|A simple elevator ride. No, really.|
Sometimes it just says "Loading." Other times it may read "Now Loading." And then there's my personal favorite "Now Loading, Please Wait." Regardless of what words the game uses, loading is a necessary inconvenience that, depending on the game, can range from minor to downright painful.
On the tolerable side, two of my favorite instances of loading come from the PlayStation ports of Ridge Racer and Ridge Racer Revolution (known as Ridge Racer 2 in arcades.) The first Ridge Racer lets you play a game of Galaxian, while the game loads. Ridge Racer Revolution lets you play Galaga '88 while loading. Not only are these nice diversions, they also serve as a means to unlock eight of the game's cars. All you have to do is shoot each alien ship down. On top of that, the loading was pretty brief and would finish before you killed off all the alien invaders. Even the occasional loading of tracks was short for both games. The loading for both titles was so short they easily could have done without throwing Namco's famous shooters in, but many gamers welcomed them with open arms.
On the flip side, the original TimeSplitters for the PlayStation 2 had some of the worst loading I'd ever encountered in any video game. We're talking nearly a minutes worth of loading for multiplayer matches and my friends and I loved us some multiplayer in TimeSplitters. I'd often strike up a conversation about carpet whenever the game was loading, which was pretty frequent. Man, I'd have killed for some sort of mini-game with TimeSplitters loading.
Loading is something we will always have to deal with. Any console manufacturer that says the system will not have any load times is lying through their teeth and should immediately be called out on their bull. If we have time to go the bathroom (number one, in case you were wondering), come back and the game is still loading, that's way too long, and no, disguising the load screen with an elevator ride (Mass Effect 2) is not clever, it's absurdly transparent. More mini-games for long load times, please and thank you!