Computer Games, Academics and the Unquantifiable!

The Little Sister from Bio Shock 2.

Here’s a New Scientist article on how Games Developers are using academic research :

‘Using data mining to study how gamers play existing titles, though, can give developers instant rewards, such as identifying points in a game where players are likely to become frustrated or bored. The insights could help to tailor future releases to make them more satisfying.’

Wouldn’t it be great if we could analyse why some books grab the imagination of a generation? Twilight, Lord of the Rings, Dune.

What makes a book memorable? Why do some book resonate with readers?

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4 Responses to Computer Games, Academics and the Unquantifiable!

  1. Chris L says:

    Hi Rowena,

    Interesting you used an image from Bioshock 2, which I actually found vastly inferior to the original. What I really liked about Bioshock was a fresh combination of ingredients, deeply imersive environment, and gripping storyline with a complete about-face mid way through. I mean, how do you come up with the idea of a 1950’s deco-style city under the sea where the inhabitants have all fallen under the spell of gene splicing technology and are running amok with syringes and monkey wrenches? You just can’t buy this stuff.

    In contrast however, Bioshock 2 was just more of the same. In fact the environments were nowhere near as finely constructed and the story was a little muddled. There wasn’t anything new, and certainly nothing better than the original. How this relates to books I guess you can draw your own conclusions.

    Interestingly I read somewhere recently that Harry Potter doesn’t actually speak the words of any spell in Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s Stone. So if you thought frantic wand-pointing and shrieking Power-Word-Kill spells at lumbering enemies was what made the HP series so great – I suppose you have to think again. I read this entire series to my kids, out loud, twice! The magic was cool, and who doesn’t want a flying car, but it was the simple honesty and humor that caught my kids attention. The little wins. My kids actually cheered when Neville cut off Nagini’s head.

    Voldemort’s demise…Yeah, well I guess they saw that coming.

    • Just used it because I liked the image, Chris.

      I was reading the Harry Potter stories to my kids but they grew up and I haven’t gone back to them. I remember the child humour as really appealing, turfing garden gnomes out of the Wesley’s garden.

      Some of the game elements that appeal to the player are the same as the book elements that appeal to the reader but you also have this other element which is huge and that is the game play. It should be fun.

      • Chris L says:

        You’re right of course, when someone sits down to play a game they want to have fun. Not everyone who reads a book is looking for a fun time.

        But I am.

        I like to watch movies with a bit humour, a bit of action, a good story, and great characters. I like the same thing in a game, and also in a book. Obviously each medium offers these elements in different measure, but perhaps the data gleaned from gamers would be equally applicable to certain types of writing, especially for unsophisticated pop-culture junkies like me.

    • We need fun, Chris. There is nothing wrong with genre writing. And you can explore concepts as a sub text while telling a rollicking story.

      Look at True Blood the TV series. They are exploring some very dark concepts with black humour.

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