Games need to be more like games

video games-1

video games-1

Jacob Clary and Jacob Clary

Video games are a medium that can do something no other medium can: giving control to the person consuming the video game. Television, movies and books allow the person reading or watching to see what is happening to the characters, but in a video game, the player has choices and is an actual part of what happens in the story. Games need to start trying to separate themselves from their competition, because that’s why people choose to play a game over watching another episode of something on Netflix. They’re a completely different thing, with the ability to do things no other pop culture medium can, and they should utilize those aspects better.

Video games used to know they were video games, like in an RPG when the player can choose to save a supporting character or let them die, and then that choice matters later in the story. Since those days however, it feels like video games are trying to become more like their big brother, the movie. This is all right in some instances, but it’s been happening more often than it should. Naughty Dog is the developer with the biggest pedigree in these kinds of games, with “The Last of Us” and the Uncharted series focusing heavily on their story instead of the gameplay. The gameplay is serviceable, but the reason to play them is the story, especially “The Last of Us.” These stories are good, but they don’t inherently feel like video games to me. They feel like movies with small swatches of things to do in between cutscenes.

This is the problem with a lot of games today. They take control away from the player to show them something that could easily be shown in gameplay. I don’t like having a game stop to show me something. This has only gotten worse with games becoming better looking. They want to make sure to show you the nice and shiny cutscenes they spent a lot of money on, and that gets annoying when it consistently happens.

The higher importance of a story in games has also led to something I mentioned earlier, player choice, to be increasingly excluded in games. One of the series that was a poster child for choice, the Fallout series, has been diluted down to the most common denominator. “Fallout: New Vegas” had some of the best dialogue in any game I’ve played, and yes, it wasn’t made by Bethesda, but “Fallout 4” and “Fallout 76” don’t even try to make it seem like your choices matter. It’s insulting to the player and a shame because Fallout would be one of the best series on the market if it had the great worlds as well as a dynamic dialogue system.

However, with choice comes the problem of having to consider all the different ways a player could complete certain missions or the whole game. The developers would need to make sure the story is fulfilling for the person who wants to be a good character, as well as the person who wants to kill every NPC in sight and that is difficult to do. But that doesn’t mean they should take out all player choice because some people play games just for that.

Stories have also caused games to become more linear, because they need to make sure the player sees everything they want them to see, in the right order. The term “walking simulator” has started to become a type of game for this very reason, which is a kind of game that has the player walking through an environment and not doing much else. Games can offer so much more than just a game where you walk around and do nothing. There are some good ones, such as “What Remains of Edith Finch” and “Firewatch,” but then there are some that don’t give the player anything to think about or look at to make the game interesting.

Video games have the potential to be one of the best mediums because of its ability to tell stories. That also includes letting the consumer be a part of that story as well as make choices that could change the story in big ways. The problem is that games feel like they are going smaller in all of the things they are trying to do so they can go bigger in story and an open-world that doesn’t necessarily help the game better itself. It’ll be interesting to see if games continue to become even more diluted to appeal to the widest possible audience, and if it does, you’ve got one disappointed gamer right here.