Experienced Points: Your Favorite Game Sucks

By Shamus Posted Friday Sep 24, 2010

Filed under: Column 80 comments

Looking back, I kind of wish I’d combined this week’s column with last week’s. It’s one of those situations where I had one-and-a-half points to make. A bit big for one column, but too small for two. Ah well.

I suppose I chafe more than most at fanboys because they really hate the work I do here. I prefer to write about stuff that’s broken in games and talk about how gameplay or story could have been done better, because those are interesting conversations. But fanboys simply can’t wrap their heads around this sort of conversational analysis and keep trying to see it as a thumbs up / thumbs down review. A common demand is “YOU NEED TO TALK ABOUT THE GOOD PARTS OF THE GAME.” Which isn’t really true. My goal is to talk about the stuff that interests me, not offer consumer advice. I see that most people leaving comments have already played a game or made their decision not to buy it. We’re just talking about stuff the way friends do.

Ann: Did you see that part of the movie where the hero jumped out of the helicopter and didn’t die because he landed on a bad guy? I thought that was lame.

Bob: Me too.



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80 thoughts on “Experienced Points: Your Favorite Game Sucks

  1. toasty_mow says:

    For the record, I love your blog because you talk about the awesome and/or lame stuff at levels professional reviewers on the “big sites” like Gamespot don’t. Gamespot mentions the good, the bad, and the stuff they kinda liked in a short article. You give us pages of in depth character analysis on Mass Effect. That mass effect series, not any review or comments my friends made. So yea… I love your stuff.

    1. Volatar says:

      Yes! I agree wholeheartedly. I love what you do. Don’t stop doing it.

  2. Shamus – Please don’t be discouraged by the vocal minority. There are MANY of us who truly enjoy your writing and the topics you cover.

    I wonder how many of these “fanboys” are under the age of 18 and don’t truly appreciate the value of $60 and what it takes to earn it?


    1. Heron says:

      Seconded. I come here for exactly what you’ve been writing, so pay no attention to the fanboys :)

    2. HeadHunter says:

      …and I wonder how many of these fanboys would be willing to put their money where their mouth is…

      “OK, fanboy – you seem to like the game so much and you don’t think I’ve given it a chance? I have a deal for you: You buy me a copy of the game and I’ll try it. If I like it, I’ll reimburse you. If I don’t, you’re out the money and you have to somehow make up for the time I wasted trying it. You can either pay me what I’d have earned putting in some overtime at work, or there’s some work to be done around the house here.”

      Aww, come on Fanboy? How do you know if it’s a good deal unless you try it? :)

  3. Andy_Panthro says:

    That was a good read. It felt like you really needed to get that off your chest.

    I decided against reading the comment thread though, in case it ruined my good mood (it is friday after all!)

    One of the things I love to do is dissect a film after I’ve watched it, pick out all the bad bits or the bits that don’t make sense. I’ll do this to films I think are amazing, although of course it tends to be easier with the ones I don’t like so much.

    In game terms, my favourite example would be King’s Quest V. I love that game, but it has a litany of flaws. I’d still rank it as possibly my favourite of the king’s quest series, but perhaps that’s only because it was the first one I completed. It will always hold a special place in my heart, especially the music, but it still has Cedric the owl and numerous dead-end puzzles.

    I think we all need to learn how to take criticism on the chin, or at least to ignore the worst of it.

    1. Jason says:

      A good choice. Never read the comments on the Escapist, unless you really like feeling that the majority of humanity would probably be smarter as zombies.

      1. acronix says:

        This statement applies to a lot of other fora too.

        1. Daemian Lucifer says:

          Id go even further and say that it applies to most(if not all)of humanity.

        2. Irridium says:

          I read the comments of a gamespot article once. Oh man that was sad…

      2. Mari says:

        Call me a misanthropist but I feel that way about most of the human race.

        Also, in reference to taking criticism: My daughter (13) is finally learning what I’ve been trying to teach her in reference to criticism. It’s not always easy but what one must do with it is to evaluate criticism. Do I value the opinion of the critic? Does the critic have any clue about this area of endeavour? Is this criticism just? Do I feel it has merit worth considering further? If the answer to any of these is no, one can feel free to discard the criticism.

