Aztez – A Game of Conquest and Brutality

“Watch ‘Em Ups”: Sucking The Meaning Out Of Action Games

Watch 'em ups are a newly emerged genre of game that appear to bear the key properties of beat 'em ups, but are actually far less interactive. Their existence is entirely due to the popularization of Quick Time Events. A watch 'em up looks like the type of experience arcade born gamers love and cherish, but they are actually hollow and unsatisfying experiences in comparison. The reason they feel like this is because they are comprised primarily of what I call "low interaction mechanics".

What Are Low Interaction Mechanics?

They're a type of game mechanic where the game engine takes a very small amount of input and spits out a spectacular amount of visual and audio output. Their origins are in the Quick Time Events that were born in Shenmue, popularized in God Of War, and have been mutating ever since. If you are not familiar with QTE's,  God Of War's brutal fatalities are the iconic example; whenever it's time to kill a big dumb enemy you approach them, push a specific button, and it triggers this complex animated sequence: your character will sling their chains around the enemy, use them to leap onto its head, rip its eyeball out, jam the blade into its chest, tear its still-beating heart out, and so on and so forth until the enemy is dead. While it's amazing to watch, all the player is doing is waiting for simple on-screen cues to hit certain buttons. In all fairness, there is some risk involved being is that the player can fuck up these button presses, but they're still doing very little work yet still watching an avatar perform sensational actions on screen. And again, while QTE's are the backbone of low interaction mechanics, there are many more forms.

The Problem With Low Interaction Mechanics

They're not honest! Game are using these well-produced moments to trick the player into thinking they're awesome. In the pre-low interaction mechanic world, all of the distinct actions in these violent QTE sequences would have been their own legitimate mechanics that required a fair amount of skill to individually perform. While some designers would argue that you can't make traditional game play look that phenomenal because of its inherent playability restrictions, I say that you absolutely can. And while play at those levels is incredible to watch it's also incredibly difficult to perform, and therein lies the problem! Some people can't and/or don't want to operate at that high level of play and low interaction mechanics are the bone the game industry has thrown them. Unfortunately, what's happening now is that modern action game developers/publishers are now trying to capitalize on the people who enjoy these shallow and meaningless interactions by consciously and intentionally creating these kind of games from the ground up.

Watch 'Em Ups Are Now A Genre And That's Dangerous

As of 2012, there are now two official entries: Asura's Wrath (Cyber Connect/Capcom) and Ninja Gaiden 3 (Team Ninja/Tecmo Koei). Both are AAA titles by major developers/publishers that were green lit for the same reason anything is green lit;  because the people upstairs believed it will be profitable. Since action game developers/publishers have this awful habit of assuming that if they do something that God Of War did it means it will share its success, the decision to produce these games DOES make sense. It's asinine, but I understand it. However, my main problem is not that they exist in the first place, but it's that they look like beat 'em ups and are being sold to me as if they were beat 'em ups. It's gross and deceptive and disappointing and it's actually hurting beat 'em ups! They're ruining beat 'em up's reputation with its own diehard fans and any new fans Watch 'Em Ups bring in are going to be a completely different type of player. And this isn't irrational, especially since Ninja Gaiden 3 was co-opted by these players, which was a HUGE betrayal of the series' long standing fans.

And just to be super duper clear (because a couple people have told me that they feel like I'm picking on it), I do NOT consider God Of War a watch 'em up. Like I've said before, I adore the God Of War games and I find them plenty interactive. I simply used the game to describe its very iconic QTE's and that's it.

Low Interaction Mechanics In Aztez

There will be none! As an arcade gamer I loathe them. I play beat 'em ups because I'm given a complex system of tools with which to express myself in a high risk environment and this makes me feel alive. But I need to know that the amazing things happening on my screen are a direct result of my own fiery will pushing against real opposing forces and that I'm actually succeeding. Art is at its most meaningful when you made it yourself and we're giving you paints, a brush, and a beautiful clear canvas, just like the classic and modern classic beat 'em ups. Ninja Gaiden 3 and Asura's Wrath just gave you a cheap paint-by-numbers that someone else drew and a set of crappy watercolors in little plastic pill caps. These games are essentially calling you a pussy.

