Friday, February 19, 2010

Did You Have Fun?

Watching reviews for games, I'm noticing an annoying trend. Whenever I engage the entertainment industry I want to do something enjoyable (playing Silent Hill games notwithstanding). Many reviews lately have complained about everything under the sun; the game wasn't realistic enough, it didn't do anything new to revolutionize the genre, Jesus didn't come down from on high and inject pure liquid joy into my eyeballs.

First off, a lot of reviewers seem to expect a gaming revolution every three months. If we applied those same standards to other aspects of our lives then we should have turned into demi-gods of pure energy two centuries ago. As for the realism issue, I'm not a huge fan of realism in my gaming. Many people have complained about how Modern Warfare 2 is less realistic and more like a Michael Bay movie. This is true, but if I demanded more realism from my war games I'd go enlist. Nothing's more realistic than honest-to-God dying when you get shot.

I don't know about other folks anymore, but when I play a video game I want to have a good time playing it (again, Silent Hill doesn't count). It reminds me of an argument I had back when Gladiator and Traffic were competing for Best Picture. Traffic was, in technical terms, the better movie. It was better written, better acted, and better directed. But it was an odd experience, I respected it from an artistic stand point but I wasn't terribly entertained. Gladiator, on the other hand, was over the top and about as historically accurate as Lord of the Rings. But I had fun watching it. And it's kind of the purpose of the entertainment industry to entertain. I'm not saying that an entertaining film can't be intelligent or artfully crafted, I'm just saying I put greater emphasis on enjoying the movie or game. I'll be the first one to admit that some of my favorite games are rather generic, just look at the stuff I've written about Gears of War. But it's a fun game. Hell, I play Dynasty Warriors: Gundam 2, which is essentially Dynasty Warriors 2, 3, 4, and 5, but with giant robots (and sadly it's more of a traditional Dynasty Warriors game than Dynasty Warriors 6, but that's another argument). So to all the people who complain that a video game didn't move them to tears or make them re-evaluate their principles, I have one question. Did you have fun?

SIDE NOTE: I start to wonder if reviewers don't have these complaints because video games are ultimately trivial time wasters, and they have to validate their hobby by depicting it as high art. Even though the definition of a hobby is "an activity or interest pursued for pleasure or relaxation and not as a main occupation" (emphasis added).

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