Industry veteran and Zynga chief game designer, Brian Reynolds, has said he would like to see the next wave of consoles contain a stronger social component.
Speaking in an interview with GI.biz, Reynolds said in the past, console companies were loathe to having keyboard support for consoles because it made the machines seem “geeky and like a computer.” However, with the rise of tablets and social gaming, he believes a touchscreen component would benefit next-gen systems.
“I remember in my time as a console game designer, I worked pretty closely with the various guys who design and make consoles, and they were always very against having a keyboard on a console,” said Reynolds. “A keyboard, makes it geeky and like a computer, and then it’s not this cool entertainment system. Social media is about talking to each other and uploading pictures… [and] also about commenting on them. If I can’t leave a comment we’d just be down to the Like button, but that would be a little bit thin as social coverage for me.
“I’m sure they’re not going to suddenly decide that they should suddenly put keyboards on consoles. Maybe they’ll put touchscreens or something; I can totally imagine that, because smartphones and iPads make fantastic social devices.”
Reynolds said he’s “sure” Nintendo has at least thought about a virtual keyboard for its Wii U controller, but if the firm decides to go that route, it would have to find a way for people to “actually communicate without making it look geeky.”
He went on to say that no matter what sort of tech the next set of consoles bring, or what the next fad is in gaming, “the terms of game design” are still and always will be the same.
“The core activity of how you make a game, how you make things fun, have remained largely the same,” said Reynolds. “The kinds of candidates I look for in game design jobs are the same as I used to look for in previous decades.
“It’s interesting in 21 years of radical technological change, the same techniques that Sid Meier taught me in the early ’90s are still highly relevant today to how you take a game and make it more fun.”
Reynolds co-founded Firaxis with Sid Meier before leaving in 2000 to become CEO of Big Huge Games. In 2009, Reynolds became chief game designer at Zynga where he designed FrontierVille.