The author(Alisha Karabinus) of this article poses a challenging question, “Is experience enough for play?”. If we aren’t the spaces created for us as they were designed, are we really even playing the game? Now this doesn’t apply to all games, stopping the story to see what is on the far side of the map is actively discouraged in most narrative based/linear games, This article is specifically talking about open world games however.
Open world games allow us to craft our own experiences in many ways, choosing which aspects of quests and challenges to take on and allowing that kind of wandering. That’s part of play, but usually some forward motion is implied when we talk about play, some accomplishment. Are we accomplishing as we wander? What if we go no further than that?
As Alisha points out open world games are designed to allow us to create our own experience, generally more fully realising emergant gameplay than other, more linear games. She also ties it to an implied progression, that as we play we alwasy have a tacit understanding that we must move forward, to reach an end point. But what if? What if we don’t go any further than immersion? Is the sole point of picking up a new title, to reach the end, to beat it?
It can, and certainly is, well argued that this is indeed the case. However if we stop to think about the countless time and effort put into these landscapes and little minor details, don’t we have something of an obligation to try to see as much of it as possible, out of respect for the artists if nothing else. An equally viable arguement to think about is that if we are not full exploring every game, are we really ever finishing a game? So much of a game’s content is visual and we generally just run through it all looking for more enemies to kill, more story to unlock. We should all take things a little slower, and every once in a while, stop and just take in the beautiful handcrafted scenery.
At the end of the day, gameplay is going to be whatever the player decides it to be, be that completeing every sidequest, murdering every NPC in the game, or spending weeks just running around like a tourist, and every player is going to be right.
Written in response to the article available at:http://www.nymgamer.com/?p=12299