We are here today to talk about a serious topic... And what better way to talk about a serious topic then to open with an irreverent video. (Warning: NSFW)
What Mr. MC Pee Pants has so eloquently articulated is games are much more fun if you actually get to play them. For those of you who were not able to view the video, he expresses, rather emphatically, how upset he is at Kingdom Hearts 2 for forcing him to wade through hours of hand-holding, introductory gameplay before he actually gets to dig into the meat of the experience while Resident Evil 4 throws you to the wolves within minutes of booting up the game, resulting in a significantly more enjoyable experience. Some of you might be thinking he's exaggerating things for the sake of comedy, but take a look at two following videos. The first shows the beginning of Kingdom Hearts 2, and it takes the game 11 minutes to before they put you in an asinine situation to learn how to move the character forward. The second video shows Resident Evil 4, and at the same time-mark of 11 minutes the player is shooting at a group of insane Spaniards that are trying to murder the main character. (2nd video NSFW. Consult with your manager if infected Spaniard genocide is against company internet browsing policy. More importantly, the guy playing it cusses like a sailor.)
Now you might be saying to yourself, "Hey, those games are old! Nobody does that anymore. Game developers respect people's time now, and they get to the gameplay quickly." And, in general, I would be inclined to agree. Square Enix, the makers of Kingdom Hearts, are well known for their fairly egregious use of cutscenes and excessive tutorials, especially back in 2006. Even then, take a second and think of all the games you've played with unskipable tutorials and clumsy gameplay sequences that are introductory to the game's mechanics. What Resident Evil 4 accomplished was show the player what it is about, and then get out of their way to let them learn the game. They did not lay all of it's cards out on the table at the beginning, but you did get the core experience of the game almost immediately: hectic, cumbersome shooting. Which brings us to the main point...
There is a time and a place for both instruction and atmosphere, but, at the end of the day, the player must learn through doing. Without the ability for meaningful input, the experience is not truly engaging and the developers have missed the most interesting aspect of interactive media. Not all games need to be as extreme as Resident Evil 4, and you can have an engaging experience that has subtlety. For example, Journey by thatgamecompany elegantly manages to establish atmosphere, introduce the main mechanics, and give you a space to experiment AT THE SAME TIME.
The game quickly secedes control to the player and allows them to move freely. Interestingly enough, there is not a way for the player to fail, but the game exposes them to the core idea of exploration, allowing them to move at their own pace. They can learn while playing, and the game is infinitely better for it.
That is all for now, dear friend. Have a good week, and remember this important fact: you cannot truly know how to ride a bicycle until you have.