History of video games
Over at The Astronauts, someone figured something out. Sometimes, games work even when you're not shooting things.
Listed below, there are five well known action-adventure games. Think about your favorite, most memorable moments from the single player part of each, then click on the + spoiler button and see if I have managed to guess any of these moments.
What do all these moments have in common?
They are game-free. They are gameplay-less.
That’s right. You heard me.
If we understand gameplay as something that a challenge is a crucial part of, then none of these moments features any gameplay. You just walk, or swim, or ride a horse, but that’s it. You cannot die. You don’t make choices that have any long term consequences. No skill is involved.
There is no gameplay.
In other words, certain things worth remembering from certain video games are not what these video games are all about.
What this guy now figures is that you have to remove gameplay from games to get those moments.
But I don't think so. It has nothing to do with gameplay. But a lot with pacing.
A lot of games just keep stomping on, throwing new enemies to battle at the player even before he finished the old ones off, in order to make the game "gripping". The makers fear that if there is just the slightest lull, the players will become bored and stop playing. But will they?
In most other narrative media it is well known that ceaseless screaming action is very tiring and impossible to watch.
There seems to be a new trend in town: games that found a way to deal with all that nasty, unpredictable human intervention in games – they do away with it.
There is Cory Arcangel at the Barbican, letting bowling games play themselves. (Nothing new, really, there has been a Lego Mindstorm robot playing Wii Bowling on its own for quite some time now).
Then there is the Figurine Mode of Super Street Fighter IV on the Nintendo 3DS, where you collect virtual figurines, and they will battle those of other players. All without the player doing anything – the fight actually happens while the Nintendo 3DS is in sleep mode.1
And finally, there is a new edition of Monopoly, where a computer tells you what you have to do. The reason why Hasbro chose to do so are rather hazy. Maybe American players are too dull to grasp the rules? Jesper Juul should be pleased – finally someone put an end to all that discussions about rules and inventing house rules and stuff that makes games so un-gamey ...
But seriously – Hasbro is clearly doing anything to take the player out of the equation. The game is played by the weird thingy[^batman] in the middle of the board, and the player is degraded to moving the pieces, because it's just a a computer chip, without attached robot limbs. Humans are better at moving small finicky things for their robot overlords anyway.
Some people are still waiting for the singularity.
So where is the fun in that, exactly? ↩
Just a few games I stumbled over this morning.
Now, a new game called Journey is to be released. It features nothing more than one person and a huge desert one has to cross. And that is all. It has multiplayer capabilities through the fact that one other random player is added to the same game. The players cannot communicate with each other. But they may share the journey for a while.
Not only is this a combination of two of my own, as of yet unused ideas, it seems to have been beautifully and poetically executed as well.
This kind of reminds me that I should get some of those XBox Live Arcade / Playstation Store Points / Credits / Thingies so I get a chance to play Limbo and Flower, some of the other small but exceptional games that are simply a must-play.