        Thus I read Shamus’s critical reviews of video games and carefully think about his points because A) I value his opinion as I find that I agree with it more often than not and B) Shamus is, in fact, a professional in the field of computer games which lends some weight to his opinions. It doesn’t mean I always agree with all of his points but I always find them worth considering. Fanboys rarely fall into a positive on either the first or second question so I tend to write them off fairly quickly.

  4. Jarenth says:

    An alternative titel to previous week’s column could be “Haha, fanboys, they’re pretty strange, am I right?“. This week’s column would then be “No you guys, I wasn’t being serious, this is what I meant!“.

    I fully assume the theme of next week’s Experienced Points will be “You guuuuyyyyyssss!“.

  5. Old_Geek says:

    I only buy a very small fraction of the new games released a year – 3 or 4 at the most. So if I’m even thinking about buying a game I must be fairly intrigued already. That being said, I’m not looking for more people to tell me why I SHOULD buy a game. I already know that. I want someone to tell me why I SHOULD NOT. Then I can weigh everything and make an intelligent choice.

    That is what you Yahtzee do. I don’t have to agree with you all the time to appreciate the help you give in spending my limited game budget.

  6. Falcon says:

    Ahh Shamus, don’t let fanboys discourage you. Their incoherent and/or completely misguided rantings entertaining the more logical of us (at least they do me).
    In regards to the article, the reason number 1 and 2 were pointed out as being an actual good idea is I think people may have misstated the point. They are agreeing with not reviewing something you haven’t played or know you won’t like, when I think a better statement, don’t review something you won’t give a fair chance.
    For example, I detest rap. Can’t stand it. I would be unable to give any rap album a fair chance. I would not review rap, because even if it is the magnum opus of rap, I would pan it mercilessly.
    On the flip side I dislike radio rock (I’m a rock/ metal fan, but tend towards more obscure prog stuff) but could review it, because even though it’s not my cup of tea, I can look at it’s merits and judge it on content fairly.
    Personally I find negative reviews (not ranting) to be the most enlightening. For Inception negative reviews mentioned it being complex, or confusing. To me this was a selling point, and I loved the movie. For Avatar though, the negative reviews pointed out shallow storytelling and a simplistic (or ham fisted) plot. I never saw it in theaters, but did borrow from a friend, and confirmed what I thought, as I didn’t care for it.
    Nothing is perfect, but fanboys don’t recognise that. So Shamus critique away.

    1. I agree totally, and that was kind of the sentiment I was trying to get across last week when I wrote my comment, only expressed in a much more coherent and intelligent fashion.

      I’d almost say that I should probably leave this for the professionals, except I’m attempting, slowly, with much effort, to become a professional, so it’s probably best to say that I just need practice and constructive criticism, ;-)

  7. HDimagination says:

    Of course, there is a third option: ignore. I think that people need a reminder that if they don’t like something, they can just not give it any attention. How much inadvertant publicity is given to things by people who draw attention to it by going off on long rants about things they don’t like? Hell, some people go out of their way on the net (and sadly in RL) to display their ire at a particular product that has destroyed fun for ever in a place where people were calmly talking about something that they enjoy.

    Wouldn’t we just be better off ignoring things we don’t like and focusing on what we do? I know this philosophy shouldn’t extend to all things, like politics, but can’t we save our hate for the things that really deserve it?

  8. Nathon says:

    While reading last week’s column, it took me ’till point #3 to get that it was sattire. I know; I’m slow. Anyway, the fact that #2 gets used by people uninterested in having an intelligent discussion doesn’t invalidate it as a point.

    I mean, sure, I will form opinions about games without playing them because that’s what I have to do in order to not waste all my time and money slogging through the morass. But as you gain notoriety as a “game reviewer,” you’ll naturally attract people to your site who think you’re here to give people advice on which games to buy. And if you were actually reviewing a particular game you hadn’t played, instead of dropping a comment like “that game doesn’t interest me,” it would be a valid criticism of you. Now, I’ve never seen you write anything I’d call a review of a game you hadn’t played, so this stays in the realm of the hypothetical. I just thought I’d point that out for completeness.

    Also, it ties into the beginning of your article where you talk about those marketroids being paid large amounts of money to convince people that they’ll like games they’ve never played. It’s difficult to make the video game purchasing decisions without reading things from people like you who will comment on how fun the game is, instead of how shiny the bling-mapping is, or how large the marketing budget is.

    Anyway, I know you get fanboy idiots popping up here from time to time and I appreciate your scrubbing of the comment thread. We all feel for you, having to read that trash.

