Now that the video game is no longer (quite) considered a curious beast, that it has been invited in television commercials and that it is displayed on promotional posters in most cities in France, the neophyte audience of the media is likely to finally be tempted by this famous activity which is no longer the preserve of young people. But getting into video games as an adult without ever having tried it is perhaps not so obvious as one would like to say.
For everyone, right away?
This observation jumped to my mind at the end of the holiday season. While a Nintendo Switch was enthroned at the foot of the tree for a couple and their two children, the desire for the latter to plug in the machine and launch the Mario Party 8, Mario Kart 8 Deluxe or others Super Mario OdysseyIt was strong there and it didn’t take long before the device was wired, the joy-con synchronized and the first cartridge inserted. But the first difficulties in apprehending the interface quickly appeared. While, for someone who has been swimming in video games for a long time, the console menu proves to be (relatively) intuitive, a person who has never had contact with the media will have to take his time to read the information displayed on the screen to navigate properly through the menus. A look at the pictogram of the “back” button displayed on the screen and then a visual consultation of the joystick in hand is necessary so as not to “get it wrong”, while the icon indicating the “sr” and ” sl “, the triggers of Joy-Con, were a mystery for adults as for children who had the controllers in hand.
These seemingly very simple manipulations, however, are based on muscle memory for fans of video games. We no longer have to learn how to position the buttons on a controller or navigate through a menu. It is not the same for a person who has never approached a video game other than by gaze, and the barriers that seem totally invisible to us to orient ourselves in an interface or understand the mechanics of a game are however very real for someone who has everything to learn from the media. Needless to say, the Switch adverts with a big blow from happy and hilarious families spending an extraordinarily fun time with young and old, who have undoubtedly encouraged many families to invest in the product (rightly), seem far away at first ignition. And if some games, such as Mario Kart, are clear enough for the pleasure to be (almost) immediate for all, it will have taken a little break-in time to understand which button does what, which menu corresponds to which game mode etc. Even a general public game does not always display in a clear way the basics of video games for the total novice.
A new language to learn
And we are talking about fairly instinctive games. When we talk about or show The Witcher 3: Wild Hunt, Red Dead Redemption II or some God of war to a curious person who of course does not show any hostility towards the video game, the temptation for the latter to try it is great but yes, it seems “complicated to handle”. And in fact, it is. When the last contact with a video game goes back to the NES, its two buttons and its 2D games, manipulate a camera using a stick, moving the other and manage the 4 triggers, the 4 buttons and the D-Pad in a fluid and unconscious way is clearly not an easy thing. These multiple manipulations first require to understand the positioning of the keys and to press them without having to take a quick look. And once this muscular memory, the sense of orientation of a character in a 3D universe and the hand / eye coordination assimilated, and it is not an easy task, you have to learn a new language: that of the game video, quite simply. Even for a recent 2D platform game, for example, understanding the visual codes, the indicators giving the procedure to follow to progress in a level will not be automatic for the newcomer in pixelated universes .
When you have been immersed in a virtual world where colors, shapes, respond to an invitation to action with consequences at stake, the progression becomes natural and, to schematize, shoot the red barrel to explode the door is done without thinking. These automatisms are inherited from a long-term practice and from constant monitoring of the video game with the progressive evolution that it has known over time.. And rather than go there with a few well-felt valves in the face of a person wishing to embark on video games and the difficulties they encounter in practice, even if they seem invisible to the trained eye, I choose rather the pedagogy, a suitable toy library, patience and above all an invitation to perseverance.
Too many people around me have given up on the challenge that the manipulation of a character in play can represent despite their desire to immerse themselves in it. Like every person who practices a discipline for the first time, benefiting from some advice cannot be harmful and also prevent any discouragement.
Through , Journalist jeuxvideo.com