Gone to the dogs

Looking through the online dating sites (lookout people — it’s a lonely single guy!) I have noticed a common demand for “no mind games”. Apparently, some women have a problem with guys who play games that involve thinking. Does this mean no chess? Do they really only like guys that play games that don’t involve their minds?

Alas, I play games. Lots of them. I mean, I’ve always been a fan of RTS and FPS games, but now I’ve moved on to the hard stuff.


That’s right, not only have I gone and bought a hand-held console, but I’m playing a game that requires that I pet it, talk to it, blow air at it, and generally make a fool of myself on a regular basis.

But — and here’s the clever part — it really is fun. The Nintendo DS (and the as-yet-to-be-released) Nintendo Revolution are returning much of gaming to its roots. Fun games that allow you to connect with whatever world it is that you’re playing in.

For too long now, game designers have mistaken gloriously rendered 3D graphics for real immersion. You can make a game look and sound and move as realistically as you like, but if you’re stuck behind a tired interface, you’re still poking at a screen with a mouse.

Nintendogs certainly makes the most of the Nintendo DS’ technology. Training your puppy requires you to voice commands, while petting it with the touch screen. You play ball and frisbee with it. You brush it. You shampoo it. You play with a bubble blower that requires you to actually blow at the screen to make the bubbles come out.

It is a very natural way to interact with the game, and it makes it so much more realistic to play. Romilly picked up the interface for playing ball in about 2 seconds, and spent a little while playing ball with my virtual pug, Budd. Later, while we were out shopping, she enquired what Budd might be doing now. Even later, she seemed concerned that he was inside the “little computer” and might want to play again. Romilly was instantly immersed in the game. Budd reacted when she called (screamed at top volume) his name, and obviously enjoyed being petted.

It’s games like this that have recaptured my imagination. They’re not tired reflex tests; they’re actual games. They’re fun.

5 thoughts on “Gone to the dogs

  1. Very interesting. πŸ™‚ I’m just about to commit myself to a Nintendo DS, but was holding out against Nintendogs. I was thinking more MarioKart or Sonic Rush, but now it looks like I may have to succumb and start talking to my handheld. Well, at least it will save my arm. πŸ™‚

    And yay for the fun factor coming back as well, it’s been too long I think…

  2. Ah, well — Mario Kart DS is also excellent πŸ™‚

    Possibly not quite as good for arms, but definitely fun. I’ve quite enjoyed being able to lay back on the couch and wirelessly race people over the `net.

    Ah, technology; where would we be without ye?

  3. You do realise that talking about the fun being left out of modern games marks us both out as “nostalgic old gamers”? πŸ™‚

    I’ve been here for some years already, but you may have trouble adjusting…

    Never mind, I feel Mario Kart DS tournaments in the near future! I say we start with coffee as a wager and move up. πŸ™‚

  4. Yup your old πŸ˜› well slightly older than me anyway.

    But I must admit the game does sound temptingly good. And shows that there is still inovation in the gaming industry… if only a little.

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