Games for the Rest of Us:

Puzzles, Board Games, Game Shows

By Scott Kim, for the 1998 Computer Game Developers Conference


I N T R O D U C T I O N


When I was a kid I loved puzzles. I devoured puzzle books at the local library. I drew mazes and made up crossword puzzles. I cut up bookmarks to make geometric puzzles and folded cut-out letters to make puzzling shapes. Puzzles were far more to me than just amusements. They were playgrounds for the mind that exercised the deeply human ability to use mathematical thinking to solve problems.
     But as school progressed I saw terrible things happening. I saw beautiful mathematical ideas being drowned in ugly explanations. I saw girls being conditioned to think they were no good at numbers. I saw mathematics being turned into an elite activity available only to the privileged few. I wanted to fight back.
     Then Tetris came along. Tetris showed me that pure spatial mathematical reasoning can be turned into a game that reaches millions of people. I already knew how potent computers could be as learning tools. Maybe I could design new types of puzzles that would exercise other sorts of mathematical visual thinking skills - gymnastics for the mind.
     Inspired by Tetris, I started designing computer puzzle games. I enjoyed the work, but after six years I became disappointed by the limited market for puzzle games. It seemed that only people who are already deeply involved in puzzles are willing to pay for a disk full of puzzles.
     Fortunately, the web is turning out to be an ideal medium for bringing computer puzzles to a wider audience. Now there is a medium in which it makes sense to distribute small interactive experiences. Free weekly puzzles on the web can draw people into trying things they would never try if they had to buy a CD-ROM.
     In 1996 I started designing puzzles for the web. Gradually, I realized that I needed to broaden my focus to include related types of games for the mind. I started talking to the people creating online board games and game shows. I tried creating a board game of my own. What I found was a trend that will drastically change the course of computer gaming.



A N   E X P L O S I V E   T R E N D


Most computer games are written for computer game hobbyists. Games like Tomb Raider, Quake and Dark Forces - three of the most popular PC games of 1997 according to PC Data - are epic combat games aimed at young males willing to invest dozens of hours developing complex battle skills. Each year the games get bigger and more technologically sophisticated. I call these sorts of games "games for gamers".
     There is another rapidly growing segment of the computer gaming world that marches to the beat of a different drummer. Games like Myst, Monopoly, and Lego Island - also three of the most popular PC games of 1997 - appeal to a much broader audience of males and females of all ages that want easy-to-learn family games. These games tend to use simple technology, and sell steadily year after year. I call this broad class of games "games for the rest of us".
     Games for the rest of us have always had a place in the world of computer games. The first video game, Pong, was adapted from Ping Pong. The best selling electronic game of all time, Tetris, appeals broadly to males and females of all ages. Classic card games like Solitaire have always enjoyed wide popularity as computer games.
     Now games for the rest of us are poised for explosive growth. Six of the top ten PC games in 1997 were games for the rest of us, up from three the previous year.
     Several forces are fueling the trend. Computers are getting cheaper. According to Forrester Research (as reported in Business Week, March 23, 1998), computers under $1000 now account for 30% of computer sales. Today 43% of American households have computers - large enough that the computer audience is starting to rival the size of the audiences for magazines, TV and movies. And even the cheapest computers come with 3D graphics hardware, stereo sound, and modems.
     Cheaper computers mean wider audiences. The median income for people buying sub $1000 computers is $27,000, as opposed to $50,000 for computer owners in general. Computers are no longer just for people interested in technology for its own sake.
     The audience for computer games is now large enough that big media and entertainment companies are starting to pay attention. Disney has become one of the dominant forces in home software. Mattel and Hasbro had five of the top twenty PC games for 1997. The Sony Station is becoming a major online gaming site. Big media companies own the major brands familiar to mass audiences. They do not want to lose their audiences to computer games, and they have the funds to capture market share even before the business is profitable.
     Finally, the web is changing the software business. Software publishers can now bypass increasingly clogged retail distribution channels. The web is creating a market for small games with short play times. Most importantly, the web lets people play computer games with other people.
     In this paper we will look at the ingredients that make up games for the rest of us. First we will look at past successes. Then we will look at three important genres of games for the rest of us: puzzles, board games and game shows. Finally, I will show how I have applied what I have learned about games for the rest of us to design original online puzzles and board games.



