Controllers and Feelings

The Old Man’s Club is a video game adaptation of the book The Old Man and the Sea. Usually, I do not like adaptations of books that do not follow the storyline exactly, but I actually enjoyed the way this game was made. First off, the sound reminds you of the docks, with the sounds of seagulls and waves crashing in the background. Even the sounds made as you click on various objects to inspect them closer fit with the fishermen vibe of the book. What really struck me however, is the way Santiago’s battles against various creatures of the sea are translated. For one, they are depicted as having muscular, human bodies with animal heads, which is a very interesting choice that I did not quite understand. My guess is that the creator is reflecting on how Santiago refers to the marlin as “brother” and has (one-sided) conversations with it during their time together- giving it a human quality. The battles against the sea creatures in the games are arm-wrestling matches, something I also did not understand for the first one or two matches. However, as the matches got longer and my fingers began to cramp, I started to understand. The creator wanted me to feel (on a lesser scale) what Santiago was feeling while he was at sea struggling with the marlin for two days and fighting off the sharks. As the matches grew longer, my fingers grew more cramped and my patience grew shorter and shorter.

When thinking about this as well as the discussion we had in class on Monday, I wonder if this game is a good example of why creating a controller for a game can open so many doors for the game’s development. The creator of this game only had a keyboard to work with and was able to make the player feel what the protagonist was feeling, but I wonder how the game may have changed if the creator got to build a controller for the game first. I wonder how other games would change if they had a controller specifically made for them, instead of for the console itself. This game reshaped my past experiences and helped me realize how much a controller can be used to help immerse oneself into a game.  

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2 thoughts on “Controllers and Feelings

  1. I think your ideas tie in pretty well with the questions we have been asking in class about hardware, software, interface, and how the body interacts with the game. We’ve talked about play as an act of creation, in the sense that you are constructive things within the game world, or ideas in the outside world, but it is interesting that here play becomes the creator of a physical change as well. The way utilizing the interface to play causes fatigue for the player’s hands, and the way that physical change has meaningful ties to the game’s content reinforces both the significance of controller design/mechanics and the potential play has to effect the “meat space” world.

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  2. I like how you mention that controllers can drastically effect the players overall experience, as this was relevant during the creation of our Makey-Makey projects. This freedom was how our group developed the idea of trying to move away from the classic 1-player game and develop something different, as we indeed did have the freedom the create our own controller. We ended up creating a 2-player cooperation game, in which one player has the ability to look at the maze and hear the game, while the other player has the ability to move the character. Both carry equal importance, as it is the player looking at the maze needs to communicate with the other player to move their character successfully through the labyrinth. We chose to have selective sensory information for each player, as most games offer complete sensory information for all players during gameplay. We created our game with the goal of it being both a unique and original design, while demanding cooperation between players. Our groups production of this game highlights what you mention – the effects that the ability to make the controller has on the development of the gameplay experience.

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