. I got into a huge discussion (and by that I mean friendly argument) about interactive storytelling and the fact that the stories in games aren't interactive and that games are about the same things over and over. I tried to explain to him that you could have games about love or betrayal or redemption and he had the typical response ("Those games sound boring to ME therefore no one else would play them."). He went on and on about the amazing storytelling in the Sims and Morrowind, and I just had to shake my head. What surprised me the most was that he was so defensive of the industry. I mean it's a huge industry with enormous profits, and he's only peripherally involved in it, but he felt a strong compulsion to crush any ideas that differed from his notion of what a good game might be or challenged the current industry dogma. Is the games industry becoming a cult?

4:19 PM  
Anonymous Joseph Limbaugh said...

I couldn't be there - but I found a link to the transcript:

9:25 PM  
Blogger Jonathan Beyrak Lev said...

Joseph, this defensiveness is pretty common, as that transcript demonstrates. I think this is a symptom of when people are unwilling to face a harsh reality -I know one guy who is convinced that MRI's are the only cause for cancer. As for the games people, I myself am a gamer, or at least I used to be, so I can sympathize with their demand for recognition, but if you can't see your own shortcomings, no amount of ego petting will help you.

On the other hand, it seems commendable to me that they're not content with just making tons of money - there's something they value besides cash, and that's a start.

I have my own little rant: relying on that transcript, it seems that there was presupposed in the rant session a bipolarity; games/entertainment VS movies/art. In my opinion, the games industry and the movie industry share the same general flaws with slight variations (superficialization and trivialization of the human condition, pathological lack of creativity, a work's value measured in profitability, etc.). The way I see it, interactive storytelling is headed away from BOTH games AND movies. It should be, if we want it to be an artistic medium.

5:28 AM  
Blogger Chris Crawford said...

First off, the transcript is spotty; I KNOW that some of the things I said did not show up in the transcript. This explains the occasional dysjunctive tone of the comments. For example, they present somebody asking why I am so bitter about the games industry. That was only the first sentence in the guy's comment. He went on to discuss something completely different, which I responded to.

The defensiveness of the industry arises from the fact that they know perfectly well that their content is tawdry. There's nothing noble or idealistic about the content of games; it's straight sex and violence, and they know it. They are engaged in massive denial about this. This is why they reject so passionately any suggestions to the contrary. People who are secure in themselves don't get so defensive.

10:46 AM  
Anonymous Joseph Limbaugh said...

I don't know that I would say movies have only slight variation from games, although they do have the same general flaws. I think the film industry creates enough quality content product (that is still entertaining) that I can forgive them for the horrible plot-weak blockbusters. The film industry is like a smarmy businesman that spends a lot of time on souless image projection and sleeping with expensive hookers, but I still respect him because he supports the arts and can occasionally provide me with an interesting conversation or insightfull thought. The games industry is like a freshly graduated frat boy that just got an executive position in his father's company and doesn't understand why I don't laugh at his 100th tits and poop joke. Of course, I work in the entertainment industry - so maybe I'M being defensive. I do agree that I.S. is probably best off being its own thing if it wants to be a real artistic medium though.

Chris is right about the source of the defensiveness, they are seriously in denial. Some one should sit down with the games industry for an intervention.

3:46 PM  
Anonymous Yossi Horowitz said...

I was there.

There's never been any sex or violence in any of the downloadable titles I've worked on at Large Animal Games. There hasn't been any narrative, either, interactive or otherwise; but I don't see why any of that makes the industry creatively dead.

Now the games I’ve worked on have admittedly been about things, and not people; all of the people in RocketBowl and Saints & Sinners Bowling have been fairly ancillary to the gameplay. But I don’t see why that means that games can’t be about people, or why that means that they fundamentally lack artistic value. And while the word “game” does have negative connotations among the literary elite in our culture, this seems to me to be a matter of marketing and semantics, rather than a matter of the fundamental essence of the form. To me, there is nothing about the interactive storytelling methodologies that you describe in your book or on the Storytron site indicating that they would produce anything that exists outside of the medium categorized as “computer game” in my mind.

Not to say that I’m uninterested in the work you do here; I believe that interactive narrative is the future of both leisure activity and artistic expression. But it seems to me that there are things you could have said at the Rant that would have been far more constructive.

7:06 PM  
Anonymous Kris Schnee said...

For face displays, I suggest looking/posting on the Robitron mailing list (; you'll have to register at first). We were talking earlier there about faces, and people should be able to point out more programs there.

