Time and Time Again

This entry was posted on Nov 29 2011

Since I am giant geek (surprise!) I read lots of articles on random subjects. Today, I read one about time.

One thing the in the article that has gotten the gears in my head turning was that the brain recognizes events that happen 80 milliseconds in the past as the present. Or, rather, it takes that long for the brain to reconcile all the information that is being presented to it. I don’t know if this is true or not, but if any reader out there can confirm this, either one of you, I would be appreciative.

Supposing this is true, how can that information be used for games? In what ways can we play with our perception of time and of the present in order to make more interesting and engaging games? Since games will continue to become faster, surely we will be able to take advantage of the tech in ways that may not be possible now.

The most obvious to me is that for those periods in games where we want to confuse the player is to give them more information than can be assembled by the brain in those 80 milliseconds. Or, perhaps by presenting players with new information while their brain is still piecing together information from 40 milliseconds prior. Not only could this potentially confuse players, but it can also increase anxiety and heighten attentiveness in the player. This would make the slow periods even more relaxing and cathartic, as the mind would be saying to itself “I can finally relax!”

It’s kind of like playing Left for Dead. I tell people the fun in Left for Dead is not in playing the game, but in having played the game. While I am playing, I am just saying “Oh crap. Oh crap. Oh crap.” the entire time, but when I make it to a safe house, I feel as rush as my body stops tensing for the brief moments until the madness starts again.

Of course, this is only one idea, but I believe that as technology continues to evolve, we will be better able to take advantage of the ways in which our brains perceive the world to make games that are more engaging and more fun than what we have even now. Don’t get me wrong, I am still an avid retro-gamer, but I am still excited by what we will be able to do as time passes.

About jkempf

James Kempf, CEO of Cliché Studio, has made two games for Mercury Retrograde Press, learned from managing the comics at Criminal Records that John Stewart is the best Green Lantern, and once happily played a 12 ft. dwarf in Rifts.