When I play a game and a cut scene begins, I always find myself using that time as a break to send a text or grab a snack. Rarely do I pay full attention to cut scenes, especially if the scene is more than a few seconds long. I realize that I personally do not consider myself to be “playing” when a cut scene comes on. How does this effect my gaming experience? I would argue that my gaming experience in unaltered but that I sometimes lack a sense of “Why?”
Throughout The Last of Us and Assassins Creed, I rarely paid full attention to the cut scenes. I was able to do so and still progress through the games because I was prompted with objectives that offered direction quickly after each scene.
While I knew the general story lines of each game from the objectives, I was typically unsure of why exactly I was in a specific location or why I had the given objective. Thus, since I was able to progress through the game without knowing the exact details of the previous cut scene, I believe game developers anticipate gamers may not pay full attention. This would indicate that perhaps they do not view the cut scenes as part of “play” either. Given my experience playing the games, such that a user can progress without paying attention to the cut scenes, I would argue cut scenes are non-essential to the game. I believe this is the strongest argument against them being part of “play.” Therefore, this means a quality that I personally feel is critical to what defines “play” is that the subject must be essential to a player’s progression through the game.