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You see, games like LBP and Scribblenauts that base themselves around the promise to let your creative freedom run wild inevitably fall 'neath the clumsy tread of the idiot's mongoloid boot. Because non-idiots realize that if they want to be creative they could, say, download Game Maker 7, or start up a word processor and write a story about their dog, or just tear open their own fingertip and create angry art on the nearest wall. The creativity afforded to you in games like Scribblenauts is a thin and meaningless creativity within strict parameters. It's the same level of creativity to be found in doing a Madlib. In other words, creativity for idiots.

Besides, I don't play games because I want to extract my own fun, I want to play the fun that was made for me by professional fun-designers. This is a problem I've raised concerning sandbox games. If you want to have a linear story - and you will if you have any kind of story, because non-linear stories don't and will never exist no matter what anyone tells you - then any freedom you give the player to mess about and do side-quests will distract from the pacing.

No other medium does this. It'd be like reading a novel, and every few pages there's a crossword you can do, or there's a little short story booklet stapled to the page that says "YOU CAN READ THIS IF YOU WANT BUT YOU DON'T HAVE TO! IT'S YOUR CHOICE!" And if you read that then it doesn't affect the story but the rest of the pages become slightly easier to turn.

This whole "give the player choice to play the game the way they want to play" smacks of the culture of political correctness that feels everyone deserves to contribute whatever they want. It's the endemic request for "comments" that lies at the bottom of this and every article on the internet. It's the news program that pauses to show emails or phone messages from members of the public. I.E., members of the public who think their uninformed views are of the slightest interest to anyone but them. I.E., idiots. We're becoming a world of cooing aunties, offering reassurance and encouragement to four-year-olds as they grinningly produce god-awful artworks that look like someone trod on a rotting horse's head.

Of course, it's also true that a culture of universal acceptance makes it easier for people with genuinely good products to gain exposure. There are good user-designed levels to be found in Little Big Planet, it's just that they're difficult to distinguish from the dross that surrounds them. Although there is one simple question that can easily determine whether a level is good:

Q. Was this level designed by someone who is employed professionally as a games designer or in another relevant creative industry?

If no, fuck it.

"I was wondering if you were going to review Halo 3: ODST."
- Jacob Probasco, via email

Ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha. Ha ha. Ha ha ha ha ha. Ha. Ha.

No.

Yahtzee is a British-born, currently Australian-based writer and gamer with a sweet hat and a chip on his shoulder. When he isn't talking very fast into a headset mic he also designs freeware adventure games and writes the back page column for PC Gamer, who are too important to mention us. His personal site is www.fullyramblomatic.com.

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