What do you think about that, “games should let you skip combat,” article? I mean, I’m guessing you don’t like it but I always enjoy seeing you react to people who want games to not be games.
I honestly don’t have the best answer for it. I have a bunch of half-assed answers, but I can’t figure out one that really satisfies me. The primary thing most people overlook in discussions about this is that the people in question promoting this idea want to have it both ways with the skip button being purely optional. To really clinch the argument, you need to discuss how this negatively affects someone who doesn’t want the skip button there, and isn’t inclined to use it (and therefore is theoretically unaffected). so here’s a couple:
1. If you make content optional, then likely the quality of the content will degrade. Since it is no longer mission critical to make sure it works, it may end up being more poorly tested. It might correlate with a degredation in content quality overall to make it so more people complete the game, because game devs love game completion % for some reason.
2. It’s telling that the people who say this say this about bad games, like dragon age, mass effect, bioshock infinite, etc. It indicates a lack of enthusiasm about the game medium itself (something I feel undercurrents of from a lot of mainstream outlets lately, especially as they get more “games are art”-sy), and hints that they’d rather just have visual novels, or watch youtube videos.
3. Probably my strongest reason is that if I had a skip button, then it would be an annoyance. Sitting there taunting me. I don’t want an excuse to skip things. I don’t want an excuse to deprive myself of the challenge. The whole point of barring progress is to guarantee that we have a certain level of proficiency. If you are not proficient, you cannot continue. If you allow content to be skipped, then testing for proficiency is a self-imposed challenge rather than a rules-enforced one. This is part of why I think games with savestates should be reconfigured to have checkpoint systems of some kind, and why I like Quake’s level/episode structure. I made a rule with myself to only reload from auto-checkpoints in Half Life for a similar reason, but this is not ideal. Ideally we shouldn’t have to impose rules ourselves on the game to find enjoyment in it, which is part of why I think ocarina of time is a bad game even if I enjoy the speedrun (and I hope to do a better takedown of the game than Sequelitis in the future), I consider the two in a different light.
4. If you are forced into a situation where you have no option but to become proficient, it forces you to improve. In the process of being forced to improve, you learn more things about how the game works, and you become more consistent at big and little successes in the game. This is fun (literally). If you can master yourself, overcome your frustration, you can frequently find fun in this exercise even in failure. The exception of course is for things with low depth, where there are few things to succeed at and those things are very difficult, where you simply repeat the same thing until you succeed. Being allowed to skip undermines this, creating annoyance for those who don’t want to skip it.