I'm tired of standard games, myself, and am eager to create something new. My own ideas focus on open-ended scenarios where you can tell different kinds of stories with the same world.

11:12 PM  
Blogger Jonathan Beyrak Lev said...

Yossi, I have some replies to the very good points you make:

First of all, about your suggestion that Storytronics can, in fact, be called a computer game technology under some definition of that term, you're theoretically right. "Theoretically" because there could have been computer games similar to Storytronics, in fact there was one (Chris' Siboot). But I believe we should define a medium not by its theoretical potential, but by its canon of works. The great canonical computer games, which I grew up on, are very far removed from Storytronics in every respect - particularly in their preoccupation with things and not people - so much so that it doesn't make a lot of sense to define them as belonging to the same medium. This canonical view is also why I think computer games are creatively dead - the canon is small and poor, and it isn't evolving, only replicating itself.

Where are the Bachs and Kurosawas and Shakespeares of computer games? Some say the medium is still too young to allow works that would rival these masters'. Maybe so, but in that case I would say that interactive storytelling is the next step in the medium's maturation process towards artistic viability, because you can't have art that's not about people. I can't speak for Chris, but I believe that's the point he was trying to get across with his rant.

I should point out another big difference between interactive storytelling and games; games are about improving your skills and winning, while stories are about the catharsis of dramatic resolution, which may or may not involve winning. This is the main reason why I would avoid defining them as the same medium.

1:15 AM  
Blogger Dave Walker said...

Whether computer games are doomed to disappear into oblivion or continue to bring in billions of dollars in revenue for the next thousand years is irrelevent. The audiences may overlap, but we're not competing, because we're not providing the same kind of experience. We don't control the future of computer gaming, but the future of Storytron is clearly in our hands. That is where our focus should be, everything else is noise.

4:03 AM  
Blogger Chris Crawford said...

Yossi, Jonathan and Dave have already presented the most powerful arguments. I have only one small tidbit to add: that there's a huge difference between theoretical possibility and marketing reality. If we allow people to think of Storytronics as games, we're doomed. The gamers will look at our stuff and say "It's not fun -- all you do is talk to people!" They will reject our products. I know; I have fought this battle. Simultaneously, the people that we DO want to reach (people who don't play games), will never bother to check us out if they think we are selling games.

The word "game" may have a very broad dictionary definition, but in the mind of the consumer, it has a much, much narrower meaning.

And why are you associating the words "rant" and "constructive"? ;-)

8:59 AM  
Blogger Patrick Dugan said...

The transcript was very spotty, and I think maybe selectively so, not only did it make Chris look worse than he did (sorry Chris, it could've gone better) but it cut out the meat of my question. Not to be egotistical here or flog a dead horse, but I think I had a good point. Chris is right that "storyworld" is more appealing to non-gamers, and we should probably use that term in describing our content to our target audiences. However, several practicing game designers have agreed with me that "drama game" is both an implicatively useful term, as well as one that helps designers make the conceptual leap to social dynamics in their game.

So, in the context of giving a speech to a bunch of game developers who are riled up about change, I think Chris should have ranted about how we need to make games about people and dramatic social dynamics, instead of saying "all of your whole careers were devoted to maintaining a life-support system for something that can be recusitated." A better analogy would have been "games are a brain dead patient, but it turns out she's pregnant, so we ought to deliver the baby and let her die than focus on saving her foregone life".

But whatever.

Chris Hecker's comments, however, do piss me off a bit. The irony is that he had just won the community award the night before, and speaking on "behalf" of that community, he, in a rightous fervor, illustrated the very problems you're trying to solve.

So, faces, very important stuff.

I just started pre-production on a game for the DS about both people AND things, we're going with 2D art, so we're trying to keep the number of expressions low enough to be able to be done by hand. Its very exciting, I'm a lead designer on a (admittedly self-funded) project after being in the industry only five months! Trying to apply some of the non-patented stuff I've learned from you, Mr. Crawford, as well as a verbal interface I've appropriate from my friend Santaigo, and putting it together with a spin of my own world, character, and interface design.

I am however, still very interested in Storytron and would like to build a storyworld in time to be submitted to the IGF next year (even if you wouldn't want to call it a "game") and procedural faces are currently treading the line between being on my "must-have" list of features, and being on my "wish list". I think a workable solution would be to abandon the drive for 3D, hyperreal graphics like those seen in FaceGen, and instead do 2D dyanmic faces like those seen in Facade. The system for this could be coded in-house as part of the Storytron front-end, and would give you the robustness you want, at the cost of cutting edge visuals.

