Home > Games, My writing > Efficiency over fun? (Article)

Efficiency over fun? (Article)

Darksiders sword

“The sword ends up as the most powerful weapon you can use so there’s no reason to switch to the others”, this is a comment (paraphrased) I heard recently on a podcast. It got me thinking, is this a valid criticism? Does it reflect badly on the game or does it reflect badly on the gamer who made it? In this specific example the person is talking about Darksiders. In the game your weapons level up based on how much you use them, as a result the sword you start with ends up as the most powerful by default. This is certainly a flaw in the design of the game but does it really mean you shouldn’t even bother using the other weapons?

This is something I’ve heard many gamers complain about over the years, “X weapon is too powerful, there’s little point in using anything else” or “this combo is so effective there’s no need to learn the others”. To these statements my first reaction would be “here’s a reason, using different weapons/combos would be more fun”. I’ve often heard God of War and similar games criticised because you can easily dispatch enemies with a handful of combos through the entire game. Yes it may get you through the game but will you feel at all satisfied having watched the exact same set of moves onscreen for 10 hours or so? The fact a flaw exists does not mean it has to be used.

If you’ve discovered a weapon that makes the game a cake walk why not ban yourself from using that weapon? If you’ve found a combo that makes you unstoppable why not mix it up and use anything but that combo? If you’ve found a flaw in the enemy AI that makes combat incredibly easy do you really need to exploit it? If you restrict yourself to a way of playing because it’s the most “effective” you are doing yourself and the game a disservice. Exploiting such things often leads to a flat and monotonous experience.

The gamers who react this way often seem to forget one of the primary reasons for video games, fun. Sure part of playing a game is to beat it and at a time that was the only challenge, but even then the process is supposed to be fun. If you’re “beating” the game by exploiting a flaw that you are aware of then you’re denying yourself some of the fun, at least if it’s your first playthrough. These days so much of games is about exploration, whether that be exploring the world or exploring the games mechanics.

Halo 1 Pistol

There is something to be said for going through the a game after you’ve beaten it and setting yourself some interesting parameters. For example in Halo 1 the now infamous pistol is so powerful and satisfying that a playthrough of the game using it exclusively would not only be a challenge but also alot of fun. Resident Evil 4 and 5 have a mechanic dedicated to this, multiple playthroughs allow you to unlock incredibly overpowered weapons. This gives you a fun reason to playthrough the game more than once. Of course if you were given this option the first time you played the game it would just come across as too easy and dull.

What do you think? If you find an effective way to “beat” a game will you choose to forego everything else because of it? Do you think you’re getting as much fun out of the game as a result? Why do you think some gamers choose to play this way and why do some complain about it rather than use it to make themselves play differently?

Categories: Games, My writing Tags:
  1. No comments yet.
  1. No trackbacks yet.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: