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Wednesday, January 24, 2007

The Repurcussion is Ranting


The challenges presented to us in life are incomparable to those posed by games. Rarely are the solutions to life's problems so simple as to be overcome by a rummage in your pockets for a chinchilla to be used on a pillar of hazelnuts to cause a cascade reaction leading to relentless armoured-fruit pelting and ultimate dissipation of the problematic issues raised by the expansion of globalisation and exploitation of poverty-stricken peoples the world over. Not that this has ever happened in a game (not to my knowledge?!), but it could - because games indulge their players in a fantasy whereby if a problem is presented, it can and will be overcome. Often games cannot be completed until every issue is addressed and conquered, with non-essential problems labelled 'side-quests' or some such - therefore becoming a 'bonus' - non-essential but rewarding.

Life is chaotic. Often an action taken today will manifest unforeseen repercussions in the future. I'd like to see more of this in games, where solutions are often so obvious as to be an insult to the player. An example from today: Twilight Princess - the path ahead is blocked to me and the usual spider/bomb creatures are nowhere to be seen; I wander aimlessly for a while until stumbling across the village I'd saved the day before, a shop within this grateful hamlet stocks bombs, and although I now realise the solution I am forced to traverse the wilds to reach the original cause of grief.

If developers insist on reminding us that games are not intended to mimic life, then let's dispense with the sometimes aimless trawl for our woe's solution. What I'd like to see, however, is quite different: let's embrace the chaos! Let's kick the tutorial's chickens and find them organised, and angry, an obstacle to the game's completion after the final boss. I believe games provide gamers with the power to callously ignore the perils of repercussion. Why not embrace this fact? I want repercussions to become the game.

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