Tag Archives: turn based strategy

Need a Helping Hand: Accessability

Gaming with newborn makes me wish more developers emulated Dragon Quest VIII. Not because it’s a very well done turn based RPG, although it is that. Not for its adorable art direction, which it has. But for its control system.

One sleepy baby (12lbs of deadweight) who seems to only sleep on Mom, means I am somewhat sleep deprived and confined to a chair. And I like gaming. But I also like (need?) sips of coffee and you know, holding onto that newborn thingie. Dragon’s Quest VIII allowed me the option of playing the regular way, or one handed.

One handed. I could drink a cuppa and game. At the same time. Brilliant. I suppose you could say I was indulging both “addictions” at the same time.

My reason for loving an accessible game is, granted, a bit silly. There are others who for whatever reason, lack mobility in their hands or fingers making gaming itself a difficult task. Yet, a company found a way to make a turn based RPG a bit more accessible for more gamers.

So if it is so easy, why don’t more people create accessible games?

Accessibility Means Different Things For Different People

My daughter was sick last week, and so I decided to get her something that would lend itself to hours on the couch resting. Nintendogs. I looked up how to play the game: stylus and voice commands. OK should be good for a kid who doesn’t game using a controller. Perfect, right?


Little did I realize that in order to get past the tutorial “level” you had to teach the dog his name by saying his name into the mic many times over in the exact same way at the correct time. Impossible for a) a three year old and b) a SICK three year old. I did it for her (WAGS! WAGS! WAGS! over and over again) then I had to do the same thing with the “sit” command. And this is how you teach your new dog old tricks; a pretty big part of the game was locked for my daughter.

So for a person with limited mobility, this is perfect. For someone with difficulties with speech this is horrible. And that’s the difficulty… accessibility means different things for different people.

Why Should I Care?

When I was chatting about this idea with my husband, he said to watch it. People’s eye glaze over when you talk accessibility, no matter how noble the cause. As I mentioned, accessibility can mean so many different things, and there seems to be a limited pay back for the amount of effort required. I really do pity developers sometimes. They need to make a game that is awesome in so many different ways, produce it on time and on budget and then we throw something like this at them. It’s no fair.

 So rather than talking about how it’s the right thing to do, or how choice in how we play is good for gaming, I will give people a really good reason to care.

You are getting old.

If it hasn’t happened yet, it soon will. You will hurt yourself sleeping. You will get up from a chair going “ARGggg!” You will get arthritis, and need bifocals. The whole bit.

And you may also suffer injury in your time. It may not be a life changing event, but it could happen. My Mother can’t console game. She cut herself on a sharp tin can lid and sliced through tendons in her thumb. Cant move her thumb well, therefore can’t console game. Could happen to you and right now you have no options other than moving to PC gaming.

The Good News

The good news it I am not that smart.

You better believe that there are people who are thinking of this stuff; how the changing demographic will change everything, including gaming. They will create it and make grand amounts of money off of it. It’s already starting to happen, we have already seen Nintendo bring out the Nintendo DS XL which has a much bigger screen for us decrepit old bats. Everyone is doing motion control which is good for those with limited fine motor skills. Kinect has a voice control option. So it’s starting.

Now if someone could come pour me a cup of coffee, that would be awesome.

Vets vs. the FNG: Gaming Mentorship

It is summertime, and certain aspects of my life have ramped up to insane levels. As always, gaming is a refuge.

But alas, no energy.

Mass Effect 2, Dragon’s Age: Origins and Splinter Cell: Conviction in rapid succession sort of sucked the gaming out of me for a while. And again with this “real life” stuff that keeps on hammering away at me. What’s a girl to do?

Easy: casual or turn based games. Turn based games engage the mind, but leave the tension behind. Lately, my go to game has been Magic the Gathering: Duel of the Plainswalkers on XBLA. So much so, I finally bit the bullet and joined up with Magic the Gathering: Online (MTGO).

Now, I used to play back in tha’ day. So I understand the mechanics of this admittedly complicated game.  However, I ws not prepared for what I was to face.

Trading systems, deck requirements, deck restrictions, different game types, live chat, clans, buddies, and on and on. None of it intuitive. None of it explained. Very little help. Now, I’m a lucky lass with connections, so I was basically in a great clan before I entered in my credit card number to buy my membership. (check that nerd cred, yo) But I have no idea how others do it. And this isn’t vanity talking. All my clan members agree… this is one complicated and crappy interface.

But how do you change something as big as  MTGO to be friendlier to the newb, without alienating the hardcore fans? Slim down the number of cards and abilities, fix the interface (with presumably a certain downtime or time on the new learning curve) and the established players are upset. But if you don’t; you gain no new members… and older members always leave and need replacing.

