Aside from boasting cute, easy-to-follow illustrations, this video presentation from The Escapist Magazine dares to ask a question tantamount to blasphemy in the more traditional corridors of the gaming business:
“Why are almost all of the games this industry has ever produced combat-based?”
The video goes on to make a valiant case for designers using some of the same methods and mechanics that make fighting games possible and incorporating them into games where conflict is resolved through, say, rhetoric or persuasion — conversation.
“Imagine playing Anthony or Brutus in the forum, swaying the populace, and deciding the fate of Rome after Caesar’s death? Is that really any less exciting or engaging than your standard, meaningless combat sequence?”
I’m pretty sure I know how the average, jacked-in gamer with “Black Ops” on the brain would answer that question, but I take the narrator’s point. Remember the first time you played Katamari? It’s refreshing to find yourself immersed in gameplay not centered around shoot/melee/crouch.
Still, I wonder whether the folks at the Escapist are vastly underestimating the simple, broad functionality of violence: Who hit who first and who hit hardest? It’s easy to determine whether the player is winning or losing in a combat simulation. Conversation, persuasion — these things, on the other hand, are naturally more nuanced, so gauging success becomes more difficult. Yet, if you apply a hardcore set of parameters, well, then it just doesn’t feel real.