I was putting some time into a game I'm going to be reviewing soon, and I got to a point (about halfway) when I just felt no desire at all to keep going. So, instead of suffering through hours of boredom and apathy, I just stopped.
As a reviewer, I used to think that I needed to roll credits on every game that I wrote about, but I let go of that notion some time ago. There were just too many games that ran for too many hours without any good reason to do so, and there were also too many games that just weren't interesting or enjoyable. They just were. I eventually came to the conclusion that if a game wasn't able to keep my attention, then that was a statement worth making about the game overall.
I feel pretty good about this philosophy and it works well for me, but every once in a while I like to do a little reality check on myself to make sure I'm not coloring too far outside the lines. If you follow me on Twitter, then you probably saw me asking a question like this:
Would you characterize a game as "average quality" if it wasn't fun/engaging/interesting enough to keep your attention and motivate you to finish it?
It's granted that Twitter is not exactly the best place to have in-depth discussions and I probably could have phrased the question a little more clearly, but this wasn't any kind of scientific experiment and I was in search of some quick feedback.
So here's what I was getting at: In a nutshell, GameCritics uses the full 20-point scale. A score of 1.0 would be something that was atrociously bad, a score of 5.0 would be right in the middle, neither terrible nor commendable, and (of course) a 10 would be something you'd try to convince your grandma to play because it would just make her life that much better. We use all the numbers.
As I was playing this review game, I started to try and mentally place it on that scale. It wasn't broken and it wasn't terrible, but I did find it tedious enough that I did not want to finish—that's a pretty big negative in my book, but then I started to wonder what other people's perceptions might be. Was I out of line in thinking that an "average quality" game should at least be good enough to keep someone's attention until the end? If I gave this particular game a 5, would that be too high, since I was absolutely not going to put in the time to complete it?
Like I said, I put the question to Twitter and here's what I found:
- 14 people said an "average" game should keep a player's attention until the end.
- 5 people said an "average" game should not be expected to keep a player's attention until the end.
- 3 people mentioned suffering from "game ADD" as the reason for stopping a game, although they might return to it later. (I would actually challenge this by saying that if the game was interesting enough in the first place, then you wouldn't be distracted by something else, but that's a debate for another time.)
- 1 person was undecided.
- Richard Naik did not answer the question.
According to my totally empirical and unimpeachable results, it seems like most of the smart, attractive and charming people who follow me share my view that a totally average game should at least be good enough to make you want to roll credits on it.
However, this begs the question about the other side. I'm actually quite fascinated as to why some people didn't feel that it should be expected for an average title to be good/interesting/fresh enough to keep someone playing from start to finish.
I can think of a few reasons off the top of my head, but rather than feed myself an answer that may or may not be correct, I would very much like to hear from anyone who takes the view opposite to my own. If you are a person who thinks an average game doesn't need to be good enough to motivate you until the end, please leave a comment and let me know why!
(Although if you just want to comment and agree with me, that's alright too.)
Brad still loves Transformers, he's on Marvel Puzzle Quest when nobody's looking, and his favorite game of all time is a toss-up between the first Mass Effect and The Witcher 3. You can catch his written work here at GameCritics and you can hear him weekly on the @SoVideogames Podcast. Follow Brad on Twitter and Instagram at @BradGallaway, or contact him via email:
bradgallaway a t gmail dot com