As amazing as games are, there are still a few things that have yet to impress me. Yet there are also things that blow my mind every.  single.  time.

Let’s be clear, I have virtually no authority in this subject, other than my own two eyeballs.  So let’s start off with things that annoy me, all or most of which probably require more time and money than what’s available.

Characters Touching Each Other

Well, really, avatars touching anything.  But things like hugs, handshakes and high-fives all look so strange.  And yeah, so do the sex scenes.  I’m kind of stoked, honestly, to see Jodie hug something in Beyond: Two Souls; maybe Quantic Dream is nailing that now.  Hugging is like my standard for achieving greatness in video game animation, apparently.  Here’s a super-awkward hug in Mass Effect 2 (for the record, I stayed loyal to Liara every step of the way).

Mass effect 2 hug

Shepard: Earthborn. War Hero. Vanguard. Big Spoon.

NPC Variation

One of the best things about playing fantasy games is encountering all kinds of enemies in all kinds of gender combinations.  It’s unusual in first-person shooters to encounter female enemies, though.  WTF?  It’s like a statement that every other culture or race, alien or human, is just as misogynistic as ours.  Men fight, women _______.

Also, please feed NPCs more dialog, or none at all.  Or, if you’re going to give them a few lines, and every single time I pass them in town, they say those lines, please give me the option to kill them.

Thanks to my pal, Holly, for reminding me that The Last of Us had pretty impressive NPC variation.

Foliage / Grass

I appreciate that from a distance, forests and plants look great in games.  And I can wrap my brain around the idea that rendering the perfect blade of grass is unimportant in the grand scheme.  I thought Far Cry 3 had great grass.  So did Flower, of course.  It’s weird to walk up to plants that are all flat and two-dimensional in otherwise beautifully rendered 3D worlds, though.


Minecraft: Sadly, not the worst offender


Lara Croft’s hair looks pretty damn amazing in Tomb Raider, especially with graphics on max like this person.  But that is SO not the norm.  Hair usually looks pretty horrible.  I’m sure it’s a similar problem to grass.  Right?


Enough complaining. Here are some things I’d like to high-five the coders for discovering and implementing:


I remember the first time I killed a zombie near a door in Oblivion, opened the door, and the zombie body dragged along the ground with the door.  Mind blown.

Anytime anything rolls downhill, or makes perfect sense in terms of physics, I’m impressed beyond belief.

Stairs & Ladders

The act of ascending or descending stairs and ladders is a biggie.  I love when feet touch steps and rungs.  It is amazing to me.  Stair physics bowled me over in GTA IV.  It’s a standard now, for sure.  Crappy stair climbing seems lazy nowadays.  But still, totally impressive.

Donkey Kong climbing



Can ANYBODY find me that trailer of EA’s game called Black, where there was opera music and a dude shooting up a banquet hall or something like that?  In that game, you shot the wall, and a bullet hole appeared.  Novel concept!  I love shooting walls in games, just to see if I leave a hole, and I do it every single time.

Editor’s Note: You’re welcome

So, what technology annoys you or inspires you in games?

Emily Reese is an on-air host for Classical Minnesota Public Radio. She is also the host and producer for Top Score, Classical MPR’s podcast about video game soundtracks, and created MPR’s Listening to Learn series. She earned an undergrad certificate in music education and jazz studies from the University of Colorado — Boulder, and a Master’s degree in music theory from the University of Nebraska, Lincoln. Emily lives in Twin Cities with her cats Atticus, June Bug and Lee, and loves gaming, with or without friends.