A tweet by game designer and producer Ben Pitt went viral when he showed the difference between how a game presents certain kinds of dangers, and how those dangers actually manifest through mechanics. You can watch the short video below.
When non-threatening "decorative" peril masks simplistic gameplay, it often feels like this to me. pic.twitter.com/9k8IDl0DjD— Ben Pitt (@robotduck) July 30, 2016
That tweet blew up, and Pitt wrote a short explanation of what he was trying to say with the comparison. Here's a hint: He wasn't trying to slam AAA games or Tomb Raider.
Wanted to take a moment to explain the point I was making in my mini video criticism of Tomb Raider recently. pic.twitter.com/Y0nfTJb7SJ— Ben Pitt (@robotduck) August 2, 2016
"If a game is presenting a situation where there is urgency, but at the same time I can tell there is no actual urgency programmed into the game's system, it feels like bad design, and it lets down the graphics, story and cinematic feel because I feel condescended to by the underlying system," he wrote. "That was the case with this climb sequence, and seems to be a repeating pattern in this and a number of other games."
It's worth reading the whole post, but the main thrust is that if the visuals and characters are telling you that you should have to hurry due to some danger, there should be some danger. If a game is trying to sell you on the idea that taking your time could be hazardous, that reality should carry through to the mechanics.