I'm a science fiction, fantasy, and speculative fiction writer by trade, but aside from writing, video games are my biggest passion. I also write over at Gamer Limit.
The first console my brothers and I ever got was an SNES for Christmas one year. Since then, we've owned an N64, Playstation, PS2, and an Xbox 360. I got a Gameboy Color one year for Christmas, but my brothers are more into handheld gaming than me. Every time they upgrade to the latest system I get their hand-me-downs. That's how I obtained my GBA and my two DS's. Handheld gaming for some reason doesn't interest me even though I know there are great games out there. The first console I've ever been the exclusive owner of is my PS3. The first games I ever played were Super Mario World, F-Zero, 7th Saga (which I've written about), and Out of This World.
My favorite genres are RPGs (Western or Japanese), FPS, action/adventure, and RTS (even though I suck at them).
Iíve seen a lot of blogs lately talking about open-world games and how they give players freedom to do an almost dizzying amount of stuff. These great blogs have addressed only one side of freedom, but what about the other side? What about freedom from?
Open-world games like the Grand Theft Auto series or Fallout and Oblivion give players tremendous amounts of choices. Do I want to do side quests, level up some obscure sub-skill, or do I want to progress the main story? The amount of stuff you can do in these games is staggering. Sometimes itís too much.
I can go pick some herbs, do side quests galore, try to finish the main quest... Too many choices!
Some gamers look at linearity as if itís a disease. Well if thatís the case, I donít want to be inoculated it against it. Or something like that. Lemme ditch the strained metaphor and say that sometimes I want a game to offer me the freedom from having to decide which of the numerous side quests and activities to undertake.
When I first played Fallout 3 I made it through the relatively linear opening sequence in the Vault with no problem. But then something peculiar happened when the glare faded from my never-seen-real-sunlight-before eyes. I was paralyzed. The pure freedom the game shoved in my face made me unable to do anything. The game sat on my shelf for six months after that until I finally forced myself to play it again. That was two years ago, and now history repeated itself when I tried to play New Vegas two weeks ago. Guess how much time I put into it? Not much.
My first taste of freedom from Vault 101. Now what?
Open-world games have their place, and I enjoyed my time with Oblivion and even Fallout 3 when I finally got into it. Sometimes I want Big Brother Game Developer holding my hand. A guided experience (when done well) can be more intense than a diffuse one riddled with endless freedom.
Thatís the real trick isnít it? How are games supposed to create guided experiences while still offering some illusion of freedom and choice? Because even though I want the freedom from being paralyzed by choice, I still want the freedom to have some choice. Contradictory? Absolutely. Do I have any concrete suggestions on what games could attempt? Not right now, no.
Picture is unrelated.
Gaming is a unique hobby because it gives us the opportunity to take in all these different types of experiences. Some people want games with more freedom to, and others want games with the other kind. The truly amazing thing is that all of us have the freedom to play what we want.
That veered somewhere cheesy. Cock. Balls. Okay things are back to normal now.