I’ve been working on several long articles for some time and I was a bit frustrated that in the meantime, my blog saw no activity. Luckily, the opportunity to talk about something presented itself a few days ago, when Brendan Keogh mentioned QTEs in a tweet. I replied half-jokingly that maybe it was time for us to reconsider the accepted truth that ‘QTEs are bad’ – and a small discussion emerged, which somewhat surprised me! But it also prompted me to think more seriously about what I meant, and to elaborate on that initial suggestion.
Quick Time Events, in the past, – I was about to write ‘traditionally’ and, indeed, it isn’t unlike a tradition at this point – have been mocked, ridiculed, for a whole lot of reasons. The most obvious one is that they’re perceived as ‘lazy’; when the character is about to perform a spectacular action, instead of developing the systems to read and interpret a series of inputs from the player, developers just assigned the whole thing to a single button press. Another criticism is that they lessen player agency (you rarely have any choice but to agree to the prompt to continue playing, and have no say in the result) and offer cheap, unfought-for, instantaneous gratification (which, if you’ve read anything about gamification, you’ll know makes for ‘lower enjoyment in the long run’). They’re also just plain stressful sometimes.
The question I ask myself now is: are those things actually inherently bad?