Busy Work: The Biggest Gripe of Open World Games

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Video games provide entertainment to people on a massive scale. Right now, there are about 2.8 billion people around the world who consider themselves gamers. One of the reasons video games are so popular is because of the freedom the player experiences, especially the freedom found in open-world games. Exploration, customization, combat, etc., are aspects that draw gamers to large franchises such as Grand Theft Auto, Fallout, Witcher, and Assassin’s Creed. As time goes on, the genre continues to grow, but the bigger it becomes, the lack of innovation continues to persist. The genre has become plagued with ‘busy work,’ which are missions/objectives that do not have any significance outside of getting achievements/trophies or ‘special’ in-game items. Sure, not all busy work is meaningless, but for the majority of the games that utilize it, most of the time, it becomes persistent, boring, tedious, repetitive, mundane, and annoying. For instance, Insomniac’s Spider-Man is littered with side missions like backpack collecting and finding hideouts, which becomes exhausting throughout the game. In reality, it’s padding; developers shamelessly pad their games to make the experience worth $70 to $100. Yet, people still insist on having this ‘busy work’ just because it is now a staple of the genre. Many of these games already have 50 to 70-hour long campaigns, then require 20 to 40 hours of “busy work.” Sure, you don’t need to do the repetitive “busy work,” but if that’s the case, why does it need to be in the game? It’s perplexing when people suggest you don’t need to complete a game when most games still have story-driven side quests, and sometimes(ironically), the side quests are better than the main story. If developers want a game worth its price tag, then why not focus on developing intriguing side quests or make the ‘busy work’ meaningful.

Developers either need to make ‘busy work’ more meaningful to the gameplay or for storytelling. For example, developers could use busy work for character development or helping players develop new skills, gameplay-wise.

So, it’s time developers of these open-world games start creating innovative solutions for cheap game design, instead of filling it with useless ‘busy work.’

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