We see this often with on-line multiplayer. If you are mere weeks behind the curve in Call of Duty, and the like, prepare to be pwned. Everyone else has leveled up, and you are stuck trying to figure out maps in vain while rocking the basic load out. Forget it if you have never picked up a controller or played a FPS.  And if you don’t have some type of rank or levelling system, well, that kind of sucks too. It’s fun to get better and get a reward for it.

So. The argument is as follows:

1. As Vets leave, or ramp down their gaming time for a variety of reasons, developers and publishers have to keep adding new players (FNG) into the gaming experience.

2. You can’t alienate your current fan base (Vets), a sure thing, for the possiblity of new fan (well… you just have to do the risk assessment). This is marketing 101.


3. There is a pull between two different groups: the Vet, and the FNG.

So… what do we think developers might have to do? They are going to, in some respects, stack the deck a bit for the FNG. Maybe make things a bit easier for them, dumb down controls, who knows? Got to get new players.

But that isn’t the only option.

Vets, us gamers, can also be the heroes here. It’s not that fun to beat up on the little guy. We all learned this (hopefully) in kindergarten.

Let’s be human. Help the FNG learn the damn game. You see someone who has no clue what they are doing… don’t spam kill them. Hell… maybe even send them a FR and (gasp) take them under your wing for a few games. The more FNGs we, as gamers, can convert into Vets, the less the game developers have to do the same.

Mentorship. It works. Let’s do this.

Games for Non-Gamers: Civilization

Humans are wired to play.

There is a game for every person, if you (or someone you know) hates games, it may be because that person just hasn’t found the right game OR something else made the game unpalatable. This series explores games for non-gamers. This week is Civilization.

Civilization, and it’s creator Sid Meier are legendary in the world of gaming. Civilization has been responsible for more sleepy office workers than about any other franchise… okay that’s probably an exaggeration. But I’m sure the line “One More Turn.” was coined during one of the earliest installments of this game.

Who is it for?

Non-Gamers who have said the following:

  • Games are stupid: there is no thought to them
  • I don’t think I like fast paced action.
  • I like to be challenged
  • I would want to spend some time on a game
  • Controllers are intimidating
  • I may want to play with someone, but maybe not.
  • I like making things from scratch, building things up the way I want to build them

What is it? The Game Defined for the Non-Gamer.

Civilization is a  “Turn Based Strategy” game. It’s a strategy (i.e. thinking) game where you take a turn, then the opponent, either the computer or a person, takes a turn. It’s basically a board game, turned into a videogame.  It’s also called a “god-Sim” (god-simulation) because you play as an omipotent being, or leader, and you control your people. Take care of your people, they prosper, don’t take care of them, they fail.

In this case, you don’t play as a god, but you play as a real life historical leader. Alexander the Great, Cleopatra, Abraham Lincoln all get play as well as about a dozen others. The object of the game is to take over the world. This game is incredibly complex, however, so taking over the world might mean you become the dominant cultural force known to mankind. Or you may be the richest, or you may colonize another planet. Or you may just drop tons of nuclear weapons on your neighbours and walk all over them, the choice is yours. But there is no wrong way to really play or win this game.

Why Would Non-Gamers Enjoy This Game?

Turn based games are great for early gamers. They can sit and think before they do anything. They don’t need twitch reflexes (i.e. to be really good at moving a controller fast) in order to win the game. All they have to do is pay attention, and learn the rules of Civilization. Then have fun.

But while this game is slow on the second to second action, it is fast on the cognitive skills. It’s a thinking person’s game. It isn’t silly or dumbed down in any way. There is even a civilopedia that will give real life information on the leaders, Wonders, units and so on.

It’s also a game that real gamers play and love. If you want to start being one of the “in” crowd of gamers, this is a fine place to start. (Note: we’re not really all that cool…)

Advice for the Non-Gamer

You will need more cities than you think. In the beginning, if you city fills up to over 6 people: make a settler or a worker. I find cultural victories the easiest to get, but that’s because I tend to only have five HUGE cities that have every Wonder imaginable.

Other Ways to Make the Game Fun

This game is able to be played in multiplayer! That’s right, you can try to take over your buddies’ territory. Once you get the hang of the game, it’s always fun to play with people you know. The trick to on-line play, especially at first, is to play with people you actually know. The on-line gaming community is not known for being generous with new players.  If you are lost, and need a partner, post a comment and I may be able to hook you up with a Civ gaming buddy. No promises though. YellingAtPixels Favorite Pick

Before I self-identified as a gamer, I enjoyed playing Civilization a ton. Or as I told my husband “I’m going to take over the world.” Why? I enjoyed creating the Civilization. My favorite part of the game is playing until you discover other civilizations. Then I often started a new game.

Important Last Words

While games can be fun in and of themselves, it’s also important to have the right atmosphere. Every non-gamer is a unique individual, and can’t be described in a monolith.  All girls do NOT like pink and cute for instance. Listen to the non-gamer, to find out what she or he really enjoys. Try something out, get feedback, try again.