  9. GreyDuck says:

    Speaking as a Carl, you need to talk about not all guys named Carl are actually pedantic twits…

    Oh wait, he’s spelled with a ‘C’ and not a ‘K’? Yeah, those guys are dorks. Heh.

  10. Dev Null says:

    If you like a thing, then its worth critiquing. If you don’t like it – I mean at all; nothing about it – then why bother?

    Corollary: If you didn’t pay enough attention to a thing to find _something_ wrong with it, then you obviously didn’t care that much.

    Disclaimer: I often ignore my own advice when I just feel like ranting about the utter terribleness of a thing to get the vitriol off my chest. (Fantasy novels drive me to this with annoying regularity.)

    Also, do not under any circumstances attempt to apply the above rule to interpersonal relationships. You were warned.

    1. SKD says:

      Except of course if you are the female member of the relationship, then it is your duty to critique every single flaw in great detail and keep accurate mental records for the rest of eternity. :P

  11. Specter says:

    I’m driving my missus nuts with this attitude as well (at least when it comes to movies):
    I encourage her to watch a movie with me, I love the movie, yet after it’s done I pick it apart and bash everything illogical or stupid into tiny little bits until there is nothing left but a stain in the carpet.
    then she’s all surprised “but I thought you liked it?!”
    explaining this to to her is like explaining it to a fanboy, minus all the hate, plus a lot of confussion, head-shaking and muttering “what did I do to deserve someone like you?”…

    1. Volatar says:

      I do the same thing! During the movie even. It drives my mom crazy.

      TVTropes has ruined me.

      1. Drew says:

        Oh man, TVtropes. Going to have to second this.

        1. krellen says:

          TVTropes has a trope telling you of this exact effect.

          Because I’m feeling generous today, I shan’t link it.

          1. Blake says:

            Thank you, I nearly lost my entire morning there.

  12. Chris says:

    N-thing the love for your reviewing. If I want to hear how great a game is, I’ll just read the back of the case it comes in.

  13. Caffiene says:

    I would like to put in a vote for Carl’s appearance in a future Stolen Pixels.
    He made me laugh. Out loud. :)

    1. Halfling says:

      But Carl is such a fan boy douche. Do we really want to encourage him?

      1. X2-Eliah says:

        It’s that side of Shamus that’d be interesting to see.

  14. Daemian Lucifer says:

    You say that marketing people arent evil.But how do you explain this then: http://xkcd.com/641/

    That thing about not having an opinion on a game before you play it,it only applies to regular people.Professional reviewers should always try to be as objective as humanly possible.At least,in theory that is how it should be.

    Also,people are defensive towards games they own,because its their hard earned money theyve spent,and they need as much justification as possible.And if you point them how theyve made a mistake,theyd be pretty pissed off.

    1. Lanthanide says:

      Actually a lot of them are probably pirates and didn’t pay anything.

    2. swimon says:

      Actually I disagree about the professional reviewers. I think a big problem reviewers have is that they give off an air of impartiality and officialism but that’s all a lie. You can’t, per definition, judge how you feel about something objectively. I think that the only really professional way to review something is to be up front about the fact that everyone has different tastes and biases.

      1. Old_Geek says:

        That’s why you try and find a reviewer whose objectivity mostly lines up with yours. Then you have more of a chance of liking and disliking the same games and they can say you a few bucks by steering you away from some crapholes.

      2. Ernheim says:

        But there is something wrong with a reviewer who actively dislikes a given genre reviewing a game of that genre. Somebody who knows how to play the game and knows what the fans will be looking for has to write the review; somebody who will bash it for generally not appealing to him merely serves to recommend or dissuade newcomers- not tell long time fans anything useful.

    3. Another Scott says:

      Well that just sent me off on another XKCD binge. Thanks Daemian!

  15. asterismW says:

    “You shouldn’t have an opinion on a game until you’ve played it. This is a horrible and self-destructive attitude to take.”

    Agreed. This is equivalent to my friend trying to get me to eat a Cheez Whiz-stuffed Oreo. I don’t like Oreos, and I don’t like Cheez Whiz; why on earth would I like the two together? All the raving in the world is not going to make me think they’re any less gross.

    1. Daemian Lucifer says:

      Actually it is possible for 2 horrible things to make something exquisite.For example,I hate greaves,though most people in my country love them(and I cant imagine why),and Im not fond of salty muffins(thats the closest thing I couldve think of to translate the name of the food),but these two together make for a dish I simply love.Its weird.

