Why is it the term "Minigame" used to put things down?
Just because it's small doesn't mean it isn't as finely crafted as a sprawling 60 hour RPG. On the contrary, I think the ability to convey an experience to an audience in such a succinct way is kind of beautiful.
Length == Quality is an equation that seems lie at the core of so many games in recent times. But is it really better because it's longer?
Lord of the Rings isn't a good movie because it's 3 hours long. It's good because Tolkien was an auteur genius and Gandalf is a baller.
But forcing length seems to be the way of the industry. Even titles like Witcher and God of War, whose critical response was amazing, can feel a bit long in the tooth at times.
Why don't we have more 5-hour games with shorter, more focused narratives over these 50-hour monoliths with endless side quests and a thinly spread story?
To take it a step further, why can't a 20-second "minigame" be just as powerful?
At one point, someone made a passing comment that a project I'd been working on reminded them of a minigame in Mario Party.
At first, I was offended.
Then I was confused.
Then I was curious.
I realised that maybe a small, shitty little toy can be meaningful too.
I went back and looked at some of the stages in Mario Party. I revisited an old favourite in WarioWare. I even had the chance to run through What Remains of Edith Finch with my peers.
They all seem to do it in their own unique way, but each game manages to one, connected experience through many individually crafted pieces (even if that experience is sandwich-munching and cat-dancing).
I realised how little the length of a game had to do with its quality. As I piece together nuggets (with sweet and sour sauce) of information here and there, my vision of how games mean shifts.
A game really isn't one huge "thing". It's dozens or even hundreds of small, finely tuned "minigames" all working together to form something with meaning.
Being able to explain an idea with just a few words is an art.
"Mini" is actually a compliment.
It means the picture that you've painted is clear, that you're using each of the individual colours at your disposal to their fullest potential.
It means you know what you're trying to make people feel, even if it's only brief.
I need to do more of it.
More soon, Riley.