760 Information Offloading: Maps

A lot of gamers much older than myself have a keen memory of a time when games didn’t “hold your hand” as much. And I agree with that sentiment— although, I think reversing that trend has afforded games a lot, but that’s a discussion for another time. One of the primary aspects of this has been information offloading.

I’m sure this term already exists, or some similar one that defines the same concept. Essentially, it’s the idea of relieving the player’s brain of processing certain information or tasks to free them up to do other more interesting things (hopefully), or to reduce the difficulty or stress and make the experience “easier” mentally (unfortunately).

Maps in games, which we defined categories of a few days ago, have largely played this role. The player can simply press a button and see everywhere that they’ve already been, markers and hotspots, and locations of future goals, all in a matter of seconds. The player doesn’t need to read paragraphs of text and decipher where a location might be relative to them, and so this information has been offloaded onto the map.

It’s not necessarily a bad thing, but sometimes can be. If it’s used carelessly, it also removes a level of immersion from the game. The player is often less invested in the thing they are doing, since it has been reduced to a point on a map that they simply need to navigate to, which is even easier when the map also tells you exactly where you are (more information offloading).

[ Today I Was Playing: Headlander ]

January 30, 2017