      1. Lanthanide says:

        Greaves are like armored shoes…

        1. Daemian Lucifer says:

          And a type of awful food as well.

        2. Moridin says:

          Pants, not shoes.

    2. Keeshhound says:

      I’m sorry, I just have to know; has anyone actually tried to get you to eat that, or were you just making an example?

    3. HeadHunter says:

      For those people who have asked me “How can you judge something if you’ve never tried it?” my customary response is “Would you like to eat a shit sandwich?”

      Apologies if I’ve offended anyone, but I think it makes the point very clearly. As Shamus has said, everyone judges things they don’t like without trying them.

      Knowing what one likes and does not like is an indicator of an individual with a discerning opinion. That’s a positive trait in my book.

      The real problem with fanboys is that they are incapable of articulating any real reasons one should like the thing they advocate. Telling me that I’m a retard for not sharing your rabid enthusiasm is not going to convert me to your cause.

      There are some games and other forms of entertainment that I took a liking to much later than the rest of the crowd – if someone had been able to illustrate the reasons that I would like it, rather than leaving it to me to discover them afterwards, I might have been an early adopter.

      1. acronix says:

        I think every reason the fanboy uses to convince anyway is always a version of “That´s wrong! was awesome! Also, you suck!”

        I mean, k´mon. Who wouldn´t be convinced by that?

  16. Aldowyn says:

    I try really hard to be objective when I’m discussing a game, especially the ones I like. Look at my comments on the ME2 articles here. It’s probably my favorite game EVER (I didn’t notice most of the plot holes my 1st time through. Or at least didn’t care as much.), but I think I did a good job of having a logical discussion.

    On another note, I judge games before I play them all the time. For example, I’m recording a podcast sometime this weekend about Reach, but I haven’t played. I’ve just read a ton of previews, reviews, and I’ve heard a little bit of first-hand opinions and seen some of it live. I can still have an informed opinion on the game, and it may even be the better for it, if a bit lacking in original points. I occasionally do the same thing on my blog, but most of the time I’ll talk about something a bit more general if I’m not playing a game that I want to talk about.

    1. krellen says:

      Tangentially to this, the only time I go out of my way to point out flaws in games and why they shouldn’t be the way they are, even if I haven’t played them, is if there is a number after their name.

      1. Jarenth says:

        You’d have ignored Mass Effect 2’s myriad flaws if they’d just titled it Mass Effect Harder instead?

        1. krellen says:

          It’s possible. I don’t judge Fallout Tactics particularly harshly, despite the many liberties with the setting it takes.

  17. Agiel7 says:

    Really the only article that you wrote that I had a problem with was that “interview” with that Obsidian “representative” over the Fallout: New Vegas trailer.

    Honestly, you can’t knock on a game for being brain-dead because of the trailer having a bigger explosions-to-seconds ratio than a Michael Bay film when you have a cinematic like this for Jane’s Longbow 2.


    Sure the intro has all-American gunships mercilessly blowing up Iranian armour to a rocking guitar solo playing in the background, but make no mistake, this game is probably more mentally engaging than the most micromanagement intensive RPGs and RTSes out there.

    1. Volatar says:

      I call anecdotal evidence on that one. There seems to be a clear correlation between such trailers and the games they are advertising. Your example is just an exception, and there are always exceptions.

      1. Agiel7 says:

        I mean, the Fallout trailer doesn’t show off the much touted improvements to the persuasion system of New Vegas, nor does it advertise its revamped companion interface insomuch as the Longbow 2 intro doesn’t show off the finer points of working the AH-64D’s avionics, fire-control radar, IHADDS and TADS displays, and helmet-slaved infra-red and daylight television cameras (we’re talking about a game manual that has as many pages between the covers as a college civics text-book, with Falcon 4.0 and all the mods people have added over the years, we’re on the order of War and Peace). And you wouldn’t believe it from watching that cinematic, but Longbow actually has a very involving and plausible geo-political story (helps that it was written with the aid of professional political analysts).

        Another reader lampshaded this as well (using games like Planescape Torment and Baldur’s Gate as examples). His words: “People don't seem to know how to market story-heavy RPGs. New Vegas would not be the first.”

    2. Daemian Lucifer says:

      But its not just the trailer.Its a well known developer working with a well known base product.

