Now that Nintendo has helped prove that there’s a market for unconventional games like Brain Age and Animal Crossing, I thought it might be fun to brainstorm (pun intended) other “semi-serious” possibilities:
- Kids love dinosaurs, so how about a game where you learn about real species of dinos, then get to evolve your own (so that it survives various environmental conditions, predators, and/or major global catastrophes?) And the twist: whenever your species is finally wiped out, it can be excavated and examined by friends (in much the same “massively single-player” way that Spore will support content-sharing). Players get points for correctly identifying the kind of animal it was, how it lived, and what killed it, based on the fossil.
- A variation: how about a DS game dedicated purely to evolution? This will permit for more detailed enjoyment of the evolution premise; playing with first-time evolution of sight, hearing, smell, etc, for example. All the things we take for granted… and, not coincidentally, all the things that people find it difficult to believe could ever be evolved! Imagine a “sight slider” for your organism: take it from 0 to 1 (on a scale of 100), and the organism goes from complete blindness to weak, crude light sensitivity, which changes the organism’s behavior and survival chances. Pump enough points (which you receive over time, or in reward for certain accomplishments) into the scale, and the organism eventually develops true eyes. Variety is key — after 100 hours, a player should be able to create a creature featuring super hearing and total blindness, while another evolves a balanced creature that nevertheless cannot survive without a symbiotic species’ help, etc…
- There are many games featuring pet-care; not so many featuring plant-care. No suprise there — animals evoke more emotion (and, well, they move around and stuff). Nevertheless, it might be interesting to create a game in which development of a virtual garden is necessary to sustain a population of creatures (…pets, perhaps?) In easy mode, care could be limited to basics; watering, keeping out pests, etc. Pest-control could comprise a number of fun mini-games. In hard mode, garden care could include very complex problems, such as managing soil acidity, soil drainage, etc. Playing hard mode should actually teach you everything you need to know about managing a garden. With the right balance of mini-games, visual reward, and content variety, I think this could be fun. But then, I’m an avid gardener. :)