Games are repetitive. That’s an accusation levelled at certain games …but significantly, not all of them. Why is Assassin’s Creed “repetitive”, while Call of Duty is “fun”?
“It’s a bit repetitive”
That’s the accusation I have seen levelled at a number of console games.
I’ve seen that sentence, or variations on it, in both “official” critic reviews and user reviews, usually where the person in question decided they didn’t like the game. and it’s becoming more and more popular to judge games by this “standard”.
The odd thing is that as far as I have seen, the majority of games to get labelled in this way are third person perspective “action” games, such as Assassins Creed, or the occasional RPG (which admittedly, can be first or third person).
If you’re wondering what I mean:
First Person = You are “looking through the eyes” of the character you are playing as.
Third Person = You see a protagonist on the screen who you move through your controller.
Now just think about it for a second from a First Person perspective.
Ok, another example, this time from a Third Person game:
Well, I think you probably get the idea…!
Now don’t get me wrong, I love games. Games of all kinds.
I love everything from console games, through to card games, board games, with the occasional “real life” role playing game thrown in for good measure (although I haven’t played those for years – honest [wink]/smiley).
But all of them have this characteristic about them: repetition.
Whether it is moving a piece on a game board, or drawing a card from a deck, all games have repeating procedures or mechanics.
In fact, life itself is repetitive.
You get up, go to work/school, go home, have something to eat, and so on. The next day you do the same. As a certain paranoid android once said, “Life. Don’t talk to me about life”.
It can be dead boring, but it can also be incredibly exciting, depending on so many different factors. IMHO, the word repetitive shouldn’t be applied when reviewing a game ….or anything else for that matter.
Boring? yes; repetitive? no.
Is chess repetitive? Yes!
Is it boring? No! (Well, depends if it floats your particular boat… 😉 )
The reason many FPS games get away with this is to present you with an adrenaline rush, or different situations (contexts).
Everything that happens is so fast and furious that you don’t have time to draw breath, thus giving the illusion that you are part of a battlefield of some kind.
Boring? Generally not.
Perhaps it’s the the speed of repetition that makes it so much fun?
Many Third Person games usually have a slower pace (although there are slower paced FPS games too, they are not as prevalent) and there is often a more measured approach to them.
They therefore have to work harder to maintain the illusion, as the gamer has more time to think. However, this can make them more rewarding as you may be thinking through tactics before you make your move.
For me, Batman Arkham City is a prime example of this.
It’s completely in third person perspective and on first encountering a new ‘space’ (room, street, rooftop, etc) in the game you are immediately thinking through the possibilities and repercussions.
Some of the questions that go through your mind are:
The answers to these questions make you decide between a stealth approach and an all-out fight approach!
Even if you go for the all-out brawl, then there are still other options available to you:
Do I dive bomb them from a height then trigger my sonic shockwave when I hit the ground?
Do I take out that armoured guy first?
…and so on.
Is it repetitive? Yes.
Is it boring? Absolutely not!
After all, I’m Batman!
And that is the genius of the game: it makes me feel like Batman, even though it is in third person perspective.
So to wrap it all up, IMHO:
Repetitive is not a legitimate word to describe a game, whether it is good, bad, or indifferent.
In particular, it is not a useful word to describe third person games as opposed to first person games.
Third person games certainly shouldn’t be singled out in this manner.
One could argue that FPS games are more repetitive than other game types because of the aforementioned pace of the game. However, this does not, of course, make them boring.
Boring is a good word to describe some games. Sadly, there are plenty of games out there which meet this criteria, depending on your preferences.
It usually takes a lot to make me bored with a game. Even then, I often move onto a different game before coming back to it a few weeks or months down the line.
Strangely, sometimes the repetition of game mechanics can really make a game, and other times not.
In the Assassin’s Creed games, one thing I have always loved is that after climbing to the top of a high building you can jump off into a bale of hay. For me, it never gets old, but for others it is dull and boring after the first couple of times.
Do you see bad games as “repetitive” or just “boring”?
Leave your answer in the comments below.
I'm Tim Bader, founder of ErgonomicToolbox.com and the Ergonomic Toolbox training course. I am a writer, author, blogger and church leader, and I help people to overcome RSI and live comfortably with technology. When I'm not writing, helping or training people, I live at home with my wife, two teenage kids and Playstation.
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