I know for a fact you aren't a pussy.

Interestingly enough, both of these games were financial failures. Hopefully what's happened here is that these publishers have overestimated the size of the Watch 'Em Up audience and that they're not substantially extant.

  • I agree with most of what you wrote. I don’t like it when I see these things, and I don’t like that enough people do like it for it to keep happening. BUT! It has brought to mind something I’ve been stewing over lately. Along what axis should we categorize things into genre?

    In the medium of written word, you have an initial division largely along structural lines (e.g., poetry, literature). Poetry then subdivides primarily along further structural grounds (e.g., sonnet, blank verse, haiku), while literature primarily divides along the lines of content/aesthetics (e.g., romance, adventure, fantasy, science fiction).

    In interactive/computer/game though, I think it’s almost always muddy which axis is being used (mechanics or aesthetics). On the basis of the narrative and the presentation, something could be called action or adventure, though it may mechanically be more like a rhythm game. I guess the thing that’s been troubling me though is that using purely mechanical terms to define genres is really unhelpful for communicating the emotional experience of playing the game. For instance, you have “click on things at the right time” games, “press a button at the right time” games, “think about which things to press or click” games, etc. A beat-em-up, as a “press the right button at the right time” game is somehow very different from Warioware as a “press the right button at the right time” game, but really that’s all you’re doing in both cases, right?

    • Yeah I see what you mean and I’m not sure. The only thing that instinctively makes sense to me is a simple aesthetic definition that is actually more technical that aesthetic. Haha! But I suppose that’s what the “genre tags” already do for us. They deliver key genre expectations so that we can easily discuss the nuance but yeah I wouldn’t know how to streamline that…

  • :) Can I take any credit for having stoked the flames of your annoyance at this phenomenon?

    Ninja Blade? Dragon’s Lair? Recent FPSs like Modern Warfare, Homefront and Battlefield? I’d certainly like to lump all of these piles of shite together :) I am not as forgiving as you. I DO have a problem with the existence of these games. The waste time, brainpower, and creativity on something that is objectively stupid.

    “there are people out there who really really enjoy these shallow but sensational interactions”
    Is this necessarily true? I don’t want it to be true.

    I was once talking to a friend about Puzzle Quest – he was trying to convince me that it was strategic and stimulating. Eventually, I convinced him he was wrong.

    Some time later I was talking to him and he mentioned he’d stopped playing Puzzle Quest. He regretted ever having played it too. In my opinion, he was looking back at the time he spent with the game and decided he had been *thinking* he was having more fun than he actually *was*.

    I think it’s possible to *not notice* a QTE. Kinda like adverts on TV or boring intervals at a play: you come away from watching them and think, on the whole, it might have been time well spent; you just get used to tuning out the shite stuff. Watch ’em ups may have good graphics, good story, good voice acting etc. Even if it has literally the worst gameplay in the universe, don’t forget it can still have:

    GRAPHICS: 10
    STORY: 10
    MUSIC: 10
    OVERALL: 9

    And that’s how they hoodwink people into buying this tripe.

    ere’s the cute/funny thing: they put adverts in TV shows because they’re paid to, and they put intermissions in theaters to let actors rest. Which is to say: the creators are basically forced to put the boring stuff in.

    So we look at Asura’s Wrath or CODBLOPS we should ask: what’s *your* excuse? Why don’t you cut out the shitty boring button mashing? The answer is: “because if we did then they wouldn’t be games anymore, they’d be films”. It’s a very stupid answer, but in my opinion it tells you a lot about the culture of games.

    • You cannot! The flames were stoked when they decided to make entire games based on these types of mechanics. And remember, I’m not annoyed by the mechanics themselves; it’s when they cobble a bunch of ’em together and make it look like my favorite type of game that I get the hammer out. ;)

      And people liking that type of experience? It’s absolutely true. Challenge is less important to some gamers and why shouldn’t these companies capitalize on it? It’s certainly not my (our) style but it’s still a legitimate way to spend some time. This is when you get mad at me. Haha!

