Video games are unique within entertainment. Like television and movies, there is usually a story. Also like television and movies, you’ll likely hear music throughout. Furthermore, like many kids’ shows and anime, art is a vital part of the experience. Yet movies and television are passive experiences, while video games are an active experience and choice is the reason why.

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Set The Rules

Everything that happens while you play a game starts at the beginning. When a game starts, the first thing that you
have to do is press a button to begin. Then, usually, there are options to set the difficulty of the game. Here, you can set your preference for how easy or difficult a game can be. You don’t get any of this type of flexibility with anything else. You can’t set a television show or a movie to have it be one way or another. They are what the creators intended to be. Video games also have that option with the “normal” difficulty.

You can be flexible with other things as well. Today, games have what appears to be little to no HUD. When a game demos at E3, all we see is the game and very little else. When we play the new game, we notice that there may or may not be new elements within the HUD, such as a mini-map or health bar. While there wasn’t much before, there are now a variety of HUD options to tailor the gaming experience. Stealth games have awareness meters. Other games may have a level or a health indicator. There are many options to tailor, and it’s up to the player to do so or not.

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Most games today have elements of RPGs. Whether it be a skill tree or a class system, they most likely came from an idea in an RPG. RPG’s embrace choice and the top rated games of the genre do it very well.
RPGs present choice in a variety of ways. The basic and most simple form of choice happens when you have to decide what your character will be. These options can range to how a character fights, sounds, and looks.  You get to create whoever you want to be and act how you want. The freedom of choice you get from games is something that you can’t get anywhere else. Another aspect that games are taking from RPGs is the concept of gear. Gear could mean the clothing or armor of a character or be about the weapons. Whatever the case, something may be unique about an armor piece or a weapon. It may have a certain effect that you may like or not so you decide to choose something else. Another very important thing that RPGs do is how much input they give to players with the story.  What you decide gives each player their own unique story that came from the choices that they made.

Choice & Consequence

Choices are all over a game’s mechanics. From how a player progresses to how difficult they want to make it. There is also a niche of games that deal with the idea of choice and consequence. Some may like them while others don’t even consider them to be games. Telltale is a studio that makes story-driven experiences. The main concept is that the choices you make will affect how the story unfolds. Another game that has these same concepts is Life is Strange. There are other games that take the idea of choice and consequence to the next level. In 2015, Until Dawn gave players a way to create their own horror movie experience. The difference between the two games is the number of choices you make. At the end of Until Dawn, everyone can live or die. It could be one person who survives or two. It all comes down to the choices we make. Quantic Dreams started the idea of a game dealing with choice and consequence. They are continuing that idea with the upcoming Detroit: Become Human.

Do you agree that video games are unique because they give players choice? Tell us here at Culture of Gaming below and keep checking back for more editorials.

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