Depending on the kind of game it is, plot’s very important. Plot gives a set of guidelines in how to approach the story. The plot guides gamers on when to be emotionally engaged in the game, such as when an allied character dies, when to learn, such as first learning about the user controls, what to understand about a culture, such as going into a new village where a demon shoots an arrow at houses, hoping to get virgin sacrifices to eat, and other cues. Plot can be a great tool for guiding gaming experiences for educational purposes.
Despite these benefits, I usually run away from plot. Maybe some game/s I have played in the past encouraged this, but I tend to explore everywhere except where I should go, because I have a perception that I may get extra items, goodies, training, and side-quests, if I explore. Also I get more out of the game if I explore. My perception is that I get trained and rewarded to explore.
But what happens when a game is too exploratory? I’m at a point in the PS2 game Okami where my mission is just to run around these various areas and apply a new skill/power I learned. I have 3-4 areas where the main plot may happen.
When a game is so exploratory, sometimes you can’t find the plot. For gamers like me who enjoy exploration this is great, until you have no idea what to do next to progress in anything. I got bored getting praised, feeding animals, and talking to people who won’t give me items or direction in the game.
For example, I was trying to chase a non-playable character, who is a delivery man, causing him to just run around a field. I tried stopping him multiple times and seeing if he would give me an item, praise, or a sub-quest, but he kept on saying the same thing..
Then the explorer in me, restless just like the delivery man says “enough, I’ll just go into the cave already. Maybe there’s plot in there.”
How do you give enough exploration incentive to educational gamers, yet make it guided enough for them to want to continue the plot? That question is the key to my dilemma.