How much interaction within games do we actually need?

28th April 2012

Single Player First Person Shooter Maps and Mods for Half-Life 1, 2 and Episodes 1, 2 and 3

I think we would all agree that as games have progressed, so has the amount of interaction between the player and the game.

In Half-Life 1, you could push creates around, shoot shit, press buttons, open doors and had interaction with the environment.

Half-Life 2, pushed that interaction much further with the gravity gun and and all the objectives it could manipulate. There’s little doubt it was fun.

How much further can we go? All the way? To the point where we touch something in the game and some sort of HUD displays the items properties? Do you want to touch, move, break and interact with everything? Will that make the game more fun than less “interactive” games?

So, how about we go the other way and actually remove interaction.

At this point I want to make it clear that I am still talking about a game, a game that can be played and is different each time. Not some sort of Alt mod that you participate in rather than play.

How little interaction is possible before the fun is lost?

Imagine a game where you play as a ghost. You need to affect the actions of the live people to reach your objective which could be anything from scaring them out of the house to passing a message on.

Now, you can’t just switch items to “chains” and start jangling them. You need to do something more subtle and perhaps realistic.

Maybe you just have to be in the right place at the right time. Your presence itself is enough to alter the actions of the people. Maybe your “powers” increase over time as you begin to create more effects within you sphere of influence.

I fully admit that the idea is just a start and the general concept needs much more thought but I feel the idea of less interaction needs exploring.


  1. Dysprogue

    Allowing interaction in games is a nice touch, it helps immersion and its kind of a fun novelty because it isn’t entirely expected, I think people still find the ability to interact with objects in games (like drinks machines) because they weren’t entirely expecting a result from using it. I don’t think games really need much interaction. They should be interactive because otherwise what you have is a film, not a game but have a look at a game like space invaders your interactions are limited to moving either left or right and shooting and I don’t think that space invaders would be better if you had greater interaction.

    1. I think you misunderstand my meaning of “interaction”. I am not just talking about the moving of objectives or pushing drink machine bottles, but the basic way we interact with the game: from moving about to shooting.

      And I am not saying they shouldn’t be interactive because, as you point out, they would then become films.

      I am really asking what is the minimum level of interaction that is required for today’s FPS games.

      Your Space Invader example is good, but you could even reduce the interaction by one level by having the firing done automatically. I am not saying that this would improve the game, just pointing out that in this game, you only need move.

  2. You could play HL2 with just the movement controls where the combat control is automatically selected to tackle whatever you’re facing. It would feel somewhat akin to a film where you are the main character, but this time you have perfect combat technique!
    How about a system where you tell Freeman, for example where to travel to via a point and mouse click and then watch him go with an interactive camera in close up.
    I think I’ve played games like that.

    Like the ghost idea; you could maybe just float around and nudge the characters in the direction you want then to go and the story could then change as a result. You could feel like your creating a story with just the movement of a mouse!

    And for minimum interactivity you can watch someone playing on “Youtube”. Ha ha!

  3. AlterIWnet

    a ghost sp mod?…that would be cool. no one has ever created such mod where no clipping/ghosting is a true part of the gameplay. As far as more interaction goes well I think deus ex has tackled that perfectly, I think. Just too much interaction though, hl1/2 feels much more balanced.

Leave a Reply

Comment Formatting Guide

Well formatted comments are much easier to read. Please copy and paste the HTML Tags to use in your comment

  • HEADER: <div class="fix"></div><div class="sbe3">TEXT HERE</div>
  • BOLD: <strong>TEXT HERE</strong>
  • ITALIC: <em>TEXT HERE</em>
  • SPOILER: <span class="spoiler">TEXT HERE</span>