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Am I Smart Enough to Play Video Games?

April 4, 2012

Apparently, yes we are.

If there’s one thing that modern games (for me, pretty much anything that came post 2000) just don’t get the challenge thing right. There’s something about the way games treat me nowadays that just puts me off – I feel as if they don’t trust me to handle their piece of software right. Why aren’t there instructions on figuring out where to put my shiny spinning disc? Why do they trust me enough to know what a controller is? (Note: I am talking about traditional video games, so visual novels and the like aren’t part of this discussion, really, because their aims are different I think).

Anyways, watching my brother play Skyward Sword, it is unbelievably annoying. The game constantly has to remind you where to go and what to do, even in the middle of a dungeon! For crying out loud, Fi, why are you telling me how to solve the puzzle inside of the dungeon I am in? What point is there in that? Isn’t that why I would even buy a Zelda game, to explore a world and figure out how to traverse its various obstacles, puzzles, enemies, and the like?

No.

Nintendo says you want to buy it because you like pretty colors, and apparently swinging your Wii-mote around until it hits something. So they have to tell you how to do everything through LINES OF TEXT that sometimes seem to go ON AND ON and by the time you thought you can do something, HERE’S SOME MORE TEXT to remind you how dumb you are.

Not to demean the combat. It’s great because it actually forces you to think about what parts of an enemy are vulnerable at any given time (although, I think the ability to make so many mistakes can be weird in a Zelda game, but I can let it slide).. But I don’t need Fi to suddenly appear and say “Do it this way!” Part of the fun is figuring it out. Games encourage, amongst other things, reflexes, association, problem-solving, and thinking in abstract ways. When you intentionally step on the player’s foot in a way that takes these components of the experience out of their hands, that doesn’t help the player get any better. Hence, of course the player will need further tutorials and hints to help because you haven’t helped them learn what to do in the first place because you told them. It’s a vicious cycle, and something Nintendo needs to stop.

You’ve created such an interesting game, so why spoil it by telling the player how to solve it?

Anyway, I guess that means I will like Borderlands 2; I wasn’t too enamored with the first one, to be honest, but I’ll have another go. At least they punish you in some way for dying. Or maybe I should buy one of those Demon’s/Dark Souls games. Hmm…

Anyway, sorry about not talking about Diablo III, but I honestly only played it for 45 minutes or so, not enough for much of anything to say other than “I clicked, I saw, I conquered.”

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From → Video Games

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