Halo: Reach Screenshot

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 Gallaway

Brad Gallaway

Brad Gallaway has been gaming since the days when arcades were everywhere and the Atari 2600 was cutting edge. So, like... A while.

Currently, he's got about 42 minutes a night to play because adulting is a timesuck, but despite that, he's a happily married guy with two kids who both have better K/D ratios than he does.

Brad still loves Transformers, he's on Marvel Puzzle Quest when nobody at the office is looking, and his favorite game of all time is the first Mass Effect -- and he thought the trilogy's ending was Just Fine, Thanks.

Follow Brad on Twitter at @BradGallaway
Brad Gallaway

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8 Comments on "Average quality games not fun or interesting?"

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I think Ryan was on the right track, but just not focused enough in his reply: [quote=Ryan]I think a good deal of the answer to that question depends on the gamer more than the game. … … So to me, average is a game I don’t bother playing; good and very good are games I will only if they have specific appeal for me (I like the … series … );… [/quote] Basically I’ve selfishly chopped up his response to distill my point. It depends on the gamer’s standards and their familiarity and fondness for the genre. Example? I really… Read more »

I think that if you played the game, didnt feel anything new, dont reccomend playing it at all that is less than average. But if you feel the game is good enough that you could reccomend playing it because there’s something that it did well for a while but didnt carry on well enough to get you to finish it, it could be average. If you finish it, it’s above average, if you finish it and you still like it, it’s good.


IMO it has nothing to do with a game being average if you feel the need to complete it. At least in my case I stop games when I don’t feel that I see anything new anymore. Gears of War is above average, still I didn’t finish it because I just got bored with it after some time. However, I totally get it why some people play it over and over again.

I start with Final Fantasy 7 which is a game I and many others consider an absolute classic. I LOVED this game while playing it. However it is also a game I stopped playing around the 95% completion mark. WHY? Because, for one reason or another, I had to stop playing for several months (college restarting, no time etc etc) and it was just impossible to get back into as I had lost track of the story, the characters, the intricacies of the materia system, what I needed to do, what I had done. I had forgotten why I had… Read more »
I think the motivation to push past, say, the 12-20 hour mark of a game is a very individual thing dependent on a lot of factors. At this point, you’re completely familiar with the gameplay and have probably seen most of what the game can throw at you in terms of challenge. Sometimes you feel you want a new challenge, and other times it feels good just to keep blasting through the game like an master. Alternatively, you simply may or may not have the time. Games really ask so much more of your time than most other entertainments, and… Read more »
I think a good deal of the answer to that question depends on the gamer more than the game. Partly, I’d suggest it’s a factor of the gamer’s level of focus on games as a part of his/her life/entertainment. Much earlier in my life when I played more games and spent more time playing them, I would have been far likelier to feel compelled to finish an average game. Now, as someone less focused on games, I tend to feel I only have time for complete playthroughs of those that are excellent or at least very good but in some… Read more »

for me the argument is bunk because I will often stop playing a very good game midway through and not return to it for months. I have no explanation for this behavior. And sometimes I will grind away to finish a mediocre game just to see where it goes. I have no explanation for this behavior either.

depends very much on the length of the game and if after stopping it feels like wasted time. I stopped Morrowind after i think 80 hours. And although i enjoyed the exploration that time, after going particularly after the main quest, that i couldn’t finish, the whole experience felt very much like wasted time. Boiling Point was quite similar, iirc stopped after 70 hours, but here it was rather the buggy programming that stopped the fun. GT Legends is a game i started some years ago and still not finished. The last cup alone takes dozens of hours. I don’t… Read more »