Sometimes, as a game designer, you tend to forget how well versed you are in your medium. You tend to think that all people are able to plunge into a virtual world and stroll around. You could not be more wrong.
This weekend, Oli, Käde and me had our parents over for a lengthy Easter brunch. And since recently Portal 2 was released, we figured that we showed them the first Portal as an example of a really well done and funny game. I am not really sure how our parents received the game. In fact, I doubt that they realised much of it, since they were mostly occupied figuring out the controls.
This was the perfect illustration for the generational gap. While modern games tend to write "Use WASD to move around" and leave it at that, assuming that the player will know what to do, because he has used that control scheme so many times before, this was clearly not enough for our parents.
At first, they tended to alternate between intently staring at the mouse and then slowly turning it and swooping over the keyboard with the index finger, trying to find the correct key to ... well, do something.
I'm pretty sure I stumbled over this story before, but this is a longer article about the scientist that tried to weight the human soul:
That the human body should be home to a physical soul which survived death was at one time rarely questioned. Then came the advent of scientific disciplines such as anatomy, chemistry and physics, whose probing and measuring raised awkward questions about where in the body a soul could live and what physical form it could take. With no medical proof being forthcoming, in 1854 the German anatomist Rudolph Wagner suggested that there must be a “special soul substance” in the body, evidence of which should be sought out by experimentation. Wagner was much ridiculed for his beliefs, and some years later his rival Ernst Haeckel mocked that at the moment of death it might be possible to liquefy the soul by freezing it and then “exhibit it in a bottle as immortal fluid”.
The nature of a human soul was a much-discussed topic within Victorian psychical research communities, many of whose members were also eminent scientists. Different philosophical conclusions were reached, but none was based on empirical evidence, it being deemed too difficult to measure any of the soul’s presumed physical properties. However, not everyone was prepared to accept this, and in the winter of 1896 Dr Duncan MacDougall, a Massachusetts-based surgeon, came up with a novel idea.