  18. BarGamer says:

    It being late, and having just ate, so all my brain-blood was in my stomach, I struggled to remember who Ann, Bob, and Carl were. And then I was like, “A, B, C names. DOH!”

    1. wtrmute says:

      Yeah, that’s why I try to keep to the standard names when I give my examples. But it admittedly wasn’t hard to figure out what Shamus was going for…

  19. Meredith says:

    Personally, I often find a thoughtful but negative review more useful than one that’s just praise and hype.

    As for what you do here, and some of the commenters have mentioned doing, I think as nerds we’re somehow predisposed to tear apart the things we love. We tend to give the harshest criticism to the things we enjoy most. Just look at the number of Star Wars parodies out there. Realising that something has flaws just means one took the time to think about it (sometimes too much).

    Fanboys are just looking for validation of their life choices in video game reviews, which is silly and self defeating.

  20. MogTM says:

    You’re either overlooking the awesome story or you’re judging a game on the story when you shouldn’t … No matter how someone expresses their dissatisfaction with a game, a fanboy will be there to let them know they’re doing it wrong.

    Some of this is true. But I wonder how much comes from reasonable people piping up only when they disagree. For example, thinking that story tends to be important enough that most reviews should focus on it is not an absurd position — in fact, it’s one I share. On the other hand, thinking that games are fundamentally about gameplay and reviews should focus on how fun a game is to play is a reasonable point of view.

    As a result, reasonable people could criticize a review for either approach. Any one person who holds both views is just being silly. But as a group, people can attack from both sides. This has less to do with the fact that some people are immature fanboys and more to do that people differ in their views on what makes a good game/game review.

    As the old saying goes, “you can’t please everyone”

    1. Kanodin says:

      That’s all logical, but the problem I see in claiming either “all reviews should focus on story” or “story is never important” is that it’s not actually a complaint about the review. Instead it is simply a statement that you and the reviewer hold different values. So in raising this issue what do you accomplish? The only way it could seem to accomplish anything is if you believe your values are the only possible or only correct ones. In that case you have still entered the realm of the unreasonable fanboy I’d say.

      1. MogTM says:

        There is some truth to that. But, from the fanboys’ perspective, it can be quite hard to tell the difference.

        As a non-gaming example, I am a student at a small college in the US. If someone criticized my school for not having the resources of a large research university, I would feel fully justified in telling them (in no uncertain terms) that they were evaluating us on the wrong criteria and were vastly uninformed.

        The analogy may not be perfect, but I feel that even rational and calm people can easily slide into vocal defense of something they care about when it appears to be attacked unfairly.

        Which is not to say that any reviewers’ attacks are unfair. But when fans come with “different values” it is almost inevitable that at least some attacks will seem that way to even the most reasonable set of fans.

    2. Ernheim says:

      Or, one could hold that depending on the game’s intention, the story’s importance could be larger or smaller.

      Judging a Mario game harshly for its lack of story, for example, would be unfair, since story isn’t the point; people who want story will avoid it, people who want Mario will play it.

      Conversely, ignoring Mass Effect’s story would be unfair, since it’s that game’s main draw.

      One’s feelings on what a game ought to do affects what you choose to buy, but a review ought to focus on what it’s TRIED to do and how well it’s achieved that/ how good that thing is.

  21. Jep jep says:

    I think part of the problem is not necessarily fanboys per se, but people who object to obvious non-objective opinions said in the public (which sadly also often are the fanboys, but not always though). There’s a lot of demand these days to treat anything and everything on equal terms, and a lot of people seem to apply same philosophy to almost every other area of their lives, even ones that never really asked for it.

    It is a ridiculous standard to apply to video games, and any entertainment in general, but suppose some just like living too much in their bloated bubbles of complacency.

    I like reading this blog and your articles precisely for the reasons you stated above. There should be more of this kind of discussion all around.

    1. MogTM says:

      Another word in defense of fanboys: there is a fine line between arguing that others cannot hold different opinions about subjective matters (which is silly) and simply disagreeing with those opinions (which is reasonable).

      Some issues are a pure matter of taste: is coffee tastier than tea. There is no room for rational arguments about these tastes.

      But some arguments are a hybrid: is Starbucks coffee shop better than Seattle’s Best coffee shop. There are still some matters of taste here — the taste of the coffee, what type of atmosphere one likes, etc. But there is also room for argument, even between people who realize that tastes can vary, and there may never be a true answer.

