12 Video Game Annoyances That Need to Die (Part 2)

12 Video Game Annoyances That Need to Die (Part 2)

This is the Golden Age of Video Games, or maybe it's just the Golden Age of People Who Like to Complain About Video Games. Or maybe it's both -- every six months brings us something magical, and along with it comes some horrible new business practice that makes video game publishers some of the most hated companies in the world.

So as the future of gaming was unveiled at E3, I was watching closely for reasons I should give up on gaming once and for all after three and a half decades. It would certainly free up some time. You can click here to go back and see Part 1 of my epic list of everything that's wrong with the medium that helped raise me, otherwise let's continue calling out things like ...

Making Every Hero Look the Same

Sunset Overdrive

That up there is the protagonist of the wonderfully original Sunset Overdrive for the Xbox One, which boasts that it breaks all of the rules of modern gaming -- the trailer even mocks the Call of Duty-style shooters it's competing with:

But as you can see, there's one rule it doesn't break. Quick: Find me a game at E3 2014 that featured a lone human protagonist that wasn't a fit white male or a busty female. I couldn't. And that's too bad, because as for the current gaming landscape, well ...

Gaming in 2014 So ... do you want to play as the white male or the busty young girl?

Those are the human protagonists from the current list of best-selling console games, and that's even leaving out Mario, Luigi, the protagonist of the LEGO Movie game, and the blocky-yet-clearly-white Minecraft guy:


"That's bullshit, Wong," I can hear you saying, because we're both sitting at the same Starbucks. "I can see a black guy at the bottom of your infographic there!" Hey, you're right. One of the three protagonists in Grand Theft Auto V is the young African-American gang-banger Franklin. Here's what he sounds like (NSFW language):

A white guy wrote that!

But look, I'm not even talking about political correctness here -- I know I won't end racism by insisting that the gun at the bottom of my FPS screen be held by the dainty, wrinkled hand of an elderly Latina woman. It's just a sign of how incredibly narrow storytelling is in gaming. By the way -- when you bring this up, gamers flip the fuck out. Whether you're talking about ethnic diversity or sexism, gamers fiercely guard the medium's homogeny, as if even the gentlest criticism of their $100 billion industry will cause it to come crashing down.

"But Hollywood is full of strapping white male heroes, too!"

You're totally right. But even Hollywood has more variety when it comes to protagonists. The Internet's favorite TV action drama starred a scrawny 53-year-old schoolteacher who was riddled with cancer. Before that, it was a waddling 300-pound gangster played by James Gandolfini. Go to the theater and you can see a chubby everyman like Seth Rogen or Jonah Hill in a starring role, a 60-year-old Samuel L. Jackson, or an entire cast over 50 in a movie like RED. You can see a 44-year-old Tina Fey or a 53-year-old Julia Louis-Dreyfus playing the lead in movies and TV both. Shit, here's the badass cop hero of the crime drama Fargo on FX:

12 Video Game Annoyances That Need to Die (Part 2)

Can you imagine playing as any of those in a mainstream video game? Not some $5 indie game on Steam somebody made in their bedroom, either -- a full-blown game with all the bells and whistles that define the medium. A game that somebody was willing to invest in.

And in the Future ...

Here's a nice montage from Rebellious Pixels:

Yeah. And when asked at E3 why they couldn't put female assassins in the new Assassin's Creed game, the developers said it would have been too much work. "We'd have a thousand man-hours in rendering her ovaries alone! How can we manage that with Ubisoft's meager resources?"

As asinine as that is, it is actually part of the problem -- the deck is already stacked because they're not going to change the race/gender/body type of the protagonists in the many, many sequels to existing franchises that are coming (The Witcher, Uncharted, Metal Gear -- and Arkham Knight isn't going to be the first adaptation to break ground on a black Bruce Wayne). So ... I guess we have Mirror's Edge 2, which, instead of a hot, young, white female, stars a hot, young, Asian female. A bold risk, sirs!

