Nowadays, it’s very common for video games to feature Quick Time Events, or QTEs. Just quickly thinking back on the library of games I’ve played in the past couple of years, I can specifically remember that Tomb Raider, Resident Evil 5, Final Fantasy XIII-2, Black Ops II, and Modern Warfare 3 all implemented some type of a QTE. In short, QTEs are used in most blockbuster titles. Subtitles have been used in virtually every game I’ve played this generation. Considering that developers have years of experience implementing these features into their titles, why do they still stink?
I’m going to start off with subtitles. I usually play games in the late evening, on the standard definition television in my room, when my family is asleep. Therefore, I can’t blare the volume at high levels; I use subtitles to keep me informed as to what’s happening in the game. In many games, the subtitles display horribly on my television. Either the text is too small, the font is too hard to read, it’s an awkward color, or it’s just terribly blurry. Apparently, this is due to the fact that game subtitles are designed specifically with HDTVs in mind. In a nutshell, if you can read them on your standard definition TV, great; if not, we weren’t planning on making a readable version of the text for your TV anyway. Sorry.
You mean to tell me that even though the system shipped with cables to hook it up to my standard definition television, the game does not fully support standard TVs? Is it really that hard to display simple text on my TV? I’m sorry; please excuse me while I go save up enough money to buy a brand new TV so I can access a simple feature that should be included in a game I just paid $60 for anyway! Honestly; I don’t make a ton of money. Either I can buy a new TV and have no games to play on it, or I can buy games and stick with my current TV. Are you trying to alienate the large chunk of your audience that can’t afford it all? Seriously, don’t be so lazy; forgo the fanciness of exquisite fonts. I just want to read the script.
I’m not just upset because I can’t read the font; I’m upset for others who are deaf, for example. I’m not saying that deaf gamers playing on old TVs are all that common, but how can they experience a game without decent subtitles? Not every deaf person has a great TV; think about the entire audience. Subtitles don’t have to look fancy; when you’re trying to read them and keep up with the visuals onscreen at the same time, font type doesn’t matter.
The second thing that I’m giving my opinion on today is the Quick Time Event issue. Having QTEs in games alienates a very large audience, actually. The main culprit: button-mashing sequences.
I have great reflexes and a trigger finger to match; I’ve had many Black Ops II players accuse me of hacking or modding because I fire my pistol so rapidly. Even still, one particular button mashing QTE in Resident Evil 5 took me forever to beat! I was able to get past it, but what about those who physically can’t? My younger brother and his friends are terrible when it comes to QTEs. My brother always would lose the fumble mini-game in Madden 10 because he couldn’t button mash that quickly. What about others with reflexive or mental conditions? They basically come to an impasse in a game simply because they can’t press the button a thousand times a minute. That’s completely unfair to them and unnecessary.
I understand that the rapid button mashing can help intensify a stressful moment in a game, but there are alternatives. Final Fantasy XIII-2 pulls this off exquisitely; it requires you to press between 1 to 3 buttons in sequence. They give you plenty of time to push these buttons, and you don’t have to button mash to accomplish the task. This gives the player the chance to take in the amazing onscreen cinematic without the frustration of hoping they are clicking the button fast enough. Another solution would be to give an option in the menu to turn rapid button presses into button holds, or completely eliminating the QTE button sequence altogether, allowing you to watch the cutscene.
It’s not rocket science; complicated games aren’t automatically better. QTEs are unnecessary when used improperly, and subtitles are too complicated for their own good. Both have simple solutions that would stop the alienation of portions of the audience base. This needs to be fixed; accessibility is important. We don’t have to simplify or “dumb down” the games, but include an option for those who require it.
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