Wednesday, October 04, 2006

Open-Ended Games

I've played many a game in my day, and am equally good at first-person shooters and puzzle games -- any game, in fact, that has a set of tangible goals and a feeling of accomplishment at the end. However, the one type of game that has never appealed to me is the open-ended experimental game, like SimAnt or Black and White. If the game has not been given an ending by the game developers, I lose the impetus to continue playing. Even more lightweight titles like A Wonderful Life where you live the day-to-day life of a farmer, or Nintendogs where you care for a dog, lasted only a few short weeks in my gaming library. Even when my puppy was a dirty, crusty whore of a lab from neglect, I felt no compulsion to turn it on and play.

The same applies to my personality in real life. If you give me a list of things to do, everything on life's checklist will be marked with a big fat X in record time. If, however, you tell me to go make my own goals, I'll either mill about in the comfort of the status quo or I'll set goals that allow me to move laterally without much accomplishment or effort.

Flight Sims are the worst offenders -- what do you do once you've successfully launched a plane into the air and are now pretending to fly around the world? Is it even worth the bother when the flight sim box contains a two ounce floppy disk and a twelve pound instruction manual?

For some reason, there was always a copy of Microsoft Flight Simulator in our house growing up, dating all the way back to Flight Simulator 2.0, released in 1985 with CGA graphics that made the skylines an impressive four-colour pastiche of leprechaun scabs and vomit. I confess now, after the gamers' statute of limitations has expired, that I never once managed to get a plane off the ground in a flight simulator, no matter how many times I tried. Not reading the instruction manual was part of the problem, but on the rare occasions I'd load up the game, I would generally try to get airborne once more before giving up and purposefully crashing off the runway.

And even then, my need for endings was denied, since the game just reset rather than exploding your plane in a giant monochrome ball of fire.

Season premiere of LOST tonight! Happy Birthday Deborah Lipnick!

Implants act as airbag
Burger King goes gamer
Avoid dark-alley gropery and unladylike fumbling in the back of a cab

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