On the origins of the quick time event

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I’ve harboured a wrongfully-placed hatred of Apple for far too long.

Ever since I first came across the dreaded quick time event, I assumed they had something to do with Apple’s QuickTime program. Every time I messed up one of the many QTEs injected into today’s games, I also silently cursed the Cupertino-based company while waiting for my previously checkpoint to reload.

No, seriously. Surely I can’t be the only one?

For the record, Apple had nothing to do with the quick time event. Rather, we need to blame Shenmue’s Yu Suzuki.

Sure, the function of the quick time event appeared in myriad games before the SEGA Dreamcast and ShenmueDragon’s Lair is nothing BUT quick time events, really – but Suzuki was the one who came up with the mechanic’s name. Coined “quick timer events” – ‘cause that actually makes sense – the term was somehow shortened into the moniker we today know and love (to hate).

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Speaking with Gamasutra, Suzuki said quick timer events were incorporated into Shenmue to provide “a fusion of gameplay and movie” in the game, making the experience more cinematic. It’s debatable if he achieved this, but from that point onward, quick time events became an integral part of gaming.

Let’s be fair: some games, held high in reverence, owe their very beings to the quick time event. The aforementioned Dragon’s Lair. Heavy Rain, if for nothing else than, “Jason!”.

Others… well, not so much. Hell, even though Shinji Mikami used QTEs in Resident Evil 4, he made a point of saying that his latest game, The Evil Within, contained “no boring QTEs” when introducing it to us at E3 two years ago.

Which games do you offer as good examples of the quick time event? Which frustrate you the most?