      But I sincerely believe that if someone wants to play an interactive movie for a bit then they should. It doesn’t make ’em any less a person if they want to relinquish some of their responsibility for a bit, but within an enjoyable pastime like videogames. Now if someone only engages in things that DO NOT challenge or broaden them, well then they’re just going to be crappy people. Why care about them?

      By all means, lump ’em together since they belong together. I’m only picking on the games here that resemble beat ’em ups though because that’s my home turf and for me the distinction is worth crusading for.

      • I have to concede to you that people can enjoy QTEs. I wouldn’t have believed it if it hadn’t been for Dark Acre Jack’s message directly below this @_@

        “Why care about crappy people?” Mate, we should care about everyone.

        The vulnerable being drawn into heroine addictions by their peers
        The pensioners pouring their money into flashing one-armed bandits
        The unemployed spending days at a time watching reality TV

        People’s lives are short, and already too full of obligations and suffering. They deserve better than to be “capitalized upon”.

        QTEs are not exclusively the creations of hacks and cynics. David Cage (Heavy Rain) sincerely wants to make interesting watch ’em ups. Because of people like him, I’m NOT suggesting that the government intervene to prevent the creation of QTEs. But are you saying with a straight face that this kind of entertainment is “legitimate”?

        It is not only wasting the lives of audiences – it’s wasting the energy of creators. The great composer Michael Nyman was involved in Enemy Zero, John Hurt was in Tender Loving Care, and Rhianna Pratchett’s career is being squandered on watch ’em ups. Think of the hundreds of animators, programmers, editors, sound guys, voice actors etc. it takes to make these things – and then imagine how very different the world would be if those people were being put to work on INTERESTING video games!

        Wanting to relinquish responsibility? That sounds ok! The Matrix, Up, and When Harry Met Sally are all great films! I’m not against escapism!

        I’m just against stupidity, flab, meaningless conventions, infantilization, manipulation, and selfishness.

        • HAMISH! XOXO!

          I spent a long time caring about everyone before I realized many people don’t want to be cared for, or don’t like to be cared for, of they want to be cared for but don’t want to do the work, etc. And that’s moot anyway since no one has the time and energy to ACTUALLY care about everyone. It can’t be done! There’s only so minutes in the day and emotions run on time too.

          Wishing everyone ever was happy and strong and powerful and beautiful? Totally! Absolutely! But wishing doesn’t do much, despite the positive intent.

          If people have money and they want to spend it on things, then the makers of things have every right to try and make things that people will buy and like. That’s all I meant when I said capitalize. I’m not sure what obligation and suffering has to do with this though.

          And yeah, I believe entertainment is “legitimate” if it entertains people. Again, this is where you and I will always butt heads because I don’t believe every second of entertainment should be gigantically fundamentally meaningful. Or maybe you don’t mean entertainment as a whole, and only videogames? Because if that’s the case you take videogames about 1000 times more seriously than I do. And I’m not patronizing you but I appreciate a fun game regardless of where it is on the spectrum of personal meaning and truth.

          Now I totally love the idea of converting the time and energy spent on making A into time and energy to make B, but that’s also a wholly selfish idea. Heavy Rain and Asura’s Wrath are plenty interesting to the people who are interested in those kind of creations. Only I’m cool with that and you seem to think they’re foolish.

          And just because I think it would be awesome, I wish you’d write product reviews using the metrics of stupidity, flab, infantilization, etc. because then maybe I’d see it your way! Cuz I really want to, but these things all seem subjective to me so I’m still confused. Haha!

          • The ones who don’t want to be cared for, out of self-hatred or sociopathy – it’s them that need care the most!

            I DON’T go about my daily life in an overpowering haze of love for each and every member of my species. But when I see the opportunity to increase people’s quality of life without any particularly bad effect on my own, I take it! One example is this conversation, right now! I’m saying to you that when we develop games, we should not be exploitative and instead should be considerate. It doesn’t take any minutes out of my day for me to believe this.

