Old Grandma Hardcore

This blog is the chronicle of my experiences with Grandma, the video-game playing queen of her age-bracket and weight class. She will beat any PS2, XBox, GameCube, etc., console game put in front of her, just like she always has. These are her stories. She is absolutely real. She lives in Cleveland.

Friday, September 02, 2005

Grandma Responds to GDCE Challenge: "Don't Fucking Complicate Things"

Since the article appeared in BoingBoing, Grandma received a few e-mails asking what she thinks of this Game Design Mash Up challenge. Here's the premise of the piece: Game designers are each given the same challenge and then give a presentation. This year's challenge- design a game for a grandma.

But gee-whiz guys, what do grandmas get into?

"After apologizing for any stereotyping, he proceeded to generalize at an entertaining pace. Grannies, Demis surmised, like knitting, reading, gardening, reminiscing, telling stories, playing bridge, grandchildren and gossiping. The full-house audience murmured an amused recognition at the selections. He went on to point out that complex controls would be unacceptable and that gratuitous violence, sex or profanity would also be a problem. What is clear is that it should be is social, friendly and in a familiar setting."

Let's set the record straight then, shall we? I'm all about helping out the game designers. Please observe the following warnings on just a few of my Grandma's favorite games of all time:
Violence, Blood, Strong Language | Blood and Gore, Violence | Blood and Gore, Language, Suggestive Themes, Violence | Comic Mischief, Language, Mild Violence, Suggestive Themes | Blood and Gore, Intense Violence | Crude Humor, Fantasy Violence | Blood and Gore, Intense Violence | Mature Sexual Themes, Mild Violence, and Strong Language.

Look... I'm not suggesting that you guys think grandmas are really infants with driver's licenses and there is some sort of cycle of maturity that has to be obeyed to successfully market a game toward the elderly elements of our society. Come on! Who would say that?

Oh... Damn:

"[A] picture of a cat appeared on the screen to great amusement. He explained, 'the shape of the cat and the heat waves that it gives out really gets the old ladies going as they get quite cold. They like the cat shape. The cat is designed to be rested on the old ladies knees.' [...] The cat controller was met with rapture from the audience as Takahashi went on to explain the gameplay concept. 'As the dialogue with the cat develops, it suggests that Granny make some soup – but faster than the other granny down the street who has also received the instruction. A competitive element emerges and gradually the cat suggests more and more group activities that Grandma might engage in, culminating in trips to the park.' ..So they all go outside and eventually they meet other old ladies with cats and they all become friends.'"

The man made Katamari Damacy so he can't be all that bad. There are several problems with his suggestion, not least of which being the suggestion that a heat-emitting, knee-contoured, vocal, feline-synthetic input device would somehow be less complicated than pressing "B" then "UP" then "B" again.

The biggest mistake Takahashi made was including cats. Grandma fucking hates cats. She hates the smell, she hates their "I hate you but feed me anyway, bitch" look they give you, she hates their depressing addiction to catnip, she just pretty much hates everything and anything involving cats. [Note to readers, I love cats, this is a Grandma thing before you start to hate us.]

There is more to talk about with his "winning" design, about the appropriate and predictable notion of a man known for the universality of his greatest creation who can be just plain wrong when suiting a specific design for a misunderstood and perpetually stereotyped demographic.

There was one guy who got it spot on, Grandma's new hero- Nick James, bitch! When Grandma read this, she literally put up her hands and said "That's exactly fucking right:"

"[He] explained that being a Granny is, 'a bit like being drunk', having slower reaction times and poor hand to eye coordination. He went on to conclude that Granny is much like everyone else, in that she wants to be entertained, challenged and interact with like-minded people. [...] Finally he suggested that the gameplay ideas are actually already out there and what is needed isn't a revolution in gameplay, but in marketing."

