- Dec 17, 2011
I know that the general consensus is no! Before you go on about it being the developer's job to create an environment that guides the player or you post that Jim Sterling Destructoid video consider the following. Games aren't like other forms of media, we actually have to do things in them. Originally games were something you win. You can still see the left over culture from those days before the "interactive experience." Look at our terminology, we don't finish games we "beat" them. Games aren't just about competition anymore but they still have that aspect about them.
I was playing Kirby with my little sister (she's really taken a shine to dedede) and she actually refused to kill most of the enemies. She couldn't stand the thought that she was going to be destroying another being. I tried to explain to her that they didn't matter and she asked "how come?". That left me dumbstruck and, the little puffballs trying to be threatening were living things but only existed as cannon fodder in the game. I didn't give destroying them a second thought because they are enemies, a staple of game design, something that must be destroyed to advance and that is insignificant. My sister told me she didn't want to destroy them. So she went through the entire game without trying to hurt anyone (an impossible feat in Kirby 64). Her emotions and connections to the in game objects prevented her from playing the game "The right way."
See there are inherent rules of games that are almost never broken that seasoned game players are aware of. Even when you are immersed in the game you are advancing towards objectives. We know we kill the enemies, or always go to the right in platformers or save the giant weapon in first person shooters for the boss fight. But new comers may not know this. They are going to play the way they want to, and apply things that they know to games.
It works the other way too. People used to metagaming style just get through and win sort of gaming are probably going to miss out on a lot of the atmosphere. Min/Maxers, Metagamers, Speedrunners, even people who just keep the mentality of winning are going to ruin a lot of the emotional or important aspects of the story or experience. I didn't give a toss about most of the lore in Kingdoms of Amalur because I was trying to finish the quests as soon as possible to get stuff. Encounters with characters lose a lot of their luster when you see them simply as boss fights.
Ultimately the whole thing comes back to immersion. While many games are immersive or whatever and it's a state you really need to strive for regarding design it's a two way street. You have to let a game suck you in, meet it half way. Of course not everybody can do this as easily as others. With some games even if you like them and even if you think they're good you have to try to really love them.
Gosh I hope that didn't sound stupid.