Tuesday, August 19, 2014

Should Dev's Stop Spoiling Games?

Erik Kain, a Forbes contributor, wants game makers to stop spoiling their games!

I feel like I've talked about this subject before, but it's been so long that I can't remember which entry. If I find it, I'll link it.

Legendary game icon Hideo Kojima has teamed up with Bethesda for a horror game, The Evil Within. And like Kain, I enjoy a good horror game. Resident Evil is a series I still enjoy, even with how wonky it has gone as of late. But even the likes of Slenderman can cause me to jump in my chair. But it's not the game that Kain is concerned about. On October 14th, Bethesdais going to release an hour of game play and cutscenes that guests of GamesCon had a chance to test out. It's a demo. I don't see anything wrong with that. The content is not at the beginning or the end of the game, but in a random spot that gives the user just enough of a taste to be interested without blabbing out the entire premise.

For Kain, plopping us down in the middle for a demo spoils the mystery and excitement of trying something new. If it were just a few minutes at the beginning, you could think of it almost like a book. You get a quick blip of interest and what's to come without marring up potential plot lines later on. If you walk into a book store, and yes these still exist, you may see people sitting and reading the first few pages to get a feel for the product and see if the story is worth continuing. Plays, songs, movies, they all do this too. They want to hook you in that first act to keep your butt in the seat. It's also why you'll find those "freebe" previews for eBooks will showcase the first handful of chapters and not slices in the middle.

Video games seem to be the one entertainment medium that does not do this. I can not tell you how many demo's I have played over the years where it was a random spot in the game. Somehow, it seems more acceptable as a game. You have 20+ hours of game play to get you into the story. There are no set time markers required to get you interested. For some games, it may take you through the entire play through for you to figure out if it was worth the time. But unlike movies, video games are developed with the mindset that you can pause and walk away. They don't expect you to sit and play for days on end without breaks. They're meant to give you a story over time, and provide an extended form of entertainment that you will never see with movies and television.

"Maybe I’m just out of tune with the culture at this point."

Possibly. But I think Kain has an undocumented OCD situation. A need to go from start to finish and not jumping in the middle. Whereas our gaming culture has always had this sense of...randomness, if you will, to it. It's never felt odd to play a game from the middle. You may miss out on key plot points, but the development of the products have always allowed the user to ascertain what they skipped over through other plot lines, characters, actions, reactions, etc.

Personally, I can't wait to see the The Evil Within game play. We have a medium that allows us to jump around without destroying the story or context. Let's roll with it.

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