Nick will be happy to know that Fur Fighters was an enjoyable Dreamcast experience. While he still stumbled into the contextually irrelevant (Ballroom Dancing Revolution? Come on, man) he understood that grandmas are not stupid, grandmas may love the thrill of reliving the bootlegging adventures of their youth more than the destroying the Covenant but they still want to ROCK, and that doesn't mean we should make those games FOR the elderly.

Please, please, PLEASE don't try to gear games toward grandmas. If these are the best ideas you're pitching you have a lot of work to do. Grandma's latest game idea: Outlaw Poker. Let people beat the shit out of bluffers that piss them off (XBox Live capabilities of course). See? Take that one to the bank. It will do better than Outlaw Volleyball and you get to include your boobies and comedic commentary. Go and be fruitful.

The moment you begin to make games the way some make movies, that is- listen to a marketing department rather than create something great, you begin to lose the trust and allegiance of those for whom you "create." Most girls I know who are college freshmen don't read Seventeen. The only people I know who watch Lifetime are gay men. There are more college drinking games involving the EyeToy than there are EyeToys, each cart carrying an 'E' rating. Do you realize how many e-mails we've amassed from elderly gamers who rock the controllers just as hard as Grandma, with the SAME games?

They already made a game for Grandma.

That game was God of War.

--More updates coming tonight! Today Grandma picked up a new game I think you'll be happy about. Thanks for the comments and e-mails everybody!!--

--Update-- Somebody made a tiny mention of us on Slashdot's message boards (you crazy kids and your internets) so we're getting a bit of new traffic; clarifications should be made:

For VIOLENCE, watch Video 8 on the menu to your right.
For SEX (and lots of it), watch Video 9 on the menu to- ...you get the picture.
For PROFANITY, any video will do, but 8 and 6 form a good representation.
For DRUG USE, watch video 4.

If you would like this menu repeated, scroll up a bit and try again. For assistance, say the word "I NEED FUCKING HELP" clearly into your telephone device.

Thank you!--


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  • At 3:20 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said…

    THAT was brilliant anonymous. Brilliant. Life does still carry on, doesn't it? It's hard to remember that sometimes.

  • At 3:30 PM, Blogger adam. said…

    brillant? try an easy plug for a website centered on whoring out links to online poker games. anyways, back to the topic...

    i had planned to comment on how we were dealing with the exception here, not the rule... as far as games and grandmas go, but then at the end of your post you mention how many other elderly gamers have already let you know they rock just as hard. This essentially nips my thought in the bud.

    However i do maintain that these enlightened gamers do still exist as the exception (for now) and that this begins primarily due to lack of exposure for an earlier generation. Growing up, its extremely doubtful any of them had anything remotely close to gaming, be it todays or that of yester year. And in most cases, I would think that as games became more advanced no real effort was made to encorporate the older gamer dynamic in gaming.

    In some ways, it seems that games are growing too overly complex to be properly introduced almost. Just look at suggestions for knitting, dance dance game gym, and a fucking cat to sit on your lap? Whats with that? And if the common conception of game designers is "[He] explained that being a Granny is, 'a bit like being drunk', having slower reaction times and poor hand to eye coordination.." it almost seems to me that no real effort will be made to recaptivate this lost segment of the industry. And thats just sad.

  • At 3:59 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said…

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  • At 4:24 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said…

    It doesn't seem fair that developers are still thinking in the past in this "post-OGHC era." I was hoping they would get the message. They could have made more bucks, but no.....

  • At 4:29 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said…

    fuck blog spammers.

    Anyway- this is wierd. Have you wrote to BoingBoing yet so they can do a followup- Grandma responds to developer?

    You should.

  • At 5:45 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said…

    Rock on Grandm!!

    Don't let the bastards bring you down!

  • At 7:32 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said…

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  • At 7:48 PM, Blogger Leci said…

    I hate cats as well. They're so much worse in so many ways than dogs. Sure, dogs won't rub up against your leg and make cute noises. That's what boyfriends are for.


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