Fast Forward…

The motivation for this post came after reviewing some of my work from thirty years ago. I realize there is room for improvement. For starters, I could have modified my list of criteria and weighted some more/less than others. However, I believe that it can serve as a framework for arcade and mobile games today.

As a further caveat, these methods were based on my experiences from 1982 – 1985. Without prior experience in a new industry, still thought of nothing more than a passing fad, it really was the “wild west”. I analyzed what I felt was important with the tools that I had.

atari games logoI could have altered my past work to appear more wise or current, but that wouldn’t really be truthful. For me, the fun was in the journey. It was a learning process and I used what was available to me. Back then I didn’t even know what game analysis or user research was. I would learn more at Atari Games, but that wouldn’t be until 1987. I plan to write about those years in the future.

Today game analysis involves analytics, with access to more data than anyone could ever want. User research and gamification sometimes make games appear to be more science than art. The mistake is when the science becomes the art and games feel mechanically transparent. Mr. Arakawa reminded me we sold “entertainment” and it has guided me ever since.

Criteria I initially labeled as “easy to learn,” “perception of goal,” “concentration required” and “randomness & variety” now fall into the broad categories of engagement and retention.

Perform your own game analysis. Analyze your own game against similar games today and yesteryear. How do they measure up? What are the common denominators? Define your own key metrics and the criteria you deem necessary for a successful game. Each genre will have different metrics.

Or use such a tool as a means to identify what’s important for success. Then use it to help keep a game on track. Working on a game for months (or longer), yet being able to stand back and view as only one of thousands of choices isn’t easy.

It’s the rare indie who can objectively view their game through the fresh eyes of a consumer. This is a worthwhile check-in that should occur through multiple points during iteration.

As an advocate of engagement, if you’re reading this…mission accomplished! I’d love to hear your comments.

Thanks for reading!

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10 Responses to Methodologies to Analyze Classic Arcade Games

  1. Frank Ballouz says:

    Well done, Mo Mo!!

  2. Jeff Walker says:

    Well done Jerry. I think all of us in the coin-operated amusement marketing side of things had a much harder challenge of selling units of entertainment time versus our counterparts selling package goods. Great article

    • Jerry Momoda says:

      Thank you Jeff! I agree with your challenge comment. We couldn’t B.S. a game was good when it wasn’t. The cashbox told the truth. But coin-op sales people really knew/know how to sell the less than great product. That takes chops. Coin-op has so many great stories to tell. The game is the game, yes? 🙂

  3. Mark West says:

    That’s a well-written article, Jerry, and it opened my eyes to the marketing research done in those days. I should have listened to more of your advice for “Danger Express”!

    • Jerry Momoda says:

      Well thank you Mark! As you know, at Atari Games we used a more process-minded approach to game development. Looking back, somehow incorporating an approach like mine into the concept approval process and at milestones might have been useful. I still remember how awesome an artist you are! Thanks for reading!

    • Jerry Momoda says:

      Nice article. Thanks for the heads up on using my Paperboy evaluation. At Atari, I worked with Dave Ralston on the Cyberball series. Dave designed 720, and co-designed Paperboy, Rampart and others.

      FYI, I wrote the Paperboy evaluation while at Nintendo. At each tradeshow I sought out new competitor offerings. I shared my competitive evaluations with Nintendo management, sales, and R&D in Japan.

  4. Cool article about classic arcade games. I had no idea that there were collection reports that could document how much each game earned. It could be fun to see how those earnings changed over time especially with new games that had come out.

    • Jerry Momoda says:

      Taylor, thank you for your comment. Perhaps there’s enough “meat” on the subject to write a follow up post and drill down more on the subject. Back in the day, collection reports were used to justify many a game buying decision. In arcade gamings heyday, the constant flow of new games put a lot of earnings pressure on existing games.

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