P A S T   S U C C E S S E S :   T E T R I S   &   M Y S T


Two games that foreshadow the shape of things to come are two of the most popular electronic games of all time, Tetris and Myst. While the details of these games are very different - Tetris is a lightweight fast-paced 2-d action game and Myst is a lengthy slow-paced 3-d story game - both games have enjoyed unprecedented levels of success.
     Both games have wide appeal. Executives at Spectrum Holobyte and Bulletproof Software, the companies that developed the computer and console versions of Tetris, have told me that the people who play puzzle games are a different group from the people who play traditional computer games. Your mother probably does not play Quake. But she might play Tetris or Myst. Puzzle games have wide appeal to all kinds of people, young and old, male and female. When I ask women what computer games they play, Tetris is one of the most frequent answers. Furthermore, it is often the only computer game they play.
     Both games have long-lasting appeal. Five years after its debut, the best-selling CD-ROM game of all time, Myst, continues to top the computer game charts. Its only competition is its sequel, Riven, which was the number one PC game in 1997 despite its November release. When Nintendo first licensed Tetris in 1985, they signed a contract that gave them exclusive rights for ten years - an eternity in computer game years. Ten years later Tetris was still going strong, and the rights reverted to the creators.
     What made these games so successful? Timing certainly played a part - the Russian game Tetris appeared when the world was fascinated by the changes in Russia, and Myst debuted when CD-ROM games were still a novelty. Skill certainly mattered - Tetris designer Alexey Pajitnov and Myst designers Rand and Robyn Miller are formidable talents. However, many of the qualities that made Tetris and Myst so successful are perfectly straightforward. They are the basic characteristics of any game for the rest of us.
     Nonviolent. Many games for gamers are violent, even gruesome. While violence appeals to many people, it also offends a large part of the potential audience for computer games, especially women, older adults, and for that matter, many teenage boys. No violence means a larger potential audience, just as a PG rating means a larger potential audience for a movie than for an R rating.
     Thinking vs. reflexes. Tetris and Myst offer intellectual challenges that appeal to players that do not like being put under the gun. (In fairness, many action games offer deep intellectual challenges. At higher levels, Tetris turns into a game of fast reflexes.) The sorts of abstract thinking skills that Tetris and Myst exercise transcend age, gender and culture.
     Low technology. Games for gamers tend to feature cutting edge technology, which means they go out of date quickly. The race to create ever more technologically advanced games creates a spiral of increasing complexity and expense, not unlike the feature wars in business software. Games for the rest of us tend to use much simpler technology, staying well within the bounds of what the technology does easily. Tetris is so simple it could have been programmed on the earliest home videogame systems. Myst was written in HyperCard. The lower the technology in a game, the more people can run it on the their computers. Low-technology games also tend to be cheaper to produce, and less prone to crash. Of course what counts as low technology keeps changing as technology improves.
     Fit the medium. Tetris and Myst do not merely use low technology; they make savvy use of the unique capabilities of the technology. Although Tetris was inspired by physical puzzles, it is not a direct imitation of any physical game. The basic actions of rotating blocks by 90Á and clearing lines are idiomatic to the computer medium. Myst provides a satisfying no-apologies experience within the limitations of current computer technology. Computers are still poor imitations of television, but they excel at slide shows: a still image on a computer screen is more stable and more detailed than a still image on television. When Myst was created, CD-ROMs were too slow to play full motion video, but they could play hours of high quality sound. So Myst is a mildly interactive slide show with sound.
     Simple to learn. Expert gamers enjoy spending hours mastering a new game. People who are not interested in computer games per se have much less patience. They want games they can pick up and play right now. Veteran game designer Brian Moriarty has described Tetris and Myst as "desperately simple". Tetris is played with just four buttons: left, right, rotate and drop. And the Drop button is unnecessary. The rules are so simple you can learn them in 30 seconds by watching someone else play. Myst has a desperately simple point and click user interface. Left, right, up, down, forward, and operate. No inventory. No control panels. The rules are so simple that even first-time computer users have little trouble using it, even without a manual. The sequel to Myst, Riven, adds fancier graphics, but keeps the same simple user interface.
     High aesthetics. Why do people like Myst? A common answer is that it is beautiful. Through gorgeous graphics and sound, Myst takes players to an alternative universe that feels good to be in. Few Myst players actually finish the game, but few care. People play Myst mostly for the immediate gratification of being in a beautiful place. When it comes to entertainment for the rest of us, people have high standards for aesthetics.
     Immediate gratification. Tetris offers another sort of immediate gratification. Watching shapes rotate and fit together engages a very primitive part of the brain that is fascinated by visual patterns. Fitting shapes together successfully offers immediate and frequent reward. Players become so completely engaged that they cannot stop visualizing falling blocks. Although some players become obsessed with improving their skills, most people play Tetris as a pleasant distraction.
     The point is that people play different types of games for different reasons. Expert gamers play for the longer term rewards of competition and rankings, whereas casual gamers play for the shorter term rewards of beauty and distraction. So gamers who complain that Myst does not have high scores are missing the point - Myst is not for expert gamers.



