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Why I'm Growing Sick Of Video "Games"

Posted on Monday, July 16 @ 13:06:16 Eastern by Alex_Osborn

Maybe I'm crazy and alone in feeling this way, or maybe I'm just prematurely turning into an old man, but I'm growing increasingly tired of game-y video games. I'm sure many of you are of the sentiment that gameplay and the level of "fun" you have while playing through a title is of utmost importance. I, however, am of a very different mindset.

As the industry and game development has evolved, so have my tastes and expectations for the medium. A game like Quantic Dream's Heavy Rain is a perfect example. I would hardly say that David Cage's title is "fun" to play experience, as what little "gameplay" is there is rather cumbersome. In many ways, it isn't much of a game at all, but rather an interactive drama, expanding beyond the walls of video games themselves. These are the kinds of experiences I want more of. I don't want a "game" per se, but rather an interactive experience that tells a story.

We see a glimpse of this with Naughty Dog's Indiana Jones inspired series, as controlling Drake through cinema-style set piece moments for the first time in Uncharted 2 gave you the sensation of actually being in a movie. However, there is a major flaw inherent within the Uncharted series, as the glue that holds together the moments of exploration and puzzle-solving are long-winded shooting sections that bring the experience to a screeching halt, slapping you in the face with the reminder that this is in fact a game.



Victim number 2,368...

However, their upcoming title The Last of Us serves as an evolution on the formula, more elegantly blurring the lines between game and interactive drama. Instead of mowing down twenty guys in a matter of minutes without breaking a sweat - Drake, I'm looking at you, you raging psychopath - the weight of each kill delivers an emotional punch to not only the person holding the controller, but also the character on the screen and his adolescent companion. Of course, my judgments are strictly based off of the limited footage we've seen thus far, but it looks like Naughty Dog is moving further and further from creating a "game" in the conventional sense. I like this shift, and considering the fact that a whole lot of people in addition to myself have been singing this game's praises, I'd say that a significant portion of the gaming population shares a similar sentiment.

Then there's Telltale's The Walking Dead series, which can be more accurately described as an interactive graphic novel rather than a traditional adventure game. Unsurprisingly, the few moments where it does employ game-y mechanics - i.e. mash the X button - are undoubtedly the weakest parts of the experience. It's like many developers are afraid of taking that the full leap in creating something that is virtually not a game at all, and unfortunately with millions of dollars on the line, most studios can't afford to take the risk.

Remind me again how hammering on the Q button enhances the experience.

You'll notice that I'm referencing single-player experiences primarily, as it's virtually impossible to avoid that game-y quality with multiplayer, unless you're talking about cooperative play, and even then it's extremely difficult. Perhaps that's why I'm not typically fond of multiplayer games anyway. Obviously millions upon millions of Call of Duty players would disagree, but just look at how that franchise has stagnated over the past several years. Activision has a formula that people like, and because it rests so heavily on being a game, there's no real reason to change it. Much like a game of Monopoly, Call of Duty can feature different themes or even a new aesthetic twist, but the core experience remains intact. I don't know about you, but I don't want that, I want something refreshing, something new.

So what is the point of all my blabbering? For one, I'm hoping to convey the importance of diversity in the medium. Just look at what games like Journey and Shadow of the Colossus have brought to the table. Both have relatively simplistic "gameplay" mechanics and yet they are two of the most respected "game" experiences that have graced this industry. This medium, this form of entertainment can offer so much more if developers take bold risks and try to make something wholly unique. Just imagine what would happen if we had a few more innovative minds like David Cage in this industry who dared to challenge the notion of what "games" can offer.

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