Over on his blog (Scars Of War, for those who may have forgotten), Gareth Fouche writes about his concern that games are heading in the direction of being more like movies and with less gameplay.

One of the things he points to is Nintendo’s application for a “game system” that provides an in-game walkthru. This isn’t like a text walkthru; it would show the player what has to be done to “clear a level”.

The walkthru material is separate from actual game data; neither one would affect the other. So you’d see what has to be done, but to go on with the game, you’d still have to do it yourself.

In some respects, that isn’t much different from watching a video made by someone who has “cleared a level” and shows how it’s done. What the system does give is convenience, since you can call it up from inside the game.

What has Gareth upset, however, is this: “…or simply to allow players to experience it (the game) without investing the time for an entire playthrough.” In other words, watch it like a film.

That would certainly make a video game a rather expensive movie. And that would come on top of buying this system, which apparently has a physical component. But let’s take a moment here and consider this question: for whom, exactly, is this system intended?

Because when you start talking about “time investment”, “clearing levels”, “difficult puzzles”, and the like, you aren’t talking about “casual” games. These are more in the nature of shooters, platformers, and perhaps action/RPGs, which typically take some time and thought to get through.

So is Nintendo looking to court the “hardcore” crowd? I don’t think so. They know such games fairly well. If they get stuck, it’s usually only in a few places, and there’s plenty of information/help online.

On the other hand, the Wii now has a pretty decent base of owners. These people, though, are more likely to be “casual”. And I suspect that Nintendo is making a move here to nudge them upstream towards more “hardcore” products.

After all, it takes some time and dedication to learn the ins and outs of a particular genre. Players who are new to it are likely to become frustrated early on. But give them some in-game help, show them what has to be done, right there, and they may be willing to stick it out. And buy more games in the future.

Also consider that at CES ’09 (going on right now), Capcom is demoing a build of Dead Rising: Chop Till You Dropon the Wii. This is not exactly a “casual” title. Is Nintendo expecting hardcore players to buy this?

I doubt it. Most hardcore gamers have probably already played the original Dead Rising by now. My guess is that this is another move to bring those Wii Sports and Wii Fit folks into the hardcore fold, especially the younger players, who may be more interested in such games.

For all that, I do think Gareth has a valid concern over the ever-growing use of cutscenes in games, aside from Nintendo’s project. Games are meant to be played, not watched. It’s time the fancy graphics take a back seat and gameplay comes to the fore. Nintendo’s system may help in that regard, despite Gareth’s doubts.

Getting The Experience at Scars Of War