It clearly is a truism to say that a lot has changed as concerns video games, some things for the better, some for the worse. What is not so clear is at what end, of which there are at least three – developer(s), publisher(s), and player(s) –, to look for the faults.
Yet let us start by taking a look at and in due course comparing the designs of video games then and now.
Old video games used to rely heavily upon the player’s faculty of common sense. There was not much of an instruction not to run into pointy things or avoid falling into chasms. To be sure, depending upon how far we think back, many, if not all, games were easier inasmuch as they were two-dimensional or at best pseudo-three-dimensional. There also used to be fewer buttons to press.
Nevertheless, it seems to me that developers have gone too far with their hand-holding in modern games. When I start playing a new game, I often think that I am bad at it. Then I go take a look at how other people play the game – for instance on YouTube – and am baffled by many people’s incompetence. Of course, we need to take into account different genres and difficulty settings. Still, I cannot help the impression that many people suck – no other term expresses this adequately – simply owing to the following aspects:
1. Failing to read.
It may sound incredible, but in many games it is helpful to read instructions, and in old-school games, especially surival horror (SH) or role-playing games (RPG), it is essential to read and explore carefully and thoroughly. Being accustomed to fully voiced games with excessive amounts of on-screen instructions and maps with objective markers, people fail to make progress and often enough just quit a game because of frustration. Instead of searching an entire room and reading notes, people make haste to jump through all the rooms or reach a certain point. This in its turn makes them miss important, sometimes even vital, information including valuable hints as to what to do next, how to get out of a situation, or even what the next objective is.
2. Failing to meet the challenge.
If you play video games regularly or even have done so for years, you will know what I mean when I talk about rage-quitting trolls complaining on every forum remotely connected to video games. The complaints can usually be summarized like this: ‘I didn’t bother reading instructions or searching for clues or explore the map or upgrade my gear, but I want the game to let me win, anyway. AND IT DOESN’T! IT DOESN’T LET ME WIN! HOW DARE IT? I walk along a path in a hostile area with my weapons sheathed, and then an enemy actually attacks me! Guess what, I DIE! Well, I’m a level 10 character with level 2 gear, and the enemies are level 20 with level 20 gear, SO WHY CAN’T I DEFEAT THEM?! WHY, GOD DAMN IT, WHY?! Fuck this game! Fuck the developers! Fuck everyone except me! It can’t be me! Not my fault! No, no, no, no, no, no, no! NO!’ *rage-quits the game for good and all, then takes on the next game to repeat the process*
3. Failing to comprehend even the simplest things.
Yes, it does not have to be diffuclt to understand for people to fail. How often do you see people repeatedly jump or drop into lava, while completely ignoring hints or even on-screen instructions. Walking straight into powerful enemies is not a good idea either. And who would have thought that walking through acid might hurt, especially without any protection. No, don’t take the knife against an armoured boss. And yes, his shield blocks your attacks. No, you’re not supposed to run into his minions. And don’t you run into his missiles! Yes, getting hit means getting damaged. If a non-playable character (NPC) at the entrance to the next area tells you that you shouldn’t enter before you have levelled up appropriately because otherwise the enemies will be five levels above you, you should most probably heed his advice.
[To be continued.]