      Fanboys are certifiably annoying. But I worry that we may be too quick to lump this second form of disagreement in with the truly obnoxious fanboys.

      1. HeadHunter says:

        Actually, that’s an easy argument to settle when you know these simple facts:

        Seattle’s Best is a subsidiary company of Starbucks.
        Starbucks only purchases the best 3% of coffee beans sold worldwide.

        It follows then, that the beans used by Seattle’s Best are those that were passed over by their parent company as below standard.

        Now, don’t get me wrong – I’m not saying that Seattle’s Best sucks or that people have no valid reason to prefer it – but the only defense a “fanboy” could offer against those facts would be to imply that Starbucks doesn’t know how to select a quality bean – and I think that even most people who don’t like Starbucks for whatever reason would agree that their roasters know their profession better than anyone else.

        Sorry, I don’t mean to take your hypothetical example into the realm of real discussion, but coffee is something I’m passionate about. :)

        1. MogTM says:

          See, this is my point.

          There are enough objective facts that you are willing to tell me I’m wrong about there being no clear answer. In the same way that there are objective facts about graphics, or pretty widely agreed upon facts about quality of story in games. I never claimed that there are no good reasons for rationally choosing one over the other — I’m sure there are. Indeed, the very fact that there are these reasons, means that you are not being an absurd fanboy for telling me I’m wrong; in an area of pure taste (chocolate vs. vanilla ice cream,) only a crazy person would argue that they can prove one to be better.

          Yet at the same time, I believe that a supporter of Seattle’s Best could come in and offer a reasonable defense. I don’t know what that would be — I judge coffee almost entirely on how well it will help me finish a paper at 4:00am, and thus have no relevant opinion. But based on their continued existence, someone must like them, and I imagine one such person could have a reasonable argument with you.

  22. Otters34 says:

    I must admit, the question as to”Why watch if you don’t like?”, is pretty clear.

    Not being a fan of Mr. Croshaw’s Zero Punctuation(which has slowed enormously, by the way)videos, I find it most vividly exemplified in his work. Satirist(or parody maker or whatever) he may be, but nearly every negative word out of his mouth reeks of a desire to be superior.

    In relation to the video Mr. Young mentioned, about SSBB, he made it in response to requests, and bashed it, and then insulted misspelled comments that resulted from the bashing. The problem comes from two angles: One, SSBB is a Wii game, and Mr. Croshaw hates the Wii for some reason. Second, it’s popular, and not the popular in the tout le monde way either, I mean Herr Sechsatz popular, where the unwashed, the unexceptional, the people who don’t understand how getting eight stars so you can get a different ending is supposed to be fun.

    In short, it’s for a system he doesn’t(at least his stage persona doesn’t) like, and the sort of people that probably annoy Mr. Croshaw in real life are mad about it. So his fanbase(who take every video as Our Father’s infallible doctrine)asks him to review, to bask in the collective glory of the sort of person they want to be like ragging a game they may or may not like themselves to a degree it may or may not be totally undeserved.

    Less diatribely, I think it has to do with showing you aren’t unsophisticated enough to just enjoy something.

    1. HeadHunter says:

      Let’s not EVER use the Wii as an example of “sophistication”, shall we? ;p

      1. Otters34 says:

        I wasn’t, a console isn’t intellectually sophisticated, it can’t be. But a mindset can be, and the idea of mocking something you admit to loving strikes me as an attempt to have the benefits of sophisticated taste without paying the price of it deciding what you really enjoy.

        If that is either true or coherent, I claim no part in making it so.

  23. eri says:

    The entire point of my own blog is to get beyond examining things as simple as “is it good or not?” I could not be more bored with current games “journalism” and find myself utterly disgusted with most of the people who get paid to be in such an industry, as well as the pathetically poor work that they do. Games lack any sort of even vaguely mainstream outlet with regard to social commentary, and that is not a good thing, even for a relatively primitive medium. We need to talk about what games have to say, and not just whether or not they’re “fun” or not – of course, that stuff is important, but I think we’re at a point now where most games are mechanically competent enough that we don’t have to spend hours debating who has the shinier graphics or the better pacing. Talking about what games do well, what they do wrong, and then examining why they do those things is important, but we also have to pay attention to their messages as well. Twenty Sided tends to straddle the line between both, dipping into one side or the other, and I’m thankful for having that level-headed balance when it comes to discussing games.

