This is one of the strangest developer blog posts I have ever read, and I’m still not sure what to make of it. Adrian Chmielarz, ex-People Can Fly developer, now member of The Astronauts, has claimed that we need to “kill gameplay” in order to make better games.
It’s an interesting hypothesis, but one I completely disagree with.
After listing a series of typical favourite gaming moments (riding into Mexico in Red Dead Redemption, the opening 10 minutes of BioShock, etc) he makes the connection that, in actual fact, these moments are “game-free” or “game-less”.
Then he expands…
If we understand gameplay as something that a challenge is a crucial part of, then none of these moments features any gameplay. You just walk, or swim, or ride a horse, but that’s it. You cannot die. You don’t make choices that have any long term consequences. No skill is involved.
There is no gameplay.
In other words, certain things worth remembering from certain video games are not what these video games are all about.
Chmielarz goes on to use The Walking Dead as a good example of a game that removes gameplay loops and mechanics and replaces them with ‘moments’.
Ultimately I think this whole argument is flawed based on the assumption that players engage with video game content to solely create memories — an assumption that is completely incorrect. It also ignores the simple pleasure players get from engaging in a finely tuned mechanic. Just because most gamers don’t take the time to describe that experience, or understand it, doesn’t mean it wasn’t important or completely integral to the experience.
And finally — these memorable moments are memorable precisely because they are designed to be. They’re memorable because they usually work as a stop gap between the regular mechanics. Using the idea that such moments are memorable as an argument to strip all “gameplay” from a video game is pretty ridiculous.