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The 5 Most Annoying Game Mechanics Used Today

The evolution of videogames directly correlates with advancements in the industry’s technology. Limitations in hardware and software can be seen across each console generation, and they manifest in the form of graphical and mechanical roadblocks. In the mid-90s, no more than a handful of bullet holes could remain visible on a wall in Goldeneye 007 because the Nintendo 64 couldn’t physically handle the strain of presenting anything more, while today you can unleash a full clip against a brick wall and write your name in spent lead.

While the above is largely an example of graphical limitation (and an example of what I try to do in every shooting game), there are also generation-based restrictions on the gameplay itself. But as technology and the industry evolved, so did the player’s desire to be able to do more in a game, thus launching a gameplay arms race. There now exists an inexhaustible list of different mechanics that all contribute to the advanced forms of gameplay we see in AAA titles, but like an especially talented class of second graders, there will always be that group in the back eating paste and spilling glitter. In order to shed light on these troubled children of evolving gameplay, I’ve taken it upon myself to list out the top five game mechanics that, though horrible in execution, seem to be present in almost every big release.

#5. Constant Health Detractors

If effects last longer than four hours, consult a medical professional…

We’ve All Seen It

As you trudge along the grassy plains, hunting mercenaries and shooting the local fauna with the gusto of a zebra-hating Hitler, you suddenly find your vision going blurry as your coordination fails. Falling to the ground, you fumble for a little pill bottle, hoping the giraffes aren’t feeling too spiteful as you wallow in a malaria-induced fit. You’ve just become the victim of a constant health detractor, an in-game blight or countdown that games like Farcry 2 and Lost Planet impose upon you to instill a sense of urgency, whether it’s dying of a mosquito-borne disease or freezing to death on an icy tundra.

Why It’s Unnecessary

While I understand that the sales pitch for constant detractors may have used words like “immersive” and “lifelike”, I can’t help but think they put all their realism eggs into the wrong basket. Sure, malaria would mess me up if I had it in real life, and yeah it would probably make things like mass murder and poaching a little difficult, but what about the fact that I play videogames so I don’t have to experience diseases like that? Even if you think it adds to the story’s immersion, it inevitably takes away from some other core aspect that the game could otherwise rely on. How am I supposed to enjoy the carefully crafted settings or plot if I’m constantly worrying about my in-game diabetes?

#4. Kinect/Controller Integration

Do I have to cup the analog stick or something?

We’ve All Seen It

While storming forests overrun by barbarians, you, Marius Titus, are given a prompt to send a shower of arrows from your battalion into an oncoming horde. Both a voice and button prompt appear, and you’re given the choice of either yelling “Fire Volley” or holding down the trigger button for what feels like thirty minutes. You furtively glance around the room, weighing the stakes of actually speaking out loud versus sacrificing time to quietly use the controller. Shyness gets the best of you, and the Kinect’s voice command feature goes unused. Regardless of your social anxiety, the increased hardware capabilities of things like the Kinect or the PS4 controller have driven developers to up the realism ante and incorporate sound and motion into an otherwise controller-based game

Why It’s Unnecessary

Telling Master Chief to throw a grenade in the re-release of Halo: Combat Evolved or ordering a garrison of soldiers to charge a castle in Ryse: Son of Rome may have looked cool, but once you realize you can only do this after a prompt or button is pushed, and even then you can say just about anything and have the action carried out anyways, the novelty seems to wear off. This method of integration works for games where control of the character is primarily devoted to body movement, but making me shake the PS4 controller like it’s my special alone time during a spray painting mission in Infamous: Second Son just makes me feel self-conscious.

#3. Gratuitous Crafting

I’m feeling just a little too overqualified for this…

We’ve All Seen It

The lights flicker moodily as you creep down the deserted hallway, plasma cutter in hand. Up ahead, the faint glow of a control panel draws your eye, and you set upon the console, booting it up to activate the crafting engine. A sniper rifle that shoots spikes made of electrified magma? Sure, that’ll rough em’ up. But as you heave the weapon to your shoulder and squeeze the trigger at the oncoming necromorph, you realize far too late that your newly built murder machine pales in comparison to the upgraded plasma cutter you just packed away. Woe is you as swift decapitation ensues.