  24. silver says:

    I have an opinion: getting my finger nails ripped off would be something terrible.

    I’m not going to intentionally give it a try.

    However – even if unasked, I may well tell people how terrible I think it would be just because I feel like saying it. I don’t need a reason to express this opinion, and I don’t need to justify my expressing that opinion, and I especially don’t need anyone’s permission to express this opinion.

    Some people feel that reviewers need a reason, justification, or permission to express an opinion they hold, but I do not believe this is so. Even more so, non-reviewers who merely have blogs about whatever fancies them have even less (so we’re into negative values here) need for reason, justification, or permission to express their opinions. Even their opinions about things they haven’t tried.

    1. Agiel7 says:

      A masochist might disagree…

      But it all comes down to taste. Some people think I’m insane for adoring ambitious, but buggy, poorly localized, and offbeat PC games from the former Communist Bloc (i.e. STALKER, Boiling Point, King’s Bounty, Cryostasis, The Void, ArmA II, Silent Storm, etc.) but I’ll insist they at least try them out in the hopes that they’ll see the light.

      Sure Dragon Age and Baldur’s Gate have engaging plots, but I’ve yet to see Bioware match the ludicrous inventiveness and beautiful insanity of the folks behind King’s Bounty, as this article can attest to:


      1. krellen says:

        King’s Bounty was pretty cool.

        1. Daemian Lucifer says:

          Heck yeah.Plus,it beats these new dumbed down heroes and disciples effortlessly.

  25. Agiel7 says:

    Disciples III I didn’t have any problems with. Yes, the gameplay was sort of “meh” after playing Armoured Princess. But you have to admit, the art was absolutely stunning (more than I could say about Dragon Age, unfortunately).

  26. kingcom says:

    Personally i find you need to play a game to understand it and form some sort of clear opinion. Sure you can form an opinion purely from the cover but it doesnt mean its exactly well thought out. Thats a large part of the medium, the whole playing part.

    1. HeadHunter says:

      You’re ignoring the fact that if you’ve already bought the game, you don’t need a review to influence your purchasing decision.

  27. KrazyKarl says:

    A problem I have with ‘I didn’t play it, but my opinion is…”:

    There is a world of difference between “I didn’t play it, but I don’t like that type of game, anyway” and “I didn’t play it, but that game WILL SUCK, because I don’t like that kind of game”

  28. ThatGuy says:

    I feel a lot of people probably said they considered #2 valid because we were considering it from YOUR point of view Shamus.
    If someone is writing a review or making an opinion known as a representative of a publication (be it a website or in print) then yeah we expect you guys to have given it a fair go.

    But John Smith saying he thinks Halo sucks in a forum comment? I’m prepared to accept he doesn’t think it’s his cup of tea without having to go pony up his cash.

  29. (LK) says:


  30. Integer Man says:

    Heh. Now I kind of want to see what it feels like when you play a game I love. Maybe Civ 2 or 4, X-Com, Freelancer, Half Life, or a classic Sierra adventure game.

    Sadly, the only ones of these that would be even remotely good for a Lets Play is the original Half Life.

    Oh well, I guess that’s what I get for liking older games of non-popular genres.

  31. Chris says:

    Now I’m just curious about what it was that set you off…

    I do like in-depth analysis and criticism. But I also think it’s healthy to balance that out with some contrast. No you don’t _have_ to say nice things, but constantly picking everything apart and never talking about the good stuff leads to a dark place.

    I also don’t agree that it’s okay to spout criticism about something you haven’t experienced. Hating on a game without playing it makes you as bad as a fanboy (actually that’s exactly one of the things fanboys do). You can choose to not play it, and risk potentially missing out on something surprising. That’s totally reasonable. But it’s different when you take your lack of real experience and vocalize ignorance.

    After that article I think it’s time for Shamus Plays Farmville and Shamus Reads Twilight.

  32. DarkLadyWolf says:

    “Reviews” of games are common; you can find any number without trying to hard. Actual analysis of games is a lot harder to find, and one thing I love about what you do. Then again, I’m also the sort of person who enjoys seeing how “magic” works and you tend to do that for games, or bits of games.

    Keep it up! You can’t win with Fanboys/girls anyway, so you might as well not play that game.

  33. ClearWater says:

    Awesome article, and a good complement (or what’s the word?) to the previous one!

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