The everyday blog of Richard Bartle.

RSS feeds: v0.91; v1.0 (RDF); v2.0; Atom.

Previous entry. Next entry.

5:23pm on Thursday, 31st October, 2013:

Old Favourites


Each year, I give my CE217 students some classic games to play as homework. Some of them actually play some of these games and show up at the next class so I can ask them about it.

In order if liking them the most, this year they produced:
1. Frogger
2. Tetris
3. Asteroids
4. Rogue
5. Pong
6. Zork

In previous years, the top three have always been some combination of Frogger , Tetris and Asteroids, but this is the first time that Frogger has won. However, Zork always comes last.

Given that Zork is the most sophisticated and thoughtful of these games, it's dispiriting to see its perennial failure to impress. The best any student has to say about it is "meh". Back in the mid-1980s when text adventure games were in their prime, it would have been hard to conceive that Frogger and Asteroids would eventually be regarded as more fun than Zork, but it seems times change.

Asking the students about this, by the way, it's the interface that does it for them. They don't like having to read and write text, yes, but the critical factor is that they don't like not knowing what they can do. There may be 200 commands in Zork for all they know, and they don't like having to guess what they might be. They want to be told what they can and can't do at the atomic level (that is, the basic actions available to them). 40 buttons they can see would be better than 200 words they can't see.

It would appear, then, that while playing games gives people a taste for more sophisticated games, it also gives them expectations about what sits between the player and the game. If players notice the interface — or, worse, have to think about how to use it — then this is an interposition that spoils their enjoyment. Interfaces that are too different from what they are used to will therefore affect their experience (at least until they learn the new interface).

The game on that list I've played most myself, by the way, is Rogue .

Latest entries.

Archived entries.

About this blog.

Copyright © 2013 Richard Bartle (richard@mud.co.uk).