Nintendo has filed a patent for a system that would let gamers watch in-game video walkthroughs and hints for games, or even entire automated playthroughs of games.
The system, revealed in a patent filed in June of last year but made public today, has three main features.
In one, players can go through a game as they normally would, but can access video hints that would be displayed in real-time in-game. So, if you're stuck in a puzzle in Zelda, you can pull up a video recorded by one of the game's developers (or even uploaded by another gamer), and it'll show you exactly how to do it. "In the game control method, in a case where a character that is allowed to perform a particular action is not in a party (a group to which a player character operated by a player belongs), a hint message is presented when a position at which the particular action can be performed is approached," the patent says. "Therefore, a player may not become stuck with the game, and is allowed to easily clear the game."
The second mode takes this idea to its extreme, and is essentially an automated playthrough of a game. You watch a video of a developer playing through the game, and you can jump into a scene to play for yourself whenever you feel like it. You cannot, however, save during this mode.
The third mode lets you skip directly to a certain section of a game, almost like a chapter menu on a DVD. The benefit of this, obviously, would be that you wouldn't have to slog through and waste a bunch of time playing through half a game just to get to "the good part."
The objective of this system seems to be to make games easier to finish and enjoy to completion for people who don't have the time or gaming acumen to do so. The patent makes clear that this isn't meant to turn off gamers who have the desire to finish a game the good ol' fashioned way, but just to make it less intimidating for every one else. In-game hints aren't enough to break down that barrier, the patent emphasizes. "There is a problem that a user does not have sufficient time for the game play may not enjoy the large volume of game to the end and give up halfway even when the difficulty level of game is lowered by presenting a hint or the like in the middle of the game," the patent states.
This is certainly a big leap forward, some would say in the direction of "dumbing down" the experience of playing a videogame. I personally, and I call myself a hardcore gamer, don't see much to be offended by here. This system simply would make it a lot easier for some people to finish a game, and if you don't want to utilize it because it's for "teh casuals," you don't have to. If you do, that just means you'll be saving a trip to your laptop to check GameFAQs. Furthermore, it might actually be a backdoor for Nintendo to focus on core gamers, since they'd be able to build more challenging (or relatively challenging) game experiences without fear of scaring off consumers who'd be too afraid they'd never be able to finish a game otherwise. That's my take - what do you guys think?