The 7 Commandments All Video Games Should Obey

#5. Thou shalt not force repetition on the player.

Resident Evil 4, the God of War series, Heavenly Sword, No More Heroes, Dead Rising and every game with save checkpoints.

Here's a very simple rule:

Humans only find repetition enjoyable when they choose it.

Let's say you sit on your bed one afternoon and, out of boredom, fling playing cards at a hat for two hours straight, just to pass the time. You amuse yourself trying to hit 10 in a row.

Now imagine it's later in the evening and you're about to have sex with your girl. Suddenly she sits up, her boobies hanging out, and says, "Wait! We can't do it until you fling 10 cards into that hat over there! It's a rule in the obscure religion I practice!"

Will you enjoy the card flinging this time? No, and in fact the repetition you found enjoyable before will become maddening, as you flip cards around your frustrated, wilting manhood.

Well some video games are like tossing cards: sports games, fighting games, racing games. The fun is in repeating and practicing them. But other mission-based games are like having sex. There's a specific progression and goal in mind, and repetitive interruption only ruins the mood.

Such as ...

Having to replay levels due to limited save points.

This is a throwback to the arcade/NES days when physical limitations in the system wouldn't allow you to save your progress just anywhere. There is no reason for this now. None. We're busy. We've got work, appointments, phone calls. We shouldn't tolerate an inability to save our progress in any piece of software.


Half Life 2 did this perfectly--it auto-saved every few minutes, behind the scenes. You didn't have to worry about it and you didn't have to re-fight enemies you had already defeated.

There are people who say that preventing saves adds to the "tension" of the game. Sure, in the sense that the fact that your 360 could catch on fire at any moment also adds to the tension. Face it, if the only way you can think of to add suspense to your game is to disable a feature of the hardware, then you suck at making games.

This is almost as bad as when you ...

Force us to watch cutscenes repeatedly.

This should be the law: If you've programmed your cutscene so that we can't skip it, then you should have your game programming license revoked. If you have placed your cutscene right before a spot where we're likely to die, and given us no ability to save after it, then you deserve a beating.

God of War: Chains of Olympus does this. And you'd better hope you don't die during the long-ass Bowser fight at the end of Mario Galaxy, because you've got to listen to his fucking monologue every fucking time you start over. Unskippable cutscenes killed Nights: Journey of Dreams, as sure as a bullet to the back of the skull.

Oh, shut the fuck up.

Seriously, what could be worse than this? Oh, wait ...

Instant failure quicktime events.

This has got to be one of the most diabolical inventions in the history of gaming. If you're not familiar with the term, this is when in the middle of a cutscene, suddenly the words "HIT THE A BUTTON OR DIE!" flash across the screen.

If you fail to hit the right button in that split second, the consequence isn't that you lose damage points. No, the consequence is that you have to watch the fucking cutscene again.

And again.

Until we turn off the game, get in our car, and drive to your office to deliver your beating.

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