I'll admit for years I've enjoyed games with a more linear path. Sure, I'd stop and do the odd sidequest now and then, because I felt somewhat obligated to. It's hard to explain, I have this completionist mindset, but not enough time to give it everything I've got. I used to detest meaningless sidequests, and I still do to some point, but as long as the sidequest itself is fun I can look past that. I've been playing Red Dead Redemption, and I've noticed so much that the game does right with its side content. Mainly that, it's never forced upon you, you always have a choice if you want to complete it, and they make it part of the environment, where it feels real. So many times, I ran into a poor girl getting robbed, and I'd fire my gun to free her to safety. The sad part is, in all of this, there's also a sense of realism to it. If you saw someone getting robbed or beaten across the street from you, would you just ignore it? It plays on your mind and feelings, as though, if you neglect these people, you'll have to live with yourself in the long run. We've talked about how attached I get to my choices in games, always wanting to be "good," but Red Dead Redemption was the first game that toyed with me.
The majority of the times when I did help out, I was met with a group of thieves that were far more than I could take, and thus, I'd get the DEAD screen, reminding me of my poor choice. This succeeds most in reminding us that just because we want to be hero, doesn't mean we'll always come out of it alive. Did it ever stop be from trying to save people? I can only think of two or three times, where I was so fixated on getting to a quest that I didn't do my good deed of the day. There's always a risk when you're putting your life on the line to save someone else, but where this most succeeds is when you do, you're rewarded. Sometimes with cash, sometimes with increasing your honor or fame, and sometimes just keeping your own peace of mind that you didn't walk away while someone else was being killed.
I remember in psychology studying this one study where people all thought someone else was calling the cops, while this poor woman was getting killed. Neighbors heard, but they depended on others to play the good citizen card. The end result? A woman died while all her neighbors ignored her pleas. Ever since, I've learn of this, I've been unable to let anyone in harm or danger just sit there. Yes, even in video games, because if the shoe was on the other foot, would you want someone else to just assume somebody else was going to help? My guess is no, and so I always try to look deeper, and come out of it knowing I at least tried to do the right thing.
An interesting conversation came up today, while our cable guy was installing our equipment. He told me how much he detested open world games, such as Red Dead Redemption and Grand Theft Auto; I looked at him a little puzzled. I know they can be overwhelming, heck, it took me a while before I got over my Fallout 3 open world fears, but I honestly think people forget that it's up to you - how much you wish to devote. These games never force on you that you have to do everything, so I find it disappointing that people will write off games for this reason, and not embrace that they are representing something very real - a changing world, with endless options for you to lose yourself in. It never hurts to have a game make you feel and ponder your actions. An open world means you can decide where you want the game to take you, maybe it'll take you to numerous different places, or maybe you'll only stop at a couple. The point is, the option is there for you to choose how far you want to go, and I can't see that as a bad thing. If anything, it's showing how much the gaming world has grown; the technology involved in developing these open worlds is quite extensive and astonishing. So, a question back to all of you is: How far will you let a game take you?
P.S. I know I'll never top my previous post, and I appreciate all the outpouring of support. I've never been happier than reading those comments! You all make me smile. Okay, love-fest, done! Go play Red Dead Redemption if you haven't yet!