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Fun Can't Be Scored: A Look At Jaded Gamers And Their Expectations

Whilst perusing the internets for gaming content; I came across and absorbed one review video for Forza 5 from Adam Sessler, and one written review for Resogun. Both reviews gave these games a 5 out of 5 score, and the biggest reason for this (for both games) was due to how much fun the reviewer had with the game.

In the case of Forza 5 in particular, Adam Sessler never reviewed a racing title before due to the nature of needing to constantly replay the game in order to get the most out of the experience. You could clearly see however that his score for the game was reflected purely on how much he enjoyed the game, moreso than any other factor.

Adam's review of Forza 5, or more accurately his score of it, was met by gamers challenging it. The typical reason for disagreeing and challenging his score was due to the fact that Forza 5, in terms of overall content, has the least amount of content in the entire Forza series. It has the least amount of cars, tracks, visual effects such as day/night driving or weather changes are gone, the game releases incomplete and even has a mode where it can effectively play itself. None of these issues were touched upon in the review in the way these people wanted them to be touched upon.

We then look at Resogun, which has been receiving its own share of 5/5, or 10/10 scores and widespread praise. The general opinion is that it's oldschool shootemup fun and the fact that it's highly addictive means you'll play it over and over and just lose yourself in it, whilst reveling in its beautiful colours and effects. This is something I can personally attest to, as it is the game I've played the most on my PS4 thus far.

Resogun reviews have been met with their own challenges however, such as "this game is only 2 hours long?" or "there's only 5 levels" and some claiming that the scores are reflective of the fact that it's free with PS+ rather than being a good game.

Taking this even further, but in the opposite direction, we look at Knack. A game that's been tanking in professional reviews, but spoken fondly of by many in the general public and on Youtube. Reviews say Knack's story is lacking, the voice overs are poor, and the game is "too hard" for being a game marketed towards "children." When we look at how average people are talking about Knack, you have people saying "this takes me back to the good ol' platformer days of Crash Bandicoot" or "I don't understand how this game is scoring so low, I'm having a blast with it."

From all of these reviews and testimonies, we can clearly see 3 things. The first is that the professional game review scene is completely disconnected from the larger gaming audience. This is actually puzzling since reviewers are supposed to be gamers but they often don't sound like they play games for enjoyment at all. I suppose that that's just a by-product of having a job that looks like so much fun, but in actuality is nothing like you imagined it would be.

The second is that gamers have been spoiled by in-depth analyses of games, and lofty expectations that were fed to us by larger gaming studios and the business of gaming in general. These days having mindless fun with a short game is practically not allowed. You're supposed to expect games with a minimum length of 20 hours with the best possible graphics, a perfect story, flawless characters, and emotional voice overs. This is exacerbated by the gaming media as well with their inconsistent expectations for what makes or breaks a game. I'm sure we all have stories about one game being marked down for X reason while another game gets a pass for the exact same problem.

The final thing we can see is that fun can't be measured or scored. Fun is the most subjective aspect in gaming. A million people could absolutely hate a game, and you love it. The reverse is also true. Just because fun can't be measured, is no reason to make sarcastic quips about scoring a game the highest you can because you had so much fun with it. A two hour game with 5 levels may not be fun to you, but you are not the ruler by which fun is measured for everyone.

The problem with gaming today is expectations. From all sides, expectations are what will destroy gaming. We've lost that childlike ability to just pick up any game and have fun with it, not caring about the graphics or the story, or whatever. This is why the indie scene is so desperately needed. It takes us back to that moment when we were kids and were first introduced to video games. All we cared about was that we were controlling something on the screen. 1080p didn't matter, a spot on voice over didn't matter. Hell, Tetris is one of the most successful games in the world and all it is is placing blocks in order to make lines. If Tetris were released today, it would have to be a free game or else it would be blasted to hell and back.

It's fine to love seeing how far games can go, to see how epic they can get, but we have to manage our expectations or that very thing will be the end of gaming. We need to reclaim fun, and be able to be ok with games that are mindlessly addictive fun without dissecting them down to the last pixel and complaining that the story isn't Shakespearean, the graphics aren't photo-realistic, the music isn't a symphony orchestra, and the voice acting isn't Morgan Freeman.

Fun can't be measured, but fun should be the main aspect of any review.

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Roccetarius1611d ago (Edited 1611d ago )

The reviewer can have fun with a game, sure, but it shouldn't be the main aspect of any review. That's up to the player him/herself.

Reviewers should be looking at every piece of content, sum up the good or bad things which relates to story, gameplay mechanics and maybe game breaking bugs.

If the main aspect is fun, then we'll never get proper reviews.

Edit - In this case, you could even mention how barebones the new Forza game is.

DragonKnight1611d ago

I have to disagree with you. Most people aren't going out to buy games thinking about texture pop-in, screen tearing, or whether the story of a game can be studied in a college literature class. So much about a game and whether or not it's "good" is subjective that it's kind of a contradiction to say that reviews shouldn't be about fun, but should focus on these highly subjective aspects of the game.

Reviews are opinions afterall, if they weren't then they wouldn't be reviews they'd be critiques and an entirely different format.

If people are looking to know about what one person thinks about the technology in a game more than if the game is fun, then they are in the wrong hobby in my opinion.

SilentNegotiator1610d ago

You might not be able to measure fun, but I personally believe that you can fairly objectively measure how game mechanics and design work and that better game mechanics/design are much more likely to lead to lasting fun.

Moncole1611d ago (Edited 1611d ago )

Maybe people who say they like games that gets bad scores should explain why they like it because reviewers play yhe game and explain what they think about it. If you like Knack than explain why you like it.

