Videogame clichés

Many so-called "clichés" are necessary for any game to be playable. You MUST be the only person who can save the Earth. Otherwise you could leave the game running untended for six hours, and come back to find an NPC had completed it for you, offscreen. Then there's no game, right? You must be able to take many more hits than your enemies or the game ends instantly; there must be bigger weapons later on as a reward for progress and an incentive to keep playing.

But on the other hand there are a lot of things in videogames which seem to appear simply because of precedent. An experienced gamer will automatically destroy crates/pots/boxes/rats to look for ammunition/health/magic/gold inside. If you think about this logically for a few moments, it makes no sense. But in the videogame world, this is just how we do things, and have been for years. Then there are sniper rifles. There are always sniper rifles. Ever since GoldenEye 007 there have been sniper rifles in first-person shooters, and that a time may come when there are NOT sniper rifles is inconceivable.

  • Player one is blue and player two is red
  • If it has a weak spot, it'll flash yellow when you shoot it
  • Any broken machine of any kind will work perfectly once you have found the correct spare part. Moreover there is exactly one spare part hidden in the level. It is the correct one
  • If it's covered in fur, its a good guy. If it's covered in spikes, it's a bad guy
  • The Ancient Evil returns to savage the land every thousand years on the dot. The last time it showed up was 999.9975 years ago, give or take
  • There is only one thing capable of stopping the aforementioned evil, but last time around it was split into between 2 and 10 pieces, all of which now require finding
  • Climbing a ladder is more life-threatening than engaging in a gun battle
  • All "Game Over" messages are essentially a lie

I'd like to see a games designer go straight through that list of clichés and break every last one of them. It would be refreshing to play an RPG or FPS which behaved in a totally unexpected way. It would make the player think about the solutions to puzzles instead of automatically looking for the red key to the red door. It would inject some much-needed creativity into an industry that in recent years has been slipping dangerously close to becoming evolutionary or even stale, not revolutionary as it should be. I'm telling you, back in the old days you couldn't just get by on fancy graphics, you had to make your game worth playing to make up for it. But that's another node.

I want the bad guys to win for a change. I want my character to be left-handed by default. I want to be told about an ancient prophecy and NOT have it come true by the end of the game. I want to see weapons jam and NPCs that trip over branches occasionally. I'd like to see an explosive crate that isn't.

I'd like to BE a bad guy, and have it left up to my morals alone whether I enslave the globe or eventually turn my back on evil. I'd like to start with a rocket launcher and a grenade launcher and gradually be stripped of my weapons, so the final encounter is a terrifying affair fought with fist and knife. I'd like to see a fat woman in a game.

Dang it, I want to go behind a waterfall and NOT find a hidden cave.

Break clichés! Make the gamer think!

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