Why It’s Unnecessary

With the rising popularity of survival games like Minecraft and Day Z came the inclusion of a crafting mechanism into almost everything we see on the market. While it makes sense to forge weapons and armor in Skyrim or Dead Rising, certain other titles seem to be abusing the idea. Dead Space 3, Farcry 3, and Assassins Creed: Black Flag are prime examples of games pushing a shoddy crafting system that seemed to be thrown in as an afterthought, designed to increase game time and force you to explore the map. What’s the point of scrounging for bits of junk to build a bigger piece of junk when I could have just ignored all the junk in the first place? I’d rather stick to looting corpses, as creepy as that sounds.

#2. Binary Moral Choices

Glad to know there’s no in-between, like maybe getting daycare for the damn thing

We’ve All Seen It

You’ve just crushed a Big Daddy, and in the wake of his destruction you see there is a choice to make. Do you kill the pitiful Little Sister and steal all of her power, or do you mercifully let her live, hoping she’ll leave you gifts later on? It’s the age old question of right or wrong, and while it gives us the illusion of choice and storyline evolution, many of the games focusing on this mechanic only produce a handful of alternate, choice-dependent consequences.

Why It’s Unnecessary

It’s great to see that developers are trying to create games that draw upon our own humanity, and it speaks volumes in terms of one day being able to weed out the psychos (just kidding), but humans are complex creatures and rarely is our entire life path black or white. To that end, forcing a moral choice between the obvious right and obvious wrong makes no sense, so the decision boils down to which path is easiest (evil) and which final cutscene I think I’ll enjoy most. While the idea of alternate courses in the game could be used to support the notion of a game’s replay value, I promise you that more often than not I’d rather look on YouTube for the “good” ending than play the entire game again as Mr. Rogers. Until there’s a decision with more than two choices that could lead to any permutation of benefits and consequences, the binary moral choice system in games will only serve as a cheap gimmick.

#1. Quick Time Events

I feel like “mashing” is the last thing Lady Croft needs right now

We’ve All Seen It

You’ve just landed a critical strike on the massive titan, its vital fluids pool around its incredible mass as it sags to the floor. You rush in for the final attack, and as the onscreen display disappears you relax, ready to see the final cutscene of the killing blow. As you gaze on, you see Kratos leap into the air, swords brandished and ready to kill, when suddenly a prompt to press X appears. Caught off guard, you rush to mash the button but arrive too late. The titan regains its strength and smashes you to the floor in a bloody paste. You now know what it means to suffer at the hands of a Quick Time Event.

Why It’s Unnecessary

You can’t throw a rock at E3 without hitting a game riddled with QTEs, their prevalence is absolutely staggering. Where the videogames of old would actually let you fight a boss at the plot’s climax, today we’re stuck gluing our eyes to the corners of the screen, waiting obediently to press a single button like a dog with a biscuit on its nose. I can’t tell you how many cutscenes I’ve altogether missed because I’m too wrapped up in not dying for the fiftieth time when I didn’t press X at the point the game thought I should. Either let me play out the final scene or make me watch it, but don’t force me to babysit the bastard step child of the two. I didn’t spend the last twelve hours honing my skills to end up only pressing three buttons, effectively killing God with less effort than it takes to blow my nose or ask someone why I’m even playing this train wreck in the first place.

Johnny Ohm

Johnny's first love was writing, his second was beer, and his third was The Elder Scrolls. He is resigned to his fate as a bitter critic who uses the crisping drawer to keep his lagers cold. You can contact Johnny via Twitter or ouija board.


  1. Xbox 1 is the best. The only PLATFORM capable of 4k Rez, 120 FPS and lag-free online gaming.

    Sony, Nintendo and Valve are dead! #dealwithit

  2. While I agree there is plenty of BS added to games to “enhance” them in some way, I’m not sure if I’d use the word mechanics. As a developer, I’d call these features game “behavior” because they involve using a specific subset of mechanics.

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