Shooting the Shit My Problem With the "Gameplay Only" Mentality Reply To: My Problem With the "Gameplay Only" Mentality

POSTED BY elheber on Jun 02, 2016

“However, with that being said, I don’t believe that video games should primarily focus on gameplay.”

I get the feeling you misspoke here. Gameplay should be the primary focus for most games, and I would argue that everything great you described from Silent Hill 2 is all in service of that wonderfully dreadful gameplay. In a movie, the camera angles and limited visibility would have definitely made for a more tense horror experience, but the lack of interactivity would make it less effective at exorcising your fears. In a movie, the scenes will continue for you (whether you’ve covered your eyes or not) and you just have to sit tight until the resolution gives you that sense of relief you came to the movie for.

The reason we love horror is because we use it as a way to conquer fear. It’s a release valve.

With the game, you are even more of an active participant. You can’t just sit and wait for the game to continue; if you want that relief then you need to have your hands on the controller and pass through that foreboding door yourself. This is an ultimate form of conquering your fear (save for actually doing this in real life with skydiving or by visiting a graveyard on a dare or something) and without the gameplay it is just a passive experience. The clunky controls and weird camera angles are in service to this. The gameplay was nailed. A game developer who didn’t care about gameplay would have made the controls fairly fluid and responsive like an ordinary game. They would have made health easy to come by and replaced the tank controls with regular movement as if this were an action game. It’s the fact that the developers cared about gameplay that it became what it is… full of tension and dread.

In a game like The Stanley Parable, gameplay is extremely limited. However, it’s exactly the right kind of limited in order for the game to deliver the experience it wants to deliver. It isn’t about platforming or any other type of skill-based progress; it’s about choice. This game would not work as a movie because it needs the interactivity to deliver its message… and the gameplay, as simple as it may be, is designed to give it to you. Everything is in service to that interactivity. Interactivity is gameplay, and it is the most important thing in a game.

Maybe I’m misunderstanding what you’re trying to say. Maybe you mean to say that games don’t need to have “fun” gameplay, but I think this is already a given. Well… at least to everyone but Miyamoto. He thinks every game should be “fun”.

"A closet intellectual, he acts dumb to impress women."

"A closet intellectual, he acts dumb to impress women."