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July 22, 2013 | by  | in Arts Games |
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Bad Games

Basically all of the games I own are great. Every single one is a critically acclaimed masterpiece, a tour de force of storytelling, or expertly crafted work that will surely be recorded in the (internet) annals of video games. But it’s becoming clear to me that this is an issue. Just like you shouldn’t eat ice-cream and steak (in that order) for every meal, I’m starting to realise you should play some 6/10s or 7/10s with your 10/10s.

We’re all students and, let’s be honest, we’re sort of poor. We can’t afford to impulse-buy any random game off a shelf because it looks like it might maybe possibly be okay, much less buy a brand-new game on release date. Sure, there are more expensive hobbies (skiing, skydiving, meth), but video games can definitely end up costing quite a bit, both in hardware and in games. This means the student gaming enthusiast needs to do a lot of research and thinking before making any purchase.

Every console game I’ve bought in the last year has been the result of reading half-a-dozen different reviews, weighing the game up against any others that came out at the same time and then waiting months for the price to drop to something more reasonable. I want to be sure I get a basically flawless game and not feel the sting of buyer’s remorse. After carefully weighing up the decision against rent payments and grocery bills, I’ll always wait for a sale to stretch my student-dollars as far as possible before tentatively taking the plunge.

This slow, meticulous process means that my game shelf is the cream of the crop, the best of the best, and even one other cliché to describe how good they are. There’s your Assassin’s Creeds, your Skyrims, your Grand Theft Autos – only games that have been highly reviewed and almost unanimously agreed to be awesome. On the one hand, buying quality games really slowly makes sure I’ve got time to fully experience them, and they’re always fantastic. On the other, not playing bad or less-mainstream games means I’ve got nothing to compare the good ones to, no baseline.

Last week, I borrowed my friend’s copy of Dragon’s Dogma (Capcom, 2012). It’s enjoyable and has an addictive combat system. It also has a meandering plot, terribly written ‘ye-olde-English’ dialogue, some crappy menus and pretty ugly graphics. I took a shot in the dark and tried something different, and let me tell you – playing a game that wasn’t immaculate was a breath of fresh air. A game having flaws might mean it doesn’t hit 10/10, but it doesn’t necessarily mean that there’s nothing at all in there of value, and certainly doesn’t mean it should be totally ignored, ostracised and never mentioned again in the light of day.

Being able to appreciate a game despite its flaws (and sometimes because of them) is a rewarding experience, as is getting the chance to be respectfully critical of a game. You’re encouraged to think about which parts are bad and why, which are good and why, and whether the positives outweigh the negatives. To get a decent perspective on video games, you need a baseline to compare them to, and you can’t possibly get this by only playing a sample of the best games. Go wild, try something new and potentially terrible – but make sure you consider why you think it’s terrible. Take my advice – give a shite game a go.

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