Occasionally, when I blog about games such as Hotel Dusk or MillionHeir that I find to be not particularly great, I find myself thinking, This game isn’t so bad. After all, I did want to finish it. And yet when it doesn’t win a place in my heart, my primary focus is on my frustrations and its flaws, perhaps because the gaming experience is inherently designed to make an enemy of the player. Getting stuck, getting frustrated, wandering around lost looking in all the wrong places: these are all part of gaming, and something would be missing without them. But players learn to think of these parts of the game as obstacles that get in their way, rather than as a cherished part of gameplay– it’s part of the attitude of tackling an enemy, and tearing the obstacles down is part of the triumph of success.
Sometimes I enjoy a game that is mediocre for the heck of it, for the satisfaction of finishing it and exploring all of it, even if it isn’t the greatest hit since Super Mario Bros 3. But often there isn’t much to say in its favour because the good part was very simply that it was a playable game, whereas there are plenty of things to criticise because games inherently throw negative things at players so that there’s something to overcome.
Perhaps I should give the games I play a rating, or at least a “recommended/not recommended” status. The trouble with that is that it’s usually far more complex. Recommended for who? Rated with what baseline? I’ve tried to stick to descriptions, but that still leaves me feeling that I’ve only conveyed part of the picture. Gaming is a holistic experience that’s very hard to break down. In the end, I think gamers just have to see for themselves.