[MUD-Dev] DGN: Reasons for play [was: EmergentBehaviorsspawnedfrom...]

Michael Sellers mike at onlinealchemy.com
Thu Oct 6 02:21:14 New Zealand Daylight Time 2005


Sean Howard wrote:
> "Amanda Walker" <amanda at alfar.com> wrote:

>> I agree on My Little Pony, but I don't agree that "a good game is
>> a good game".  There are some with broad appeal, but in general,
>> one person's "good game" is another person's "waste of time."

>> ...

>> "good game" is subjective.

> That's like saying a "good movie" is subjective, and yet somehow,
> despite my wife not being able to sit through it without falling
> asleep 10 minutes in, The Seven Samurai is a "good movie" and
> Dude, Where's My Car? is not.

You know you're proving Amanda's point, right?  We might all agree
here that "The Seven Samurai" is a good, even great movie, while
"Dude, Where's My Car" is puerile nonsense.  But these are
*opinions* -- they're inherently subjective.

Objectively, "Dude Where's My Car" was in the top 10 at the box
office for a month, and made $45M in the theatres plus an additional
$13M in VHS rentals in the first three weeks after its VHS release,
plus an unknown amount of continuing DVD/VHS sales and rentals.

So, does $58M+ in sales make a "good" movie?  At the very least,
it's a clear indication that many people saw and enjoyed the movie
(as is its time in the top ten).  Beyond that, such a question
depends on many more objective factors including how much the movie
cost to make and what its ROI expectations were -- entirely apart
from whether the movie itself was well-crafted, acted, written, or
directed.

> The reason for this is because we have a more complex way of
> objectifying movies than we do games. The Seven Samurai uses
> excellent composition, visual metaphors, a well structured plot,
> and superior acting. Dude has...  um... pot. It's funny, sure, but
> there's nothing more to it that we can judge as being a "good
> movie".

The point is that there is no "we" to judge -- unless you want to go
by the box office and rental revenues, in which case "we," the
people seeing this movie, think it's pretty dang good after all.

Outside of that though, there is no "we" to judge whether a movie,
or game, is "good."  We each know what we like, but no matter how
well-formed our opinions, they're still subjective.

Sometimes good games (or movies) don't do very well and sometimes
horrible games stay at the top of the charts -- for various values
of "good" which are going to differ by person and vary over time,
due to their inherent subjectivity.

> So, how do we judge WoW? How do we say whether or not it is a
> "good game" based on anything other than our own enjoyment? This
> is why I think we need some honest critical review in the game
> industry. Real hard asses who are impossible to please with
> extensive understanding of the breadth of games as well as their
> history. If we had a dozen of these critic superstars that
> actually had some freaking insight into gaming every once in a
> while, it wouldn't take long to develop something.

Informed, articulate, insightful opinions are worthwhile (even if
they are still subbjective) because they help others understand more
about a game and try ones they might otherwise miss.  But don't
mistake this for some form of objective or inherently trustworthy
commentary that will somehow raise the quality of games that get
made.  I would hope that such informed commentary (of which there is
too little these days) would help the quality of games; but opinions
being what they are, I wouldn't expect too much.

Mike Sellers
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