The Cold Hotspot: Part 2
Written by Beiddie Rafól
The Cold Hotspot: A critique of the state of adventure games: Part 2
Warmed over leftovers
"Any fool can make a rule, and any fool will mind it." - Henry David Thoreau
The 'magic' of yesteryear's adventure games. Left - Gabriel Knight: Sins Of The Fathers; Right - Escape
From Monkey Island.
A woman has a reputation for making the best meatloaf in her neighborhood. She's been doing this for years, and it's always expected of her every time there's an event, like a potluck backyard barbecue or a Christmas party at someone's home. But that's all she's good at, really. She has never experimented with the recipe, much less try her hand at soufflé's or roast chicken. She serves her meatloaf to her family at least once a week, and they don't have the heart to tell her that they're sick of it, so they simply just eat it quietly.
Face it, adventure games are this meatloaf of 'gamedom'. At best they represent an adherence to tradition and status quo, and at worst, they're boring, repetitive, outdated in concept, and constricting in scope, design, and technology. The genre is recognized for its potency and richness in the areas of narrative and cerebral gameplay, the two things it does extremely well. But one of the dilemmas here that prevent this genre from moving into fresh territory is that it is recognized only for these two things. Furthermore it does them in the same way over and over.
There's a palpable belief within the adventure gaming community that "if it isn't broke, don't fix it." And yet many of us beg for something new and different. What exactly do we want? And can we get it without trying to 'fix' anything? Here's the clincher of that sentiment: it's not so much broken as it is outdated and boring. We're sick of that meatloaf no matter how delicious it may be.
A diehard gamer I know put it this way: "I think the problem with the genre is that it's burned out creatively, not that it's remained constant. I mean, if adventure games were the at the same level of quality that they were ten or even five years ago, I'd be playing a lot more of them."
Another gamer said this: "My big problem is that while graphics technology has increased, just about every other aspect of adventure games has either stayed stagnant or gotten worse. Every once in a while a fairly well-written game comes along, but I find it WAY more difficult these days to find a game with compelling characters, interesting themes, well-constructed narrative, solid art direction, creative puzzles, etc. I find most of them to be so static it's absurd."
Still another disillusioned gamer states: "The classic adventure game is dead and it won't come back, and there is a reason for it. Classic adventures are strongly connected to the hardware they ran on and its limitations. They are a part of history, of the past. So if there was merit to them at all one has to rethink and redefine the mix and try to incorporate that into the new generation, anything else is just stupid."