Inventing Computer Games: A Case Study
Over the past decade, the world of computer games has become extremely profitable. Jane Kershaw, a games developer who has worked for major companies and now runs her own business, provides some insights.
Tips“The first thing I have to make clear is that I can’t give you a case study about a particular game. The computer games industry is reticent about product development. After all, there’s a lot of money involved. What I can do, though, is give potential games inventors some tips they’ll find useful.
Background“To start with, when I say there’s a lot of money involved, you need to know the facts. For example, the computer games business is worth about £18 billion annually. This figure is rising 10 -11% a year.
“The cost of developing a computer game starts at around £2 million, and can be a lot higher. With this level of investment, you really need to know what you, as a games inventor, are doing.
“This brings me on to the invention process itself. There’s definitely a demand for new computer game ideas. But you need to be clear about your place in the process.
“The development of a new game may involve two dozen highly qualified people or more. These range from scriptwriters to specialist programmers. Furthermore, even the most technically qualified must take a creative approach to their work that generates ideas.
“In other words, you need to decide where you fit in to what is a complex operation. The good news for many, however, is that you don’t necessarily have to work for a company. There’s a steady demand for independent operators.
What Do People Want?“To be a successful inventor in the computer games world, you must study the market and follow the trends. Look at the bestselling titles of the previous year, for instance.
“Granted, most of these relate to war and urban street fights, but there are other subjects as well. There are increasing numbers of games related to music, for instance - and sport is a perennial favourite. And remember that the bestselling game to date, the Sims, is not a shoot-’em-up: it’s a relaxed life-simulation game.
“Also take heed of the changes in the games marketplace. The industry is trying to shed its image of appealing only to young males who spend all their leisure time in front of a games monitor. Study the TV adverts for new games: there are more young females playing, and older family members.
The Technology“Don’t forget to keep up with the technology. Read computer games magazines, and especially the news reports of the latest developments. What’s clear is that the makers of games are embracing LBW. This stands for living, breathing world, and is another way of saying that makers want more realism.
“So if you have any technical ideas for enhancing realism, you may be on to a good thing. Computer games that simulate every detail of an object, including the way light and shade interact with it, are going to be here within the next few years.
“Another area to think about is artificial intelligence (AI). AI is developing fast, and should be at the forefront of any inventor’s ideas.
“I hope these thoughts are of use. Above all, bear in mind that demand for games is high. So if you’re an inventor with an interest in computer graphics and gaming, you could do well.”