EXPLORING BAD

I was at my local Best Buy and saw that they had a bunch of Xbox 360 games on sale for $4.99. I don’t think I’ve seen new and still-in-the-package Xbox 360 games for that price. As you can imagine, all of the games on sale for that price were all bottom of barrel as far as quality was concerned. Despite this, I picked up Turning Point: Fall of Liberty. Now I knew even before I took it to the register that this game was bad and that it received terrible reviews. Yet, I bought the game anyways. Why? First, the game is a first-person shooter and I like that genre. More importantly, every so often, I try to play a less than stellar game. The reason I do that is to remind myself separates a good game from the bad ones.

I once had a former co-worker question me why Xbox 360 game history is sporadically littered with game titles that have a critical rating of below a 7/10. He said he doesn’t bother with games unless it gets higher than a 7/10. That’s a perfectly good way to choose games and he mainly receives great game playing experiences from those good titles. For me, I like exploring some of the more poorly received titles. It gives me a chance to really see what how a bad game is presented to a user. What made the game bad? What don’t I like about it? This gives me a great opportunity to contrast it against the really good games I play. I think if you only play great games all the time, it’s possible to not know why a game is so good. The contrast and perspective I get helps me better identify the things that go into making a great game.

Though this is less common with bad games, I also try to see if there is some hidden element in some of these bad games that is surprisingly good. It’s quite possible that a team nailed it with some small part of the game. It doesn’t save the game as a whole but it’s enough to make me notice that it wasn’t a complete failure. Of course, there are some games that don’t have any redeeming qualities and it’s just bad through and through.

As you might expect, I won’t spend 60 hours on a bad game. I try to get through the entire single player portion of the game. I might go through it quicker than usual, so that I don’t waste all my time. I do attempt though, to get the full experience that the developers intended to give me. I won’t skip any cut scenes and once in a while, I’ll just stop to look at the game world. I rarely do any multiplayer on a bad game, for several reasons. First, with bad games, there are basically no players online playing the game anyways. Second, listening to 13 year olds whine on Xbox Live while playing a terrible game is not a pleasant experience.

Lastly, this may sound strange, but once I’m done with a bad game, I usually bring up the credits for the game. I know how tough it is to make a game and a lot of developers could have done a great job on the game and the title still could have turned out like crap. Reading the names of the developers is just something I do because I somewhat understand what they went through.

Next up, Catwoman!

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