Gamasutra - The Megatrends of Game Design, Part 4
Gamasutra has been doing a series of feature articles by Pascal Luban (Splinter Cell:Chaos Theory) on the most important trends in game design as he sees them, and this one has a variety of observations, from which I'm singling out his views on the aging of the gaming population and how it will affect the games that people want to play. As an older gamer myself I don't agree with all of this, but it does paint an interesting picture:
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.