Mixed reality needs to keep adults in mind.
No, I’m not talking about Holo-Porn.
The current tilt to the gaming industry is pretty clear: the target age range for a large AAA release is somewhere between the ages of16 and 30, and if it doesn’t have the player at the center of grotesque violence, it doesn’t ship. The color pallet seems to have gotten a lot more brown and a lot less varied. With another release of Call of Duty coming up soon, plus a whole slew of enthusiasm for VR gaming through SteamVR, I want to stress something to the world:
Don’t forget about adults.
As a millennial, I say this because I’m going to soon no longer be the target audience for AAA game titles.
I love FPSs just like the next guy, but I don’t think the FPS genre would work well in the Mixed Reality world of the HoloLens. It just wouldn’t translate well, losing the intimacy that Mixed Reality can give us. To illustrate this intimacy, I want to talk about the storytelling inside Fragments.
Fragments is one of the few games I’ve had to set down and think about for a while. It raises ethical questions of the player’s character, of the environment you play in, and the situation you as the player must deconstruct. At a fundamental level, a question I had to grapple with, as someone who is an advocate of personal privacy, is “Do the ends justify the means?”
The premise of Fragments is that you are an operative in an organization which can look through the eyes of any person, seeing the environment around them and reconstructing events. They use this under the pretense of being a government crime-solving division, but there’s something that I couldn’t get out of my head through my time playing it: “Am I really the good guy?” (spoiler alert: That’s a damn fine question, it’s not getting answered very well.)
This storytelling was intentionally targeted towards adults; It requires you to take notes, think way outside the game itself, learn about the areas the game is set in and outright exhaust your options at times. It requires a higher degree of critical thinking than your average run-and-gun shooter. It requires you to be cultured to some extent, requires you to have been an adult in the real world.
There is a place for games targeted at a young audience in the Mixed Reality space (Pokemon Go is a fantastic example of this) but let’s not forget that there are humans over the age of 25–30 or so who want to play games. Fragments is a game that can be played 20 minutes or so at a time — what I think is going to be about the time most people will want to be in a Mixed Reality environment.
So, developers, don’t forget about my father. This sort of stuff was the things he dreamed about and has been thinking about for a solid 20 years.