Which could also be subtitled, “I’m not sure I wanna be the very best…”
So, I’ve been a gamer a long time… I’m a more recent convert to playing video games, but I enjoy a few. My girlfriend on the other hand, is a huge Pokemon fan. So, after years of studiously avoiding the pokediction — I finally started a game. I needed something light and distracting to do as a break from working on my thesis and a little, cute DS game seemed like a good choice.
This could easily turn into a “tell me about your character post” as I expounded on the virtues of my Raticate… I love that guy. But instead — I just wanted to mention how my experiences with Pokemon have really been an adventure in discovery of two things… player expectation, and related to that, task resolution.
Having played a good amount of Pokemon Heart Gold at this point I realized that the game is fun, but there are large chunks of the play experience that I’ve completely missed… did anyone else know that you were supposed to just wander into everyone’s houses, and talk to every random bald-guy in the street? Well, apparently some people do know this, and after the first time my girlfriend gave me the, “wait, how did you miss this stuff” look, I realized that my goals as a player and the goals of the game for me as a player just don’t match up.
By that I mean, the game assumes that I am going to talk to everyone, that I’m going to wander into houses, and that I’m going to enter every shop and carnival-looking tent I see in every town. It assumes I’m going to want to raise berries in a pouch I carry around on my back, and that I actually care about collecting shards and apricorns… which, frankly, I don’t.
The game also seems to assume that I actually want to catch a lot of pokemon… and gather the ones I can’t catch. Two different people have already asked me what I’m going to evolve my Evee into. I haven’t even gone back to the guy I met before who is supposed to give me an Evee if I go back and see him. But I’m really happy with the team I’ve put together, and they don’t have any glaring weaknesses, so I’m a little confused as to why I’d even want the freakin’ breeding stud-master of all pokemon? My friends are equally confused as to why I wouldn’t… And that reminds me — the game also seems to assume that I want to wander back and forth between towns and cities I’ve already been to and completed the tasks in just because some guy calls me on the poke-phone and asks me to take out his garbage or to let him ogle my flaafy… Why would I spend hours running back to towns I’ve already been through? It’s confounding to me.
The point is, for a player who enjoys seeing everything, exploring every corner and talking to everyone this could be a great deal of fun. I generally just find it tedious. I mean, I enjoy some aspects of the game a great deal. I enjoyed initially building my team, I enjoy the gym fights and seeing the different kinds of pokemon, but really, that’s only a small part of the gameplay experience. I guess that really covers the task resolution idea as well…
I thought of something else as I was writing as well… Internal Consistency. Don’t get me wrong, I don’t expect super-high rationality out of a Pokemon game, but well, I’m still trying to figure out why, when I beat a trainer… I take money from them and then we talk, maybe exchange phone numbers… but when I lose and all my pokemon faint, then I black out and get robbed. It’s just creepy and it seems out of line with other events in game… oh well.
Ultimately, I’ve enjoyed the play experience as a way to re-examine my views of player expectation through this new lens.
Thanks for reading.