Wednesday, February 4, 2009

How Playing Bad Games Can Be Fun

First, a blog note: I've temporarily enabled comment moderation, so comments won't appear on the blog right away. Hopefully it's only a temporary measure. If your comment has a name on it and is reasonable, it will be posted, even if you're completely disagreeing with me and calling me a moron =P I'm more critical of anonymous posts, flames, pointless comments, or comments unrelated to the topic of the post.

Today, I felt like talking about why I play come crappy games. The majority of gamers out there play only what they want to play for fun, and would not subject themselves to games like Jumper or Golden Compass, as I have. These gamers probably wonder why I waste my time on such garbage for some stupid points. It's a fair question to have, and I'll try to provide my answer to it.

First, I want to distance myself a bit from the Stallion, Rogue, and Hayden type of gamer. Those guys will play anything at any time for points, and I believe they all own multiple xbox 360s. I'm not suggesting that they only play games for points, and don't play games for fun (I'm sure they play some games for fun), I'm saying that have much higher and persistent crap-tolerances than I do. While they seem (to me) capable of playing crap whenever to boost their scores, I can't do that. More power to them, I guess. I personally need a little more motivation to spend my time on junk.

If I'm going to play crap games to boost my score, I need to have fun doing it. Sounds impossible, right? How could Golden Compass possibly be fun? There are several ways in which I find playing garbage enjoyable:

1. Playing bad games helps you better appreciate the good ones

I wish all those people who bitch about how horrible Gears 2 is would go play Hour of Victory for a couple hours. After you've played a real turd of a shooter, it's easier to appreciate Gears. While the game certainly isn't perfect, the Gears 2 cry-babies don't realize they're bitching about an excellent game, and have no idea what garbage really is. They're like a bunch of spoiled princesses whiling over trifles. Mini-rant aside, I enjoy the quality games more if I just played something mediocre or bad. They make you realize that excellence isn't a given, and a quality game takes a lot of time and talent to pull off.

2. The art of mocking

Playing bad games is an exercise in creativity. You're always thinking of new ways to chain swears together, or coming up with clever ways to describe how poorly made a game was. This may sound like an exercise in masochism, but it's actually great. As a writer, I'm pressing myself to come up with better metaphors to depict the horror, and generally trying to exercise wit. When I'm playing crap, I'm critically thinking about it. While enjoying quality games, I'm not doing much thinking at all.

3. Social context is key

The vast majority of bad games I've played have been done during a GSL. I did have to review a few lame ducks, and a few games I rented to try out turned out to be horrible, but they are the exceptions. Everyone has heard the saying "misery loves company" and it's true for playing bad games, among many other things. The fun of playing in a competition against other teams, while chatting and working with your own team of people, easily compensates for the misery of a few bad games. How else would I have met awesome guys like Silva, Ducky Dan, and Derek? We've played games together for fun as well as points both in and out of GSLs. Other people make bad games more fun. One of my favorite memories of GSL VI is when four of us boosted some of the MP achievements for Viva Pinata Party Animals at 2am on a Saturday night. It's an absurd time of day for 4 grown men to be boosting a party game for children, and we spent the whole time joking about it. That gaming session was nothing but a couple hours of torture metaphors and slinging gay jokes and your mom jokes at each other, among other juvenile antics. It was pretty hilarious. The game may have been bad, but I had a great time anyway.

4. Perverse pride

I'll admit it, knowing that I was able to sit through games that other people couldn't stand amuses me. I have a strange respect for people capable of seeing bad games through to the end. That requires more dedication than getting to the end of a masterpiece like Fallout, in my opinion. It's easy to ride through a game that draws you in; it's much harder to ride through a game with broken mechanics constantly pushing your interest elsewhere.

In these four ways, I can enjoy playing games that are pretty bad. So remember, if you see me playing garbage during GSL VII, like (heaven forbid) My Horse and Me 2 or Rapala Fishing Frenzy, remember that, in my own way, I'm actually having fun with it, or I wouldn't have bothered.


  1. You got a copy of My Horse and Me?

  2. Unfortunately I do not. I looked into importing one, and did not feel like spending the equivalent of $55 on that turd. I'm not counting on snagging a copy.

  3. i feel your pain. I have had spiderwick chronicles from gamefly for over 3 weeks, i just have no passion to play it, even for easy points. once i start playing them though, i realize how easy it is.