            “wishing doesn’t do much” ~ sure, but cynicism does even less. YOU are already guilty of hoping for something improbable: that watch ’em ups and beat ’em ups will be separated in future. When you see people doing something certifiably NASTY, don’t tell me “well, they’re entitled to try to make money”. I’m not saying you need to mount a rebellion against our capitalist overlords, but when I mount that rebellion, you shouldn’t expect that argument to be very convincing to me.

            I don’t believe every second of entertainment should be gigantically fundamentally meaningful EITHER! Like I say, Up is a fine film, blah blah blah. But you SERIOUSLY need to acknowledge that there is a difference between “escapist” and “exploitative”.

            Think about crack cocaine. Can we at least agree that that is a tool of exploitation? That it is illegitimate? That it destroys people’s lives, and we can condemn the dealers of crack?

            Now, is it selfish of me to want the large number of people involved in the cocaine industry to be employed in other things? I would hope not…

            … and this is all despite the fact that people have money, and are happy to spend that money on crack. But does that change anything? Libertarians might say yes, but intelligent people will say no.

            This is why it is of no concern to me that some stupid people get enjoyment out of QTEs. It does not change their supreme stupidity, it does not change the fact that the world would be a better place without them.

          • 1. That’s probably true! But I’m not interested in caring for them. I just don’t want to. Fuck ’em! This is where you are a much better man than I am because I have no regard for the strata of people who weren’t taught how to be cared for.

            2. I know what you’re saying and I love that about you! But I am not philosophically opposed to exploitation that makes you feel good! Remember, I’m the guy who will Q-tip his ears until they bleed! Haha! I don’t do this often, I promise! My ears are fine. But I’m conscious of it. If person A is going to exploit person B in order to make them feel good (knowing that person B COULD compromise themselves in the process) I believe it is on person B if person B ends up compromising themselves. This is the savage part of me that believes we should all be strong and know better, even if we all don’t.

            3. I don’t think Watch ‘Em Ups are nasty though, and I don’t think the people that like them and appreciate QTE’s have are doing anything wrong or shitty. And I’m still positing that being lied to (consciously or otherwise) is not wrong. How could it be? I also believe that the people that have made QTE’s and have made Watch ‘Em Ups are sincerely trying to do something cool for people who sincerely think low interaction mechanics are cool. So yeah, make those things for them! Just don’t make ’em look like MY thing over here which is ultimately different. In all fairness, I DO believe what Tecmo Koei did with NG3 is inherently nasty, because they KNEW people would buy it expecting A when they knew it was B, so fuck them.

            4. I certainly acknowledge the difference between “escapist” and “exploitative”. But YOU seriously need to acknowledge that they can be one and the same. But that’s okay!

            5. I absolutely agree with you that crack cocaine is exploitative. It destroys lives, we should condemn the dealers and manufacturers (the conscious manufacturers, not the indigenous lower class humans working unconsciously in some stage of the manufacturing process who are just trying to feed their kids), and yes, I would call crack cocaine use illegitimate. It is definitely not selfish to want the manufacturers of drugs (themselves very potentially valuable humans) to be employed elsewhere.

            HOWEVER! The difference between exploitative games and exploitative drugs (the synthesized drugs with intentionally potent addictive properties) is that drugs directly compromise your decision making capabilities. Even if you subscribe to the concept of videogame addiction, you can’t argue with the VAST difference between the blunted endorphin response of indirect addictions (gaming, gambling, masturbation, food) and the direct addictions of chemically predatory drugs. When people spend their money on more crack cocaine, I would argue that they are not happily spending their money. They might have convinced themselves of this! But they are spending that money on more drugs because their body will punish them if they don’t.

            I’m curious about what the world would look like if it operated according to your ideals. And I’m totally not being patronizing, I would sincerely love to see it in action! As always, I love your brain, Hamish. :)

      • “People think it’s all about misery and desperation and death and all that shite, which is not to be ignored. But what they forget is the pleasure of it. Otherwise we wouldn’t do it. After all, we’re not fucking stupid. At least, we’re not that fucking stupid. Take the best orgasm you ever had, multiply it by a thousand and you’re still nowhere near it.” ~a description of shooting up from “Trainspotting”.

