Book: Basics of Game Design
Publisher: CRC Press
The video game industry has grown explosively over the past decade
and is now a major provider of home entertainment. Since the North
American release of the Nintendo Entertainment System (NES) in
1985, game industry revenues have also grown substantially and, according
to the marketing research company NDP Group, grossed
almost $20 billion in the United States in 2009. World sales are about
equivalent to US sales, so the game industry brought in approximately
$40 billion worldwide in 2009. Even during the late economic
downturn, the game industry remains healthy financially.
There are many reasons why games have become so popular.
One reason is that they are available on many different platforms,
including computers, game consoles, cell phones, iPads, and various
handheld devices, especially the Sony PlayStation Portable and
Nintendo DS. Over the years, as the platform technology improved,
games have become much more sophisticated in creating worlds that
immerse the player with their almost photorealistic graphics and 3D
sound effects that make players feel they are actually on a battlefield
or taking on armies of zombies.
Of course, games are not movies. The main difference is that
games allow players to actively participate in the events of the
game world as opposed to simply sitting back and passively watching
things happen. It is this hands-on involvement in a game world
where entities seem to behave independently that sets games apart
from traditional forms of art and entertainment. Rather than simply
watching the hero fight her way through hordes of enemies to reach
the lair where the evil villain is hiding, game players can pick up
weapons, whip up magic or highly advanced technology, and even
lead armies against the villain.
Of course, just as in other forms of art and entertainment, someone
has to create the environment and personages inhabiting the
world, put words into the characters’ mouths, and define how things
will run. The art team creates the worlds and entities. The programming
team creates the game engine that coordinates all the processes
involved in getting the game to appear on the screen as well as handling
the world physics and enemy artificial intelligence. The design
team not only creates the script for the game but, more importantly,
also has the task of assigning values to objects in the game world so
that they can interact as desired.