Ultimate Gaming Sins
When we talk about gaming sins it often relates to bugs, errors, or downright messes. Every once and a while it’s important to realise that, much like the biblical sins of the real world, we often skip over the minor sins and largely focus on the big bads. Although these small sins counts up, you might not be invited to the inner circle of hell but the laborious and infuriating sins definitely have a chance of landing you some front row seats to watch Arkham Knight’s PC port roasted over some searing hot coals.
Like Dante himself I embroidered an oversized cross in to my chest for the first sin of modern gaming with Halo 5 and the poor diegetics that lie within. Diegetic interfaces are beautiful constructs of design and ingenuity that cascade vital information to the player through the game world. In fact if you pull off diegetics well you are more likely a saint than a sinner. Although badly done diegetics are riddled with pride and other sins. The cocky developer will design their HUD and find a lacklustre way of squeezing it in to their game through pseudo-diegetics, think 343’s approach to Halo and the way they have subtly changed the HUD to look more like a helmet as justification for the use of the term diegetic. While these are tiny issues on their own there is one key moment in Halo 5 that completely ruined the idea of diegetics. It starts with a scuffle and ends with a cracked visor, jump forward and the cracks remains but there is no crack on my screen. This is where you are struck by diegetic interfaces working in converse to their design ethos, instead of pulling me in further I was questioning what is going on. Undoubtedly there is some ropey explanation on par with why Cortana got curvier and why the brutes went walkies, but nobody has time for that. Other sinners include Farcry, a game in which you can get riddled with bullets and pull twigs out of the palm of your hand to cure what ails you. Then you have Isaac Clarke from Dead Space whose only way of checking his current health status is to arch himself over his own shoulder like a self-conscious partner questioning if their jeans fit while trying to catch a glimpse of them in the mirror. The list goes on and I am sure we can spend the rest of the day prattling on, but it cause great pain which obviously results in eyes bleeding and blurred vision.
If you thought poor diegetic interfaces were bad then the next one might be a doosey. Suffering for your sins is already bad enough, but imagine having to suffer a forced or shoehorned in group activity to prolong the experience. Think of a group discussion of the world’s worst people; Adolf, Gadhafi, the Boston Strangler, and that guy who calls you up about missold PPI payments all lumped in next to you to enhance the experience. This perpetual hell not only comes at the cost of your solo experience, but you have to share the disjointed and disengaging multiplayer with the worst of the worst. Batman Arkham Origins is most definitely guilty of having a shoehorned in multiplayer, to the point that the shoehorn itself is questioning its relevance as the poorly executed multiplayer was squeezed in. What’s worse still is requiring always online components, for instance in Tony Hawk’s Pro Skater 5 you were required to join fellow skaters online, and as if waiting for a skater to thrash their line in real life wasn’t bad enough Robomodo decided that you should forever bump shoulders with whatever schmucks had fallen wholeheartedly for their elaborate ruse. That being said if you bought THPS5 like myself you may already be on your way down for listening to that blasted punk music.
Although spending eternity with a bunch of good for nothing players forced to band together might seem like the worst thing ever, there is nothing worse than a series of unnecessary fetch quests in which you inevitably get to keep the item you sought out to receive. Was there ever a point in returning? No. Many adventurers have probably died taking on the quest before, so why not treat yourself to the loot anyways and leave that old boot that needed her “wooden spoon of soup making” none the wiser in her little cabin. To be laboured with fetch quests is akin to being stuck as Brad Pitt’s character in Se7en perpetually asking what’s in the box for hours on end, only to get the big finish to find out what was in the box all along. On the plus side, if you manage to equip the mutilated head of a lover you get a +2 to Dexterity. Swings and roundabouts, eh?
Now I am not entirely sure hoarding should be a sin, but according to both my mum and several significant others it is definitely worthy of some form of punishment. So why is it that every game struggling to fill its empty life with collecting fluff is allowed a pass but I have to throw out that receipt from two Christmases past? Whether your mother wants to rebuild that pigeon that she hit with her cart last year and sends you out on a quest to individually collect disease ridden feathers from across Italy to recreate her feathered abomination or you need to aimlessly plunder every shipping container you stumble upon to find old photos from a previous time hoping you happen upon some classy polaroid nudes, it needs to stop. There is nothing worse than an eternity collecting the infernal coals of the underworld for nothing more than an achievement and a bolstered play time so the developers meet an arbitrary “X number of hours playable”.
Finally we conclude with the biggest sin of all, micro transactions. If it sprouts horns, goes for your wallet, and proclaims its innocence because you don’t need to buy it then it belongs in the inner most circles of the underworld. In fact sometimes you’ll find it might actually be personified as the horrible entity in charge of whipping your favourite developers to make them scream. Micro transactions are not inherently bad however, in fact in both free to play games and purely aesthetic additions they are brilliant, allowing players to choose and customise their own experience, we are specifically talking about those that seek to deny content for the sake of a bigger pay check for the developer. There are far too many companies to list, but undoubtedly a select few will be jumping on the pachinko wagon sooner or later.
As time changes and we learn from our mistakes it is less likely that we fall in to the same routines as we did before. Those who previously sinned against will hopefully learn the errors of their ways and provide a fairer and better deal for consumers, unless you are EA. But these lessons take time, and more importantly they need the little man to stand up and say no. Hell might not freeze over, but if we stopped throwing our money into the pits as fuel these monstrosities might need to take notice before we all inevitably end up with health markers on our backs and moths in our wallets.