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Trend: Older Players Will Drive New Sims, Less Fantasy

Concluding his series on the 'megatrends' of the gaming industry for Gamasutra over the holidays, veteran designer Pascal Luban (Splinter Cell: Chaos Theory
Concluding his series on the 'megatrends' of the gaming industry, veteran designer Pascal Luban (Splinter Cell: Chaos Theory) says that the aging gaming population will broaden the number of 35-and-up players in the audience, forcing publishers to adapt their products and develop games specifically for this audience. "As slow as this evolution is, it is unavoidable," says Luban. "It will create a new category of players, or at least new needs. We do not approach gaming in the same way if we are 20, 35 or 50 years old." The designer notes that older gamers are more interested in themes currently under-represented today, such as economic or political simulations. Titles that assign a greater importance to game-generated emotions and moral dilemmas may also be more popular with more matured players. He adds, "It will become increasingly difficult to establish suspension of disbelief for such players. Mature gamers will have a harder time becoming immersed in less believable plots or universes." It's possible that traditional video gaming press will choose not to cover these titles or consumers, but publishers will surely note that this market possesses greater purchasing power for impulse buying. To satisfy this new class of player, studios might provide more games with less fantastical characters and situations. "Video game characters often possess a marked lack of believability. Yet, it is quite possible to give real depth to game characters, including those of action games," says Luban. "Metal Gear Solid 3 is a good example of this," he continues. "The use of real screenplay writers, at least as consultants, should become a more widespread practice. Let us not forget that a professional screenplay writer also knows how to write good dialogue, an important component in the final quality of the work." Publishers may look to political and economic simulators, according to the designer. "It's an extraordinarily rich domain: such games could conceivably feature a direct link with current events, thus giving them an extended lifespan." Hybrid products, such as garden simulators or half-training, half-gaming products should also be expected -- Majesco's expanding Mama line (Cooking Mama and now Gardening Mama),f or example. Luban also believes that publishers will focus more titles that allow several generations to play together. Conversely, he predicts that companies will release more adult games, commenting, "We all know the financial weight of the sex and pornography market. Games will be its new vector of development. We are starting to see erotic MMOs, and we can also expect to see half-game, half-socializing website hybrid products." You can read the full feature, which details more game design megatrends, such as player-created content and "the emergence of emotions" (no registration required, please feel free to link to this feature from other websites).

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