Look, I know a lot of you are thinking, "Like we're really going to buy a game about a fat middle-aged Russian woman gunning down zombies!"

Well, who said they have to be gunning down zombies? See, that brings me to the next point ...

Making Every Game About Endless Combat

Uncharted 4

The image above is from the few seconds of Uncharted 4 they gave us at E3. It's a reminder that this franchise apparently can't just be about exploration, puzzles, traversal, and astounding escapes -- it also has to be told through the eyes of a glib, remorseless killing machine. "Make sure we get the gun in there! We don't want anyone getting the wrong idea!"

Likewise, the short featurette for Mirror's Edge 2 up there reminds us right away that they're fixing and adding to the combat in that game -- no way gamers could settle for just the astonishing skyscraper parkour.

Look, it's not that I want to ban video game violence. It's just ... here, let me give you an example. There's a moment at the start of BioShock: Infinite where your character pushes open a door and sees for the first time the floating city of Columbia:

12 Video Game Annoyances That Need to Die (Part 2)
2K Games

That took my breath away. It had all been so beautifully crafted, and it promised such a deep, living world that I didn't immediately feel my normal gamer urge to genocide that shit. You're quickly confronted by the brutal realities of racism and class exploitation and soon have to make the choice to stand up for a persecuted interracial couple -- challenging stuff for a video game. But at that moment ... it all goes away. The guns come out, and for the next 15 hours of gameplay, it's just you mowing down waves and waves of mindless cannon fodder.

And almost every story-based game has to have that now. Combat is the default method of interaction -- Halo alone has resulted in 136 billion kills in multiplayer (that is, the population of 20 Earths). I understand that killing in a multiplayer FPS is like playing a game of tag -- that's fine, that's an e-sport, not a storytelling medium. But they want single-player campaigns to have that same pace of high-volume slaughter, and it turns almost any story into utter nonsense. One minute the protagonist is solemnly expressing sorrow over his violent nature (as in Grand Theft Auto IV); the next, he's happily killing a hospital.

EF Roon Treatment 2 Mir pution Waiting Ronet Vsitors Wards Receplion

There is a scene near the end of BioShock when the rebellion in Columbia has gotten out of control and you and Elizabeth enter a room full of corpses -- nobles from the city who have been slaughtered, execution-style. And while your female companion gasps in shock and gives an emotional monologue, you frantically rifle through the pockets of each corpse for money, health, and bullets. You don't have a choice -- you might need that stuff to fight the wave of mindless bad guys that is about to come spilling into the room at any moment. The story and the gameplay diverge hilariously -- the developers actually wanted you to be shocked and saddened by the sight of corpses, when up to that point we've been mowing down human enemies like weeds. So, am I supposed to feel something there, or not? If not, why bother?

That's why the last time I was really excited for an upcoming game was when I saw the trailer for Watch Dogs at E3 2012 -- a game that promised a hacker protagonist who uses data as his weapon. Or rather, I was really excited for exactly six minutes:

That's the point where the genius hacker hero starts beating the shit out of somebody with a stick. A minute later, out come the guns.

12 Video Game Annoyances That Need to Die (Part 2)

"OK, I've successfully hacked the security guard!"

So there you go -- what looked revolutionary and unique turns out to be yet another white male badass with a gun on a quest for revenge, mowing down enemies and for the most part using the "hacking" elements only to explode things and steal money. That's apparently as far as our imaginations will take us -- there can be no other ways to solve a problem in a mainstream video game story. See, because if you had a game that required different skills to overcome the bad guys, you wouldn't need the hero to be a grizzled, strapping badass. It could be an everyman (not that there's anything stopping us from having a game that features an overweight Chinese badass, but you know what I mean). The Tomb Raider reboot does the same thing -- promises a clever but vulnerable Lara, then gives us Gears of War in a tank top.

And in the Future ...