        You say “When people spend their money on more crack cocaine… they are not happily spending their money”, but you might be kidding yourself. My friend, six messages up, I was kidding myself into thinking “no-one REALLY enjoys QTEs, do they?”. The human condition is sadder than we have both previously thought @_@

        I wasn’t trying to convince you crap games are like drugs… all I’m trying to do is show that your argument “anything’s justifiable on some level if it causes enjoyment in someone” doesn’t cut the mustard. You can’t maintain that “exploitation that makes you feel good” is ok, while saying crack is evil.

        Now how much work do I have to do to prove to you that QTEs are exploitative? I know you agree with me that they are subjectively boring. I know you agree with me that they’re objectively dishonest. I know you are aware that they carry a huge opportunity cost (animators, John Hurt etc). Here’s possibly the biggest problem though:

        QTEs are Orwellian. “do this exact thing we tell you, and that shall make you happy”. It rewards obedience and punishes anything else, including thought.

        Combine this with the fact that QTEs are bland. What do they have offer? The cool animations and narrative? No, it’s not them, I don’t think you can argue that, since a cutscene would be objectively better at delivering those things. There must be something else people like about QTEs.

        I put it to you that humans partly desire an authority we can submit to. I put it to you that we LIKE being told exactly what to do and doing it quickly, and being patted on the head for doing so. We certainly like performing arbitrary religious rituals and pretending that they’re meaningful! Perhaps we also like slavery. And that’s why we like QTEs.

        Is this an instinct that you’re happy to see flattered? To see the rich exploit in the impressionable?

        Outside of our argument… I worry, Ben. What if this is the future of games, AND the future of film? I fear that unless people speak out, it will only get worse.

        • RE: crack/shooting up; maybe I’m wrong, but it sounds like you’re saying that because someone experiences a tremendous amount of pleasure that they are happy. I can’t imagine that’s what your saying. Pleasure does not equal happiness and I’m fully assuming you know this so I’m confused.

          And maybe it is worse than we both thought, but I still believe that the excited sensation one feels shelling over their cash for their next bump is not happiness. I would argue that happiness is a complex arrangement of different things where joy/euphoria are just a part of the equation. But I might be very naive and optimistic about the nature of happiness.

          RE: QTE’s being Orwellian; very fucking compelling! I honestly never thought about it like that, despite regularly thinking about social and power dynamics. Knowing what I know about most of the people I’ve ever personally known, I don’t think I can disagree with this notion.

          But what about intent? I still don’t imagine that the scenario designers on NG3 or AW are intending to exploit people in this manner. I still posit that they are doing it because they sincerely think it’s cool! So if there’s no malicious intent and more importantly, NO NEGATIVE CONSEQUENCES, who cares if this specific type of game play mechanic is exploitative?

          And that’s still the thing that gets me about the drug part of the conversation; drugs do actual, physical, damage to you (again, talking about the synthesized drugs that wreck your body). QTE’s just trick you into thinking something for a couple trivial moments.

          And this is going to make this SUPER STICKY, but I also don’t have a problem with the fact that there are people who submit within a power dynamic and it makes them genuinely happy to do so! I’ve known people like this! I can FEEL their happiness! Sometimes literally! The worst case scenario here is that there are malicious designers/producers out there pushing QTE’s simply because they get off on making mechanics that enslave people for a few brief moments/hours and some people are genuinely happy to be enslaved. And that’s fine. Especially since that’s not everyone, or even close to it. And again, QTE’s, low interaction mechanics, and watch ’em ups aren’t fucking up anyone’s bodies and minds and subsequently, their lives.

          I don’t think it’s the future! It will be a part of the future, but not THE future, certainly. Also, I am speaking out. With Aztez.

        • Heh, I WASN’T drawing a line between pleasure and happiness. But sure, that’s a thing worth doing.

          But I don’t think happiness is very complex. It seems plausible that we could have two people, one buying heroine, the other buying a certain video game, and they’re both thinking “I want to do this because it will give me pleasure.” And when the thing is handed over, they are happy, because they now have what they were coveting.

          Alternative argument: I don’t think QTEs are much more sophisticated than drugs. I think they may give people pleasure, but will they make them happy? I don’t see how drugs are much better.


