Did You Ever Notice:
Games Don’t Need To Be Difficult Anymore
Do games now even need to be difficult at all anymore? If you are from the NES generation I can see why you would think games should be confined to such a handicap, but if you think outside of the box for a second, what are games really? The cop-out answer would be to say that they are entertainment meant to stimulate the senses and challenge the user, hence the name ‘video game’. I don’t think games need to stimulate you at all, or at least not in the way they did in Contra or Street Fighter. I say you should look to films for a parallel, (and there’s a difference between being a parallel to films in their historical progression and just trying to imitate feature films in content and structure) sure in the early days they needed to have some kind of real catch as to why people see them, like the fact that there was a faraway country with beautiful scenery or cutting-edge special effect for the time, but now those coexist with others meant more for your mind, and the medium is accepted as something that can feature content smarter than just eye candy. I think games should be able to stimulate your mind just as well as films can, in fact they have the potential to do it a lot better. The satisfaction you get from doing something in Half-Life 2 is seriously rewarding, and in the way that most games (note that most games besides HL2 use cutscenes- a handicap left over from trying to copy movies) can’t replicate. The pure way of telling a story through this medium, one in which the user has at least a little bit of control over what happens, makes all the difference. Any part of Half-Life 2 could have played out in a passive medium such as films, but instead the fact that when a setpiece happens you affected it or when characters are talking, you, not a camera, are looking at them makes it so much more engaging. I have gone on record going so far as to say that games can’t be successfully translated to film because film is an inferior form of storytelling. Of course stories made from the ground up as a film or even expertly adapted to one can be and are extremely effective, but games still haven’t stopped trying to be half film, half interactive story. Half-Life 2 won’t make a bad film because its story isn’t good enough, it’s because the amount of story gained from it is completely up to the user. Making this a static, and therefore boring sequence of images ruins the way the story in Half-Life 2 pans out. I stick to this statement.
I have also gone on record saying that our entire industry needs to change its name, since developers and people arguing about ‘games as art’ subjects have used the term ‘video game’ as a crutch to make their games hang onto bits and pieces of the 8-bit coin-ops of our past. The day when we wake up and realize that we don’t need to make players pay by the death anymore is truly the day video games transcend their restrained roots.