Thursday, March 23, 2006

Balance of Fun and Purpose

Back to blogging, been uber busy the last two weeks.. my schedule was simply C.R.A.Z.Y... and at tut this week, i actually heard ppl could play the MacDonald's Game for 7 hours just to "win".. amazing.. where does he (they) find the time... really wonder if arts students have it easier. But i have to admit that is hardcore.. but again.. i think i am hardcore.. just not on games i don't like oh well... anyway... to make up for lost time.. this week i will be covering two entries at one time..

So, as an amendment for my "negligance," i took it upon myself to try some other serious game that no one in class talked about this week and write an entry about it for the serious game post. My game of choice: Ops Flashpoint... the army simulator. My bro is actually working as the programmer for it in SAF... and so i volunteered to be his playtesting guinea pig while i do my anaylsis. Despite his numerous warnings of the monster he had created.. i still decided to venture into the unknown and go where no man (or woman) in class has gone before.. to try to relive my guard duty days in the army through the works of my brother's hands.

One word to sum it up: i quote "CRAP.."

From what I played, i would say that the game is HEAVILY focused on the training and "educational" aspect than on the fun side. My bro did tell me that there were times that he wanted to put something more creative in, but his training goals stifled his creativity quite a bit. From the mission that i played, what i was supposed to do was this like guard duty thing, and there would be a variety of scenarios that happened and i was given choices on what to do and how to react...

The problem? All other choices besides the ones set to be correct ended up in failure, and me having to retry the mission all over again. Not fun at all... but i guess it can't be helped, based on the guidelines of the game. The game was designed in such a way that it was meant to be more of a training simulator more than an actual game. I mean yes, there is interactivity, but to what extent? Does interactivity only include letting players make choices? To me interactivity in a game is more about giving players the option to make choices, and play out the consequences of the choices.. and not just having to retry the mission all over again. From what i played here, where i am required to choose a sequence of choices to complete the mission, kinda reminded me of the FMV games of the 1980s like Dragon's Lair, and honestly, till now i still wonder if those games are really considered games, as the interactivity is really quite minimal, and they (and this) do titter on the line of puzzles rather than games.

But from another perspective, i guess that it is successful in the goals of what it was designed to do...what is to educated the soldiers, no matter how dim-witted, some of them are, about the procedures and possible scenarios that could happen when they are on duty. And i am sure, replaying the mission over is an effective way to educate them. And giving them too much freedom through interactivity might make the game more fun, but it would defeat the purpose of the "game" in the first place.

So my conclusion for this is that, as far as it goes for a game, the army simulator sux... there is minimal interactivity, lots of retrying, disruptive to flow and frustration inducing. As far as education goes, i would believe it would be somewhat effective... and i guess this only further accentuates the concept that it is not possible or easy rather, for these two factors to co-exist.


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