But honestly, would you rather go for more dynamic expressions, or run head long into the uncanny valley?

1:09 AM  
Blogger Chris Crawford said...

Patrick, my problem with "drama game" is that it has that nasty word "game" in it. That single word will drive away many of the people we want to reach. We've got to get past the tawdry image that games have, and avoiding that terminology is crucial.

In general, I'll say that you should not try to create your own front end to the engine if you don't have several hundred thousand dollars to pay for a better front end. And there remain serious licensing issues. First decide whether Storytron stuff is worth than kind of investment.

11:11 AM  
Blogger Patrick Dugan said...

You're probably right about "drama game", while game developers have been warm to it, most of the non-gamers I've pitched it to in describing what I'm about don't seem to bite. They still get a sense of alieness that, regrettably, resonates from the term "game".

We're left to consider a serious marketing problem, one that puts us between an eight syllable, academic-sounding term and a "game" place. "Interactive Storytelling" doesn't sound any sexier to the average non-gamer than "drama game", and its clear that a major marketing effort (outside of this site, which is catering primarily to potential content creators at this point) will require a better term.

I know you hate marketing, I'm not particularly fond of it, but if you succeed on the concepts and implementation (which I think you have) but fail on the last part, building an audience, then you might as well have failed on step one.

The truth is that a large number of non-gamers aren't going to subscribe directly. Instead, they'll be evangelized by disparate casual gamers who already play on the internet, as well as a small fraction of the "gamer" population, the hardcore role players. Once these two markets filter into the site in great enough numbers, we'll approach a "tipping point" where the mainstream press will start paying attention. Half a million subscribers might to this, definetly a million. You'll see article lines like "Videogames go literary" or "Interactivity for the rest of us" in Time and Entertianment Weekly, and then the floodgates open.

In order to get there we need to attract enough hardcore to evangelize to the casual net-gamers (who strongly overlap with the non-gamer majority, we're talking about middle-aged women diggin bejeweled, who might enjoy some drama for a change). These hardcore I'm talking about are more likely to play a table-top game than a videogame, and will be more likely to understand "drama game" than interactive storytelling.

Or maybe not, I spoke with a young woman on MySpace whom I friended through the Role Player group, and told her about what we're trying to do, and she said she thought it would be cool, but that she just wouldn't be very good at it. "Drama game" may imply this barrier, but at that time I used the term "Interactive Storytelling" and still got the same reaction.

We need a concise term (four syllables or less) that implies meaningful control over the outcome of a story, and that also implies an ease of play and the social element. "Drama game" is the best I've got as of now, Stern's favorite term, "Interactive Drama" is still a bit too long, and "story play" is maybe okay, but a bit too vague. I'd like to get a think tank going on this problem, as it is a non-trivial issue.


Another non-trivial issue is providing a sense of production value to the Storytron front-end. I'm not hell-bent on building my own, I'm aware of the development effort and costs involved, though I think a simple, 2D set-up may work cost-effectively and get the dynamism we want. I want to help Storytronics in general, not just what I build, but anyone's project, as well as the overall audience reception. I know a few strong technical people willing to work without wage to proto-type something like this. With 2D procedural faces we could have expressive graphics that work robustely (the 3rd, ideal approach noted in the post) but without having to liscence expensive middle ware. I mean, if you want to talk about liscencing issues, consider that most of those vendors will want a full fee (around 10K) per commerically positioned storyworld, which is totally infeasible for the first generation.

Market research has shown that the audience we want to reach doesn't care so much about realistic 3D graphics, look at Diner Dash or Animal Crossing, two titles that did exceptionally well in the casual female segment because the visuals provided emotive feedback, not because they were hyperreal.

Simple, in-house, dynamic front-end OR liscenced, flashy, difficult to implement front-end: the choice is yours.

1:45 PM  
Blogger Patrick Dugan said...

I've got it!

While "Interactive Storytelling" is a theoretically sound term (IMO, others might prefer "Interactive Drama") it isn't very catchy to a mainstream audience, right?

So lets call our content storyworlds, as we have been (three syllables and implicative) but lets change our primary slogan.

Instead of "Storytron: Interactive Storytelling" the market pitch should be "Storytron: Dramas You Can Play" which is three syllables shorted and much more inviting to the layperson.


