Not a new video, but I keep thinking about this video of a level in Call of Duty: Black Ops where the game goes out of its way to make the player think that he/she is playing a major part in driving the action forward, as well as as being constantly on the verge of failing.
Except you aren’t. Apart from two scripted moments, you can play through this 15-minute section without doing anything.
Question #1: is this wrong? Is it bad design?
I think there is an impetus to denounce this as overly slick, commercial and dishonest design.
But wait! Note how poorly this game example fits with some of the recent discussions (1 2 3) concerning the importance (or non-importance) of choices. I think we currently associate denials of player agency with experimental, subversive, art or personal games.
But Call of Duty probably rates among the games least likely to be described as “experimental”, yet we can also compare this video’s lack of player choice and consequence to some of the discussion of Proteus, whose status as a game is questioned on the Steam Forums, and defended vigorously as such by designer Ed Key.
Question #2: Are there honest and dishonest ways of breaking player expectations? Good and bad? Interesting and uninteresting? How can we tell the difference?