My husband spends hours playing through the computer game "Diablo". He plays a pilgrim out to find and destroy Satan. The sounds of "splat", "uggh", and skeletons exploding into a bloody mess are interspersed with stock lines like "I sense a soul in search of answers".
Sounds pretty limiting to me; I've never been able to stay engaged for more than a few clicks before I wander off and turn the keyboard back over to him. Where's the drama? The plot development? Why should I care about characters getting shot, or not?
Apparently I'm not the only person out there that the video game industry has left behind, the last one I got into was SimCity. Last month's Atlantic Monthly has a brilliant article by Jonathan Rauch, "Sex, Lies, and Videogames", http://www.theatlantic.com/doc/prem/200611/rauch-videogames. Why are most games variations of chases, murders, and collecting electronic trinkets? Turns out that developing games that involve interaction and character development is a bloody (splat) difficult endeavor. How about if the characters in games were worth getting to know, and you could influence their growth through your involvement? Somewhere between the Sims and a Virginia Madsen movie, the game Facade shows one possible way. Free download at http://www.interactivestory.net/. The designers really do want to know what works and what doesn't as they attempt to take the video game into a market aimed at the rest of us.