          I don’t think intent matters. Like your “humans working unconsciously in some stage of the manufacturing process who are just trying to feed their kids”, ignorance is enough to shift the blame away from you… but it’s not enough to argue that your actions can be smiled upon.

          I still think there are negative consequences to QTEs: they waste time and money, and people’s lives are so short, so low on leisure time, so already full of meaningless crap. But, I guess I don’t have anything more negative than that…

          In the book “Brave New World”, which I have not read, there is a consequence-free drug called soma. Everyone takes soma, and everyone is happy and productive. But they’re so happy that they don’t really bother with anything else. They don’t think for themselves, they don’t have much interest in art… and they don’t have much interest in entertainment either. There’s no desire for any diversity in emotions, any humour or romance or sympathy with characters. All they need is soma, and they’re satisfied.

          Brave new world is especially horrifying because everyone on earth is the same. But is really ok to just let *individuals*… crawl into those skinner boxes and live out “happy” lives in them? Personally I’d rather live in chronic pain than have an idea of enjoyment that went no wider than playing farmville. You say the difference between drugs and bad games is physical harm… I’m not so sure about that =/

          • Holy crap Hamish. What I want to do is get on Skype with you, have a proper conversation about this, and record it for posterity. I very badly want to continue this fascinating discussion but I need to use the time I (gladly) spend thinking about/responding to your comments on writing more articles. Haha! What do you say?!

  • I disagree. This article is focusing on minute slices of gameplay in 8, 15, 20+ hour experiences that consist primarily of evolutions of all the classic action game mechanisms. A minute’s worth of QTE vs. hours of player-driven combinations of attacks and weapons? Please.

    I find the QTEs in the games mentioned here serve their pacing well, and this article is making a mountain out of a molehill.

    That said, I’m looking forward to seeing how the author’s designs blow these supposedly backward steps out of the water and revolutionize things for all us poor suffering gamers.

    • First of all, the vast majority of mechanics in NG3 and AW take a little bit of input and do an absurd amount of spectacular shit with it, which is the exact definition I declared of low interaction mechanics. And they’re like this regardless of whether you have been placed in an explicit Quick Time Event or not. I have actually played both of these games and saw for myself what the pettiest input turns into. It’s fucking bananas and that’s what I’m talking about. Now I may have sounded like I was only picking on QTE’s instead of the MYRIAD forms of low interaction mechanics, so I made it a little clearer in the article just to be safe.

      Second of all, don’t be a dick. I LOVE when people disagree with me because that’s when the most awesome conversations manifest, but you’re being acerbic because you disagree and that’s weak. Let’s have good conversations.

      • Devin Horsman

        I think this is a well thought out response.

        I am enjoying the glimpses of your game so far.

  • Photex

    I generally agree with your position. I did however enjoy Asuras wrath given it’s mock episode setup. Felt like it was being more honest.

  • Mike Kime

    I read your article and before reading what I am saying here I want to make sure you know that I know your problem has a lot to do with how they kind of pretend to be Beat Em Ups and sort of piggy back the genuine art form to maximize their sales and spread their crap. I agree. That’s pretty bad and I think there are probably some good examples where this has happened elsewhere. Skeuomorphs can be kind of annoying and a detriment to begin with. Some of them are atleast blatant and obvious but I understand your point that some of these games are not – I myself can attest to even buying a game only to later realize half of it was a bunch of Watch Em’ Up crap. You feel dup’d in the short run and doomed in the long.

