“Lingering” is a term used to describe the long, needless sections where a character is watched moving to the next area, or performing an action that’s boring to observe and doesn’t tell us anything new about them or the world they inhabit.
For instance: After a conversation, a character opens a door and then goes down a hallway, then through another door and outside, across the lawn, down the street, etc.
Unless you’re giving us some new information, a la Shawn of the Dead with the presence of zombies in the background, there’s no need to show all that.
Show them leave, then show them at the next place.
But in video games, there’s a lot of lingering. [Note: This is a side-effect of narrative. Non-narrative games don’t suffer from Lingering]
In fact, most of the game is the act of lingering, unless you’re playing a high-octane AAA FPS, but even in those, there are times where you are either backtracking or looking for the next area after you’ve already cleared out all the enemies in the current one.
Is this a problem?
I’m not sure. If people have been okay with it so far, it seems to not be an issue, but for the medium to progress, I’d argue that we should see about ways we can transition to new scenes.
Because ultimately this comes down to being able to cut to a new scene, something games are reluctant to do because it means a snapping of consciousness, a jolt to a new time and place directly for the player, whereas in film, we more easily slide into and out of projecting ourselves directly on the character.
In film we are both a character and peeper. In games, we are the character and purveyor.
The predominant solution in games is to cut to a new area directly after a goal has been reached, or transition to one at that time.
Demon’s Souls does this after you beat the boss in the Tower of Latria: winged demons lift you up in a cutscene and take you to the next level.
This doesn’t eliminate the Lingering when exploring a level, however. The needless walking through empty rooms and hallways are still a problem.
Unless they’re not a problem.
The devil’s advocate would say they support the pacing and add red-herring challenges to solving puzzles. And there’s just the general thrill of exploring, too.
Well, those same arguments can be said for film, too, but no one’s arguing for long walks of silence in those.
We need to tighten our games. We need to respect the audience’s time more. And we need to stop Lingering.