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SM2215 Genres Part 1 - Games. Mark Green School of Creative Media. Overview. Games divided into three types: arcade console computer each type targets a different group of users tendency for games to move from one type to another. Arcade Games - History.

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Sm2215 genres part 1 games

SM2215 GenresPart 1 - Games

Mark Green

School of Creative Media


  • Games divided into three types:

    • arcade

    • console

    • computer

  • each type targets a different group of users

  • tendency for games to move from one type to another

Arcade games history
Arcade Games - History

  • Started with pinball in the 1800s

  • first use of simple electronics in 1930s

  • moved to more sophisticated electronics and computers in the 1970s

  • originally placed in bowling alleys, bars and other entertainment areas

  • game arcades are relatively recent, last 20 years

Arcade games
Arcade Games

  • Games companies sell units to distributors

  • distributors will either have space rented in locations, or sell to smaller operators

  • distributors rent space from locations, either a fixed rate or a percentage of the revenue

  • distributors will typically move games every 3 to 6 months

Arcade games business
Arcade Games - Business

  • Try to keep cost less than $5000US, some special games can be more expensive

  • expensive games have a bad reputation, need high volume or high price per game

  • produce custom hardware that is cheaper and harder to break than consumer products

  • try to use same hardware in several games

Arcade games design
Arcade Games - Design

  • Players pay per game:

    • want to attract players, play often

    • want to keep games short

  • most arcade games are based on physical action, not a lot of thinking or strategy

  • must be easy and quick to learn, no instruction manual

Arcade games design1
Arcade Games - Design

  • Hard to come up with new arcade games, very limited genre

  • Game must be simple, easy to learn, few rules and easy to explain

  • Mainly based on reflex and manual skills

  • Most innovation now in racing games, games that require special hardware or playing areas

Arcade games2
Arcade Games

  • The main market segment in the 1970s

  • now a small part of the business:

    • hard to come up with new ideas for games, restricted range of things you can do

    • competition from games consoles

  • provided the original demand for game consoles, got the industry started


  • Special purpose device for games only

  • displays on TV, uses simple controllers for interaction

  • first consoles appears in early 1970s

  • early ones had a fixed set of games built into them, no expansion

  • some attempts at cartridges before microprocessors, but limited range of games

Consoles pong
Consoles - Pong

  • Pong was the first console game, one of the first arcade games

  • ball bounces off paddles on either side of screen

  • early versions were two player, each player controlled one paddle

  • later versions allowed you to play against the console


  • First real console system was the Atari VCS

  • based on the 6502 microprocessor, limited amount of electronics in the console

  • the cartridge held the program for the game

  • cartridge had between 2K and 4K of memory


  • The VCS started the cartridge model that was used until recently

  • cartridge consists of a few memory chips and other ICs in a plastic container

  • early systems allowed anyone to make cartridges, later systems had special formats that were closely controlled by console company


  • Easy to produce cartridges for Atari systems, many companies started to compete with them

  • result: Atari went bankrupt, bad management also contributed

  • later companies learned their lesson from Atari, keep control of the game media

Consoles business model
Consoles - Business Model

  • There are several aspects

  • first, need to have very high volume:

    • reduces cost of individual units

    • large market share means more games, developers interested in your console

  • console companies now aim for millions of units

Consoles business model1
Consoles - Business Model

  • Most of the profit made from games, not the consoles

  • consoles are often sold at a loss, widely denied by the industry

  • console company produces the cartridges, or other game media

  • game company must sell their games through the console company

Consoles business model2
Consoles - Business Model

  • Console companies claim they want to maintain quality, but really want to maintain profit

  • major problem: game companies always feel the console companies want too much

  • no opportunity for independent distributors

  • console companies in control, select the game companies

Consoles business model3
Consoles - Business Model

  • Need a new generation of consoles every 3 to 5 years

  • people get tired of old games, need to get something new

  • also about the right time to update the technology, give people a reason to buy new game cartridges


  • Consoles controlled most of the game market from late 1970s through most of the 1990s

  • computers are now common, provide competition for consoles

  • several challenges for consoles

  • need to keep up with PCs, but still remain cheap, under $300US


  • Limited amount of space for games

  • move from cartridges to CD to DVD, still hard to compete with PC

  • network support required for online games, adds more to the cost

  • will consoles evolve into PCs?

