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The FEAR: Criticizing your way out of enjoyment

6:46 PM on 10.31.2008 // Tubatic

[Editor's note: Tubatic wants everyone to STFUAJPG. -- CTZ]

Sometimes, you seriously need to STFUAJPG.

Things are different now that game news comes quicker than once a month or word of mouth. There are shows about videogames, by the hour updates to a multitude of big corporate and indy gameblogs and Web sites. Not to mention the multitude of discussions happening on any number of game forums. Along with rapid fire news, opinions and discussions on games -- they're flying acros the screen faster than the speed of forming an informed opinion. On any given day, the drama and venom of everyone's opinions can engross a significant chunk of your time and mindshare.

Meanwhile, you're not playing games. And isn't that what all this talk is about in the first place?

The FEAR? Its a fear of becoming so critically minded that we critique ourselves out of the pure wonder and enjoyment of playing games that we afforded ourselves as younger or otherwise less tethered gamers. 


Ever since I was about eleven/twelvish, I really liked the concept of maintaining a young mind. Beyond thinking a grown man owning an amusement park in his backyard was the most amazing thing, I also started to garner nuggets and tidbits about being youth minded. Children can learn languages easier than adults. Supposedly, children have a natural predisposition to psychic attunement, which they grow out of as they get older. Kids dance like nobody's watching and have a stupid good time. It all glommed together and has shaped at least a part of how I try to approach life in general. And I guess I'm a little happier for it.

Unfortunately, I see a lot of people growing up and getting incredibly serious about their appreciation of games. To the point, I fear, that people are placing such a critical eye on evaluation and nit-pick that they are unable to see the forest for the trees.

Its something I see off and on in reviews. Some sites and publications like to use an Overall or "Fun Factor" stat in their detailed evaluations. A stat to describe the indescribable. I think a lot of what a game ends up being, and why so many games illicit deep fond memories, is truly beyond the sum of its parts.

Take for example, Katamari Damacy. On paper, this probably wouldn't be a strong
sales pitch. Taken as a graphical experience, its substandard. Taken as an aural experience alone, its questionable. The controls alone are arguably horrible for what the goal is, and maybe even mimic rolling to a fault. Have you ever tried describing this game to a friend? It sounds ridiculous, and you know it. But, the full effect, upon playing, is something that defies critical nitpick to some degree. Isn't there something intangible and satisfying about rolling up stuff in a ball, like lint or chewing gum? That's fun, but not something built on the sum of its critically faulty details.

And what concerns me about my fellow community members, is that we can all get
very caught up in critical banter. Its fun in itself, to feel clever, self righteous, edgy, right, what have you. But ultimately, I think, its much more satisfying to just sit at a game and enjoy the experience of it, inspite of malformed details. Reverend Anthony made some allusion to this idea in his review of Fable II. In spite of bugs, clipping issues, clunky menu navigation, limitations and missed considerations by the Lionhead team, there's an greatly enjoyable game experience in all that not-quite-baked goo. To the point where these flaws do little to impede on the full effect.

I've caught myself sometimes processing other people's opinions on games and
game criticism. Its very easy to take those ideas in, adopt them as your own, and let that paint your otherwise wondrous gaming experience. Its sometimes best, I think, to just turn off that critical detail whore in your mind, boot up your game and just let the fuck go. Wanting a game to be better than it is is no way to find a good time. Opinions are great, opinions are fun, opinions are usually interesting. But when it comes down to it, the fun you have is the fun you let yourself have.

My FEAR, my friends, is that I'll lose site of that. If I ever lose sight of that, I would hope that someone out there would be so kind as to tell me plainly to STFUAJPG.

What do you think, Destructoid? Is critical thinking important to enjoying these modern games? Does a clean slate approach actually over-simplify one's appreciation of a game?

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