Tuesday, August 2, 2011

Fun Factor

Remember the old GamePro review format? It used four separate scores; Graphics, Sound, Control, and "FunFactor." There was also Challenge, but that typically didn't have a numerical rating. Typically fun factor tended to end up as an average of the other three scores, although I recall GamePro stating otherwise. I guess it was just how things worked. I mean if the graphics, control, and sound weren't up the par, you probably weren't having fun, right?

This is all conjecture, but I feel like these days most game reviews allow the other three to overshadow whether or not a game is fun. Not every game in existence has the budget of Infinity Ward or Nintendo. Graphics will not always be amazing, sound will not always have Nobuo Uematsu, and control will not always have Shigeru Miyamoto demonstrating it while at an overblown press conference. And yet it seems that any shortcomings in these three areas results in an immediate dismissal of a game's potential fun. Typically we let low budget independently developed titles to get away with those three shortcomings based on how charming or amazing it is, and that's perfectly fine. That being said, why do most gamers feel the need to not give mid size developers the same benefit?

It's not always the case. Even I know that. Oni controlled terribly and as a result I almost sold my PS2. (Thank the powers that never happened!) On the other hand, I've seen perfectly fun games ripped into by people for the silliest of reasons. One of my coworkers out right refused to even try Earth Defense Force: Insect Armageddon simply on the grounds that it didn't look like whatever brown shooter he was playing. I know that there are plenty of fair minded gamers out there. I've talked to quite a few of them on Twitter. So by no means is this any sort of blanket statement.

Still, everyone has an opinion. I've accepted that, although I also am allowed to have the opinion that some opinions are stupid. Just like how someone reading this is allowed to think that this post is stupid.

It's really hard to sum this up in some nice neat package, but next time you're validating a game's existence, ask yourself "Did you have fun?"

(I actually hate SpongeBob but even I couldn't resist this image)

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