There is no shortage of zero-budget indie PSN/Xbox Live games that break the mold, like the beautiful ABZU:

Low risk, low production values, no promotion -- no faith from the industry that we'll want to play anything that isn't nonstop murder. I have high hopes for The Vanishing of Ethan Carter, which from the teaser suggests a slow-paced, gritty detective drama:

But that's what I thought Alan Wake was several years ago, and I instead found myself gunning down an entire small town's worth of possessed mountain folk every time the sun went down. So we'll see, I guess. But I suppose this just hints at a larger problem ...

Refusing to Tell Serious Stories

Ori and the Blind Forest

"Bullshit!" says 53,273 of you at once at the sight of that headline. "The Last of Us had all sorts of serious, emotional moments between Joel and Ellie! I cried like a baby when got eaten by those giraffes."

Sure, but those powerful themes of sacrifice and loss still had to be hidden inside a thick wad of "Grizzled White Male Slaughtering Zombies in a Post-Apocalyptic Wasteland," like how you have to hide a pill in a hunk of hamburger to get a dog to swallow it. We once did a joke Photoshop contest asking fans to imagine how ridiculous it would be if classic movies got video game adaptations. Like To Kill a Mockingbird:

Ace Atorney Aticus F Finch NINTENDODS. NINTENDOT hstice E T ForA CAPCOM

Or even Pulp Fiction:

CRACKED COM MAAAAA Lance: The day that I bring an O.D.-ing bitch to your house, then I give her the shot. A ?

I mean, the whole idea is ludicrous, right? Turning an Oscar-winning movie into a video game? Hell, can you even imagine a video game version of 12 Years a Slave or Schindler's List? Even the concept of a Breaking Bad video game was ridiculous enough for a College Humor parody. I mean, to actually deal with a heavy subject like slavery or the Holocaust in a video game -- how dare you cheapen it that way?

But ... why would that be cheapening it?

If I'm an artist and I want to deal with a weighty subject like genocide, child abuse, or racism, I can write a novel, record a song, paint a painting, sculpt a statue, film a movie/TV show/YouTube vlog ... and as long as it's done well, everyone will applaud, with tears in their eyes. So why do we cringe or laugh the moment we imagine a video game done from, say, the point of view of a concentration camp inmate?

If your answer is that it's hard to turn a real tragic, somber event into an Uncharted-style shooter/platformer without it being horribly tasteless, let me stop you right there -- you've read the previous entry. Why does it have to be that? I mean, is that what the industry is saying -- that it can only convey stories via constant combat or puzzle solving (as is the case even in the shockingly original dating game Catherine)?

If so, then I guess that's that. As I mentioned in Part 1, I've always had this stupid dream about video games being the future of storytelling. I've been gaming for 34 of my 39 years, and while Pong was amusing as a toddler, The Legend of Zelda set my little brain on fire. Fuck movies and books -- when I was 12, that was where I wanted to live. But I guess this is as far as the medium can go, just shooting and/or jumping over obstacles? Sure, on PC, you have games like Dear Esther ...

... which is really just a short story that you "read" by wandering around an island, unlocking passages along the way. It's apparently pretty cool, but there's barely any game there. The second best iPhone game I've played in the last year is Device 6 (the best is Calculords), but at best it has Myst-like interactivity -- it's just a clever short story with five complex puzzles embedded throughout.

And again, those are zero-budget indie titles that no studio was willing to take a risk on -- to find a movie that breaks the action mold, I don't have to go looking for something made in a basement. Gravity had a $100 million budget, made back seven times that much, and won almost all the Oscars. Shit, even 12 Years a Slave had $20 million behind it.

And in the Future ...

Well, there's Ori and the Blind Forest, an indie side-scroller (aren't they all?) that says it's a "coming of age" tale, though that story seems to be expressed via Metroid-style fighting and jumping:

And then there's Night in the Woods, which seems to be the gold standard of what I'm talking about -- young people (well, animals) living in a crumbling mining town who have an encounter with the unknown:

The game industry believes so strongly in that kind of non-violent, character-driven story that the creators had to get their funding off Kickstarter. And that ... pretty much says it all. I also have high hopes for Bullet Girls, the upcoming PS Vita game that provides an unflinching historical look at Japan's brutal Panty Wars (NSFW):

Game Mechanics That Remind You It's a Game

108 750 393 37 1600 128 iegat The 15 Gianiss Division

That up there is The Division -- a game with utterly lifelike graphics, right up until the point you shoot someone and make numbers fly out of their head. And I know that's just a minor thing, but it makes my point: Games are in a weird tug-of-war between visuals that suck you into the universe and mechanics that yank you out of it. Little arbitrary rules that only make sense because it's a "game."

