Apologies for my recent silences, ladies and gentlemen. But have no fear, because it’s Pontification Hat time again! This time, rather than attacking a tired-out trope, the topic is instead the defense of a device that’s become an industry standard, even in the face of severe criticism.
I speak, of course, of the dreaded quick-time event, that now all-but-ubiquitous gameplay device where a cutscene can only be completed with the right button combination.
Now, I know what you may be thinking: “James!” you protest, “aren’t quick-time events a cheap gimmick thrown in by unimaginative developers to cash in on a fad? What can they offer that the core gameplay shouldn’t already be providing, except for the chance to trip the player up with gruesome consequences for missing the specific button prompt?”
It’s manifestly obvious quick-time events are sometimes inserted when there’s no earthly reason for them to be present. It’s also obvious that there are many examples of bad QTEs, where the player’s survival depends on hitting the right randomized button at a given moment. But criticism of execution isn’t the same as criticism of concept.