Curmudgeon Gamer
Curmudgeoning all games equally.
29 July 2007
Video Gaming on TV: A Ways to Go (and Free Advice on Getting There)
I managed to catch the World of Warcraft and Guitar Hero portions of the World Series of Video Games on CBS today, and, at least for WoW, let's say that it's still got a ways to go before it's watchable. The best advice I've got is to learn from Madden. That takes a real game that's increasingly made for TV and translates it to the console in a way that makes an eminently watchable game playable. Now, at least with WoW, TV broadcasts need to make an eminently playable game watchable.

How can you do this? Step one that occurred to me in the commercials before the WoW event started, this broadcast got right. For games like WoW 3v3, you can't do this live. You have to recut it. There's no single ball, no obvious focal point to privilege. At any one time, one might want to see what all six folk in a 3 on 3 are doing with equal intensity, and that requires being able to show what happened from time A to time B as many as six times. The battles are so short and so full of action that it has to be all replay. Showing the whole field would be worthless, kind of like foo... ur, US soccer's ratings on TV suggest. I suppose you could, say, follow the tank, though not his [sic] point of view, throughout as a sort of baseline around which to sprinkle in replays, but I think you get my point.

Here's the important thing they didn't get right: Don't use the in-game point of view, showing the TV viewer what any player sees. It's one thing when you're the guy making your character swiftly change direction but quite another when it's a viewer who has no idea of the strategy behind, or at least no way to anticipate, the nauseating shifts in what's now their shared point of view. Keep the camera stably oriented, and watch as many of the six as is appropriate at a time, focusing that third-person view camera on whatever area has the most action. Swoop it around all you want, but keep the camera pointing, say, north. This is why Guitar Hero works a bit more easily, I think. You have two guys up there and two tracks of chords dancing down the screen. The camera stays with one orientation, and it's not by its nature distracting. You know what to watch. If the two guys were six, all of them had wireless guitars, free to run wherever they wanted, and the only cameras were ones strapped to their heads, well, it'd be a TV nightmare, wouldn't it?

So I'd tell the WSVG to recut WoW, showing us exactly what each player's doing during what, in retrospect, ends up being the most crucial moments of the match, and to use essentially a third-person view camera rather than trying to put us into the disorienting view of a single player. The HUD at the bottom of the screen needs to be more informative than simply showing health, and it might be good to have the players come back and narrate what they were trying to accomplish.

(posted from spellchecker-less Mozilla 1.0)

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--ruffin at 12:41
Comment [ 2 ]

Comments on this post:

World Series of Video Gaming? On CBS?

Let me guess. Lots of first-person shooters? Argh.

By Blogger JohnH, at 29 July, 2007 17:43  

Nah, actually Guitar Hero, Fight Night, and WoW. From the nytimes:

What will not be seen are violent shooting games like Halo and Quake; CBS was adamant that on a Sunday afternoon on broadcast television, only relatively tame games would suffice.

By Blogger rufbo, at 30 July, 2007 22:03  

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