VIDEOGAMES AS INTERACTIVE EXPERIENTIAL PRODUCTS AND THEIR MANNER OF DEVELOPMENT
F. TED TSCHANG
This paper is a first attempt to systematically explore the main characteristics of videogames and the particular problems encountered in their development. As an example of an emerging creative industry, videogames are an instance of what we term interactive experiential products. Our study is based on 65 project reports, which were used to examine how the product's interactive nature created certain characteristics in the product's development processes. We find that videogame development displays experiential processes similar to those used in other products which embody "experiential" development processes, such as frequent milestones and testing, multiple design iterations, multifunctional teams and strong project leadership. We also show that there are some subtleties or peculiarities that are specific to games even within these characteristics, such as more complex concurrent development, pipelining and integration issues. Some characteristics are more unique to videogame development, such as "feature creep" and "feature iteration". In general, this results from the complex combination of technology, (creative) game design and (artistic) content within videogames, which causes complexity and uncertainty in the development process. At one extreme, videogames may suffer from not being subject to a full testing cycle until near the end of the project, and given the high uncertainty of consumer's receptivity to the product, this makes for a difficult development situation. While the use of more rational development processes (such as formal software development practices from software engineering) could help with these issues, new thinking can also be done in the future about whether new and more appropriate product development models can be developed to address the needs of videogame development.
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