Top 10 Gaming Peeves
Developers need to be attuned to the fact that the majority of us have already seen all their tricks and then some. As big a fan of video games as I am, there are a lot of things that irk me about them. I imagine many can say the same, but I find as I’ve gotten older, these minor annoyances have grown into full-blown peeves. Clichés are abused, cohesiveness is destroyed, forethought is ignored, and companies continue to fall back on derivative gameplay and storyline elements rather than reach for something greater. Here’s a list of our Top 10 Gaming Peeves.
10) QTEs (Quick Time Events):
I actually like QTEs, when they’re done correctly. The problem lies in the difficulty of said correctness, especially when you consider replaying the game at some point and needing to do those events every…single…time. Bayonetta and pretty much every Naruto game ever are some of the worst offenders. QTEs should be used to promote storyline actions that are normally out of the avatar’s ability to actually perform within the game itself, and even then it should only be as a last resort. Ideally, the game should be programmed to offer those actions innately rather than as a press-along movie sequence.
9) Voice Acting:
I’m sure many reading are staring at this one wondering what is wrong with me. I recently had this conversation with a friend who asked, “You’d rather read?” Why yes, yes I would. It used to be that I’d read (far faster by the way, than you could talk) and act out/ voice the dialogue in my head. It always sounds better in my head. These days, voice acting is used to bring ‘life’ to a game’s characters, but nine times out of ten, it’s done poorly and ruins immersion. Worse yet is when there are no subtitles, forcing me to listen to the terrible acting or miss out on the story entirely. I’m looking at you, Arc Rise Fantasia.
8) Repeatable Gameplay:
No, ‘Dailies’ are not content. They never were, and never will be. Giving me a quest to do something I’d end up doing anyway for lack of anything better to do is not an acceptable way to extend the life of a game. Dailies are just the elephant of the room, but this peeve goes to other repeatable gameplay such as tiered difficulty (Diablo 3), forced grinding (every ARPG ever), and so on. This has never justified either a $60 box price of a $15 month fee, so stop it. Want to know how to extend the life of your game? Give your endgame players an incentive to backtrack and help new players get as strong as they are. I know enforcing a sense of community is a wild idea but it totally works. Really. Try it.
7) Bad Lighting:
How sad is it that this is a thing? 30+ years of graphically-enhanced gaming and developers still seem to equate ambiance to bad lighting. To this I suggest everyone creating a stage or game revolving around the evening hours try actually, you know, going outside. At night. There’s quite a bit more light out there than people realize, evidently. The Dynasty Warriors series is particularly bad at this; Dynasty Warriors 7: Empires forces me to run against the walls just to find my way around for lack of any real direction. Only games within the horror genre should keep players so in the dark, and even then it’s debatable.
I totally don’t care that there are a lot of players that love going online. That’s nice for them. I’m not one of these players. When I want to play with people, I play an MMO. If I buy a console game, it’s because I’m interested in the single-player experience. It also probably means the last thing I want is to be bothered by someone else’s idea of how to play the game. I also believe any work done on one facet of a game is work taken away from another; the development of multiplayer, often for games that don’t benefit from it, means less resources dedicated to the core game. Not acceptable. Know your audience before you to try to reach into their pockets.
5) Unnecessary Nekkid:
I swear, I’m not a prude. As an artist of both traditional and digital media, I’m actually a rather big fan of nudity. What I don’t like, however, is when it’s used as fan-service. At this point, I’m so constantly deluged by tits and ass that it’s not even impressive anymore. I am numb to it. I am more impressed by an attractive, clothed woman such as the recent incarnation of Lara Croft in Square Enix’s Tomb Raider, than the prominent bulge of nipples from, say, Soul Calibur’s Ivy. There are games where I expect a degree of fan-service; Grand Theft Auto, for instance, would be missing a bit of soul if its street walkers suddenly decided to dress like businesswomen. As I’ve mentioned in a previous article, however, I’m hoping developers become less cavalier about sex at some point.
4) Emo Protagonists:
Must every hero be flooded with inner turmoil? I can’t remember the last time I played a game where the hero was a happy, vibrant guy or gal. I would think someone happy might want to spread their cheer to others, and I’m not talking Mario or Mickey Mouse here. I think this is why I was so infatuated with the first Kingdom Hearts game; Sora was an amazing protagonist, he was bright and cheerful and wasn’t merely thrust into some great responsibility, he just gave a damn. Granted, he darkened a bit during the story, but that’s to be expected when confronted by evil meant to be overcome. He evolved into that. He was refreshing and one of the few able to escape the dreaded Cloud Syndrome. More of that please.
3) Unskippable Cut Scenes:
I can’t begin to write about how many games I’d love to replay many, many times if not for their cut scenes, and my lack of desire to watch them over and over. It doesn’t matter how great the game is the first time around, no man’s vision is ever above the tediousness that comes from repetition. Even boobs are boring when overdone, what chance do you think your cut scene has?
2) Arbitrary Numbers/Difficulty:
One of greatest gaming sins and unfortunately, also one of the biggest fallbacks of game development is the arbitrary use of numbers as ‘stats’ that decide how difficult something is for you to kill. As much as I love RPGs, one would think I happen to be a big fan of stats. The truth however, is that those stats mean nothing when you meet the next tier of enemies, who promptly smack you down to size as if you’d never gotten stronger in the first place. It’s a treadmill, a constant jog in a direction that never leads anywhere. MMOs have inflated the issue with raid gear; gear earned to raid more to gain more gear, to raid more to gain more gear, so on and so forth. Games like Demon’s Souls are the rare few that manage to handle these growth systems correctly, as far as single-player games go. Still waiting for MMOs to catch up.
1) Class Stereotypes:
Why are women almost always the bookish mages, clerics and otherwise physically ‘weak’ classes while men are warriors, brutes or otherwise physically adept? Those who know me know how much stereotyping annoys me. I don’t allow it in my life, and it aggravates me to no end that I’m constantly confronted by it in one of my favorite pastimes. This isn’t merely an issue of women being presumed weak, either. While that’s the most common complaint, I’m equally bothered by the suggestion that men are too stupid to be anything other than the meat shield. It’s not just women that are stereotyped. Believe it or not, men can read books, too. We may not do it often, but that’s beside the point.
The majority of us have been gaming since we were children. That’s 20+ years of tropes to wade through, and it’s only a matter of time before they become obvious and thus harder to ignore. Developers need to be attuned to the fact that the majority of us have already seen all their tricks and then some. We’re bored, now.
Time to up the ante a bit, bubs.