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Industry in danger of pigeon-holing itself - Howard

By Matt Martin

Wed 18 Feb 2009 9:54am GMT / 4:54am EST / 1:54am PST

Fallout producer laments perceptions of Wii, Xbox 360 and PS3 games

Bethesda Softworks

The Bethesda Softworks division, founded in 1986, has a long history of success as a developer and publisher...

The videogame industry is in danger of pigeon-holing itself and projecting simple stereotypes to the mass market, according to Bethesda's Todd Howard.

The current crop of home consoles are perceived to sit at opposite ends of the spectrum, according to Howard, with the Wii associated with cheap kids games and the Xbox 360 and PS3 home to violent, adult-rated content.

"As an industry, we have to make sure the world knows that gaming is for everyone, and not just kids or thirty-somethings who never grew up," said Howard speaking to the AIAS.

"I'm worried the Wii is getting stuck with quick-buck games aimed at children who don't know any better, and the 360 and PS3 are all about M rated kill-fests."

Howard also said that developers must cater to new players by understanding what holds back their progress when they first pick up a videogame.

"Everyone needs to think about the player who is playing for the first time and really figure out what confuses them, or how they can have 'real fun' while they learn the game.

"Frustration is the number one reason people of all skill levels stop playing," he added. "Everyone needs to get better at the 'learn-play-challenge' design ramp."

Asked what problems in game development he would like to be able to solve instantly, Howard replied: "Technology and the discipline to use it correctly."

"I see a lot of groups still struggle on each game with the basics, from rendering speed to load times."

Part of this problem is the introduction of new technology to the industry, which requires time for developers to successfully get to grips with, said Howard.

"I think the best ideas don't emerge until the platforms and tech are stable, because early on you spend all your time just getting something to 'work,' and then you're satisfied, as opposed to iterating it until it 'works great'."

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