Avoiding Traps – Are They Really Needed


There’s an interesting question raised by Scorpia about the place of traps in video games. The author asks whether traps actually do what they’re intended to within video games… or are they just annoying.

We could say they’re supposed to add an element of tension, of risk, to the game. Whether the defusing method is D&D’s dice rolls, Elder Scrolls’ minigames, Avernum’s “skill equal to or greater than to some preset number”, or any other procedure, you’re supposed to feel uncertainty about success and worried about failure.

Scorpia agrees that traps have a place in pen & paper RPGs, but suggests that video games, could really do without them. They don’t really present any significant threat or consequences other than having to load a save, and are often annoying wastes of time. Puzzles can fulfill the same minigame break in combat.

So the question is, can video games do without traps entirely? Would games seem any less difficult or real without them?

I think there may be one type of video game in which traps can be affective; the MMO. Death usually has consequences other than a reload, so the danger traps present is more real.

via Scorpia’s Gaming Lair

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5 Comments on Avoiding Traps – Are They Really Needed

The Twin

On June 6, 2008 at 10:49 am

In some cases, traps help. In some cases, they hurt. It’s mostly in moderation: Not so many traps that the game is only about dodging traps, but enough to keep the player alert. (I was playing Oblivion yesterday, and thought how realistic some of the traps were. If I had a secret base, there would be plenty of traps.)


On June 6, 2008 at 10:50 am

RPG’s of all calibers can use them for immersion. Oblivion, for instance, is wondeful with traps.

Shawn Sines

On June 6, 2008 at 10:59 am

I agree Oblivion and even the dreadful Dark Messiah of Might & Magic have some of the most interesting traps. They do enhance the sense of realism and have a tactical value – but if you think about it they are not representative of many of the traps we’ve seen in say Baldur’s Gate or NWN. Those damned floor trigger spells got annoying.

I’m even pretty supportive of traps on loot containers – there is a risk – so long as not only would it destroy the thief, it also damaged the items. There are a few of those sorts of implementations and they always frustrate me personally – but in a good way. It makes the role of the rogue/thief important aside from the old backstabbing concept.


On June 6, 2008 at 2:33 pm

Traps can help a game. Remember that damage to the player or player death is not the only penalty you can suffer: alarms, lowering resistances or my favourite, burdening the player as has been done in the Elder Scrolls.

Lethal traps like the ones in the Elder Scrolls: Oblivion are definitely ones which I don’t approve of.

Shawn Sines has a valid point. Damaging the items would ultimately make the risk of setting a trap off something to calculate rather than avoid. Moreover, the player wouldn’t have to worry about their personal safety.


On June 6, 2008 at 8:54 pm

dear retards who make puzzle levels
i’ll take a few traps over those god damn puzzle games, if i wanted to be thinking i’d go to school or to work, i play games not to think. puzzles can kiss my ass in hell.
sincerely, lucky sutton.