I remember playing bop-it when I was a young boy.  My music teacher would take it out during class and we would pass it down the lane, one bop each.  Each kid scurried to pass it to the next and we all giggled and spanked each other on the ass while we passed it along.  That’s about the most fun you could have with bop-it and it still got boring after a few minutes.  Bop-it is a game that becomes boring, repetitive and frustrating very quickly, so why in the world has bop-it found its way into modern video games?

Perhaps I’m just wrong and bop-it is way more fun than I give it credit for, but I’d argue that even the most fun anyone could have with bop-it pales in comparison to the most fun that the same person could have with a good video game.  Video games allow for freedom and complexity while bop-it locks players into pressing the same 3 buttons on command over and over.  Sounds familiar, right?  I’m talking about quick time events, the devil’s bop-it.

In video games, a quick time event (QTE) is a method of context-sensitive gameplay in which the player performs actions on the control device shortly after the appearance of an on-screen prompt. It allows for limited control of the game character during cut scenes or cinematic sequences in the game. Performing the prompted action improperly or not at all results in the character’s failure at their task.

If you are someone who plays games chances are that you’ve played a game that has implemented quick time events in some form: Mortal Kombat X, Batman, Resident Evil 6, The Evil Within, Shadows of Mordor, Tomb Raider, Metal Gear Rising, God of War and now Mad Max which prompted this article.  I refuse to stand idly by any longer while game developers continue to molest triple A games with quick time events and other sinful atrocities.

For your viewing pleasure, 6 minutes of super heroes playing bop-it.

In the past there has been outrage over cut-scenes and how they remove players from the game.  A fair thing to be upset about, I’d say.  Developers responded by cleverly disguising their cut-scenes as gameplay in the form of bop-it style interactions that they call “quick time events”. There has come a point where graphics and animation in video games became more important to developers than the actual gameplay and controls.

There are some people who might enjoy watching their character perform stunts that they could not possibly do themselves.  A scene where Kratos does a quadruple backflip over the head of a monster, drives his swords into its spine, does a 360 chain spin around its neck and decapitates it might be impossible to perform with a standard control setting.  Instead the game has to take control of Kratos and do it for the player, but is that a price we’re willing to pay for theatrics?

This kind of game design attempts to minimize the amount of difficulty while maximizing the feeling of being an action hero.   The novelty of this feeling might wear off if you realize that you aren’t actually doing anything to earn it.  You may press (A) a bunch of times while your character auto-locks onto targets and pummels away at them.  You may enter slow motion and be prompted to press (B) triggering a theatrical off the ropes roundhouse suplex on the big bad guy and his cronies.  A few button presses and you’ve gone Jean-Claude Van Damme on an entire army.  Congratulations, are you proud of yourself?

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Tap (A) to bash your head in

The catch is that ‘you’ are not actually doing these things.  The game just makes you feel like you are. What you’re really doing is watching a slightly more interactive version of a movie.  Maybe that’s the next generation of video games.  Maybe I’ll find myself spinning tales of my youth.  “Back in my day you used to have to aim your gun at the bad guys and then press a button to shoot them!  To get to the top of things you actually had to use your legs and jump up on platforms, even if you were knee deep in the snow! There weren’t any shortcuts back then!”

I fear quick time events are a symptom of a larger problem, one that I can only see getting worse.  People want to see better graphics and animations.  In order to achieve these animation sequences the game itself must be programmed to take control of your character and force your actions to interact with other objects at pinpoint precision.  This is the reason quick time events were born.  As graphics become better and games continue to compete with eachother in the “which game can look more like a movie” contest, this problem will become exponentially worse.

I was going to conclude this article with some “press (X) to do this” joke but I decided they are all stupid and not funny.  Have a great day.

About The Author

Luke

I'm into massive multiplayer online gaming communities. My online alter ego is 18 feet tall and has wings like an angels, but also like a demons. His name is Yogzula. Yogzula can fuck anything and he will and has. Women. Devils. Angels. Animals. If you meet me online by Grub's tavern, I will show you where the treasure is hidden.

2 Responses

  1. John
    John "Jagyooar" Lusky

    Does performing quick time events really hurt your experience with the game so much? I’ve always felt kind of indifferent to them. Most often I find myself getting surprised by them and miss something and have to do it over. I think a lot of people don’t really care, since they’re mostly there in between gameplay that requires actual skill.

    I think where quick time events really get to me is after I’m forced to repeat a section because I missed a button. Nothing takes me out of the game more suddenly then an awkwardly forced reset on a QTE cutscene. If anything, QTE’s should never cause character death, they should just result in following a different path or experiencing a different part of the cutscene. Doing otherwise and forcing you to try or re-watch is bad, bad, bad.

    Reply
  2. Luke
    Luke "Yogzula" VanTrieste

    They are rarely introduced in a way that feels good. They are either excessive which takes away from every other aspect of gameplay, or they come unexpectedly as a glorified cut-scene and just frustrate players.

    I don’t mind cinematic cut scenes that might require input from players, I just think they need to start feeling intuitive. There are ways to introduce players to them and have them intuitively figure out what button they should press to dodge left or right (obviously) or to block attacks or perform attacks. My problem is with the big flashing slow-motion “PRESS (A) NOW” to do something completely unrelated to what A normally is in the game.

    It’s hand-holdy and unintuitive, two aspects of games I typically detest. There have been a few games that used QTEs in a way where I didn’t hate them, but I still think there is a better solution just about every time.

    Reply

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