I’ve done a close reading of the chest-high walls in The Bureau: XCOM Declassified and I’m happy to report that I think they could be a meditation on the tangible benefits of improved graphics. Furthermore, I reckon their implementation also questions if our lust to achieve increased verisimilitude between real and digital worlds is misguided.
In some of the Metal Gear games the player can take part in extracurricular virtual reality simulations. These largely take on the form of challenges, where the player is to focus entirely on their grasp of and prowess with game mechanics, unhindered by the troubles of setting, story, and the like. These VR excursions, in the guise of computerised training programmes, strip away all of these ‘distractions’ and stick the player-character in a glowing, geometric world made of cubes. In doing so, it could be said that the games are making a statement about where the real importance - the heart, if you were - of videogames truly lies. That while videogames are forced to inhabit the trappings of cinema, theatre and literature to attain wider cultural acceptance, the actual hallmark of the medium is, has and always will be the simple pleasures of the player moving things on a screen, and not some highfaluting screen moving the player. Pah.