DragonKnight1611d ago

If you, or I, explain why we have a different opinion about a game than a reviewer, it won't matter because we don't have the luxury of our opinion be sought after and supported by corporate money. I can say "Knack is great because it reminds me of old school games" but no one will hear it. Or if they DO hear it, then they'll look at some other site like IGN or whatever and see "4/10" and think the game is not only below average, but broken and nearly unplayable.

The problem is that game reviews have changed so much and are responsible for the attitudes of gamers changing so much, that every single pixel of a game has to be analyzed to the point that fun doesn't even matter because the story isn't MacBeth, or the voice actor has a nasaly voice, or in some instances the textures pop in and, even though you won't notice because you'll be busy playing the game, it's important that you know it's there and are upset about it.

s45gr321611d ago

aI am hoping what you are saying and that gamers should just play the game and enjoy it regardless if it has issues correct. I agree nor disagree I strongly believe that games should be fun and innovative but most of all creative. Now not all games should be fun due to it limits games as just plain mindless fodder which is fine and all ;however, a game that makes you cry, be sad, etc is equally important meaning games should be engaging. Take for example "the walking dead" is not a fun game but is an engaging game just like "to the moon" is also an engaging game. If the game manages to engage the gamer in its world regardless of the score that game has done it's job. The so called professional video game reviews are nothing more than the opinions of game journalists based on whether the reviewer like the game or not. Instead, it should be about a careful examination of the pros and cons of the game in question regardless if the reviewer likes it or not. About the technical side of say game and just rated as buy, rent, or try before you buy no silly score or letter grade this is not school or the food industry. I just wish like you that gamers should let games engaged them in the gaming world regardless if it's fun or not even if you electrocute a cross dresser. I wish the media should stop treating games are for kids mentality that is the major issue...

darthv721611d ago (Edited 1611d ago )

i have long been an advocate on playing games for the fun of it. Fun is subjective but we all can agree that fun is....well...FUN.

its understandable that we cant all agree on what is fun but fun in the overall sense of the word is absolute. Game reviewers do their thing to try and be objective (key word: try) but you just cant help it if there are biases in the way things are perceived. Its human nature.

so many are focused on the things that make up a game (resolution, textures, length) that they more often than not...forget about why we play games in the first place. We play them to escape the reality around us. to either be drawn in to a compelling story of action/adventure or survival horror or just plain old mindless fun.

what really is quite telling of society (gaming society) is how easily the mob mentality can turn on people because an individual enjoys something as simple as angry birds or candy crush and have that person be chastised because the game is what it is. We should just let people be themselves. if we agree to like the same game we can agree to not like the same game and there should be no foul.

i play games because they are fun. always have...always will.

DragonKnight1611d ago (Edited 1611d ago )


The only thing I'd add is that the problem is moving beyond resolution, textures, and length to now include social justice issues that people want to bring up. A game can't be fun unless it passes the Bechdel Test and is comprised of every race on the planet holding hands together in harmony with an acknowledgement of every sexual orientation and gender identity on the planet.

Why can't I just pick up a controller and electrocute some random NPC with my lightning powers anymore without someone telling me that it's sexist if it's a woman, racist if it's not caucasian, and homophobic because he/she may have been gay?

s45gr321611d ago

Games should be engaging and gamers should let games to be engaged in the gaming world of say game regardless of the score. As you so eloquently put it games allows us to escape the reality we live in. I just wish the media should stop treating games are for kids mentality that is the major issue. It's because of the media that pretty much controls the opinions and mentality of gamers from sexist, violence, even to silly stuff like Japanese games are dying when in reality is expanding onto PC and mobile gaming. Like backwards compatibility is not needed, etc........

DestinyHeroDoomlord1611d ago

Your comments always make me smile, you just get it :)

The_KELRaTH1609d ago

I'm not sure if Angry birds is in or out so not sure if you should be chastised or not :)

+ Show (1) more replyLast reply 1609d ago
s45gr321611d ago

According to these dictionaries reviews are not opinions but reports favorable or unfavorable or both in regards to the pros and cons of say product/service carefully examined.

What game journalism offers is the opinions not reviews of the journalist playing the game and give out whether they (journalist) like the game or not. It's time to change opinions into actual reviews of say games, to end the ludicrous score system in exchange for try, buy, or rent. To stop giving high scores to mega franchises just because these franchises are famous, etc.

memots1611d ago

I have noticed that as well.

was watching Angry Joe play Killzone on twitch and he was definitely tired and not having fun since he had to play to put out his review of the game. But how much fun can that be when you are playing games after games after games, At some point this can becomes a task more than something to do for entertainment.

Did we really expect 30 years old gamers that lives in their mother basement writing review to enjoy Knack ? Nope but i sure expect my 6 years old niece to enjoy it.

Roccetarius1611d ago (Edited 1611d ago )

That's what you have to think about, before you become a reviewer. It's inevitable that you'll get tired of it, so you either quit or keep on going.

Like it has been said before, reviewing games in a more or less professional manner, means that you have to provide Pros and Cons for the consumer.

That's not how it works today, so instead we have political opinions and free passes for popular franchises.

Moncole1611d ago (Edited 1611d ago )

Mario 3D World is a kiddy game and gets great scores so stop with that it only gets bad reviews because its a kiddy game. Wanna know why the game got bad scores? Because its a bad game. If you like it than explain why you like it. Dont use that it feels old school.

memots1611d ago (Edited 1611d ago )

I'm 38 years old and I love mario , knack leaves me indifferent , so there you have it

madpuppy1607d ago

I'm 44 years old and ALL Mario games after the N64 are about as fun as drinking flat, out of date cheap beer.

Knack, on the other hand is a pretty fun game in my opinion, It's different, unique, and nice to look at.

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