For example, like a lot of you, I like to fly into a rage at the slightest provocation if things don't go exactly my way. I therefore don't have a lot of tolerance for doing the same shit over and over with no progress, and as such, video game difficulty is something of a sore subject with me. My gaming time is very limited, and I want to progress to the next thing. But I'm fine with a game beating me, as long as A) it's fair and B) it makes some kind of logical sense.

3 3 X Lollipop Hammer X 3 1A XO $1.90 Bmaah a candyl Purchase

For the record, forcing you to buy power-ups is neither of these things.

After all, it's not repetition if I'm trying new strategies to accomplish the same thing -- there were levels in both of the good Arkham games that probably took me more than a dozen tries before I finally figured out the right combination of sneaking and punching needed to take down a tower full of gun-toting bad guys who could shred my bat-shaped ass with one well-targeted burst. That fits into the world of the story, because that's what Batman would do. But most games just crank up the difficulty with pure, mindless tedium, with no creativity or internal logic. For example, "bullet sponge" enemies.

12 Video Game Annoyances That Need to Die (Part 2)
Microsoft Studios

These are enemies like the Juggernaut in the Modern Warfare games (an armored bad guy who takes 80 fucking shots to kill). There's no strategy, and he doesn't react to your shots -- you just stand there and shoot and shoot until he falls over. You may have also seen this in most Halo games and with virtually every enemy in the Gears of War franchise. And there's rarely any logic to it -- occasionally a game will give you a visual representation of what you're doing (i.e., you have to blow off each of the monster's limbs, like in the Dead Space games), but usually you just pour lead into them until they topple over. Even if it's an Uncharted bad guy protected by nothing but a T-shirt, he's still going to soak up a Terminator's worth of bullets before succumbing, because the game says so.

12 Video Game Annoyances That Need to Die (Part 2)
Sony Computer Entertainment

And to be clear, I'm not complaining about enemies being too difficult -- hell, give me a monster that can't be hurt by guns at all, and make me devise a clever strategy for blowing him up some other way -- I love that shit. Because at least then there's some kind of logic to why I have to do it that way, a connection between what I see and what I do. That's no small thing when it comes to immersion (and if you've been playing the drinking game I mentioned in Part 1, call an ambulance).

And yes, I get that these are games, and that games have arbitrary rules by definition. But that's the point I keep coming back to again and again -- I can download some stupid shooting gallery app for my iPhone if I just want to play a game. If I'm firing up Uncharted, it's because I want to go live in that world for a while. It's not just a game, goddamnit, I actually think it cheapens it to call it that.

12 Video Game Annoyances That Need to Die (Part 2)
Sony Computer Entertainment

In fact, I'd say it's this "just a game" mentality that makes them think it's OK to throw in these arbitrary rules that take you out of the fantasy. Am I facing a door that only opens if I first kill all of the enemies in the room? Why does it work that way? Or maybe there's a guard at the city gate who will only open the path after I complete some other, totally unrelated task -- so what's his reasoning for doing that in the universe of that story? Is there some actual reason why the pieces of the doomsday weapon I'm to assemble are scattered all across the map so that I have to slowly trudge from one to the next, killing crowds of enemy cannon fodder every step of the way?

If your only answer is "Because we programmed it that way," you've lost me. You've woken me up from the fantasy by slapping me in the face with a stark reminder that this isn't really an adventure meant to capture my imagination. It's just a computer program designed to keep me pushing buttons for 12 hours.