    This issue is a part of a very big thing that I think about a lot these days. First off I like how you said that “Watch Em’ Ups are becoming a real thing” and not that “Beat Em’ Ups are going to shit”
    I remember when I was a kid I had some major growing pains. I would lay in bed and my legs would ache. I was told it was growing pains and I had to laugh about “Why am I growing faster than it is worth it.” “Why am I growing so fast that It hurts to even live.” I feel like later in life I felt this mentally with many other things. I would get invested into something and then watch it grow faster than I could grow mentally. On a high level this is how Video Games are growing and expanding faster than we can figure out that one thing is truly not the other. That Beat Em Ups and Watch Em Ups exist as to different things. It’s like people who drive work trucks freaking out over inner city mopeds because they are too a “vehicle” and run on the same gasoline…

    Watch Em Ups probably are a very real genre now with a very real demographic!!! One of which NEVER played Beat em Ups or used to play but now don’t and just never want to ever again! That’s how big video games are now. Video games are Mc Donalds big. At some point I realized that our baby, video games, is now big as all hell. It is massive! Now instead of 1 million people playing Doom here and several million playing Excite Bike there and 200k people playing Kings Quest 2 – we now have millions upon millions upon millions of people using the same electronic device to do things we should actually see as being vastly different. Watch Em’ Ups could almost be looked at in a comparison to Beat Em Ups as you could Guitar Hero to actually playing a guitar. Or a snap-together paint-by-numbers model kit to a REAL kit bash ground-up model kit. We often think one will destroy the other but I think in practice we find that a lot of the fan base for the more hardcore stuff tend to remain and even grow. More people play(ed) Guitar Hero than a real guitar – its ok. 200k people STILL want to play a new Kings Quest! It’s just not on the front of magazines anymore because the top money maker under the title “Video Games” or “PC Games” is more along the lines of 20million people. The gripe can come when something that felt more genuine gets pushed out of the light of fame and the covers of magazines, press, and exposure is traded for its wacky retarded skeuomorph. I.E A Watch Em’ Up game on the front of instead of the Beat Em’ Up it apes. I understand that and it can make me sad too. Even in my own world I can walk into a store and instead of seeing Gears of War, Counter Strike, or Batman Arkham City I’ll see Angry Birds and Temple Run. It is lame but at the end of the day I have to remember that tons of people still want to play Arkham City (and growing) and they still want to cosplay the characters etc… — Temple Run is just more popular like Mc Donalds is. People who eat Mc Donalds are now playing Temple Run. Whats cool is there is a possibility that those who play Watch Em’ Ups and eat at Burger King will eventually make the natural transition to playing Bayonetta and eating 5 Guys. :). Stupid analogy I know. But I think it kinda works. Premium restaurants are still in business. Beat Em’ Ups are still being made.

    Cool article man! It would be cool to hear you talk about it in person sometime. Text sucks.

  • I wonder if pen and paper RPG designers ever railed against Choose Your Own Adventure books because of this factor. It’s a pretty close parallel. Your freedom, and commensurately your responsibility, are constrained into tiny windows of interaction that produce a massive amount of exposition, to the extent that everything interesting about the interaction itself is eliminated.

    (Now imagining God of War’s QTE kills in Choose Your Own Adventure format)

    Maybe that’s never been a problem because it’s clear that Choose Your Own Adventure books are intended for people who primarily read books instead of being marketed as the next Dungeons and Dragons?

    • Interesting point! But yeah, I would also assume that RPG creators understand that it’s a product of a different nature. Now if the makers of CYOA started to market their CYOA books as something more complex than it is, that would be fucked up. ;)

  • Alexandra

    I like your insight into game mechanics, but I don’t like misogynistic / femininity-dissing slang like “pussy”. Your posts would be that much stronger without it.

    • And I don’t like when people arbitrarily declare that they don’t like something. But the internet is awesome because we all get to say what we like, for better or worse. *clinks glass against yours*

      And I actually disagree with you about post strength! In my experience (in this one small part of the world I’ve always lived in), people respond to slang and aggression and posturing. My language in posts is a reflection of this; I write like I talk and I talk like I’ve always talked. I wish I could tell you otherwise, but I’m not about to change that.

      Interestingly enough, this post had the most complex and varied response of any of my posts on this blog to date. I don’t believe it’s because I used the word “pussy”, but clearly the word didn’t hurt the strength of the post.

  • Unorus Janco

    As a CRPG player, I feel you pain :salute:

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  • steve

    it would be good if QTE-s had more freedom, like a choose your own adventure, but as a choose your own way to rip off your enemy’s leg and beat him to death, yeah I wish game devs did that

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  • On my own personal experience, it might be “not honest” but I still like it.