Tuesday, March 06, 2012

The Games I Play

I've had several games on the go over the past few months or so. I recently finished both Halo: Combat Evolved Anniversary's co-op campaign and Portal (PC). Of course, Halo is still fantastic and Portal is just about perfect. I can replay both games a hundred times over and never get tired of them. Then there is Resistance: Fall of Man. I'm just over halfway through the campaign, but I doubt I'll finish it because I don't find the story or gameplay compelling enough to do so. It is definitely not a Halo killer.

The two other games I have been playing are a little bit different from the ones mentioned above, and are not my typical type of game. They are The Longest Journey and The Misadventures of P.B. Winterbottom; the former a point-and-click adventure, the latter a 2-D puzzle-platformer.

I find The Longest Journey terribly boring and slow moving, while Winterbottom is amusing and a good deal of fun. With both games, though, I am often confounded and frustrated by the puzzles and situations that I must solve to move forward. The clues and paths I have to take are not immediately obvious, and these games certainly don't hold my hand to guide me to or through them.  So, of course, I become impatient and either give up or open up the in-game browser to find a walkthrough that will.

This reaction to these titles has caused me to question how I play games and how that relates to the type of games that I play. You see, I am more likely to go for shooters and racing games. According to Raptr, 73% of my game collection consists of Action games --- 53% of that is composed of first-person shooters, while platformers make up a mere 8%. Racing games account for 16%, puzzle games 6%, and RPGs 4%.

Obviously, then, I like Action games. They move quickly, there is little dialog, and no character development. In these games, my objectives, and the paths to them, are clearly defined. If I get lost, forget my objective, or can't figure out how to do something there is usually some kind of in-game helper to guide me (nav points, on-screen prompts, QTEs, etc.). Also, I start the game with everything I need: a vehicle, a gun, and a few grenades. It's just a matter of going from start to finish or from point A to point B to win a race or to blow something up. I never ask myself the question, "How the fuck am I supposed to do this?" with such games because everything is given to me from the outset. I don't have to worry about dialog trees or managing inventories or about solving mysteries or puzzles. I don't even have to concern myself with backstories, plot points, or character development. I just drive it, shoot it, punch it, or blow it up.

Perhaps my game preference has made me a passive player who expects everything to be spelled out for him from the very beginning. Then, when I go into a game like The Longest Journey (or Winterbottom or any RPG) and I find that everything is not obvious or given to me outright, my impatience rises and my frustration fogs my mind. Or, perhaps, it could have something to do with the type of person I am. I'll explore this further in a later post.

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