Let’s have a chat, gaming community.
I wanted to follow up on one of the more recent articles on the site, about the top ten gaming trends that need to die. I have my own opinion on something that needs to die in gaming in general.
You see, convenience has been around since gaming began back in the 70’s. A hero. A protagonist. YOU are the person that furthers the story, and things happen solely because YOU are the person making them happen.
Let’s take a look at Skyrim, for example. Will the Stormcloaks and Imperials strike a truce without you? Will any dragons die without you using your attacks? Will quests be fulfilled, will the main story progress, will anyone get a single thing done without your assistance? Seemingly, every person in the world of Tamriel is a lazy ass who can’t be bothered to do the smallest task, and instead puts it on your hands. There’s something seriously wrong with this. Can you see it? Nothing happens around you, as much as the world seems very much alive. This is a growing problem in my opinion, and something that truly needs to be altered.
I seriously dislike how convenient game stories have become. The world of a game, from beginning to end, is built around you. The universe orbits you; you are it’s very epicenter. Running through decrepit ruins, thousands of years old? They’re somehow going to start collapsing when you’re in them, the exact moment you’re trying to escape. What’s that, a waterfall you’re drifting down? Don’t worry, the bottom has most likely become deep enough for you to survive, with no sign of a sharp rock that would, in reality, kill you on contact with the ground. Oh, aliens are invading Earth? No matter what game you are playing, from Halo, to Gears of War, to Resistance, to Mass Effect, you are somehow the only person in the entire squad that can save the world. It’s absolutely preposterous! Of the thousands of marines in a single-player Call of Duty campaign, you’re the only one that manages to get anything done.
Why is it that things only occur because you cause them to occur, why do things occur only because you’re in the area, and why have those tropes been going on for so long? Is it a simple case of ‘if it ain’t broke, don’t fix it?’ In all of the advances we’ve made over the years in the whole of gaming, this one thing, this one seemingly minute thing, has stayed constant.
Let’s be honest, being the hero is fun, but it is an overused concept at this point. Sure, it worked for a few decades. I can see why this element, this ability to be a badass in a given virtual world, is so very popular. Be please, gaming world! We need innovation! We need something, at the very core of what a game is, to be ultimately different than what we have right now. Stagnation will occur otherwise, and that’s not good in any industry, especially the one we all partake in.
I for one, desire change. I desire a game where things occur in the background and affect your single-player experience. I want a game where key events happen during a single-player campaign without me causing them to happen. I want to play a first-person shooter where I’m not a gun-toting, bro-fisting badass, but rather I’m the medic healing him every so often. I want more of that support role, that secondary role, that backseat to the main protagonist. How about a mission-based game, where I’m the one doing research on whatever missions the main character gets, and give them to him or her myself? Why not a platformer where twenty other people are going along the same quest I am? I want to get to the end of a game and find I’m one of thousands all achieving the same goal. Give me an RPG where I’m clearing out dungeons for someone else to get the great items inside, to the fight a greater evil.
I don’t want to feel special. I don’t want to feel important. I don’t want to get pat on the back. Gaming has grown boring and more importantly, over the course of forty years, has become outright stagnant. Being the world’s savior, the only one who can kill the head of a country, the one who can liberate an opressed population, it’s no longer appealing to me.
I don’t want to be the hero anymore.
[Written by contributor Frank Falcone]