Consoles player participation
Consoles – Player Participation

  • Limited writable storage, hard to customize games

  • PC games allow players to create own content, can be an important part of some games

  • Consoles are closed, so players can’t create their own content

  • Lower feeling of ownership and participation in the game

Console wars
Console Wars

  • Unlike PCs, companies have control over hardware and software

  • provide more than games: network connection, DVD player, etc

  • aim to control the living room, delivery of content to the home

  • major fight between Sony (content company) and Microsoft (computer company)

Computer games
Computer Games

  • Where it all started, now probably the most popular form

  • this is the most powerful game platform, can take advantage of all PC hardware

  • most innovative, the lowest entry barrier to the industry, best entry point for new companies

Computer games history
Computer Games - History

  • First computer game 1961/62, Space War

  • written for PDP-1 computer, show its capabilities

  • very simple line graphics, but interesting to play

  • a two player game, couldn’t play against the computer

Computer games history1
Computer Games - History

  • Space War started the industry, first arcade games modeled on Space War

  • most early computer games were produced in universities and research labs

  • no distribution mechanism, no way to sell them, games were produced purely for fun

  • most games had limited distribution, until there were computer networks

Computer games history2
Computer Games - History

  • People’s Computer Company - founded around 1975, popularize computers for the home, etc

  • produced Creative Computing, first publication to treat home computing, games and computer art seriously

  • book of early computer games, all written in Basic, run on most home computers

Computer games history3
Computer Games - History

  • Home computers started the industry, started in the late 1970s and grew in the 1980s

  • problems:

    • most early computers were quite limited

    • too many models, market was too fragmented

  • computer games were a small industry

Computer games history4
Computer Games - History

  • The PC changed that, dominated the market and provided a good platform

  • through the 1980s and at least first half of 1990s the consoles still dominated

  • by the late 1990s most of the innovation was occurring in PC games

  • PCs now command a significant part of the market

Computer games1
Computer Games

  • PCs have a number of advantages over consoles:

    • faster hardware evolution, not restricted to 6 year technology cycle

    • more storage for games

    • network access for multi-player games

  • easier to do certain types of games on PCs

Game genres
Game Genres

  • A number of game genres have been produced

  • game industry tends to use very fine classification:

    • games within the same genre compete

    • small genres mean more room for games without competition

  • We use a much coarser classification


  • Started by arcade games, due to limited play time, what they could do best

  • based on physical action, co-ordination, shooting, etc

  • early games really had no characters, mainly shooting at objects

  • not very sophistication graphics, but lots of action


  • With characters question of point of view

  • in first person don’t really see the character, see game from player’s point of view

  • gives a sense of immersion in the game

  • FPS - first person shooter is the best example of this, games such as Doom and Quake are good examples

  • tend to be violent


  • Some action games use a third person view, Mario series of games is a good example

  • ability to watch the character

  • several versions:

    • over the shoulder, get same view as character

    • bird’s eye or remote view, get a complete view of the game area, remote control of the character

Id software
id Software

  • The company that defined FPS

  • produced the DOOM and Quake series of games

  • produced one of the first 3D games, Wolfenstein 3D

  • DOOM was one of the first online games, allowed 4 people to play together

Id software1
id Software

  • The first levels of DOOM were distributed as shareware, had to buy the full game

  • id allows players to add to their games, produce new levels and objects:

    • source code for games available for free

    • level design tools available for free

  • some players have produced almost complete games on their own

Id software2
id Software

  • Produced almost a religious following, have many fans, many web sites

  • more info on id games than any other company

  • the Quake game engine has been used by over 20 successful games produced by other companies

Adventure rpg

  • Started as computer game, around 1975

  • first versions motivated by D&D and similar RPGs

  • started as text based games, the first one was call adventure, thus the name of the genre

  • graphical adventure games didn’t appear to about 10 years later

Adventure rpg1

  • The closest games to a narrative or story line

  • the player is placed in an imaginary world, explores the world, solves puzzles, accumulates treasures

  • some games involve fighting, but many others don’t, usually a small part of the game

Adventure rpg2

  • RPGs allow the player to play some role

  • be a character different from real life

  • a good story and situation is necessary to make this realistic

  • quite often the games have a lot of written documentation to set the scene or provide background to the story

  • entry video can serve same purpose

Paper based games
Paper Based Games

  • Role playing and strategy games started before the computer

  • Military games have been played for a long time

  • Played on a map, use markers or characters that are shaped like troops, guns, tanks, etc

  • Sometimes based on real battles

Paper based games1
Paper Based Games

  • Players would take turns moving their armies, a set of rules used to determine the winner in each encounter

  • Role playing games came along a bit later

  • Still based on paper boards and moving characters around the board – but now you are the character