E M E R G I N G   G E N R E S :
P U Z Z L E S ,   B O A R D   G A M E S ,   G A M E   S H O W S



So far we have looked at computer games. Now let us look more broadly at games for the rest of us in other media. Three of the most popular game genres are puzzles, such as crossword and jigsaw puzzles, physical board games, like Monopoly and Chess, and TV game shows, like Jeopardy! and Wheel of Fortune. (I will not cover outdoor games, like sports, games of chance, like gambling, or construction games, like SimCity.) All of these games have enjoyed enormous popularity for years, and are now becoming computer games. What can these games tell us about the future of games for the rest of us?


P U Z Z L E S


Twenty five years ago a Gallup poll asked what sorts of games people had played in the last year. Of those polled, 27% answered crossword puzzles, far ahead of bridge, chess, or any other game. Similarly, newspaper polls in 1992 and 1993 found that 27% of their readers do crosswords at least occasionally. Will Shortz, editor of the New York Times crossword puzzle, estimates that 50,000,000 people in this country play crossword puzzles.
     Crosswords are everywhere. Virtually every daily newspaper carries crossword puzzles. Many carry two or three. Whether or not you actually do crosswords, you probably see them almost every day. There are somewhere between 200 and 300 crossword puzzle magazines, with circulations ranging from 50,000 to 400,000. Times Books, a division of Random House, is the biggest publisher of crossword puzzle books, publishing puzzles from the New York Times, Los Angeles Times, Boston Globe, Washington Post and others. The Sunday New York Times crossword puzzle, the most popular crossword puzzle in the world, is syndicated in over 300 publications. The online version of the daily puzzle, or keyword: nytimes on America Online] draws 30,000 hits a day. That number includes subscribers who pay $9.95 a year for online access to Times puzzles, and America Online users who get the service for free.
     Interestingly, the audience for crossword puzzles is mostly female. Newsstand crossword puzzle magazines draw 70% to 80% older women, while newspapers and books draw a more balanced but still largely female audience.
     Jigsaw puzzles are another popular type of puzzle. Wooden jigsaws are popular as kids' toys, and elaborate pictorial jigsaw puzzles are perennial best-sellers in toy, game and gift stores. Almost everyone has played with jigsaw puzzles at one time or another.
     What can we learn from puzzles?
     Periodic. Crossword puzzles appear for free in daily newspapers. You did not ask for them, but there they are. Because they appear frequently, they maintain a consistent presence in your life - a marketer's dream. Because they appear regularly, you begin to develop familiar habits such as doing the crossword in the morning with a cup of coffee.
     Physical presence. Crossword puzzles and jigsaw puzzles are physical activities. You curl up in your favorite chair with a crossword; you spread a jigsaw puzzle on the dining room table so the whole family can participate. When you move a puzzle onto a computer screen, you lose these tactile qualities. So it is important that a computer adaptation of a physical puzzle add something new to the experience. A computer crossword puzzle can provide an online dictionary. A computer jigsaw puzzle can have moving images. Card games like solitaire are especially popular in software because the computer automates dealing cards, and lets you take back moves. Alternatively, a computer game can restore tactile involvement by including custom input devices - the most common example so far is guns for shooting games.
     Templates. Crosswords and jigsaws follow fixed formats. Once you know how to play one such puzzle, you know how to play them all. Familiar templates lower the barrier to entry for repeat players. Templates also make individual puzzles cheaper to create - essential for a puzzle that is produced as often as once a day.
     What changes in crossword puzzles and jigsaws is the content: words for crossword puzzles, and pictures for jigsaw puzzles. Therein lies their appeal: the logical part of your mind is comforted by familiar rules, while the imaginative side of your mind is freed to wander in a garden of verbal or visual delights. The pleasure of solving a puzzle is not just in arriving at the right answer; it is about taking your mind on a journey.
     Business model: supported by host publication. Free puzzles are sponsored by the host publication, which in turn relies on a combination of subscription and ad sales for revenue. For free puzzles to be worth the production cost, they must be inexpensive to produce and be effective in driving repeat traffic.


