In Real Life

Are Games Becoming Too Domesticated?

Image credit: Steven Ray Brown (@StevRayBro) via Nightmare Mode
Have video games become glorified to-do lists? Has the element of surprise been ripped form our grubby little hands? Over at Nightmare Mode, writer Fernando Cordeiro contemplates whether games have become domesticated.

In his piece Cordeiro suggests that the element of discovery has been taken away from us in many modern video games. Sure, we can explore vast worlds and quest to ours hearts content, but we seldom get lost any more. There are too many tutorials, too many maps, too many pointers, and too much guidance.

Cordeiro says:

“Not only have we grown familiar to their bizarre lexicon (cracked walls were meant to be exploded) but we always have the information of what to do and where to go directly at our fingertips, sometimes even before we have any real use for such information. As a result, games have become to-do lists. The contemporary quintessential video game is nothing but a laundry list of things to do in order to get the 100% complete rate. What used to be surprises to be found became mere tasks to be fulfilled: “Defeat Riddler”; “Stop the bomb”; “Find 35 pieces of arrows”; “Help the villagers”; “Become the master of fighter’s guild”.”

He continues:

“We now take this for granted. We expect our games to have mini-maps to pin point exactly where we should be heading next, as if my medieval hero had a smartphone with him. It’s either that of that looming golden arrow that acts like Jack Sparrow’s magical compass on the top of the screen. After getting the treasure, we expect to see our progress rate increase in 1%. That way we can measure exactly where we are and have a notion of how much I need before completing the game.

In the world I’m from, this is called a project management tool.”

One of the more interesting examples that Cordeiro raises is that of the old Super Mario Bros. games. The player would run and jump and have no idea what would come next (unless they’d already played the level, of course). There were no hints, no clues where the princess would be — every new inch of the screen revealed a surprise.

Codeiro acknowledges that without “domestication”, games would become incredibly frustrating, so it can serve a positive purpose. His piece serves as an interesting reminder about how games and gamers have changed — how our expectations are no longer the same.

We strongly recommend heading over to Nightmare Mode to read his piece in full.

Do you think that games are losing their element of surprise? Do you lament the days of getting lost in a game and having no idea where you are or what you’re meant to do? Or is modern-day gaming about as good as it gets? Let us know!

[Nightmare Mode]