“Gimmick” is just a word for tools of immersion which haven’t caught on yet, according to Harmonix senior designer Brian Chan.
“Gimmicks, so-called, are really just risky moves taken in the larger narrative of innovation,” Chan told Gamasutra.
“They are bold and sometimes stupid, but we should applaud such risk-taking. And sometimes they are thin at the start, but many good ideas mature over time and with iteration.”
Harmonix’s own plastic guitar peripherals were seen as gimmicks on arrival, and Chan puts them in the same boat as 3D, this season’s most fashionable object of derision.
“These just seem like pretty obvious steps in a larger project of immersion, of forgetting yourself in an experience,” he commented, adding that immersion is difficult to balance.
“Immersion is a difficult thing to grow across successive games because of the tendency towards increasingly deeper immersion, which is often similar to a move towards the hardcore,” he explained.
“Maintaining accessibility for the newcomer while deepening the experience for the veteran is incredibly tough, and it only gets more difficult as a franchise develops.”
The full interview, accessible through the link above, features an interesting discussion of motion, micro-transactions and achievements as the driving force of this generation.