Quick Time Events were popularized by the cult classic Shenmue on the Sega Dreamcast. A dramatic sequence would take place wherein the player would be tasked with pressing the corresponding button with on screen commands fast enough, lest they lose and have to start over. Intense chase sequences and martial arts combat were some of the things QTEs were known for. You go to sit back and focus on a reflexive button press, and got to see some spectacular results from the hero doing, as well as some cool directing for increased cinematic effect. The best example of the evolution of Quick Time Events as a form of immersion for video game players, in my opinion, would have to be the first level of God of War 2 for the Playstation 2. All throughout the level, the massive Colossus of Rhodes would be plaguing Kratos, and whenever the opportunity arose, the god of war would fling himself at his giant enemy, and throughout the process of several superb QTEs, he whittled the colossus down to bitch status. Which is what Kratos does best.
However, this Quick Time Event Tactic has been incredibly overused during the current generation of consoles. Playstation3, Wii, & Xbox360 often find their games relying heavily on QTEs to pad a lackluster game experience. Having long awaited boss fights being completely removed in lieu of a few well timed button taps is nowhere near as gratifying as actually getting to fight them. The new Bionic Commando was a horrible game, and the fact that the final boss fight took about twenty seconds and asked that you pressed square five or so times, was one of the reasons. Gamers should never have to mash X to open anything, ever again. I find myself looking quizzically at cans of juice or beer bottles, and wondering if when I reach over to open it, a command prompt is going to appear above my head and ask me to press X as fast as I can. Spider-Man 3 was packed with quick time events where nothing of interest even happened. Swinging through a sewer system devoid of enemies is not worthy of a cinematic embrace. Then again, neither was that movie. BOOSH!