As for front-end issues, I realize its probably better lent to e-mail. I'll query Dave on it when I have some time.

5:13 PM  
Blogger Designer Christian said...

I think that this engine is a world-wide new thing, so, have you thought on how is it going to sound in different languajes?, how are the different cultures going to percieve it? i think this is an important point. Maybe you should get away from all that is known, stay away from "drama", and "game", and find something that is completelly new, it doesnt have to be self-explanatory like you have been trying to do (it appears... in my opinion), just aim for a positive emotion that is linked with storytelling and communicate it trough a new name. Examples?, Nike (shoes?!?), apple (computers?!?), joomla (software?!?), etc.

7:40 AM  
Blogger Chris Crawford said...

We have already set on several terms: 'storyworld' for a specific instance, 'player' for the consumer. But yes, 'interactive storytelling' isn't a product name, it's a freight train. We have considered 'iStory', 'eStory', 'iDrama', 'eDrama', and so forth. The only thing we're set on is NOT 'game'.

As to foreign langauges, I can't speak to the marketing terms for them, but if you examine the structure of Deikto, translations to other languages are trivial, because the system doesn't rely on any particular language's grammar nor does it use any particular language's particles. You just translate individual words. Change 'fight' to 'pugnat' and 'love' to 'amat' and presto! You've got the Latin-speaking market sewn up!

9:54 AM  
Blogger Patrick Dugan said...

I was reading the first Phrontisterion report through Raph Koster's website.

First, I imagine the music from 2001: A Space Odysee when I picture what THAT weekend must have been like, so many game design luminaries condensed in one circle to discuss the outset of a whole new way of thinking about interactivity.

Second, its interesting to see Chris Hecker on the roster, who seven years later still takes issue with the "social not spatial" distinction, enough to heckle you out loud at the rant session.

Third, its also interesting to see Mr. Koster's report indicate that the game/IS distinction is only semantic, when his well recieved (and deservingly so) book claims that "games are puzzles", effectively mitigating IS to Janet Murray's "rapture of the rhizome". Semantic issues aside, I think the functional split between problem solving (games) and rhizome riffing (hypertext, IF, storyworlds) is a useful distinction.

Also very interesting was that many of the issues I've been flustering about were posed by the "techies" in 1999, particularly the desire to build a flash, cinematic front-end, instead of focusing on the storytelling.

A little history does a wonder to humble a person.

10:41 PM  
Anonymous Joseph Limbaugh said...

This month's Wired magazine is also pretty interesting. It's about the future of games and has an article by Will "The Sims" Wright. A lot of the stuff he's talking about sounds remarkably like I.S. "In linear storytelling, we can only imagine the possibility space that surrounds the narrative: What if Luke had joined the Dark Side? What if Neo isn't the One? In interactive media, we can explore it." and "Games have the potential to subsume almost all other forms of entertainment media. They can tell us stories, offer us music, give us challenges . . ."

An article by Jordan Mechner titled "The Hollywood Trap," had this interesting observation: "Better game storytelling doesn't mean producing higher-quality cinematic cutscenes; it means constructing the game so that the most powerful and exciting moments of the story occur not in the cutscenes but during the gameplay itself."

Maybe some people in the industry are "getting" it?

1:20 AM  
Blogger Chris Crawford said...

Maybe some people in the industry are "getting" it?

Yes and no. People in the industry have been paying lip service to social interaction and storytelling for years and years. The first Electronic Arts ads back in 1984 asked "Can a computer make you cry?" Some years back (1998?) Sony introduced a new graphic chip called "The Emotion Engine" and the President of Sony America gave a speech in which he declared that henceforth Sony was going to concentrate on getting serious emotional interaction. I sent him an email asking him if he was interested in my technology. He referred me to his technology guy, and that was the end of that.

My impression is that there are two schools of thought within the games community: the conservatives and the liberals. The conservatives contemptuously dismiss social interaction as wimpy and unnecessary to "real games". There aren't many of these in the leadership (Chris Hecker is one)raph, but there are a lot of them among the players. The liberals definitely want to get social interaction, but they have no idea how to achieve it, are unwilling to make the gigantic effort required to do so, and vainly cling to the belief that somehow games will just naturally evolve in that direction. They point to The Sims as proof that this evolution is well underway (forgetting about the earlier Activision game from the late 80s that pioneered the basic concept behind The Sims). For the most part, the liberals are engaging in wishful thinking, and not actually doing anything about it.

8:32 AM  
Blogger Patrick Dugan said...

Sounds just like general american politics ;)

I'd say Cliffy B is a good example of such a liberal. The guy is interested in storytelling, he's said so and even discussed the problem in fairly primitive terms:

"The fundamental problem with making an interactive narrative is like – how would you make Lethal Weapon 2, the buddy cop movie - if in the first scene Danny Glover turns to Mel Gibson and shoots him in the head? Never underestimate the ability of the user to undermine the narrative you're trying to tell. You have to allow for every single scenario. You're empowering the user's ability to make the game look stupid, essentially."

But the idea of verb inconsistency from context to context in Storytron solves that problem. A lot of other folks are interested in storytelling, Will Wright in particular wants to take a player-created content approach to it with Spore, as he did on a smaller scale in The Sims. Richard Garriot's new MMO will feature a pictorgraphic langauge and embedded moral challenges involving choices between mission objectives.

I probably don't need to say that the problem with a lot of these approaches is that they're still spatially grounded, and as such the narrative mechanics will never be the play mechanics at an integrated level.

So the liberals are doing something about it, just not very efficiently. Which is still much more admirable than the cowering philibusters we call an "opposition party" in our government.

I asked a guy presenting on Spore prototyping why he felt "kinesthetics" needed to be one of his four metrics of a prototype, and he said something to the effect of "because thats how you take full advantage of what the computer is capable of". Maybe, but I think theres a left brained conspiracy behind it all.

11:09 AM  
Anonymous Brian Moriarty said...

Chris and Patrick: I see you struggling to name the genre you hope to create. Let me give you a tip from the old Infocom days (he cackled, adjusting the blanket on his lap as his rocking chair squeaked).

Infocom's marketing people invented the term "interactive fiction" to describe Zork and its descendants. A major problem with this term is that it is generic, and therefore cannot be trademarked. Now everyone uses it to describe a hopelessly broad range of works.

Years later, our marketing guru Mike Dornbrook still laments the fact that we didn't refer to the products as "Zorks".

The moral: Don't struggle to coin a generic phrase anyone can use. Refer to your products as "Storytrons", or some other distinctive term, and trademark it.

Just a thought.

6:58 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

and you can see Chris looking suitably thoughtful on the Serious Games panel at

8:57 AM  
Blogger Chris Crawford said...

Brian, that's a very good point. We already retain rights for "Storytron" and "Storytronics", but most of the other terms being bandied about have already entered the public domain; it would be difficult to assert and defend proprietary rights to such terms.

3:39 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

You might spit into the wind once from ignorance.

Do it twice and you're a fool.

Do it repeatedly, while shouting "the wind shouldn't be blowing in this direction!" and you are mentally unhinged.

6:30 PM  
Blogger Chris Crawford said...

anonymous, I don't see your point. Are there any specific examples of contraventral expectoration you can point us to?

6:37 PM  
Blogger LauraJMixon said...

Storyacting. Storyplay. Whatever.

Anonymous2's comment gave me a Cat Stevens earworm.

10:02 PM  
Blogger LauraJMixon said...

(Chris's comment, otoh, gave me contravental cataplexy)

10:02 PM  
Blogger LauraJMixon said...

I read Will Wright's comments in the Wired article linked above, and with all due respect to his indisputable genius, I think he's got the surrey and the steed inverted.

Sure; younger folk have developed an educated palette, when it comes to interactive media, that their seniors haven't. But they've developed that expectation and interest in interactive media only because games have catered to their interests. (And let's get real; statistically, games have been written by men for younger men.)

There's no magic boundary between generations, when it comes to computers. My father became a computer geek at the tender age of 67, when he bought his first PC. This is a guy who maybe attended a semester of college, and then quit to be a salesman and raise a family. He's no techie.

Now you can't pry him loose from the thing. He uses it for email, news, general web browsing, manipulating images (he's gone tech with his photography, which he does semi-professionally), etc. He has become the go-to guy of his social circle for installing and troubleshooting apps. But he has zero interest in shooters or adventure games. Zip. You couldn't pay him to play one.

Computer infiltration into the >60 set may not be as high as it is for those younger, but it's still astonishingly high. But they use it for the things that interest them, and games just aren't cutting it.

What's holding older generations back from plunging wholesale into interactive forms of entertainment isn't that they are incapable of enjoying interactive entertainment -- it's that int-ent hasn't yet come up with something that they're interested in spending their precious time and money on.


*evil cackle*


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