  • May not involve fighting, may be exploration

Paper based games2
Paper Based Games

  • Dungeon and Dragons (D&D) was the most popular

  • Loosely based on Lord of the Rings and similar stories

  • Sophisticated set of rules for generating characters and fighting

  • Dungeon master created the playing area and refereed the play

Paper based games3
Paper Based Games

  • Simulation games also started at this time

  • A number of games based on finance and stock trading

  • Many of the great game designers came from the paper game community

  • A lot of the design ideas, and the mechanics behind the games was worked out during this period


  • Adventure started with a page of text, described a field with a small house

  • used text commands to move to house and then inside

  • in the house collected important items for the game, then entered the dungeon

  • I first played this game on December 31, 1977


  • On each move presented with several lines of text describing current area

  • sometimes there would be options for the next move

  • very simple English commands:

    • move north

    • grab sword

    • Light lamp

Adventure rpg3

  • Commercial adventure games started with home computers, couldn’t play on arcade or consoles

  • early games were text based:

    • textual description of the scene

    • simple English commands

  • same game engine used for many games, main company was Infocom

Adventure rpg4

  • Later games added graphics, mainly as output, kept text for input

  • early games had no representation of player character, usually viewed world in first person

  • graphical games added the possibility of a player character and third person views


  • Based on a simulation of something that might occur in the real world

  • player controls the simulation, change the situation and watch how the characters in the simulation respond

  • quite often the player isn’t represented in the simulation

  • fairly sophisticated games

Simcity and the sims
SimCity and the Sims

  • SimCity is often viewed as the start of this genre - 1989

  • original game by Will Wright, finished in 1985, but no one would publish it

  • eventually Maxis, a new company produced it

  • long line of simulation games resulting in the Sims

Simcity and the sims1
SimCity and the Sims

  • The Sims took over 10 years to produce

  • considerable amount of research involved in producing the games, need to produce a realistic simulation

  • some of the Sim games were not successful, they were too complicated

  • need to have a goal for the simulation, or something that is fun


  • Another major part of this genre is flight simulators

  • current games as accurate as commercial flight simulators, important selling point

  • support a range of planes and realistic flight scenarios

  • large fan base who are very serious about the games


  • Flight simulators can be networked for formation flying, also have air control

  • some games allow custom design of the cockpit, can select and arrange instruments

  • can also design your own terrain and airports

  • special devices to simulate air plane controls

God games
God Games

  • A combination of RPG and simulation

  • The player controls a planet, civilization or creature

  • The player acts as god and completely controls the lives of his subjects

  • The characters in the game respond to what the player does, attempt to live with his decisions

God games1
God Games

  • A good recent example is Black and White

  • The player can be either a good god or an evil god, or something in between

  • The character responds to what the player has provided

  • The next version of the game will have more intelligent characters, maybe they will be able to go against the god


  • Sports games first appeared in the console era

  • the early versions were quite simple, limited control over play and limited graphics

  • there were also early sports games for computers

  • many of these were text based, enter a play and read the result


  • Breaks into two main groups:

    • team sports

    • individual sports

  • most common individual sports are golf and racing

  • individual are easier than team, since the user just needs to control one character


  • Both golf and racing have produced special hardware

  • steering wheels and peddles are common for game consoles and PCs

  • some arcade versions have reproduced the inside of racing cars

  • golf machines are typically more expensive, using video camera to monitor the swing


  • Team sports are more difficult, the player must be able to control the team, that is multiple players

  • early approach was based on coaching, instead of being a player

  • modern games allow the user to control all of the players on the team


  • Two problems:

    • selecting the player to control

    • having the other players do something intelligent

  • usually the player with the ball is the one the user is controlling

  • this works reasonably well for baseball and American football


  • For games like hockey and soccer more coordination is needed

  • the ball can move from player to player, and between teams

  • computer controlled players need to guess what the user controlled player is going to do


  • Most leagues have registered trade marks, must license from the league

  • this has many implications for games

  • need to produce a new version each year, changes in teams, colours, etc

  • now need to have face images of all the players, must be paid for this


  • Stadiums must also be faithfully represented

  • this includes the advertising

  • must negotiate with all advertisers to be able to include their advertisements in game

  • must pay for this right

  • yearly production cycle that lasts for about 11 months


  • One of the few genres without time pressure, don’t need to be instantly responding to computer

  • related to simulation games, but more planning is required, need to think of the strategy and apply it

