I remember when I took a unit on writing for film, how we were told, “Don’t tell me, show me.”
Well, I think this needs to be expanded upon for the sake of differentiating between films (or tv shows) and games.
Books: Tell me.
Film: Show me.
Games: Let me find out for myself.
It may seem obvious, but when this is properly understood, will we really have any need for epic cut-scenes that do anything more than literally set the scene? I’m not talking about getting rid of all cut-scenes: for example, the intro for Left 4 Dead is highly effective at showing a variety of scenarios and special infected, while hinting at ways of dealing with them. In that sense, “show me” has superceded “tell me,” while remaining short and setting the scene. We do need some sort of introduction, some sort of illustration of how to play, but first and foremost, we should encourage players to feel more involved than watching a film.
I was thinking about SissyFight and Left 4 Dead.
One is set in a schoolyard, is free, and all players are totally anonymous. It focuses on teaming up to take others down. It’s not really suitable for kids, in my opinion. But there’s nothing to stop 12 year old girls playing it.
The other has guns and blood, there are zombies attacking you, you have to pay to be able to log in, and you can look up information about players’ accounts. It focuses on teaming up to keep everyone in the game, because you are likely to fail dismally if you don’t work together as a team. Sure, you can be on the opposing team, but once again, you have to work with your team.
Which would you prefer your kids to play? Violent, dark, teaches teamwork; Clean, light, teaches bitching?
I don’t play Left 4 Dead for a week or so, and what happens? My subconscious decides that I obviously haven’t been killing enough zombies, so I should live out this desire to play L4D by making me dream about Zombies.
In my dream, some guy had a white Pit Bull that seemed very handy at killing zombies for a while.
Which reminds me:
Have you played The Outbreak?
It’s an interactive, choose-your-own-adventure style web film.
But I want to know… why does it always seem to be night time when zombies are around?