Wednesday, August 17, 2005

Random News Roundup: Down on the Farm

Recent globe-trotter Bill Roper popped up in Leipzig this week, at the awkwardly named Games Convention Developer Conference. In his pre-conference keynote address, he had this to say:

"I'm going to get on my PC soapbox for a few minutes," he told attendees. "PC games are on the verge of a major market shift, as PC developers and publishers start to move from selling CDs of single-player games to retail outlets, to selling online games to those with broadband connections. We're already seeing primitive multi-platform games on the PC... Players want to get online and play."

Personally, I've never thought the PC platform was dead. If the larger game companies decide to ignore the PC, it doesn't matter. The fact is, the PC is the platform with the lowest barrier of entry for new developers. If the big guys ignore it, there will be dozens of smaller fish scrambling to take their place. A console's market penetration will always be dependent on the games available for it. PC market penetration is not dependent upon this. Moreover, PC hardware is not subject to the violent ebbs and flows of console hardware release cycles.

Well, that, and I'm a shameless PC gamer. Maybe I'm a little biased.

Fun with Scalpels

The British Heart Foundation has released a game in which you can perform heart surgery. Far from the Microsurgeon game I played on my Intellivision untold aeons ago, this is a little education Flash game that demonstrates various heart procedures, complete with a detailed set of surgical tools. Unfortunately, from a quick play-through, it doesn't seem that the gameplay is very challenging or deep. In fact, I'm not entirely sure how you can screw up, short of running out of time. I'm sure that they intended this to be fun and accessible for as wide an audience as possible, but I can't see many people over the age of six staying interested in it long enough to learn much.

Barney Backhoe

Bold Games is making two kids' titles based on the John Deere license. Yes, that's John Deere, all-American tractor manufacturer.

From the press release:
Bold Games’ new Welcome to Merriweather Farm game shows Johnny Tractor and his friends plowing, harvesting, and taking care of the animals on the farm, while Busy Days in Deerfield Valley features Danny Dozer, Barney Backhoe and friends hard at work digging, lifting, and helping out around town.

Now, believe it or not, I'm not posting this here to make fun of it. On the contrary, I've been wanting to see more construction-related games for kids. I think, if done properly, they can be very positive and educational. But more than that, kids -- even many girls -- are totally fascinated by construction. Many of the construction-related games that have been released so far have been problem-solving games. I think it'd also be good to create games where kids can actually, well, build things. Yeah, I know, crazy idea.

Old Comments

1 comment:

Greg said...

There's a PS (not 2) game that allow syou to use heavy construction equipment--not sure I remember the name, but it was a low-budget thing. Still, this strikes me as an obvious niche, and I'm surprised there haven't been more attempts to exploit it. Boys love big machines, and boys are still a big part of the console demographic...