Alex Stockwell

UX, DevOps, Fatherhood, Miscellany. Not in that order.

The Business of Video Games

I love video games. Just love them. Console games, computer games, RPGs, FPSs, TBSGs (4X), the whole gamut. The only caveat is that I tend to play more single player modes than multiplayer/MMOs, which I think has to do with playing in very short bursts, or wanting to play my own way with my own goals (lone wolf status).

I remember playing the grandfathers of these games in the late 90’s (Sim City, Age of Empires), and remember losing hours of my life to both LAN games and epic single-player campaigns. One of my favorites was the Sid Meier family, but not for the reasons you would think. Two games in particular, and the way they interacted together, created so much more fun than could have ever been had separately.

Sim City: Amazing game, great depth and both macro- and micro-management aspects. Loved seeing a metropolis come together as I envisioned, replete with uber-futuristic buildings that could only be had with cheats.

Sim Copter: Amazing game, but utterly lacking in depth and breadth. You flew a chopper, you flew maybe a dozen flavors of missions, over and over, but in different places and with different people. But you had different choppers (including an Apache) and the game was one of the first to employ Joystick mechanics successfully, so it was a good time.

While either of these games could be played separately, and were surely purchased separately, the magic was when you put them together. You could create grand, sweeping maps in Sim City, and then load them into Sim Copter and fly them! This is not to mention any of the other family of games that also had this feature (Sim Streets, etc). Ho the fun! And this was in theĀ nineties.

As I’ve watched games expand in both scope (think the Fallout or Mass Effect franchises) and interconnectedness (WoW), I’ve often wondered where this feature has gone. What better way to create more fun out of the same games than to allow playability from a completely different perspective, with a different goal and perhaps entirely different game mechanics?

And what better way for studios to garner more sales? I would have expected to see this for no other reason but the fact that it’s good for the bottom line.