At the moment there does seem to be a spotlight on innovative user interface design with Nintendo’s Wii & DS and its gesture recognition, alongside Apples iPhone leading the charge. Electronic paper is also finally making a break through which seems ironic as it is interface at its most simple… replicating paper.It makes me wonder whether there is some take out from this in regards to multiplatform production. It seems that re-booting the users experience with the media so as to grow the competence with the technology, is having a positive effect and finding users that would never in the past have found an entry point.
My wife is a great example in that she recently has been asking me to buy games for her Nintendo DS… This in itself doesn’t sound that remarkable, but her past reaction to me and my gaming habit was akin to a mother who stumbles upon her sons porno collection… a mixture of shame and bewilderment.
Maybe in our search for more complex and innovative challenges to throw at our users we are missing the opportunity to step back and really simplify the experience but offer innovative ways of interacting with it.
Last night I spent 4 hours playing through Valves Portal game on the Xbox 360. For those that don’t know it is a puzzle game using a 3D first person shooter engine (Source Engine) created by the guys that brought us Half Life 2. It has the perfect balance of educating the player to the games mechanics and creating a subtle at first but increasingly intriguing back story before well and truly blowing the player away with the twists and turns in the story line. All the time, however, maintaining a simple interface. There were no more than four actions besides movement the player had to consider (jump, crouch, fire orange Portal, fire blue Portal). The rest was about lateral thinking and puzzle solving. Skills which are not exclusive to those who are computer game literate. It’s the classic ‘less is more’ approach to user interface, storytelling and aesthetic… Absolutley fantastic entertainment at the same time. By far my Game Of The Year so far.
Now it’s time for the Jurassic Park quote (I know you’ve all been waiting for it)… Multiplatform at the moment seems in danger of trying to be everything to everyone. The appetite for online, games and mobile to sit alongside a TV programme is so strong that the danger of there being multiplatform content where the needn’t be any, is pretty high.In the words of Jeff Goldblums character in Jurassic Park:
Dr. Ian Malcolm: “Your scientists were so preoccupied with whether or not they could, they didn’t stop to think if they should.”