Third person vs first person: the best and worst of gameplay
First person gameplay
Since the days of Doom and Duke Nukem on the PC, a line was drawn in the video game sand between first person shooters and third person video games. Some lucky dogs are able to play both, moving back and forth as easily as Chris Redfield now that he can walk and shoot. But others are firmly planted within their desire for a first person or a third person game. Some, not by choice.
Third person gameplay
For those that are unfamiliar with the terminology, a first person shooter is a game where the player can see only what the protagonists sees – they are literally looking through the eyes of the hero. Possibly the only body parts one sees of the protagonist is part of the arm, a gun or other weapon extension, and then the full body during a cinematic. Currently popular first person shooters include Call of Duty and the Bioshock series of games. Third person games differ in they allow the player to see most of the protagonist’s body and every movement they make.
Pros and cons
The arguments for preferring a first person shooter is a feeling of being directly in the game. The multi-player aspect of first person shooters also are a huge draw for fans of this type of gameplay. On the side of a third person game, you are more immersed in the world of the game by being required to do more than just shoot. Third person games often involve the solving of complex puzzles that require more strategy than a first person shooter. Being able to see more of the protagonist’s body, third person games also allow the player to view more of what is going on beside the protagonist, therefore allowing them to experience more of the setting at any given time. There are also those unlucky souls, myself included, who experience vertigo when playing a first person shooter. To be able to play any first person shooter, I have to ingest Dramamine and then limit my play to 20 minutes before the vertigo decides it doesn’t care about the pills. Then I fall asleep within another 30 minutes, even when using the non-drowsy version.
The vertigo factor
I’m going to go off on a quick tangent about first person shooters as I am a third person gamer. I have tried a few first person shooters in the past. One in particular had me spend thirty minutes at the beginning of the game creating an avatar. I picked out skin tone to boot straps and everything in between. Then when the game started, I was robbed of my ability to view my avatar masterpiece. What’s up with that? My other massive pet peeve: marketing first person shooters as if they were third person games. I hate watching a commercial of an awesome game where it shows the protagonist in every shot as if it’s a third person and then racing down to the video store only to find out it’s a first person shooter and they only showed the cinematics in the commercial. Did they think I wouldn’t notice once I bought the game that it’s a first person?
What we are missing
Back to the question at hand. The problem with limiting one’s gaming experience to just first person shooters or third person games is just that: your gaming experience is limited. A person who resides only in the third person world will never experience the fantastic sights of Bioshock, while a die-hard first person shooter player will never know the awesome adventure within Uncharted.
Video game developers should have learned long ago that a game in first person is only going to appeal to a certain percentage of the market, and the same with third person. They lose out on so much business that one would think a light bulb would have gone off in their heads already: make games available in both. If the most recent Tomb Raider, which blew everyone’s mind away that played it, was available in both first person and third person shooters, then all gamers would have been able to experience it. Same with Bioshock Infinite. I desperately want to experience that world, but I’m left out in the cold with a “Sorry, no vertigo sufferers allowed” sign on the door. Sure it may be a little more challenging to create a first person shooter out of a third person game, but it could be done. You’d think the market share alone would be worth the effort. Making games available in both would give gamers an all-access pass to every world developers create.