B O A R D   G A M E S


According to the Toy Manufacturers of America, board games and other physical multiplayer games such as card or dice games are a billion dollar business. Monopoly sold 2.5 million copies in 1997, over 60 years after its introduction. While the market for board games is not growing rapidly, it remains a steady business with no signs of slowing down.
     Since its acquisition of Parker Brothers and Milton Bradley, Hasbro now owns most of the top-selling board games. Hasbro entered the computer game market two years ago, and now has five of the top-selling PC games. Most of its products so far are electronic adaptations of well-known board games like Monopoly, Scrabble and Boggle.
     Of course not all board games are owned by companies. Classic games like Chess and card games like Hearts are among the most popular attractions on major online gaming services like Internet Gaming Zone, Yahoo Games, Mplayer, and PlaySite. As gaming services move away from pay-for-play to an ad-based revenue model, such games will only get more important.
     What can we learn from board games?
     Games are social. David Walls, lead designer at Hasbro Interactive, comments that throughout history most games have been for more than one player. Computers make possible interesting single-player games - a major innovation. However, the popularity of single-player computer games may be an historical anomaly created by the lack of networking technology. As the personal computers become connected to the internet, multiplayer games will regain their rightful place as the primary form of gaming.
     Familiarity breeds sales. No one has to explain what a computer game called Monopoly is like. That is why more and more of the top-selling games, like Barbie Fashion Designer (the number six PC game in 1997), are based on well-known properties from movies, TV, toys, or games. Not all games for the rest of us must be based on familiar properties - Tetris and Myst were completely original creations - but once such a brand is established, it breeds its own familiarity. Witness the popularity of Riven.
     Business model: sales. To play the online version of one of Hasbro's games, you must first buy the CD-ROM. After the initial purchase, the cost of playing the game online can be carried by a combination of pay-for-play tournaments, sales of upgrades, and ad revenues. Sales can also work the other way around as Doom so clearly illustrated: first you play a sample version of the game for free, then you buy the full version.


G A M E   S H O W S


Jeopardy! and Wheel of Fortune, owned by Sony, are the two most popular syndicated shows on TV, drawing about17,000,000 viewers a day each. Sony has translated their game shows into every conceivable medium, including board games, CD-ROM games, and online games. The online versions of Jeopardy! and Wheel of Fortune have proved popular on the Sony Station web site, which according to Media Metrix recently passed Disney as the most popular entertainment site on the web. Sony plans to use the popularity of Jeopardy! and Wheel of Fortune to build a major gaming site.
     Like board games, game shows are social experiences. Not surprisingly, most game shows are easily adapted to board games. Unlike board games, game shows are strictly paced to conform to the rhythms of broadcast television. The big difference between board games and television game shows is that game shows are passive experiences in which viewers can only pretend to participate. This can cause problems when TV game shows are turned into computer games. See Robert Tercek's talk at the 1998 Computer Game Developers Conference for more details on the problems of adapting game shows to online.
     Not all online game shows are based on TV shows. The wildly popular online game show You Don't Know Jack started off as an equally popular CD-ROM game. In the first year of operation the site attracted over 2 million gameplays. Bezerk recently added a second game, Acrophobia, to their lineup. Netwits, in the paid area of the Microsoft Network, rotates among five different game shows, one for each day of the week.
     What lessons can we learn from game shows?
     Pacing is everything. Harry Gottlieb, founder of Jellyvision and creator of You Don't Know Jack, explains the design principles behind his game in an article called The Jack Principles, available on www.jellyvision.com. One of his main concerns is maintaining a snappy pace in an interactive medium. Through clever design, You Don't Know Jack maintains momentum and a sense of engagement even when giving instructions or waiting for a player to respond. The experience feels startlingly similar to television. In contrast, most computer games offer jerky experiences with irregular interruptions - unacceptable in games for the rest of us.
     Recurring costs. Game show like You Don't Know Jack or Jeopardy! are expensive to maintain. Every week a team of writers must come up with a new batch of questions. Serialized puzzles have similar recurring costs. Some board games, like Trivial Pursuit, have recurring costs, while others, like Chess, do not. Acrophobia is an interesting example of a game show without recurring content costs - some of the content is generated randomly, and rest is generated by the players themselves.
     Prizes. All games can offer prizes, but in game shows prizes are particularly prominent. Prizes serve two functions. In pay-for-play tournaments, prizes act as incentive for paying admission fees. In free games, prizes act as advertising for the sponsors that provide the prizes. Some online gaming sites, like the puzzle site The Riddler and various gambling sites, are primarily organized around winning prizes.
     Business model: sponsorship. Like television shows, online game shows like Jeopardy! and You Don't Know Jack are supported by ads. Bezerk has pioneered the use of interstitial ads - short full-screen animated commercials that are typically half the length of TV ads. Sponsors also promote products by providing prizes for winners.
     Caution: Although sponsorship may eventually become the primary revenue model for games, few sponsored games are currently profitable.



