Where most people have the little Angel on one shoulder and a Devil on the other, each arguing over what they should do next, I seem to have an optimist and a cynic.
The optimist loves games, loves gamers, loves talking about games, loves stories, and looks forward to seeing where this brave new media goes over the coming years. The cynic hates DRM, is appalled at how much games have homogenized, and most of all is sick to death of lousy, lazy, incomprehensible, self-indulgent stories.
The optimist wrote this week’s Experienced Points article.
Then the two of them sat down to have a chat…
CYNIC is sitting on a worn sofa, chain-smoking and expressionless. OPTIMIST is sitting beside him, grinning. He’s holding a controller and playing a videogame. We hear various cheerful electronic BEEPS from the game.
OPTIMIST: Why, it will be awesome! Imagine if the shooter games did this! I could talk to Master Chief’s friends and learn all about the Halo technology, and the gamers who don’t like stories could just skip it.
They say the books are really good!
CYNIC: That’s the stupidest thing I’ve ever heard.
OPTIMIST: It would be beautiful! Everyone would get what they want. I would get rich details and characterization, and they would get to play without having all that stuff shoved down their throat.
CYNIC: They would never do that. Nobody gives a crap about you and your stories.
OPTIMIST: I would actually play Gears of War if they did that.
CYNIC: You sicken me with your self-delusion.
OPTIMIST: I wish you could see the future I see. It’s so perfect.
CYNIC: Ok genius, let’s imagine someone at Epic actually wanted to change their incredibly successful and profitable formula to make it more to your liking.
OPTIMIST: Yes! I knew you’d come around.
CYNIC: Who would write it?
CYNIC: Just because they’re using BioWare-style dialog trees doesn’t mean they’ll have BioWare’s writers.
OPTIMIST: I hate you.
CYNIC: Imagine a dialog tree filled out by the cement-head that penned Unreal Tournament 3. It’d be this looping, tangled mess of bravado and smacktalk.
OPTIMIST: Shut up! You always ruin everything!
CYNIC: You wouldn’t be able to leave the coversation until you’d used up all the options, just like in Silent Hill Homecoming.
Optimist is looking increasingly upset and brittle.
CYNIC: It would be worse than a cutscene you couldn’t skip. It would be a cutscene you couldn’t ignore. You couldn’t leave the room while it played. You’d have to just sit there and click, and click, and click while characters grunted out cliches and quotes from Michael Bay movies.
OPTIMIST: I’m going to kill myself. (Runs out of room crying.)
There is a long pause. Eventually Cynic reaches over and picks up the discarded controller. He plays in expressionless silence for a bit.
CYNIC: I hate this game.
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