That Game You Love Can Be Bad

(Re-posted from The Verge)

I think it's very, very important that gamers start to understand that games can be viewed and assessed objectively. That your beloved game can actually be pretty stinky, while that game you hate can actually be pretty damn impressive.

Good and Bad do exists, they are not the same as Like and Dislike. We all have our opinions on games, and that is a great thing. But we should also accept that as well as our subjective stance on game, there is also an objective one. Sometimes they both with cross at some point and it'll be clearer why you actually like a game. It may even clear up why you like that bad game too. There could be an objective component that is actually good buried under all of the junk.

Before you assess a game objectively, you need to strip it apart and view it as many elements. It's not looking at the 'big picture', it's burying your head in an engine and seeing which cogs and gears are running well, and which just aren't doing what they should.

In addition to stripping down the game, you need to create context. The graphics for a game, compare the style, the technical aspects, the way it ties to the games direction, and then look at them objectively. The colour palette maybe suitable for game A, but not for game B. This is your context.

Dissection and Context

So how about things like story? Well, these can be objectively assessed too. Context and Dissection. Look at the characters, their supposed importance and their actual importance. What you know about them and how they act and react to the scenarios that they are in. The pacing of the story and the focus at certain points, does it divert purposefully or not, does it flesh out aspects that are not integral to the rest of the narrative. Is it inconsistent and poorly worded. You may love the fact that boy and girl get together in the end, but it does not mean that the story is good. You just liked it. And that's fine.

Being able to judge your games objectively is incredibly useful for the progression of the medium. We need to know what really works and what doesn't. We need to know what isn't good enough, and what is simply unacceptable. We also need to know what is good too. Games can be looked at subjectively and objectively, so do both if you can. It can actually be really cool if you do.

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