C A S E   S T U D I E S :
A D O B E   P U Z Z L E ,   M E T A S Q U A R E S



How can we apply what we have learned about games for the rest of us to create new games? Here are case studies of two of my recent projects. One is a puzzle, and one is a game.


T H E   A D O B E   P U Z Z L E


The most obvious places for puzzles on the web are news sites like CNET where puzzles can play the same role as crossword puzzles in newspapers, and gaming sites like Yahoo! Games where games are the star attraction. There is a bigger opportunity, however: promotional puzzles that capture eyeballs and increase product awareness on sites that have nothing to do with news or games. This is nothing new; throughout history puzzles have been used as inexpensive but effective ways to capture people's attention for marketing messages.
     The Adobe Puzzle is a weekly puzzle on the Adobe web site. Each puzzle features a different Adobe typeface or clip art package. The puzzles are intended to keep people coming back to the site, showcase new products, and educate customers in basic principles of typography and graphic design. The Adobe Puzzle (prototype)
     I developed the puzzles in collaboration with writers, artists and programmers at Adobe. Here are some of the design decisions we made.
     Weekly. I prefer daily, weekly or monthly frequency for periodic puzzles, since those are the easiest rhythms to remember. A news site might benefit from a daily puzzle, whereas a low-frequency site might prefer a monthly puzzle. I chose weekly installments for the Adobe puzzle so the content would stay fresh but not change so often that it would become overwhelming.
     Aesthetics. A puzzle on the Adobe web site must naturally meet the high graphic standards of all Adobe products, which in turn meet the high standards of professional graphic designers. Pages are designed so they provide pleasing visual experiences whether or not the player actually plays the puzzle.
     HTML only. The Adobe web site uses conservative HTML with no plug-ins so that the widest possible audience can view it. (JavaScript is used occasionally, but only in nonessential places.) At first we considered using JavaScript to add interactivity to the puzzles, but a quarter of the people visiting the Adobe site still use Internet Explorer 3.0, which has poor JavaScript support. So we decided instead to use straight HTML with CGI scripts on the server side. As web browsers evolve, so will the level of technology we can use.
     Batch feedback. The only interactivity that plain HTML allows is CGI scripts that update an entire web page when the user submits a form. Latency is high, so you do not want to update the page too often. That led us to develop a puzzle format that works well within these limitations - a format I call batch "feedback". Here's how it works.
     You are given a static puzzle. You solve the puzzle to the best of your abilities by checking check boxes, typing text in fields, and choosing items from menus. Those interactions are snappy, but they do not tell you which answers are correct. Then you click a submit button to check your answers. A CGI script on the server responds by highlighting wrong answers and displaying a count of how many times you have submitted your answers. The challenge becomes to see how few submissions it takes to get all the answers correct. In this puzzle format, the fact that answer checking happens infrequently is a feature, not a bug.
     Rotating templates. A weekly puzzle takes a lot of work to produce. To lower production costs, we decided to start by prototyping four reusable templates, two each for font and clip art puzzles. The programmers built CGI scripts, and the artists worked on page layouts, until we had something that we knew we could produce efficiently. Once the puzzle launched we could then rotate among the four templates, so that no puzzle type repeated more often than once a month. Over time new templates could be added to the rotation. Other examples of online puzzles that use templates include Mind Aerobics on the Microsoft Network, and Puzzle Zone on America Online [America Online, keyword: puzzlezone]. Both puzzles appear daily.
     Community. Puzzles are single-player games, but they still have a social aspect. To give players a sense of participating in a community of puzzle solvers, I include a letters page where I give the column a personal voice and respond to comments from players. Another popular way to create community in a puzzle column is to post names of winners. This requires registering and tracking players. For the moment we decided that the additional overhead of building player databases and registration procedures was not worth the effort, but we may add this in the future.


