Loving handicaps in competitive games
Competitive gaming, love it or hate it, a huge part of video games, and gaming culture in general. Many have speculated over what makes a game “deep” and “fair”, and the debate will likely rage till the end of gaming time. Over on gamasutra, writer Keith Burgun discusses his thoughts on the subject, in his frank write up about his love of N64 racers, learning through losing, and much much more.
Keith revels in some old school 90’s gaming memories, as he discusses what he refers to as “skill deficits”: the zone between how much you rock at a game, and how much your friends don’t. He further dives into how to balance these issues, and how a competitive game can save face, while servicing both players.
Keith talks about a problem we’re all very familiar with, and the semantics he mentions in games tying to service a non-determined outcome, through random elements and equalizers (see blue shell), help to keep the title fresh, and both the good and bad happy. I agree with most of what Keith has to say. I believe most mulitplayer video games to be a robust, and easily customizable experience, and shouldn’t just service the most dedicated of us. There should always be options for players to engage in fair straight up matches, but that’s not to say the game has to abandon the beginners and noobies without offering some level playing field.
I think the key words here are: variety and customization, and I think the best competitive games out there have the best of both worlds.
Give it a read if you have some time, it’s a good look into where we can go right, in moving forward with competing against each other.