Last time I left you with the notion of random encounters in games. The first time I ever encountered them as a gamer was when I was around seven or eight years old in Pokémon Blue. If you venture into the long grass, sooner or later you are going to come across a Pokémon. The few of the creatures you could find that were not random were the legendary ones, and for some reason, Snorlax. I was on a trans-Atlantic flight when I first reached a Snorlax, and I had no idea what to do to wake him up. Bearing in mind this was before a time where you could ignore aircraft rules to use wireless signals, it became a fairly frustrating journey.
I really could’ve used a walkthrough. These are guides which hold your hand throughout the game, telling you exactly where to go and what to do. Brick and mortar shops still try and sell you these with your game, even though you can find endless free guides online. Eventually of course, I figured out that I had to use the Poké-flute to rouse the Snorlax from his slumber. A good thing about the big guy was that he had an ability called Rest, which allowed him to regenerate his already high HP.
Hit points, or HP, or simply ‘health’, is a gaming concept which has been around for donkey(kong)’s years, and is a number representing how many more hits something can take before dying, or fainting, if you are playing a child-friendly game like Pokémon. Sometimes you might be able to perform a one hit kill, which removes all concept of hit points. In shooters, one hit kills usually come in the form of headshots, obviously a shot to the head. This was not always the case though, in the time before area specific damage. Back when games were not hugely technical, there was no way of differentiating between, say, a shot to the head and a shot to the leg, so it would do the same amount of damage. Clearly, getting shot in the head is more likely to kill you than getting shot in the leg, so it was a pretty big deal when it was introduced.
It was an even bigger deal when in some games hit points were dispensed with in favour of visible damage. You could tell just from looking at your opponent how they were feeling. If they’re favouring their left arm, there’s a good chance that you’ve injured their left arm, you get the idea. This eventually led to severed limbs and so on, allowing you to completely shoot people’s heads and arms off. Needless to say, parents worldwide were not great fans of this new innovation. This brings me to the rather large and shaky topic of video game controversy.
Since their inception, video games have had critics, of course. Whether its “too much violence!”, or “encourages crime!”, or “gender equality issues!”, there always seems to be some controversy going on. One of the most publicised instances was the Hot Coffee Incident back in 2005. It turned out that there was a piece of unused code on the disc for Grand Theft Auto: San Andreas, which allowed the player to simulate sex with in game girlfriends. Using technological trickery, this code could be accessed and you could play this minigame (a small game which is separate from the main game). This led to the game’s age rating being changed, and a recall in some territories in order to remove the code. The legacy remains however, but that wasn’t the end, or even the beginning of bad press surrounding the Grand Theft Auto franchise. There is no such thing as bad press though, as they say, and it is still one of the most famous and bestselling series of video games ever, with the next iteration being released later this year.
GTA is a series of open world games, meaning that most of the time you are allowed to roam freely around the environment. Open world games usually have massive areas that will take an unreasonable amount of time to travel across in one journey. Luckily these games usually have a fast method of transport, for example, in Grand Theft Auto you will generally travelling from place to place in cars (the clue is in the name). However in another open world game like Skyrim, which is not set in a modern day re-imagining of New York but rather a Medieval fantasy setting, even acquiring a horse won’t get you anywhere with any real speed. To get around quickly in a game like this, you’re going to need a fast travel system.
Come back next time for elaboration on this topic, and to see where we will go from here.
Thanks for reading.