Happy Saturday BaddaBing BaddaBlog readers! This is Game Grind, the recurring segment where all things video game related. Today’s topic, video game levels. Let’s do this.
The concept of levels in video games is almost as old as video games themselves. The idea that you have to beat one level before you can play the next serves as both a means to tell a narrative and reward the player for completing the first level. However, it has recently been announced by two major titles that the next installments of their franchises will not have locked levels. The next Call of Duty and Halo games will allow players to play any level from the moment they boot up the game.
This kind of freedom is interesting for a number of reasons. People who support this change argue that other mediums of entertainment do not require individuals to meet prerequisites to experience new content. Albums do not require that you listen to every song prior before you play the one you want to listen to, nor do books require that you read ever single word on a page before turning to the next one. From this perspective, video game levels seem quite archaic. It does seem like the only reason locked levels exist is because some of the original video games had them and there never was much of a reason to get rid of them.
However, on the other side of the argument, having all levels playable from the get go takes away from the narrative of the game by allowing people to play it in whatever sequence a player wants. There is no longer anything stopping somebody from buying the game, playing the last level immediately, and them spoiling the ending to everybody they know. People who disagree with this shift also feel that this change will discourage players from experience a game’s story and the messages that it is trying to express.
I personally do not think that this potential shift to unlocked levels is going to have to much of an impact on the gaming industry and the gaming culture. I cannot speak for Halo, but the story in Call of Duty games has sucked for a long time. I would even wager that a majority of people who play Call of Duty do not even pay the campaign. This is not exactly a high stakes shift and the people who are upset about it need to get over it and embrace the concept of change.
It is interesting to speculate how this could affect the future of video games, though. If this open level idea catches on, it could completely change the way stories are told in video games and add an entirely new level of openness. Imagine a game that managed to tell a story regardless of which order you played the levels in. You could also take that idea a step further and imagine a game that told a different story and gave someone a unique experience each time they played the levels in a different sequence. I an barley wrap my head around how that story would be structured or how the logistics of it would work, but there is a lot of potential to this open level idea. That potential is really exciting and I look foreword to seeing what some talented and created development team is able to do with it.
That just about does it for this weeks installment of Game Grind. If you enjoyed it, please give it a like and if you disagree with my views or have some input of you own, please leave a comment. If you feel inclined to subscribe to this blog, which I highly appreciate, you can do so via email in the upper right tab. Also be sure to like the official BaddaBing BaddaBlog Facebook Page and follow me, @LucasDeRuyter, on Twitter. Have a great Saturday everybody and an even better Sunday.