Ubisoft Looking to Green Up the Video Game Industry

The French video game industry giant Ubsisoft has recently announced its intent to become a force for greening the industry of video games by getting rid of physical manuals for its titles on the Sony Playstation 3 and Microsoft Xbox 360 console systems. According to the company, this means that nearly 6 million paper based manuals will not need to be made which works out, by their estimations, to over 2,300 trees not needing to be cut down to manufacture the paper. Since Ubisoft are makers of such smash global hit games as Assassin’s Creed and the series of Tom Clancy games, their impact would be large and they may well trigger a tide of change in the industry, say analysts. The solution is being leveraged for press coverage and good will from gamers, but should also save the company a significant amount of money in the design, manufacturing and shipping weight which raises the price of the games, although the games are not expected to be cheaper at retail due to these cost saving measures Ubisoft is choosing to implement.

Instead, gamers will be offered what Ubisoft is referring to as “in game digital manuals” that resemble those seen on PC games right now. The first title to feature this new type of digital manual will be an upcoming skateboarding game which Ubisoft as created with Shaun White, the Olympic snowboard winner of a gold metal who is also a skateboarding enthusiast. Special light weight packaging for the discs is also set to be tried to see how gamers respond.

Upcoming Def Jam Rapstar Game to Feature Kanye West and Others

Music based games have become all the rage over the course of the past few years and with more titles coming out regularly in both the rock and pop music genres, it is not surprising that a hip hop based game would be in the works. The upcoming title Def Jam Rapstar is a collective work which is pulling in the talent and resources from such big name video game companies as Konami Digital Entertainment, 4mm Games, Def Jam Interactive and Terminal Reality. The new title is being created in an effort to compete directly with other genre games such as Rock Star, Guitar Hero and Rock Band – all titles that have sold well into the millions thanks to their easy accessibility and promotion that includes a great many very popular songs familiar to those both in and outside of the gaming hobby. This new title will feature works by such artists as Kanye West, T.I., Young Jeezy, Slick Rick and Dr. Dre, among other Def Jam super stars. The goal is to bring the popular urban rhythms to the Xbox 360 and Playstation 3 systems.

More than 40 different tracks will be on the disc and players will be encouraged to not only play the role of MC and rap along to the beats, but to record their performances so that they can share them with others online. This is where the game seeks to be different than its competition because it is leveraging the power of social networking sites like YouTube and Myspace in order to let players not just have a temporary level of gaming fun, but to be able to share that with the world over the web.

Video Game Development

The process of creating a big budget video game or computer game is an intensive one that demands thousands of man hours in order to bring to completion and many times, millions of dollars, as well. This is due to the fact that these games often require far more people involved on their completion than a movie and usually wind up selling millions of copies around the globe and across multiple platforms if they become a global hit. This is why the several billion a year game industry has become the biggest earning segment of the entertainment today, surpassing even Hollywood and the music industry when it comes to the amount of money both spent and earned. While games do not as often feature highly paid stars the way that music and movie projects do, they require far larger teams of talent in order to complete from a range of disciplines in the arts and sciences, including: programmers who write the code which runs the software of the games; game designers who come up with all of the aspects of game play; visual artists who create images, textures and animations for the games; the sonic artists who create the music and sound effects for the game; and a team of writers who put together the scripts for those games which feature more involved story lines or dialogue. Many times, there are those who will fill more than one spot on a development team.

In addition to all of these people, most of whom will work for the studio that develops the game, there are also publishers. The publishers also employ a large number of highly skilled individuals in such careers as project management, marketing, accounting, logistics and other fields of knowledge that are needed to take the finished project from the development team and get it out on the market where consumers can buy it. Once the game is published, the royalties are paid to the developers, but developers also get levels of up front investment which they must carefully budget for the game’s completion. All of this is handled with a contract that specifies when the game must be delivered to the publisher by. Contractual agreements are a key part of the gaming industry and much like Hollywood, failure to meet a budget and time line can spell disaster for both publisher and development team. While there are in house development teams that operate under the wing of a publisher, there are also many 3rd party studios which develop the game independently and then sell it to the publisher. In addition, there are independent studios which create and market their own products, as well.

The life of a game developer is an intense one despite the aura of relaxed fun that most studios tend to display. The programmers, artists and other members of the game design team all work very hard in order to get the games out on time, meeting milestones and often having to work incredibly long hours during “crunch time” or during bug testing. Most of the disciplines require some form of education, but not all of them do – some are more based on talent.

Game Genres

Action – One of the basic genres in video games is action. Most action games rely on the player having fast reflexes in attack situations, as well as quick thinking. The primary objective of this game is to ensure the character’s survival, while sometimes following a storyline.

