I'm scared of video games.
I'm scared of committing 20, 40, 100 hours to a single experience. I'm scared of spending time and energy on repetitive combat loop design. I'm scared of exploring new mechanics only to come up against their limits. I'm scared of an isolating entertainment medium that few of my peers relate to.
I have been playing video games for most of my life. Every time I start a new one, I'm scared. I feel nervous and anxious as the opening splash screens play. I spend some time in the menus so that I don't have to face starting the game proper. I feel disconnected from the controls and flail around for a while. I feel like I missed some critical training in the opening sequences. I'm lost. I don't know how to play this game, and I never will. Everyone else knows what to do, but I don't. I'm playing it wrong. I'm terrible at this game.
I've been playing these things for decades. I played the first of them when they were new, and now I play the latest. Okay, I typically play them a few months after everyone else, but I've made my peace with that.
As games became more complex and impenetrable, I kept playing them. I would go pretty deep, if it meant I could enjoy a new game. I was as scared of getting into Street Fighter 2 and Mortal Kombat in their time, as I am of most current games. Now I link together the motions and combos required as a function of muscle memory.
Still that fear is there. Still, I play these games, and still I scramble to start a new one as soon as I complete an old one. For as much as they scare me at the start, I know that halfway through an entertaining 20 hour game, I'm going to spend 40 of the hours I’m not playing, thinking about playing.
I am invested in games more than any other entertainment medium. I put more mental energy into the hobby than most other things in my life. I genuinely enjoy most games I play, but still, I am scared to start a new one.
If even half of the people who don’t regularly play games feel this same fear when presented with the prospect of starting one, how in the world will the medium ever draw a larger audience?
I tried to get my interactive shader test to run properly inside this blog post, but that weren't happening. Instead I put it on its own page. You can click the link at the top or bottom of this post to mess around with it.
I tossed a jumble of models together to approximate the kind of stuff that will go on at the top of the screen during the game. If you fiddle with the knobs you can adjust a bunch of the settings in the shader. It will freak right out when you first start playing with it, but you can pretty easily adjust it to something reasonable. There is only one shader in this scene and no lights. Everything is adjusted, tinted, slid, tweaked, and modified through careful use of a few variables.
This is the link to the Shader Test
This is what happens when you introduce a 5 year old to minecraft. I played too. Click for larger images