Can six-year-olds take on grand masters in a game of chess? Can a blind individual take on someone sighted in an MMO battle? Can a user on a mobile phone play online with a console player? The Theory of Parallel Universes, today's main Gamasutra feature, may contain the answers.
In it, Greek game researcher Dr. Dimitris Grammenos explains of his concept:
"In order to further illustrate the basic concept, consider the following situation. Two friends want to play the game together. One of them (Player X), due to severe motor-impairments, can use only a single switch. To be able to play the game, her spaceship should be automatically moving and firing, while the player’s interaction is limited to altering the direction of movement by pressing one switch. Due to the auto fire option, the player’s bullets should not collide with the shields, so that they are not accidentally damaged. Furthermore, to achieve an appropriate difficulty level, only a small group of aliens should be introduced that moves slowly and fires very scarcely .
The second Player (Y) does not have a physical impairment. In order to find the game challenging enough, she prefers to confront numerous fast, fire blazing aliens. If the two players attempt to share the very same game, in case it is adapted to player X, then player Y will find it rather boring and would also be able to easily destroy a lot more aliens than X, while if the game is adapted to Y then it will probably be extremely difficult - if not impossible - for X.
Following the idea of Parallel Game Universes, a possible solution is to merge the two distinct game universes into one. Thus, in this new game, two groups of aliens would exist: a big, fast and powerful group which can destroy and be destroyed only by Player Y, and a small, slow and quite harmless group that plays only against Player X. The bullets of each player would not affect the aliens “belonging” to the other player, while Player X’s bullets would not collide with the shields, and Player Y’s would."
You can now read the full Gamasutra feature on the subject
, including much more from Grammenos on this intriguing game design concept (no registration required).