Ninjas versus Robots

Posted: December 14, 2008 in Games
Tags: , , , ,

My original title for this post was ‘Experience versus Mechanics’ but that was too mechanical. So to run with the metaphor, Ninja’s were people. They had lives, desires and emotions like you or I. Most robots, don’t. Most Robots can do the job of Ninjas but it won’t mean anything to them. Ninja’s are awesome because they can do all sorts of sneaking, killing and martial arts. Robots are cool because they don’t die while performing any given task we give them. They don’t die because they aren’t human.

So, while Robots could function the same as Ninja’s, they lose a lot of the human connection. The aspirations, fears, loneliness, fragility, celebration, joy, longings etc are all lost on the Robot while still felt by the Ninja. The original pitch for the Matrix was ‘Kung Fu versus Robots’. Which in retrospect, is a great idea not only for the visuals, but for the metaphor of storytelling media. However, given the apples to apples principle, we’ll stick with Ninja’s and Robots.

So, stories or settings with the protagonist as a Ninja, awesome and obvious. Stories or settings with the protagonist as Robot would mean that the robot has to be pulled so far to be human, that its basically more of an exploration of what’s missing rather than what’s there. It’s a very cerebral notion. Most people will lose touch with your story of robot drama because, well, they aren’t Robots.

So what does this have to do with games? A game experience should be like a Ninja. It includes function, it includes form and ultimately connects both of those with being human. A game experience should not be a Robot, entirely functional and mechanical, simply there to cater to the cerebral needs of the makers of the Robots.

  1. Tim says:

    You’re really on a roll with this kind of thinking. Keep it up.


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