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The Hero's Tale - I - The Decay of Difficulty


         (Sarah is curled up on a couch, wrapped in a blanket, with a cat named “Cat” sitting beside her. She is play vidya)

Sarah: This game is boring.

Cat: It looks pretty exciting to me.

Sarah: Low Difficulty + Heavenly Skill = boring.

Cat: But look! You have to carefully avoid all this danger!

         (A flood of enemies and projectiles surround Sarah, forming a complex mishmash of fire columns, poison spit, thunder, and sword strikes)

Sarah: Watch.
         (Sarah gets struck with a sword and is flung from the flurry into a nearby field, blinking with temporary invulnerability)

Sarah: It doesn't matter. There is little punishment for being hurt by one attack because after being hit I’m invulnerable and my sprite is thrown out of the combat. In other words, the high quantity of low damage attacks can only possibly equal low damage. Even in the case of high damage attacks, it can't add up to anything, and I am given ample time to heal. Thus the game’s complexity is a visual illusion, pretending to be intricate when in reality only a small fraction of the events have any tangible effect.

Cat: But in the time it takes to defeat all those enemies you can't take very many hits before you run out of health pots!    

         (Sarah looks at Cat, and starts pressing random buttons, slamming all of the face buttons with her palm. A sudden light bursts from her, and all the enemies are cleansed)

Cat: Story though, story! You are hope incarnate, bringing light back to this war torn country! It only makes sense that you are so powerful.

Sarah: The story is about a struggle between incompetent evil and a moody youth with an auto-win button. It's what they in the biz call dramatic tension.

Cat: Don’t demean an entire industry just because you consider yourself a god!

Sarah: I’m only a god amongst this casual trash.

Cat: I forgot you were 'teh hardcorez'.

Sarah: How am I supposed to care about the story when its resolution is as easy as spamming the same combo for four hours? Who would give a shit about King Lear if he had a phoenix down? The gameplay is equivalent to dialogue, it all happens in the same fiction; including the most minor actions, even stuttering left to right because the animation looks funny. I can’t abide games which expect me to believe in an uphill battle against evil when the gameplay is only slightly more interesting than walking from point A to B.

Cat: But all fiction is a lie! That’s what makes it fiction. The illusion of battle is created with a field of projectiles, and the uphill battle is believable because of the non gameplay dialogue! It’s not like actors who play Hamlet actually go through his tragedy!

Sarah: But that actor isn’t a member of the audience too! I am supposed to believe the tension because I create it myself by butting heads with the game’s challenge. Without a foil for my impressive competence my role in the story is to activate the next cut scene. A scene which is bound to ignore how incredibly easy the ‘epic’ task really is. Games like this are Lamesville, Ohio. … USA. … More like, USY, United States of Yawns. ...

         (Sarah kills a few more hoards of enemies and starts to aimlessly jump around the screen)

Cat: Then why are you playing it?
         (Sarah stands up, walks over to the console, rips the power cord out of the back, and puts it back in.)

Cat: Nyaaaa!

Sarah: Fuck your moe shit!

Cat: You could have corrupted something or ruined the system's power supply!

Sarah: Better than waiting a bazillion seconds for it to turn off!

         (A beautiful orchestra swells as the console logo appears on the screen)

Sarah: See! It's already back on.

         (Sarah sits back down and cancels through the warnings about improper shutdowns)

Cat: Yeah... But you could have just exited from the game to the main menu ...

Sarah: That would have also taken time.

Cat: What you did also took time.

Sarah: ...
         (Sarah scrolls back and forth through the menu a few times)

Cat: What do we play now?

Sarah: Uhhhhhm. …

Cat: Do we have anything left?

Sarah: Yeah, but nothing interesting.

Cat: Well, then what?

Sarah: I want to go on an adventure!

         (A few moments of silence pass)

Cat: Do you think it’s time?

Sarah: Yes.

         (Sarah goes to her room and comes out with an old console and a game box. The box art is white with a blue flower in the center. The title reads “The Hero’s Tale”. Sarah improperly shuts down the other system and plugs in the old one. She turns the system on by pressing the eject button, puts the disk in the tray, and shoves the tray back in. She sits back down as a faint synthesizer comes from the TV while colored orbs orbit on the screen)

Cat: There is no turning back you know?

Sarah: I know....

Cat: Are you sure about this?

Sarah: Yes. ...
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About Sadi Hawbornone of us since 11:34 PM on 06.15.2013

Someone should pay me money because I'm so good.