Shooter - Formerly grouped with action, this genre has changed to a single one, as the games have been developed in a different direction. Most shooter games employ a first person perspective, meaning the view the player sees on screen is through the eyes of the character.

Adventure – One example of this type of game is the ever popular Resident Evil in which players use ready made characters with little or no alteration available, to work through missions or quests.

Construction/Management – The objective of games in this type of genre is to manage and control a population or group of some sort. One example of this is Kingdom of Keflings, where a town needs to be built and the inhabitants put to work in various jobs.

Life Simulation – Life simulation games are essentially, a player taking a character through the motions of life. In one game of this genre, Virtual Villagers, characters on an island must maintain life by fishing, hunting, working, sleeping and actions of that sort.

Role Playing Games – Role playing games such as Dragon Age: Origins, are playing with the objective of following a storyline with a character that the player has fairly free range in creating. In following this storyline, the player is able to also control how the character develops as well, through gaining experience and stats.

Strategy – Whether these games are in the category of RTS, which is Real Time Strategy, or turn based, the objective and base generally remains the same. Command and Conquer is a basic example of strategy, wherein the idea is to beat the opponent at a game of warfare, ensuring your control over the board.

Vehicle Simulation/Racing – One of the earliest examples of this genre is the classic Afterburner, in which players use planes to shoot down opponents. This genre is not limited to just one type of play, however. There are actual racing games, as well as games that venture into the demolition aspect.

Music/Party Games – These games feature a type of entertainment that appeals to people who generally do not enjoy the typical video games. With options of singing, dancing, playing instruments among other things, this genre has become very popular recently.

Puzzle Games – Games such as Puzzle Quest that feature matching colors and symbols in an effort to progress in the game fall into this genre, as well as the classic Tetris.

Trivia Board and Card Games – The converting of these type of games to video game format has been done to allow players to play online with other opponents, when they would otherwise not have that option, or to play on a handheld system, one example being Magic:The Gathering.

Sports - These objective of these games are primarily to manage a successful sports team as well as actually play the sport. These games cover almost every pro sport out there.

Educational - The primary purpose of these games is to educate children in a way that differs from the traditional approach by adding the element of virtual entertainment.

Exercise Games РSome say Dance Dance Revolution started the path into games of this genre.  Today, Wii Fit is the most well known exercise game. Games of this genre are targeted towards both adults and children with the aim of providing a different way to exercise.

Art/Experimental Games – This genre, while it is designed for some entertainment, leans more towards the objective of creating a specific reaction from the player, through many different ways. Most of this genre is from indie game developers, trying to break ground into mainstream game developing.

Video Game Classification

The world of video games, as well as computer games, can be an intimidating one, with the vast variety that is available. However, there is a new field of study under development that is aiming to classify and view video games in a similar way that entertainment  such as film and music is viewed. This field of study is called game theory and while it does have roots in board and card games, it is still being fine tuned to the point of general agreement on viewing video games.

Cooperative Vs Non-Cooperative – This classification is fairly obvious and easy to understand. Non cooperative games feature solo players, with no partners, while cooperative games have players working together as a team. Some cooperative games have the choice to have partners, where others, such as Resident Evil 5, require a partner to play. There are also hybrid games, which melds the two types of game play together. There are quite a few games of this style, referred to as MMO, or massive multiplayer online, that are have gained much popularity over recent years.

Simulation – Games of this classification hold a simple concept, which is to run a virtually simulated world. This type of game gives the player control over a multitude of situations, whether it be running a business, a person or family, or even something as simple as a garden. Viva Pinata is one example of this type, wherein a player builds and cultivates their garden, and gains new types of animals and plants.

Non Zero Sum vs Zero Sum – This is one of the oldest and most basic classifications for games because it is the effect that players have within the game itself. Those games, such as checkers, where players stand to “gain nothing” are referred to as zero sum games, based on the Latin meaning of zero sum. Non zero sum games, the polar opposites, are games where players compete for resources in order to have an advantage over one another. These games are usually closer to simulations than pure games.

Drama – The games that fall under this category tend to lean more towards the narrative role of the story than the action section. For example, the role-playing game, or RPG, Lord of the Rings: The Third Age, follows a band of adventures that are mere moments behind the group that is featured in the actual film, Lord of the Rings. This RPG has fantastic fight scenes, however, the storyline of following in the footsteps of Aragon, Gimli, and Frodo gets much more screen time, during which he player gets to enjoy graphics with quality close to the big screen, due to large advancements in technology.

In the end, with the multitude of games that are readily available for players of all ages, even classifications as strong as these quite often have to be blended with others in order to encompass the many ranges of different types of play that are featured in the games.