Chapter Confusion (spontaneous rant)

Heres another thing about video games.

I’m currently in the midst of playing a few, I find its good to keep a few going at the same time for interest. They are: Dreamfall: Longest Journey and Opposing, and some others.

Anyway, I’m also reading a bunch of books. I’m reading Foucalt’s Pendulum specifically, the thickest, most pretentious and hardest to chew thing around. Fortunately, its chaptered into small morsels when you digest it – usually 3 or 4 pages at a time.

And here’s the rub.

Despite all the dreams and desires of a creative person, whether their medium is books, video games, or films, has to keep in mind the mechanics of how the user will consume their media. I remember a story about how a record executive in the sixties would demand that the songs his label made would sound good in crappy cars radios before he would let them be published.

Anyway, with the average book or video game (films excluded) the “play time” is more than a single sitting. So, the “delivery” of content has to be streamed into manageable chunks, chapters if you will. With books this is easy – you see a chapter end coming, you stop, put down the book and go make dinner. But video games, in their “immersiveness”, tend to plow through, disregarding the gamer. So, if you ever make a save to go somewhere else, you’ve already seen the next few seconds/minutes of the next chapter, which ruins the whole cliffhanger mechanics of a good plot. A good contrast to this is video games which have a special loading screen between each level, but this is stupid as is completely destroys the immersivess.

The ideal case:

Excitement comes to a close after the portion of the game, and its somehow made very clear that the chapter is about to end and another will start. This don’t need to be a “click here” or anything, but entering an elevator, answering a phone call, slapping your noodely appendages together, etc.

Otherwise, you (well, I at least) feel rushed through the game experience) as chapters keep ending and starting before you get to think about them.