The Tactile Side of Games

Anyone who has ever had the misfortune of having a mahjong addict neighbour can attest to the double-edged sword that is traditional table games: the sensation of having smooth and cool tiles in your hand can be a pleasurable one, but damn it all if that incessant shuffling isn't irritating after hours and hours of it into the wee hours. Still, it's the positives of the sense of touch that Ian Bogost picks up on in his latest Gamasutra column. Using the classic game of Go as a starting point and ending with Rez, he takes a look at what games can do — and maybe should do — to enhance the tactile pleasure of playing:

... the potential is great. We craft every aspect of videogame worlds in excruciating detail: the marbled, diffracted surfaces of water, the filthy grit of alleyways, the splintered grain of bombed-out church rafters.

We render the visual and aural aspects of these worlds in startling vividness and at great expense. But those worlds remain imprisoned behind the glass of our televisions and our monitors. Rez shows us that as far as texture is concerned, games can be as much like food as they are like film.

He's clearly not advocating that all games can — or should — be Rez, but it's just another aspect we should be paying attention to. And, unlike a lot of ideas that get floated about improving the gamer-game interaction, ramping up the tactile factor when warranted seems easy enough to do.

Persuasive Games: Texture [Gamasutra]


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