Welcome back to LMSD.
In most games, time passes when you play a game, or when you tell the game “I want to skip time”, or when the game tells you as part of some event “time has passed”.
Few games do anything if you decide not to play them for a long period of time, but I’ll briefly discuss a couple that do.
The Little Example: Metal Gear Solid
I’ve never really played any of these games, but I know that its bosses sometimes (often?) use meta-data. What I mean is they use… information that a game is not usually known for using. One boss peeks at your save files and looks for certain games. Another boss will die without a fight if you save during the fight, set the time forward long enough, and load it up again.
This game uses the passage of real time only as a passing curiousity.
The Big Example: Animal Crossing
Really, this is the example to talk about. Animal Crossing linked itself to real-life time and data, and is also harsh when a player (whether accidentally or not) tries to skip out on mistakes. If you leave your town for long enough, lots of things happen when you come back: Villagers ask where you’ve been, weeds are everywhere, and maybe some of your villagers have left. For good. Forever.
This game uses the passage of real time as a core mechanic!
Real Life and Games are almost always kept at arm’s length from one another (if not further).
Want another example, though, before I get into the division?
The Tamagotchi also attaches itself to real time but in a different way. While Animal Crossing simply saves the turn-off time and, upon loading, generates all of the events that might have happened (and did!), the Tamagotchi is simply always on, actively crying out for attention every so often.
What I really want to talk about
Why don’t more games do things like this? From minor playing with real life elements to heavy integration to constant and inescapable integration, you’d think more games would explore this sort of thing! But they don’t!
There is so much data that could be drawn from: Time, of course, is the first one. There’s also weather data from where the player lives, or maybe a player’s computer could be tracked — if a player logs into one account from different computers, maybe?
Thinking about this again, maybe I’m wrong? Maybe these things were tried out.
Boktai used a special sensor to detect sunlight.
Barcode Battler scanned barcodes to generate fighters… or enemies, or items (apparently!).
And I guess the life-game connection isn’t totally lost. It’s too bad these games weren’t fantastic successes, though, because I think this is one concept that has yet to be explored in so very many ways.
I can see why the sunlight game might have failed, though.
the sun! hisssss
– gamers everywhere