The Value in Playing Bad Games

EDGE OF TIME

While we’re being blessed with an amazing fall for gaming, sometimes we need to take a step back and reevaluate how we judge the games we play. Even though we avoid bad games, they do exist and sometimes there’s a benefit to playing them just to remind yourself that making a good game is actually pretty hard.

I don’t want to turn this into another “bash Resident Evil 6” fest, but I kind of want to play it just to adjust my views. Between X-COM: Enemy Unknown, Dishonored, Pokemon White Version 2 and Borderlands 2, we’re being kind of spoiled right now and this season is only going to get better. Playing a game like Resident Evil 6 might help me appreciate games more, because if you only sample the best of anything, your tastes get less eclectic and it becomes harder to enjoy the decent titles.

One game I played this year which I enjoyed for what it was was The Amazing Spider-Man, Beenox’s movie tie-in and follow up to the astoundingly bad Edge of Time. If I hadn’t played Edge of Time I might not have liked The Amazing Spider-Man as much as I did, but because I played a game that clearly did not get as much love in developement, Beenox’s next effort seemed better for it. Even though The Amazing Spider-Man is a pale Batman: Arkham City imitation, it has a lot to offer, something I might not have realized if Edge of Time hadn’t lowered my expectations.

So, what about you guys? Do you think there’s a value to playing bad games? Do you always avoid them or do you find they help you keep gaming in perspective?

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mitch@gamersushi.com Twitter: @mi7ch Gamertag: Lubeius PSN ID: Lubeius SteamID: Lube182 Origin/EA:Lube182 Currently Playing: Stardew Valley, Mario & Luigi: Paper Jam, Knights of the Old Republic 2: The Sith Lords, Battlefield 4, Tom Clancy Double Feature: Rainbow Six Siege and The Division

6 thoughts on “The Value in Playing Bad Games”

  1. Games are a subjective medium. Chances are, you may really enjoy a game even if it’s considered “bad.” It’s really easy to shit on games without realizing how much effort and labor went into them, and it creates this mentality that if a game doesn’t score a 90 or higher, it’s a complete failure. Games that crawl into the 80s, 70s, and even 60s range can still be good and can still provide a few hours worth of fun. I’ve noticed that games in the 80s and mid-70s have some of the most divisive players ever: those who will swear by the game and praise it, and those who will loathe it and bemoan everything wrong with it.

    There’s this underlying idea of value in games that’s also subjective, as was exemplified in your case by Spider-Man, in a way. If you take a game for what it’s worth, you’ll enjoy it a lot more. If you go into L.A. Noire expecting a free-roaming GTA in the 1940s (like I did), you’re going to fucking loathe the game. However, if you jump into Shadow the Hedgehog expecting an average platforming experience (like I did) you’ll have some good fun with it. Despite how bad that game was, I took it for what it was worth and didn’t set lofty expectations for it.

    The same thing happened when I got CS:GO. I didn’t go in expecting a completely overhauled game with badass HD graphics and all sorts of newness and coolness crammed in. I went in expecting a more polished, tweaked, and upgraded version of Counter-Strike, and I’m having a lot of fun with it because I didn’t set that bar too high.

    Expectation can often ruin a game before we even play it, because we start formulating in our heads how we want to play the game, without the game having a chance to tell us how it really is played.

  2. I don’t really seek out “bad games” but I am known to ignore reviews if a game is something I am interested in. The Prince of Persia: Forgotten Sands is one that comes to mind. Not a critical darling, but man, did I love that game.

  3. The Saboteur comes to mind. Just looked it up on Metacritic and the PC version got a 76. I really enjoyed it, but I don’t know anyone else who played it and didn’t hear anything about it before I picked it up. I also really liked Kane & Lynch: Dead Men which got a 67 (pretty sure I got it for a few bucks on a Steam sale) I’ll pretty much give any game a shot if I don’t have to spend $60 on it right out of the gates.

  4. The label “bad” is subjective. For the purpose of this comment, I’ll clarify that a “bad” game is one that YOU, the gamer, have tried and decided you do not like for some reason or another.

    There are plenty of “bad games” I absolutely love that I may never have discovered if I put any stock in negative ratings and reviews. People who rely on things like Metacritic to tell them whether or not a game is good are missing out on a world of great but underrated or otherwise undiscovered games, which sucks for them (and these same people probably don’t have very diverse tastes to begin with).

    To answer the actual question above, I think it IS healthy and even necessary to play “bad” games, otherwise what would your basis of comparison be for truly “good” games–the ones you rank above others and consider your favorites? Nowadays there’s SO many different types of games out there–including experimental, retro, indie, and casual titles–and so many different types of gamers that attempting to judge them based on some kind of standard is futile. But the industry does this anyway, and tries to shoehorn every new game into a a bullshit category, which to trogador’s point above, I think is why there are frequently problems with unmet expectations.

  5. One thing I will say is not to look at Metacritic, but the actual texts of reviews. I know myself and my likes enough to read a review and know whether they are talking about a game I will enjoy. The score is beside the point. Read the bloody thing!

  6. @Anthony – Yeah I was just looking up their scores for reference here. There are only a few reviewers that I really trust after agreeing with them for a long time. One hard thing to discern in a review is the “feel” of a game – not atmosphere, but how it mechanically functions. Since I’m gaming on a PC, I usually have to wait for the community to say whether a game is a bad port or has other issues since (for consistency sake) a lot of reviews are done with consoles.

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