Quick Timer Events
Making interactive fiction more interactive

Many video games feature cutscenes, and most of those cutscenes are boring and non-interactive. Take the Nintendo GameCube title, Metal Gear Solid: The Twin Snakes. It is an enjoyable game, but I'm not sure if I spent more time playing the game or watching the movies. Xenosaga Episode I: Der Wille zur Macht left me feeling the same way. Movies and video games are becoming more alike, and it's not always for the better. Cinematic gameplay is one thing, but cinema in place of gameplay is unnecessary.

Enter the Quick Timer Event (QTE). I was introduced to QTE in Yu Suzuki's Shenmue for the Sega Dreamcast, and it changed the way I looked at the game experience. Cutscenes and story points are no longer just something to be watched or skipped past. I was still playing a part. If my fingers were nimble, Ryo Hazuki could escape this fight unscathed, but if I faltered, he may fail in his quest to avenge his father's murder.

QTE is not a complex concept. During a cutscene, buttons or directions may flash on the screen. Press the correct button (or combination of buttons), and the story continues. Press the button too late or not at all, and the consequence ranges from the cutscene restarting to losing some health to a game over.

Games that use QTE: