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Fallout 3: Do Consoles Dumb Down?

It's a bit tempting to have a nuclear war, just to see if this stuff would happen.

I’m not quite sure what I think about the debate over “games are dumbed down for consoles”. I think games are made more accessible, certainly have their controls simplified, but I’m not convinced this means the game necessarily becomes more dumb. It seems that Bethesda agree, and while there’s always a sizeable baying crowd who will squeal, “Oblivion was rubbish because it was also on 360!/wasn’t identical to Morrowind!/I didn’t play it but I love having an opinion!” they have rather proven they can make a dumbed-up game for multiple formats.

Bethesda’s Emil Pagliarulo, project lead on FO3, certainly agrees, after the jump.

This is the man who wrote the Dark Brotherhood storyline for Oblivion, and designed the rooftop sequence in Thief 2. Officially liked. Talking to Edge yesterday, he explained,

“I think we’re starting to find that there is a market for [hardcore ‘PC RPGs’ on consoles]. People like myself and some people that work here actually grew up as hardcore PC guys, and now we’re older, we have kids, we don’t have that much time, so we’ve transitioned. We’re console players now. But we still have those PC game sensibilities. Those are the games we like. So I think BioShock has a little bit of that too. You can definitely feel the old System Shock roots in that game. So hopefully there’s a trend there.”

Parties are understandably subdued after 99% of the world's population have been killed.

In fact, Pagliarulo goes a bit further. His current concern is that Fallout 3 is too complicated for consoles.

“I look at Fallout when I play it every day, and I sometimes think that there’s a lot of old-school hardcore PC stuff in there too, and part of me thinks, ‘God, is this too inaccessible for console players?’”

I wonder if this thought is any longer valid. Perhaps there was a time when the console player could be characterised as the grunting buffoon, wanting only to deck out his simulated Mazda with blue LEDs… wait, no, that’s not true at all! This sub-section of console gamers seems to drag the rest down with them. Sure, without the million buttons of a mouse and keyboard a lot of options aren’t open to you, but have console games ever been inherently stupid? I’d say not.

What I suspect he means is, “Is this too inaccessible for the less hardcore players, thus decreasing our potential market?” Which is fair enough, but not quite the same.

So for goodness sake, settle this one. Is there really a giant divide between the PC gamer and the console owner? Are console games necessarily dumbed down? Meanwhile, you can read the rest of the interview with Pagliarulo here, where he discusses my favourite subject: narrative in games.

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Who am I?

John Walker

Senior Editor

One of the original co-founders of Rock, Paper, Shotgun, I'm now a senior editor and hero of humanity. Old and special.

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