  • of all the genres requires the most thought


  • Game play and consistency are very important

  • must have a good model of domain, set of rules that result in fair play

  • more attention must be paid to details, graphics and sound not as important

  • appeal more to older players

Casual games
Casual Games

  • One of the newest genres

  • Most PC games require a considerable time to learn, and players typically play for several hours at a time

  • This is called serious gaming – need to make a real commitment to playing

  • Casual games don’t require this commitment, a game can be finished in less than 5 minutes

Casual games1
Casual Games

  • Casual games are usually easy to learn, very few rules, or familiar games

  • Each round of the game can be completed in a short period of time, don’t need to spend a lot of time on it

  • Appeal to people who want a short break, have a few minutes to spare, don’t want to get too involved with the game

Casual games2
Casual Games

  • Becoming a large market, good way to attract people to games

  • Popular on web sites, can be used to draw people to the site, gain revenue from advertising

  • Many mobile games are of this type, fit the mobile life style, a few minutes to play while on the MTR or waiting for a friend

Mobile games
Mobile Games

  • Two different platforms:

    • Portable game consoles

    • Phones and PDAs

  • Game Boy is a good example of a portable game console, has traditional console games, but you can take it with you

  • Appeals to console game players, mainly serious games

  • Technology lags behind consoles

Mobile games1
Mobile Games

  • Phone based games are typically casual games, but can be much more

  • Phones are communications devices, can network the games

  • Either play against other people, or have a central database for game information

  • Examples: horse racing games, or fish breeding games


  • Why do people play games? Why are they popular? What makes a good game?

  • These are interesting questions, but we really don’t know the answers

  • Since there are many types of games, there are probably many answers

  • Most people play games for entertainment, challenge or as a hobby


  • Some things a game should be:

    • Interesting – it must catch people’s interest and hold their interest

    • Fair – people won’t play a game where they always lose

    • Challenging – it can’t be too simple

    • Interactive – the player must be involved, not just a spectator

    • Social – some games need to be social

Game play
Game Play

  • Term used by game designers

  • Capture the idea that a game must be fun

  • Deals with the rules and settings for the game, not the visuals and sounds

  • Without good game play a game is dead, no matter how good the visuals are

  • Designing game rules is still an art, many ways to go wrong


  • A game is balanced if all players have an equal chance of winning (or losing)

  • If a player is strong in one area, they should be weak in another

  • Game levels shouldn’t be impossible, it should be possible to pass a level with a reasonable amount of work

  • Skill should be important

Social games
Social Games

  • Some games are designed for group play

  • Many console games can have multiple players, cooperation and competition

  • In other cases one person plays while the others watch, this is common with children

  • They may all participate in solving a puzzle or trying to get through a level

Game playing as a job
Game Playing as a Job

  • Some people make their living from game playing

  • Competitive leagues for some games, have regular competitions

  • Often sponsored by computer or games companies

  • Cash prizes for winners, a top player can make a reasonable living

Game playing as a job1
Game Playing as a Job

  • Other people play online games

  • Build up a character to a high level and then sell them on eBay

  • Acquire valuable objects and auction them off for real money

  • Work a standard 40 hour week, can make an above average living doing this

  • What happens on the game ends?

Online games
Online Games

  • This raises a couple of interesting issues

  • Many online games have an economy

  • Players earn cash by doing deeds or jobs, can then use it to buy things

  • But is this real?

  • Game items are auctioned regularly on eBay, this can be used to determine the exchange rate

Online games1
Online Games

  • The currency in online games is as real as most countries currencies

  • The value of real currencies is determined by their exchange rates, this goes for game currencies as well!

  • The EverQuest economy is larger than that of some real countries

  • What does this tell us?

Online games2
Online Games

  • If there is money, there can be crime as well

  • Theft is one possibility, and it does occur in some games, there have been law suits over this

  • What about other crimes, physical crimes like assault and murder

  • Can they lead to actions in the real world?

Online games3
Online Games

  • As online games develop social structures, what is the impact on real life

  • If you get married in an online game, do you need a divorce in the real world

  • The answer appears to be yes

  • There have been marriage break downs due to relationships in online games

  • Do we need a law to keep the game world separate from the real world?

Online games4
Online Games

  • How do we end an online game, or must it go on for ever

  • What if the real company running the game goes under?

  • Is ending the game equivalent to genocide? Some people think it is!

  • There have been law suits over this, companies forced to keep the game world running

Online games5
Online Games

  • There is a lot we don’t know about the social structures formed in online games

  • Could these games have a significant impact on the real world?

  • Should game designers be aware of this?

  • Do we need to have laws about game design?