In some of my previous posts, I have looked at the computer game industry (especially Valve, with its “Steam” digital distribution service and focus on customer service that can even turn pirates into paying customers) with an eye to the examples it sets for the e-book and publishing trades.
It turns out I’m not the only one who thinks like that. Paul Rhodes has posted on the Bookseller’s “FuturEBook” blog about the uses of new tablet and smartphone technology that he saw at the European “GamesCom” video game industry trade and consumer show. Rhodes notes that, perhaps surprisingly, game-industry enthusiasm for the iPad is on the cool side, but there is a fair amount of buzz around Android’s potential as a gaming platform.
The largest amount of buzz at the show had to do with motion-sensitive controls—Sony’s Move and Microsoft’s Kinect, which represent their attempts to catch up to Nintendo’s Wiimote controller. Rhodes thinks that this technology has potential for use with interactive book or storytelling experiences—and for that matter, there may not be so very much difference between that and a traditional “video game” anymore.
For the books publishing world, my overriding takeway was this – The games industry and ours are getting ever closer, despite the barrage of new technology. It’s no coincidence that the best big production games tend to be based on a decent narrative (even Warcraft needed a solid, believable world to set as its canvas), while the most successful casual titles mirror a lot of the virtues we are trying to instill into our apps and eBook experiences. It should be a no brainer, then, that our industry can help games with narrative and creative, whilst they can teach us a lot in how to best use technology to tell our stories.
For myself, I wonder at what point games and other storytelling media will get so close together that Roger Ebert (who infamously decried video games as not being “art”) will have trouble telling them apart.