Tuesday, December 30, 2008

Good vs. Evil and a Rant on Sandbox gaming

More and more games that are released lately come out of their developers hands being praised about all the choices you can make and how you get to affect this and change that and it all boils down to the classic concept of good vs. evil. God vs. The Devil, Rocky vs. Ivan Drago, Gamestop vs. my bank account. Ok, I understand that our gaming technology has come a long way from the wonders of the 1980’s but here’s the thing. Just because we CAN make an abundance of choices in a video game doesn’t mean that we SHOULD.

Hey look I developed this game; it’s a massive open world where you get to make all the choices your character comes across. You can: work, be a bum, go on dates, drive around, go to the park, fight people, rob a bank. It’s called “Your Shitty Life” and it’s in stores now. Now I’m not going to get on a soapbox and tell a person to stop playing games and go live life, that’s not what I’m getting at. What I’m saying is I already have an open world full of choices and moral dilemmas; I don’t want another one with loading screens.

Granted the choices you’re faced with in a Fable or GTA are drastically different from the ones in your day to day life, well hopefully, I know I myself have a habit of using the vulgar thrust expression at passers by. But the reason we all got into games in the first place was to escape the monotony of our daily lives and enjoy shooting aliens or slashing hobbes without worrying about the moral quandary of whether or not the fight will leave a poor hobbe orphan crying out for his slain hobbe parents making you feel like a complete bastard for trying to enjoy your game.

Also, games that give players a choice between good and evil tend to shed light into an area of my psyche that frankly I’d rather not know about. Ok, sure in GTA when you jump the curb and take out a family of tourists it makes you giggle like a child on Christmas Morning but when games start wagging their digital fingers at you and give you +10 douche bag points it makes you stop and think that “wow… I’m a jerk.” Not to keep picking on poor Fable 2 but why would I want a game where my digital child (a product of a bad in game decision after a night of in game drinking) cries at me for not being around the house because I’m too busy working all the time? This is awful in real life; I don’t want this polluting my video game escape from life. I’d rather the game make me have the kid and remove my choice in the matter, then when I come home the kid turns into a giant bat demon and I have to fight him for sweet epics.

I think I’ve longed since drifted from my initial topic so long story short: no more games with choices. I miss linear style level based gameplay.


Are You Serious? said...

You bring up a good point. In Knights of the Old Republic, all of your decisions affected adults. It's different becoming a Sith as opposed to a neglectful parent. It is possible that it is intentional on the designers part to make some kind of social statement with the choices that you make.

The fact that you feel bad about leaving your virtual kid home alone is a good sign though. I think that it points out to you by making you feel bad that you are a good morally right person. If you didn't acknowledge that it was wrong (even just to yourself) that would be a frightful thing.

Epic Fail said...

Yeah don't get me wrong I understand what Lionhead was going for with Fable 2 and that it was their specific intent to make you feel human emotions. My issue is do we as gamers really want that? When a game like Fable 2 makes you think about that kind of stuff it also forces you to think about the fact that you just giggled when you massacred a family of farmers. Not that I think video games create violence in real life, I'm just annoyed with all the "real life, far reaching choices" games have lately.