Mobile, PC, and console game are home to a variety of different game genres. And within these different genres, you will see that animals make an appearance as main characters often. This is not only seeing in games, but also in movies.
Being confident here, we will assume that you have read previous blog posts and news concerning Koukoi, so you might know that there is a sequel coming to Crashing Season, and that we are developing a mobile game based on an animated movie. With these in mind, it would now be a good opportunity to explore the role of the animals in games.
In “Crashing Season” the player is one of many animals. As the player advances in the game, he or she has an increasing choice of which animal to play as. Does this make gameplay better? Make the game more attractive to a greater audience? Taking into account how popular games with animals as main characters have being (not that there is a cause-and-effect relationship), it makes sense to conclude that there is something there that is not by pure chance. A possibility is that doing so differentiates you from games with human characters (there is only so much that you can do with them as a game developer), and for your game to be able to separate itself from reality. For instance, as a player it would be difficult to accept a game where human characters are crashing into hunters and collecting coins, but with animal characters? That allows for an immersive experience in the game.
When you play as Jimi Fox, Klaus Wolverine, Freya Snowfox, or the others, you want to win, to crash into the hunters, and get the animals to use their special abilities. When gameplay is like this, having animal characters makes the experience more immersive and contained in its own world. When the game is set in its own world (in this case the animals have special abilities and can single handedly defeat their enemies) it is possible to create new rules and expectations.
As for how this creates an immersive experience, think back to movies from your childhood, the ones where the protagonists were animals and they had names, personalities, and backstories. These characters were able to hold your attention and pull you into their world, – it is this that creates an immersive experience. In “Crashing Season” the animals’ back stories leave space for players to imagine additional details themselves. This increases the immersion and to care for Jimi, Klaus and Freya, even more.
As a game developer the goal is not merely to create an immersive experience (or addictive as well?), but also to bring the player into a dream world. When you are playing a game you are not only aiming to advance to the next level, but also to momentarily inhabit this other world,- a “dream world”. When you care for the animal characters, and are invested in their stories (the immersive experience) as a player, you live in the Crashing Season world and want to achieve the goal of defeating the “evil corporation”. Also, think about animated movies, – you are pulled into their world because you care for their characters and want to see them win in the end, just like in games.
Giving animals human characteristics and backstories is not new, it is something that has being around for a while. It is possible that the reason for this is that it makes for an immersion into the world the story or game is set in. If you care for the characters then it makes sense for you to want to be there until the end, and in the process to live in that dream world.