Media Priming

Any James Bond movie starts with some sort of giant chase scene. Our andrenaline is pumping within seconds that the objects on the video screen start to move.

Modern TV shows (especially serials like Lost or PrisonBreak) start with a familiar intro, as well as information from what has happened in the past few shows. We get excited about the plight of the characters in this next episode.

This priming is important, or otherwise the intended audience is not in the mood for for what is about to happen to them. Sort of like sex without the foreplay, or eye contact.

I’ve noticed this lack of priming when it comes to video games. We’ll let this slide a little bit cuz video games are relatively new when it comes to a portion of emerging media. Typically when it comes to non-casual video games (e.g. Thief, Deus Ex, Half-Life, etc.) I play them late at night when I cannot sleep, or at other times when I need a break during the day and I don’t have anyone around to entertain me.

These games I enter directly from a loading screen, usually in the middle of a mission. Now, I’m playing devil’s advocate here, playing the game in the worst condition possible. But the point is that with a good game design, I shouldn’t be allowed to.

So, I’ve landed WHEREVER, in the middle of a save game, with half-completed objectives (this is most noticeable in THIEF) and I am completely disoriented.

This is where, in game design schools, they need work on how to prime me.

Or maybe its just my fault.

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