M E T A S Q U A R E S


MetaSquares is a two-player online board game I designed for MetaCreations in 1995. The game was built by programmers and artists, and run by a small team of web engineers and hosts, all from MetaCreations. MetaSquares was available as a free game on America Online from 1996 to 1997.
     The game enjoyed growing popularity - the devoted players created a number of elaborate fan web sites - but lost its home when America Online changed its business model to flat pricing in 1997. My goal was to create a board game with wide appeal - a game for the rest of us. Here are some of the design decision we made.
     Learn by watching. There are many great classic board games. So a new board game needs a particularly low barrier to entry if it is going to attract a following. Inspired by Tetris, I decided to design a game so simple that it could be learned by watching. MetaSquares has extremely simple rules: form squares of any size and at any angle by placing pieces on a square grid. Squares are drawn in as they are completed, making the logic of the game completely apparent. Previously completed squares stay visible on the screen and gradually lighten, making the entire history of the game visible at a glance. In contrast, the logic of a game like chess is only partially visible: a spectator can see pieces and their positions, but cannot see how pieces move or where they have been.
     Aesthetics. Another way to lower the barrier to entry is to make the game visually compelling, so that players are drawn into the experience even before they know what the game is about. Myst uses this strategy. For MetaSquares, Kai Krause and Phil Clevenger, the same folks who created the stunning graphical interfaces for such MetaCreations products as Kai's Power Tools and Bryce, created exceptionally beautiful game graphics. Furthermore, the program uses the same sophisticated graphics engine that goes into their drawing programs to create subtle interactive lighting and transparency effects far beyond conventional game graphics. As a result, at least half of MetaSquares players play for the sheer aesthetic enjoyment of the activity, without caring much about improving their skills.
     One-time download. The sophisticated graphics of MetaSquares come at a price. In order to play the game you must first download a client program. The download is not large - less than 2 megabytes - but that is enough to stop many people from playing. Different games make this tradeoff differently, depending on the target audience and desired level of performance. The same game in Java would probably attract more players, but with less pizzazz.
     Spectator sport. When MetaSquares was first launched, America Online had a pay-by-the-hour business model. The more time people spent online, the better. (This is true also for advertising-supported sites.) So I made sure that MetaSquares was as much fun to watch as it was to play. We made it easy for people to peek at games in progress, and chat with other players. When America Online changed to a flat-rate model, however, this worked against us, and the game had to find a new home.
     Fit the medium. A good computer game should make use of the unique capabilities of the medium. If it doesn't, then it shouldn't be on computer. In the case of MetaSquares, the computer adds to gameplay by keeping score and drawing in squares the moment they are formed. You can play the same game on paper, but automating these tasks makes the game more fun. My rule of thumb is to design games that can be played without the computer (because then the idea transcends the computer medium), but are more fun with the computer (or else why bother to play it on computer).
     Integrated chat. Finally, like most online games, we incorporated chat, so that players can talk to each other as they play. We went farther by color coding chat text by player, allowing people to switch easily among multiple games, and paying as much attention to the visual design of chat as to the design of the gameboard.



C O N C L U S I O N S



Easy to learn, familiar thinking games - games for the rest of us - have always been part of computer gaming. Some, like Tetris and Myst, have been runaway hits. Until recently, however most computer games have been complex action games aimed at a young male audience. Now that cheaper computers are reaching a larger, more diverse audience, games for the rest of us will become a bigger part of computer gaming.
     Some games for the rest of us will be translations of existing games from time-tested genres such as puzzles, board games and game shows. Certainly big media and gaming companies will try to extend their franchises from print media, physical games and television into computer games. Look for alliances between media and gaming companies.
     Some games for the rest of us will be brand new. Many of these games will use business models outside the traditional limits of the computer gaming business. Look for new genres of games that take advantage of the special capabilities of the computer medium and internet connectivity.
     Games for the rest of us are a big business opportunity. Within a few years they will likely become the overwhelming majority of computer games. Games for gamers will continue to have a place, but will occupy a more specialized niche.
     However, if all we think about is making money or keeping players addicted, we are missing a larger opportunity. Games for the rest of us have the power to influence millions of people. If we are going to spend years of our lives creating games, let us create something worthwhile.



Copyright 2000 Scott Kim.
All rights reserved.