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Red Faction: Guerilla

In Video Games on January 8, 2010 at 4:44 pm

Reality is most emphatically not the currency of games and the worlds contained within their digital borders. This affects the construction of those worlds as they are not bound by the restrictions and rules common in our own world. While it is possible to examine this in specificity through the rules, laws, creatures and history as presented, for the purpose of this discourse we shall focus upon how this affects how these worlds are built, and how this affects the players’ interaction with these objects – and back again. This shall be considered both from a premeditated standpoint of expected interaction, as well as how players end up utilizing observed game rules in exploration and experimentation.

Ostensibly, doors are the greatest example regarding expected interaction in gaming. In the real world, doors are simple portals that always lead into buildings or rooms, or out into streets or alleyways. Doors may be locked; that doesn’t change there’s always something behind them and there are those among us that realize, with a swift kick and appropriate force, the contents of that portal will be revealed. In gaming, this is not so; doors represent an area’s boundaries and may or may not bridge an adjacent area to your current location. They may be used as invulnerable funnels against your countless enemies; even if the doors are destructible their adjoined walls rarely are. Of course, doors may simply be a logical texture and model placement given the framework of the level; fans of Silent Hill will know the immediate recognition of a glorified wall when told the lock is “jammed,” for example.

Doors in gaming have long since been recognized as simply another obstacle or point of interest in gaming, one where players perform a cursory investigation and move on. Opened doors lead to explorable rooms, locked ones promise future content and the rest are just for decoration, which we know provides the illusion of a greater game world.

Developers realize this and some have made strides to deepen their worlds, and a wealth of openable doors that actually lead somewhere is a major back-of-the-box bulletpoint. However, when reading a developer’s diary or listening to their game commentary you can see why this isn’t the greatest feature to espouse: it’s content the majority of the players will not experience out of either not wishing to do so and preferring the linearity of the given plot, or that they simply don’t recognize the content as being available due to years of gaming otherwise.

Red Faction: Guerilla quite excitingly changes this, even radically departing from its predecessors’ previously impervious portals and structures. Rather, only the landscape, the planet itself, is indestructible and anything man-made is fair game in the players’ destructive whims. Not dwelling on possible man v. god allegories, this simple directive all but obliterates the previous memetics regarding game world objects and architecture.

Of course, Guerilla’s engine is proprietary and the developer’s insistence on wholly destructible geometry seems to be a singular, non-recurring phenomena, so it’s not likely to have a great and lasting impact on gaming or object-interaction memetics. However, I am certain a good population of gamers will be disappointed when progress is foiled by a simple door that remains undented by handy hammers or detonations.