A little rant about how I’ve realized that most popular video games are a bit shit.
The initial goal of this website was to play every game on my steam list to completion then write an in-depth review. Most of these games were purchased due to having heard of the respective franchise’s popularity. However, I have found many of these games to be horribly disappointing or offensively poor.
Now, over a year later, I find the process of completing these games to be interminably frustrating. Trying to then comprehensively write about the experience just adds depression to the mix. It’s bad enough that I’m torturing myself trying to finish a game that I despise, but then having to justify that experience afterwards is sucking the fun out of the process. Dead Island would be my best example of this.
Life is too short. I have a limited amount of time in this life and I refuse to devote a single minute more than necessary to a game that isn’t respecting my time or returning my investment with fun and/or engagement. There are a queue of other interests and hobbies (and games) that can offer a more engaging and rewarding experience in exchange for the precious seconds I can afford to spare.
As such I’ve scrapped the process of playing them all to the end. Each game is given a set period to hook me and if I’m not eager to play after a few hours then Adios Muchachos.
I’m also going to devote a hell of a lot of research into any future games I may buy. I value my time and money too much to continue impulse buying on steam or GoG.
So, this means that I’m going to try and burn through my library a lot quicker. I’ll give a game 3 hours. If i’m not eager to continue then the game is scraped from the list (even less if it is immediately terrible). Ill pop a flash review on why – and I suspect the reason will almost always be the disrespect of my time.
If I’m still curious after 3 hours then I’ll give it 3 hours more. If the trend holds then I’ll probably be seeing that game to the end.
Otherwise the game is binned. The older I get the less tolerance I have for bloated gameplay, unnecessary grinding and obsolete design.
This frustration may simply be a result of a personal maturation and my recent realization that compulsion is not enjoyment.
I want to break away from the compulsion to play, and internalize the fact that video games are not special and possesses no inherent value – regardless of the amount of people, hours and money involved in their creation.
I’ve wondered where this compulsive need to play all my games originated. It’s probably a mix of sunk cost fallacy (from building up a massive steam library) and my own feeling that not finishing what I started might make me look foolish – an insecurity from which I’m happy to now separate myself.
I have little doubt that such compulsive behaviour is encouraged by marketing. A person distressed when NOT playing a game is a company’s holy grail. At that point, advertising is hardly even necessary.
The compulsive nature of video games is it’s biggest trick and on realising this I was hit by a tangible sense of release.
There is so much that can keep a person playing after enjoyment has long ceased, such as the above sunk cost feeling.
Sometimes the hype leading to a game’s release is so strong, but the end product so disappointing, that a person literally feels conned – which in turn can cause a dissonance, and lying to oneself about the quality of the game is less distressing the believing one has been fooled.
There are also the exploitative game mechanics that are designed to compel a person to play, such as Skinner box tactics (7 out of 50 feathers found! You’re not going to stop now? ARE YOU?). There’s a reason why almost every game has achievements.
There’s just so many ways to disguise the absence of fun, most of which I’ve now become wise.
Regardless of how much hype has driven a game’s release, or the pandering of the publishers, or the insecurity of it’s fans (who will aggressively defend its marketing – Marketing!) – none of it is worth my time. What few moments I have to play video games has to be spent on games that respect my time and intelligence.
Such is the approach I’m going to take. Whenever I load up a new game on my list I declare: ‘Impress me mother fucker’.
Same with buying any new games released from now on – and something that I implore everyone to say before delving into the purchase. Nobody owes anything to publishers or franchises or even developers. Those games aren’t given for free by the God-King Xerxes in all his charitable nature. They are traded for an amount of currency that, if stretched, could feed a family for a month. Publishers and developers badly want your money, so make them fucking dance for it.