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The Digital Den

When work is play and play is work The Digital Den

The Role Data Plays in Video Games

Data is the secret ingredient in gaming that, well, isn’t much of a secret.  It’s an integral part of the game development process that often gets overlooked because it doesn’t have the sizzle that other aspects such as sound, visuals or gameplay may have.  But take all those components away, and data is the glue that holds it all together.

Data in Audio – Just like any other aspect of music, if you play a game without any sound, it lessens the experience.  A franchise such as EA’s Dead Space relies heavily on its audio team to give you a rich, immersive experience.

Data in Visual – There’s an old argument about whether games should be constituted as a form of art. I’ve always felt art is open to interpretation, but if the ability to create visually stunning worlds, or dynamic characters so lifelike isn’t art, then I don’t know what else it could be.

Data in Gameplay – Here’s where you find the real meat. Obviously data is part of the actual programming, but let’s be honest, that’s boring.  What I really love about game design is what influences developers incorporate into a game.

Exhibit A: Assassin’s Creed – If you’ve followed the franchise, one of the most fascinating things I find about it is the rich backstory the game team has leveraged to re-create history with it’s main character as part of it.  I’ve always loved history, but playing through Assassin’s Creed 3 has given me a new look at the Revolutionary War and the founding of America. Even previous titles that have focused on the Italian Renaissance have been amazingly detailed with characters and environments that without solid, historical data could not have been included in the game.

Exhibit B: NBA 2K13 – Sports games are HUGE repositories for data. They have to be because in order to provide an accurate gaming experience, you have to use the statistical information of the player or team. Even more interesting is how a game like NBA 2K13 regularly updates their server information so that if Rajon Rondo is on the injured list, he won’t be accessible for you to play in the game for the Boston Celtics.

This kind of data mining is essential not only for maintaining a game that is currently on shelves like NBA 2K13, but for development for NBA2K14 and beyond. Any stats for the season must be tracked and factored into future games.

Data plays a major role in video game development. It may not be as pretty as the virtual world that Bungie is creating for their upcoming game Destiny, nor will it make you shake your tail-feather like Dance Central by Harmonix, but it’s a crucial element in the alchemy of developing amazing entertainment and why Seagate remains at the center of creativity.

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