We don't always like being nonplussed

Sunday, August 7, 2011

Editorial: Cheating, busywork and perfected tedium

This week I'm writing a quick editorial instead of a full review of anything, because it's been a busy damn week as I mentioned yesterday.

That Guy and AngeliqueDaemon's gamer friends have occasionally gotten on them for using cheat devices in their day-to-day offline gaming. If they don't feel like level-grinding or searching for that rare weapon? There's an app for that, and it is called the Action Replay or GameShark or Code Breaker or, if you go far enough back, the Game Genie. They save hours of their lives, and they hurt absolutely nobody.

The argument against has gone that if you're cheating, you're not meeting the challenge the game has offered, and you can't actually say that you've beaten the game at the end. My response was: so fuckin' what? If you want to meet the challenge, that's great, I'm all for it. There are people who've actually beaten Battletoads, and I'm proud of them. But it is a game. It's recreation, and if somebody wants to do something that does no harm with a single-player game they purchased- by all means do it! We all have greater challenges to meet in our non-gaming lives, frankly.

The real issue, as I see it, is this: the game should be fun, and if there's one aspect of the game that is fun, and you can remove or streamline the parts that aren't fun, why shouldn't you? You're essentially doing something that developers should've done for you long ago. I've mentioned before that I feel the genius of Pokemon is that it took one of the most-hated aspects of JRPGs- level-grinding -and made it into the game itself. Made it into an artform. Disgaea does the same thing for level-grinding and stat-tweaking. Monster Hunter essentially does the very same thing with the optional boss: every major monster fight in Monster Hunter plays like the kind of protracted side-boss battle I'd come to dread in a Final Fantasy... and it works!

So to my way of thinking, this is one of the only circumstances where it is actually appropriate to bust out the old excuse "Don't hate the player, hate the game." The old standbys of this genre can be refined, perfected, and made fun instead of being an obstacle to fun. I'm not trying to make excuses for cheating- on a non-multiplayer game no defense is required because you're basically cheating at Solitaire. But if a game isn't making the most of its systems- making every aspect of the game enjoyable, which is obviously more than possible -whose fault is that?

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