According to Patent Scope, the patent exists due to the possibility that “a user may reach a point in a video game that is seemingly impossible to navigate through or solve”, resulting in the player “quitting the game because the user can find no way to advance”. Essentially, the system would allow for an expert player to assist the struggling player and support them through challenging sections of a videogame.For some players, a system like this could potentially be quicker and more appealing than pulling out their phone and searching for a walkthrough or video guide. When triggered, the system would select from a pool of “experts” and find one that is available to help the struggling player. A system like this could also help to support players with disabilities that might find either the layout or functionality of a game particularly challenging.
The use of the word expert in this patent appears slightly nebulous, however, as the patent suggests that “any player can register as an expert after at least playing a portion of the corresponding gaming application”. In other words, they don’t have to have beaten the game at the time of registering. However, in another scenario the patent suggests that “a player can only register as an expert after reaching a qualification standard”.The concept sounds similar to Sony’s Game Help system that works with the Activity Cards for PS5, which allow you to view videos of how to complete certain game activities. This system, however, would use a real-world person on the end of the line, helping players through the section they were struggling with in real time, and even taking over control of the gameplay if required. It is also reminiscent of Nintendo’s Tip Line from the 1980s, which connected confused gamers with Nintendo experts that could support them to complete games.
Sony has also previously patented a system that could make boss fights easier for those that are frustrated by limited progress and difficulty spikes. It’s worth pointing out that large companies trademark these sorts of systems regularly, so it’s entirely possible that this might never emerge into reality. But given Sony’s recent approach and focus on making games accessible, there may be more to this than meets the eye.
Liam Wiseman is a freelance news writer for IGN. You can follow him on Twitter @liamthewiseman