Tropes that need to die in gaming.

Posted: September 1, 2013 by ryanlecocq in Off-topic

I know I’ve been slacking on the blog.  No excuse.  I don’t have too much up my sleeve just now, but here’s an easy potshot I fired from the hip.

Parkour  I’m not saying that a bunch of French guys climbing shit isn’t cool.  Just that I’m tired of doing it for ridiculous reasons in derivative sci-fi-post-apocalyptic environments.  Gaming is doing it’s very best to beat this dead horse into Elmer’s glue, just like we did with Skateboarding and MMA.  Because if there’s anything you can count on the industry for, it’s making “me too” games until you don’t ever want to see that concept again as long as you live.

Squee Speak  I don’t know how better to call this.  What I’m talking about is the vernacular attributed to geeks that implies we all have fits of high pitched noises and quotes when excited.  Think Claptrap if you don’t know what I mean.  As a nerd with a poker face like a granite slab, I am just plain fucking insulted.  I do not squee, yet I love me some Star Trek to a degree that defies scientific explanation.  Please stop stereotyping me as some kind of pixie stick addicted manic compulsive just because I play Shadowrun and Xwing minis.

Juvenile potty language in action games  Bulletstorm was great, but that was like the eye of the storm.  Any and all games after that using the words “dick” or “cock” need to have their creators deprived of those body parts.  I am lividly enraged now each time I hear my ‘roided out military stereotype character utter some phrase that I myself would not have used since junior high.  You writers responsible, YOU ARE THE REASON WE CAN’T HAVE NICE THINGS!  The games industry is treated like child’s play because you keep us at that level.  FOR THE LOVE OF MARIO FUCKING STOP.

Your myriad decisions have led up to… these three endings!  Pick one!  At least I only invested about 16-20 hours into Deus Ex: Human Revolution, but for Mass Effect 3 or Fallout 3, that is just plain unacceptable.  To string people along for a long game (not to mention 3) built on the premise that all of their gameplay decisions will affect the ending and then not to deliver is just plain pathetic.  To cop-out with a simple “choose your own adventure” solution is just plain cheap.  I know it takes time and money to develop a game with branching storylines, that’s why I and millions of others have invested a fortune in your franchise and waited years for you to deliver.

Amnesia  I feel like even mocking this plot device is now in itself a trope.  I’ll be brief.  Using amnesia in your story is as insulting to gamers as Big Bang Theory is to any real science major.  The same way that show reduces the entirety of physics to Schrodinger’s cat and Carl Sagan jokes, amnesia is a plot device fit for Creative Writing 101 and nowhere else.  It basically just allows you to reel out the backstory arbitrarily and show whatever you want without problems of perspective, because you can just show everything in flashbacks.  Total weak sauce.

Games “For Women”  Don’t misinterpret this to mean that I think there should be no games aimed at a female demographic.  I mean there should not be games obviously designed by a focus group of old rich white guys aimed at a female demographic.  There’s a great quote from a recent interview with George R. R. Martin, where when asked how he writes women so well, he responds: “Well… I always thought of women as people.”  Amazing how concise that guy is in person!  Anyway, that’s pretty much it.  Just make a game with male AND female characters and then don’t specifically market it at men.  Including things like good dialogue is a good idea too.  I’m pretty sure more guys than gals read She Hulk, so making female protagonists a mix of her and Erin Brockovich is probably just not going to work either.

Antiheros   Can I please play a character that is either just plain immoral or has a human balance of flaws and strengths?  Because I’m really sick of being the tragic hero.  Or the guy who’s bad, but has some ideal that justifies it.  Or the character with moral choices that basically amount to being polite or juvenile.  Give me more characters like Lynch, who are just plain nuts and have no control over it.  It’s not tragic, it’s not poetic, he’s just a fucking psychopath like you would expect someone in his line of work to be.  It’s like game writers just aren’t comfortable writing characters that you don’t identify with, but are entertaining anyway.  I guess they never had to read any Dostoevski in whatever passed for their education, because this concept is pretty well established in non-digital fiction.

That’s all folks.


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