Game Development Reference
Interview with Richard Garriott: The Three Grand
Eras of Gaming—cont'd
The good news is that you can create a game that is capable of captur-
ing all those people, in theory. I personally believe what is now going to
evolve is just like television and movies. There are going to be the chick
flicks and there are going to be the action movies. Chick flicks for the
women, action movies for the guys, and now and then a rare and special
game that captures everyone that could be a chick flick or an action movie.
It could be Star Wars that will capture everybody, or The Notebook .
I think it is very clear that casual and mobile are already dominant, and
if you are a designer or investor, if you want to make the games or invest
in this business, this is the opportunity. I would still enjoy making a solo-
player Ultima . I would enjoy writing the story for it, but there's no busi-
ness opportunity there. There's no reason to support it. MMOs are more
of the same thing. I enjoy making MMOs. I love the craft that goes into the
worlds. I love the scale of the reality of what we are building but the cre-
ative challenge and business opportunity is clearly now in this new space.
Q: With this expanded audience, how do you see the face of the average
gamer changing moving forward?
A: If you look at the skills and taste of the new wave of gamers, it is
already evolving very quickly. If you look at the first games, which were
astonishingly popular with tens of millions of players, they were not par-
ticularly well-written games. I do not mean from their fun factor, but from
their user interface and other usability factors that you would think would
be very important. These are especially important to a new user and they
were not really done that well. It feels very much like a reflection of when
Ultima Online came out. The graphics were not that great. It was pretty
buggy and the user interface was inconsistent. People were very critical of
it, but it succeeded dramatically in spite of all that because of the power
of the new features. The early social and mobile games—primarily social
games, really—had that same kind of problem. UIs were terrible. Graphics
were terrible, but they succeeded dramatically in spite of that because
playing with your real friends is so much more powerful than playing
with strangers or by yourself.
Harder core games have shown to port over to this medium without
much success. It is very important to realize that when we were in the era
of hardcore nerds, the install was so hard to figure out that some UI was
no big deal compared to just installing the game. Their ability to embrace
and figure out complex screen arrangements was acceptable.