Loudspeaker Lights Response lever Electrified Food dispenser grid

Am I being melodramatic here? Is it weird that I'm writing, like, a billion words about this? If so, I apologize, but I grew up thinking that video games were the future of the culture, that they could be important. I guess the market says otherwise -- Valve used to make Half-Life, and now they just make multiplayer shooters because there's no money in crafting new and better single-player epics -- hell, even BioShock: Infinite failed so hard that its studio got shut down.

And in the Future ...

"Well, if you're so big into immersion, drama queen, you'll love the new virtual reality headsets like Oculus Rift and PlayStation Morpheus! You put that shit on your head, you'll think you're in the game world!"

No. Just ... no. Immersion is not about the hardware. I've gotten immersed in text-only mobile games, I've even seen people print them out and get immersed that way. It's not going to matter if you've got a true-to-life digital simulation strapped to your head if every five minutes something pops up to remind you that it's a game. "Pay $1.99 to fall in love with the princess, and be sure to share your purchase on UbiBook!"

"Epic" Game Plots That Amount to a Ridiculous Chain of Errands

The Witcher 3: Wild Hunt

In the short gameplay demo for The Witcher 3: Wild Hunt, they show the hero hunting down a mighty dragon ... only to get interrupted by a gang of bandits he has to fight, and then have a conversation with a woman whom he promises to return to once his hunt is over:

Even in this brief glimpse of the game, you can see the "branching list of errands" story structure that drives me fucking insane.

Let's take BioShock: Infinite again (I know I'm bringing it up a lot, but it's kind of a perfect example, and I know a lot of you have played it). As I said, it's packing a wonderful atmosphere, great world design, good voice acting, a unique soundtrack, and more -- they put so much care into it, they went broke making it.

In the game, you start with a simple goal: Get the girl. So you do that. Now you have a new goal: Get her out of the city. That's perfectly serviceable storytelling so far -- a simple but tried and true formula. And here's where, in a film or novel, you would face a series of escalating challenges and twists that you must overcome, always propelling the story forward, scene by scene. But, see, a video game can't work that way. A game has to stretch out its two hours of story into 12 hours of gameplay. And so it sends you on a series of roundabout errands and what gamers call "fetch quests."

12 Video Game Annoyances That Need to Die (Part 2)
2K Games

"Bathroom? Oh, first you need to flip the coin for 15 heads and 15 tails. Then take the golden plunger we give you to the plumber by the carousel at midnight. Then ..."

So once we have the girl, we're told we need to get to an airship that will transport us out of the city. But the airship is being controlled by a group of violent rebels. The rebels say they will give us the airship if we give them a bunch of guns. So we need to go find a gunsmith. We find his shop, but the gunsmith isn't there -- he's been imprisoned. So we go to the prison to find him. Once there, we find that the gunsmith is dead. But our partner knows some magic that can bring him back to life. She does, so now the gunsmith is alive again, but he doesn't have his tools (you know, to make the guns). Now we have to go find his tools. We find out they're in an impound yard. So we go looking for the impound yard ...

At that point I completely forgot what the fuck I was even trying to get the tools for, or why. Remember, after every step was a pitched battle in which I had to spend 20 minutes shooting 20 or 30 bad guys, then another 10 minutes scavenging to replace the 5,000 bullets I just expended.

2K Games

"The gunsmith said he'd give us a box for the rest of your pinkie. No questions asked. Come on, you're already missing the good part."

And this ridiculous wild goose chase of menial errands is the standard format for video game storytelling. Like Skyrim -- that game is a towering achievement in world building and sheer scale. And about 12 hours in, I was told to retrieve the titular Elder Scroll. But to get it, I had to climb a mountain, talk to a dragon, climb back down, talk to another guy, trek across the land to a library, search the library, then trek out onto a frozen lake to talk to an old hermit, who told me I'd need to trek to a faraway temple ... it's not a story, it's a treadmill.

And then there are the side quests.

