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THE IMPORTANCE OF CUTSCENES

27 July 2005

There is talk by some people in the gamesindustry that cutscenes and cinematics are a no-no. Bad design. Hindering the progress of games. Hindering its evolution. These people are wrong.

It is their desire to create the RULE that cutscenes should not be used in a long, cinematic form in a game. After all, games are an interactive medium, right? If there?s a cinematic, it takes the game away from the player, it interrupts the flow. Therefore, it should become a DOGMA that cutscenes must not be used.

I think it?s pretty clear why I?m rigidly opposed to this. For one, because it?s a matter of taste. I like to have cutscenes in a game. I like them to be long and sweeping. I?ve never played a Metal Gear Solid game but have heard of its extensive cinematics, and I think Hideo Kojima would be a man after my own heart. The REASON for me liking cutscenes is because I may have a wildly differing view on what games are. To me they?re a form of escapism. So why should I mind if I?m treated to a beautiful little movie adding depth and cinematic quality to the game? The people speaking their piece above are likely to view games as pieces of enjoyable gameplay, which are not to be broken up by sections of non-interactive film.

I understand that, respect that. And yet, they are still wrong to try to make it a rule that cutscenes are bad. Not just because of my own preference or taste, but because in doing so they are effectively hurting the diversity and maturing of the medium. The importance of cutscenes therefore is a symbolical one: there should be no rules. You shouldn?t tell me what I can and can?t do. If I WANT to do something I will do it*. Games are the most diverse and interesting, promising of media in existence. You can not, and must not, try to restrict it in its form by posing dogma?s and rules. Thou shalt not use a cutscene? If we want games to become a diverse and multitalented medium, we should EMBRACE all the different ways we can go with it, not try to handicap it with supposed vices.

*note: of course there is such a thing as bad design, and this reasoning should not be used as an excuse to talk right sloppiness. However, in the case of cutscenes, or any other instance which hinges for the most part on one?s taste, this argumentation is wholly applicable.

Roderick.