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  • Visual Language and Street Fighter

    Oct 20 2014 12:53 PM | Robotic in Media Reviews

    Video games have a voice, and it’s quite interesting to me to see how they communicate. An unfortunately large amount of games speak to the user in very literal ways: through writing and sound. A tutorial consisting of a series of text boxes or voice commands is tolerable (though grating in some cases), but a more elegant solution is preferable when possible. It's when the game dis-empowers the player completely that I think such methods commit a cardinal sin of game design. Video games are a visual medium, and the most important feedback a player can receive is through observation. I don't need to be told that piranha plants will kill me in Super Mario Bros., even if I've never played it before. I can figure that out simply by looking at them. That's visual language, and it influences us in ways we might not even notice. Every single game we play utilizes it, though some better than others. There are probably a hundred videos and articles out there explaining how genius the visual language in The Legend Of Zelda, Doom, Mega Man and other classics are, but what's more interesting to me is how fighting games take advantage of this concept to teach players extremely complex and dexterously challenging systems.

    Fighting games don't have a "level 1" with which to slowly introduce a player to their mechanics. In the old days, you dropped a quarter into a cabinet and jumped right into a match, where you got your shit pushed in over and over, against man or machine. An...

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