QUESTS GENERAL STATS SYSTEM TAKING CARE OF BUSINESS BBSAK MA After sucessfully locating the Rogged Flogon,Bryjolf has given me 0 Dew BEPUDONG E MMAL a
Bethesda Softworks

About as interesting as Lucas' tax subplots in the prequels.

The whole time I was doing the above, characters were saying things to me like "You must find the scroll! There's no time! Go, before it's too late!" Then I immediately started running into strangers asking me to do random petty bullshit. No, I have absolutely no desire to stop to help some shady businessman put a rival pawnshop out of business. The world is ending. Only I can stop it. No, lady, I'm not going to find someone who can groom your dog in time for the dog show. I am a hero preventing the end of the world via dragon holocaust.

But here is where every Skyrim player in the comments will say the same thing: "You're playing it wrong! Why were you doing the main story when the real fun is in those awesome side quests!" OK, then why was the game screaming at me to run to the next thing?

Or take Mass Effect -- it is, for most of its runtime, a legitimately great sci-fi story. But then, right in the middle, a mission popped up asking me to go buy a dude a fish from the gift shop.

"But that's just a side mission! You don't have to do it!" Right, but those missions are how you build up the weapons, experience points, and gear you need to save the universe. These menial tasks arise every few feet in the game, and you have to judge on the spot if they're worth doing. The game heavily implies you're going to need every upgrade you can get -- so yes, you do wind up putting your world-saving quest aside to buy a fish or record a fucking endorsement for a local business.

Also, I kept getting dialogue options that implied the game wanted me to fuck my secretary. Guys, the freaking universe is about to get destroyed. I don't have time to scissor my assistant.

There's always this immersion-killing divide between story (epic tale of thwarting the apocalypse) and gameplay (slow, time-killing menial tasks), between dialogue ("Hurry before the king dies!") and the actions you need to take to win (meticulously search every box and pocket for items).

And in the Future ...

I think everyone is so used to this "endless chain of intersecting missions" story structure that we can't imagine anything else unless it's a really short game. They mocked the trope in South Park: The Stick of Truth (in the "Recruit the Girls" mission), but in the course of mocking it, they still did it. I suspect the issue is the audience's demand that these games be super long, but for me, any time I see a game boasting it has "50 hours of gameplay," I groan. Not because I hate long games, but because I hate how they're lengthened. Not even J.R.R. Tolkien could stretch out a story across this many hours without a little aimless meandering thrown in.

Giving Us Moral Choices That Don't Actually Affect Anything

Dragon Age:inguisitfion

You probably can't tell from the "three minutes of beating demons with a stick" gameplay demo below, but Lords of the Fallen promises a complex morality system in which you can decide if you beat demons to death as a good guy or beat demons to death as a bad guy:

These "morality" systems in video games are one of the great gaming innovations of my lifetime. Or at least they should have been.

I mean, this is the sort of thing I had in mind when I said games were going to change storytelling forever -- what games can do that other media can't is give the audience choices, and make those choices matter. Are you telling me that if I went back in time and told Mr. Tolkien that in the future we'd have a magical device that would let the player see the story through Frodo's eyes, and that the player could actually be saddled with making the choices Frodo had to make and explore the consequences of those choices, that the eccentric old Englishman wouldn't shit his pants in amazement? That he wouldn't literally murder his own family for a chance to get his mitts on such an awesome storytelling tool?

12 Video Game Annoyances That Need to Die (Part 2)

"Hand it over, or I'll have C.S. Lewis shank you right in the asshole."

But now, the "good vs. evil" morality choice feels like a fad that new games are already going away from, a broken mechanic that never quite worked out, like motion controls. The entire Mass Effect franchise -- a sprawling, epic adventure with choices just as irrevocable as the ones that ruined your real life -- is forever tainted by the ending of Mass Effect 3 ... because in the end, it turned out that none of your choices really mattered at all.

