Thursday, July 2, 2015

Wildly different interests in video games

This is not criticism against the individual tastes of anybody. It's just a curious observation I wanted to write about.

It's of course completely normal and to be expected that different people like different things, and these different interests may differ quite wildly. I still find it curious, for example in the realm of video games. In some cases I might even find it a bit difficult to understand.

Take the game Portal, for instance. This is a very innovative, and very critically acclaimed video game. For example, it has a user score of 9.4 out of 10 at Metacritic, and a 98% approval rate in Steam from over 18 thousand user reviews, if those are any indication.

Yet, as you may notice eg. from the Steam reviews, it's not 100%. There are, in fact, people who gave it a negative review. Of course many of them are probably just trolls, but a good portion of those negative reviews are likely by people who genuinely disliked the game.

In fact, I once had a conversation online with a person who didn't even finish the game because he found it so boring and uninteresting. And this isn't even some overly long 50-hour game. Even on a first playthrough it's probably less than 10 hours. You could essentially play this through in one sitting, in your very first playthrough. Yet there are people who tried the game and didn't even complete it. I would be lying if I claimed that this doesn't baffle my mind in any way (although, as said, I do understand that different people have different tastes.)

There are people who, generally, don't seem to like the same games as the vast majority of other people do. These are gamers who often find critically acclaimed games boring or uninteresting, or otherwise dislike them, for one reason or another. For example I have a friend who finds the game The Last of Us boring and hasn't played it but just a bit, even though this is also a magnificent game that's critically acclaimed.

Incidentally, this same person consumes online multiplayer first-person shooters like candy, and plays hundreds of hours of them. A genre that I personally find boring to the extreme.

I can't help but hypothesize a correlation between those two things, at least in the case of many gamers: Innovative and heavily story-driven games, vs. mindless repetitive online multiplayer shooters with little to no story. (The way I posed those descriptions might sound like highly biased, but it's not really my intention. I don't deny some bias, but it's not really what I mean.)

Maybe there is a large difference between certain types of players. There are those players who play games because of how the games make them feel: Interesting and engaging story, interesting game mechanics, games that may pose intellectual challenges (eg. in the form of puzzles to be solved), games where there is a progression and reward system (such as role-playing games).

Then there are gamers who play games that are highly competitive (against other players) and require a lot of skill. They are not interested in story or puzzle-solving; they are there to compete against other players in a show of skill that's based on hundreds of hours of practice.

Perhaps that is the crucial difference: Competitive players vs. non-competitive players? (That's not to say that the latter don't enjoy the occasional competitive game. It's just that they are not focused on those, and many might even find them boring.)

Even then, I find it slightly odd that some/many these highly competitive players don't seem to enjoy the heavily story-driven games. It feels like they are missing on so many great games.

1 comment:

  1. I do think you are on to a good point (there may be others though).
    I very well might be your youngest reader here, but I have to say that I absolutely hate any and all violent games. (FPS, any type of shooting/gory games, etc...)
    I haven't yet played portal, but from what I know I think that it will be enjoyable.
    I just can't take the competitiveness, it makes me frustrated and depressed. (A whole slew of nasty feelings)
    I am more sensitive emotionally, does that have anything to do with it? Or maybe I'm just an oddball :P