I have played American McGee’s Grimm Episode 2 (Little Red Ridinghood -research, you know). And finished it in one go! This may not be big news to you but it’s a remarkable mile stone event for me. It’s been years since I have played a game all the way through. In fact, in most games I tend to not make it past the first puzzle. Because of a combination of lack of skill and lack of patience or tolerance. Call me weird, but I play games for amusement, for relaxation, for making my brain play around with ideas. I don’t play games to become frustrated or caught in the intricate spreadsheet that some clever game designer came up with.
American McGee gets the prize for having made a game that I can actually play. It’s not the greatest game in the world, but it is filled with smart design ideas to help not-so-skilled and not-so-patient players -like me- move on with the fun. It was an exhilarating experience to just be able to play all the way to the end of a game without being interrupted by some O B S T A C L E. I’m too old for that. And frankly, I think videogames as a medium are too old for that.
Take Little Big Planet: a wonderfully amusing experience. Especially when you play with multiple people. Very forgiving and fun. Losing isn’t all that sad and doesn’t happen often. You just play in and with the game. Until you hit the h a r d c o r e levels. Suddenly the game designer forgets about this whole idea of the player finally being able to have some whimsical fun in a videogame and the entire thing turns into a typical try-fail-repeat hardcore fiero trip. Totally misplaced in such a droll environment. What a disappointment!
I read a critical article about Braid this morning that mentions the same problem in a completely different context.
[Initially] I didn’t feel like I was trying to figure out what Blow “meant” by the storyline. The written exposition ahead of each world, while overwrought and ponderous, acted as a tone-poem, setting a contemplative stage for the mechanics.
But I was forced to turn my attention from the game itself because of its difficulty.
When I hit the inevitable wall in Braid, I discovered that, despite being allowed to run roughshod through the game in order to experience and appreciate the narrative, such gameplay would keep me from reaching the story’s end. I was furious. Unlike most video games, Braid requires literal perfection. Every last jump must be made. Every single obstacle overcome.
What’s wrong with these people?