Thursday, April 8, 2010

Diner Dash and my conversation with Sean

I had played Diner Dash before and I knew of the fame and its spin-offs that came out later. (I was especially intrigued by the Diner Dash: Flo on the Go, which is set on a cruise ship.) It is definitely an entertaining game but as I played I couldn't help but think about the discussions we had about multitasking as this game places a vital amount of importance to successfully multitasking; your duties grow as you race between tables, the coffee machine and the cook. Now it is undoubtedly enjoyable but it is also undeniable that it is very stressful. Why then do we place ourselves under this seemingly unnecessary stress? Does this game create a sense of realism? Will any of the "customers'" getting offended affect you, the gamer, in any shape or form in real life? No. If you do "fail" a level, won't you be able to play it again? Yes, you will. Then, why do we feel this stress and not enjoy this game without a worry in mind?

I think this stems from the fact that the game establishes a good sense of urgency in the gamer's head. The clock slowly ticking on the right side of the screen reminds us that time is passing. The customers start "steaming" when they are losing patience and this highly visual cue does a great job of showing us the pressure we are under. The fact that Flo is always on the run furthers this sense of urgency. Therefore, although the graphics aren't particularly realistic or in 3-D, the gamers are sucked into this game's atmosphere.

TAlking to Sean about gaming in general, we both came to the same conclusion: we both like to play RPGs, MMORPGs and platformers and we could be categorized as "serious gamers" but only because we both want to be engulfed in a compelling narrative. We are not concerned about the gaming experience per se, but about experiencing the game world and the storyline. For example, we have both played WoW, but we never got past mid-levels because neither of us really has the patience to just hunker down in front of the computer and fight monsters solely to gain experience. This brought into mind the question of what really makes a person a hardcore gamer. Is it time and dedication? Because then yes, we are serious gamers because I have save game files that show that I have spent 70 hours playing a game. Or is it how you play the game and your "levels"? Then I couldn't say the same thing because even in that game my characters are not as strong as they could be. Or is it what you get out of the game?

When playing Diner Dash both of us went for the Story Mode (which probably reflects on our narrative seeking gaming drives) and played until level 6, when the online version cuts you off from playing any further. Sean expressed how getting elements that further the plot were important for him, such as getting a coffee machine. For me, seeing the changes/repairs that were happening to the restaurant and the new clientele were important.

We probably belong to a third breed of gamers who are not quite as dedicated as a hardcore gamer is but we feel a greater attachment to a game than a casual gamer. Maybe this gamer labeling system should be a spectrum rather than converging into two absolutes?

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