Are video games a shadow of their former selves? Why are we so willing to go along with this kind of thing?
Often an idea is broad enough that I can’t write about it directly, because it will be too long, and that’s if I can get an idea out of it at all. Luckily, sometimes others have the same idea as me, and will expand on some aspect of it. Here’s the core nugget of what I’ve been thinking of:
Single player games, in order to be interactive, necessarily need to be broken (or at least, potentially breakable).
Warren Spector talks about a variety of things in this light. In part, about consequence, and how games need to create consequences for players (not the cheap Good/Evil style that games create currently, but consequences which are inherent and consequential in the game system). This inherently means that someone could do something wrong and not realise it for the entire duration of the game, and then suffer far later — load and lose hours in the game world or accept the consequences.
This is the exact sort of thing that pisses games reviewers off, but the “safe” games we’ve been playing feel like a padded cell. In many ways, a single player game is a dialogue between the designer and the gamer, and we’ve come to an impasse where the designer is unwilling to be wrong, and the gamer is unhappy being corrected. Both of these need to change
Lewis Denby’s article I love you just the way you are is a column written from a Gamer’s perspective about games which are broken. Lewis does not say so explicitly, but it appears necessary that the things he’s talking about require the game to be broken. Not necessarily in terms of outright “bugs”, but in terms of how the player can use and abuse the system.
The more I think about it, the more it appears that the polish of games today has taken away more than just the bugs. The reviewing atmosphere, where games are split into their component parts, has engendered a game design space where the players are effectively asking for contradictions, a shadow of a game. A place with no real danger, and with no real answers.