Just like with cars, if you want a game to run, you’re going to need an engine. In class we began working on Lerpz to help us understand Unity, a very common game engine. The project teaches us a lot about project organization, and most importantly to me, scope. When first loaded in, a good section of the game is already completed. Namely, the character Lerpz himself, the level he stands on, the health and fuel objects he picks up, the jetpack he uses to leap, the ship he must fly, and the scripts to make everything do what they’re actually supposed to do. My job going through the tutorial is essentially putting the pieces together. Which sounds simple enough, but I’ve definitely got my work cut out for me.
There is a form of media or entertainment for pretty much every personality out there, and videogames are no exception. Quite a lot actually goes in to determining what genre a game might be. As well, there are exponentially more nuances that go in to what subgenre that game could be categorized within there. From interface reasons such as camera ranging from first person to third person to top down to side scrolling all being able to describe four different shooter games. To theme and setting adding an entirely different layer to things, creating, for example, either a Sci-Fi galaxy or a fantasy world for an rpg to explore. Even the notion of how many players and their relationship with eachother in the gamespace can have an effect on the genre. A single player story shooter like Vanquish or Bayonetta is different from a cooperative team shooter like Borderlands or Army of Two is different from a competitive online shooter like Call of Duty.
In class we went over what game genres existed in an attempt to narrow down which genre we’d eventually pick to make a game for. As we all quickly found out, there are a lot of genres for games. More so, I feel, than any other media for the simple fact that how we interact with the game can change its genre just as much as the setting its in or the story it is trying to tell.
In July of 1983, the world was introduced to the Nintendo Entertainment System. Not the first product of its kind by a long shot, but it’ll serve fine as a starting point for the purposes of this post. A line from a NES commercial really struck me when I heard it watching “Video Game: The Movie.” That line is the namesake of this post. This immediately made me think back to my first video game console, the SNES, and how my dad would have to set the console up for me in my youth. I was intimidated by the amount of cables, ports, switches, etc., not to mention half the weight of the tv’s the console needed to be hooked up to. This would probably be the last time he’d help me solve a technological issue.
Eventually, I’d get older, and the video game systems weren’t hooking up the same way as they used to. It became up to me if I wanted to keep playing the latest systems. The hardware setup wasn’t really the difficult part, match the colors and shapes, then insert this plug into that hole. But when it finally came time to set up my xbox live account, I could tell things were out of my parents league, and I was on my own. Fast forward to today and the story of the parent helping the child has been flipped. Now I not only hook all my own systems up, I set up his e-mails to work with his cell phones, the netflix on his smart tv, the roku box and chromecast for the family televisions. To this day, I’ve built three computers, with parts I’ve ordered with my own money and researched on my own time.
All this started with a gradual increase in interest with technology thanks to video games. I’m far handier with a computer system than my parents will likely ever be. This is due to me being exposed by my parents to what they initially know at an age where I was still learning. I eventually surpassed them and went places they had never even intended for me to be able to. Nowadays I look at my two little cousins, 7 and 9 respectively, how they used to play games on their dads cell phone, and I think just how much they’ll surpass me when they’re my age. When I was their age, I was playing licensed arcade sidescrollers where your controls were walk, jump, and attack. I can pass them the controller in the middle of a combat scene in an Arkham game, and they’ll combo, counter, dodge, grapple, and use gadgets just as well as me. Games are getting smarter, and kids are getting smarter with them.