And that was the cream of the crop when it comes to choice-driven video game stories. The rest are at best the equivalent of the chewy stem of the plant that cream apparently comes from. Most games give you a laughable choice between playing as a normal person or as a mindless psychopath, and the impact is just some different dialogue in a cutscene, or maybe a shopkeeper gives you better prices if you don't murder his children. And, bizarrely, those games usually reward you for being all one or all the other -- meaning you have a meter, and if you push it far enough in one direction, you get a cool new power (like in the Infamous games), but if you live with any kind of nuance (making evil decisions in one context and good in another), the meter stays in the center, and you've rendered the whole thing moot.

Day 20 The Price Mission Complete Awarded 500XP Your actions have made you slightly more Heroic. 0 Stunts Performed

In other words, the whole "morality" thing is no more significant than choosing which kind of magic you want. It's just another way to build out your arsenal. Which is fine, I guess, but ...

Look, here's the point of all this, 10,000 words in. Entertainment -- all entertainment -- is supposed to make you feel something. That's why it exists. Yes, you can also learn something from it, but they make you learn it by feeling it (see: 12 Years a Slave), by putting you into the shoes of someone who isn't you. That's why diversity matters, too -- art is about taking you to different places and letting you look through alien eyes, to broaden your horizons. Not just to fulfill some crude power fantasy or feel the catharsis of random destruction. It can be so much more.

12 Video Game Annoyances That Need to Die (Part 2)

"We gave you a mask this time. How much more can you fucking want?"

But where almost every terrible direct-to-Netflix horror movie can make me genuinely feel fear, and even a slapdash Adam Sandler comedy can make me laugh (in places), feelings in video games are few and far between. That's why this concept of player choices was so promising -- the chance to actually feel an emotion beyond that superficial nervousness at the prospect of losing 10 minutes of progress because my character "died," or the dull frustration of having to repeat a puzzle for the 20th time because the story won't continue until I do it exactly right.

And that's tragic, because this was always the promise of video games, from the days of Oregon Trail and Zork. When you boil your stories down to a series of buttons and obstacles, you're squandering what can truly make games special.

And in the Future ...

Dragon Age: Inquisition promises to take a subtle and nuanced approach to morality, and its maker, BioWare, seems to be the best at it, in that it's less about having a good/evil meter and more about winning loyalty from the people you encounter. But whatever you might have felt playing the last Dragon Age game was likely lost under the hours of monotonous combat (funny how that works).

"But I feel genuine emotion all the time," some of you are saying, "when I play online with my guild!"

Right, and that's why the current craze is multiplayer online battle arena games where a bunch of people play and cooperate in teams -- at E3, it was Dawngate:

PC gaming is currently dominated by that genre (League of Legends, Smite, and all of the variations). Or, you have open-world titles like DayZ and Rust -- part game, part fascinating social experiment in which the rules are established and players are turned loose on each other, Lord of the Flies-style. Or EVE Online, where players recently organized their own massive battle that destroyed $300,000 worth of imaginary ships (that is, the ships are imaginary -- the dollars are real). They're designed to let players write their own adventures.

But that's not storytelling, that's a social activity, for people who like that sort of thing. It's more reality show than novel. And maybe, I don't know, that's as good as the medium gets. Who am I to judge -- millions of people are out there having a blast doing it right now. Just gathering and laughing, the way they do at clubs and parties and all of those other places people go to have fun without me. Maybe there's just more money in making games for those sociable types, rather than people like me, who just want to crawl inside a story and lose myself for a while.

It's fine, whatever. You guys go have fun. Forget I said anything.

To read Part 1 of what will probably be my last article on the subject of video games, click here.

David Wong is the Executive Editor of Cracked.com and the bestselling author of This Book is Full of Spiders. For more of his mildly controversial views on gaming, see 5 Creepy Ways Video Games Are Trying to Get You Addicted. For his other complaints about how the system has failed us, see 6 Ways You're About to Get Screwed by the Job Market.

Related Reading: David Wong has more video game annoyances to vent about, like those bullshit games that charge you money to win. For other fails in gaming, read this article. And if you'd like to be bummed out by the incredible video game mash-up possibilities that never will be, we've got those too. We've also got the inside skinny on why the games industry is about to crash.

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