Tobold's Blog
Tuesday, September 02, 2014
Unreasonable expectations

Right out of the "gamers are not very nice people" corner comes the Steam Review Watch, a blog where somebody collects the scathing critiques that games get on Steam together with the amount of time the reviewer spent playing that game. My favorite is the "Worst game I've every played" from the guy who played said game for 907 hours.

We have to consider two possibilities here. Either the people say the truth, or they lie. If they say the truth, and this really is the worst game ever, one has to wonder why it took that person 907 hours to find out. If he played the game for 20 hours per week, it took him nearly a year to realize that he hated the game! So the more likely explanation is that the reviewer lied. He did in fact have a lot of fun with this game, and played it every day for a long time because he liked it so much. And after 900 hours of the same game he kind of got bored. And he blamed the game for that, and decided to get revenge by posting a bad review. Lying is also quite likely the explanation for the review saying "2ez… finnished it in under 30mins" after spending 2,381 hours on the game.

I don't know how much these players paid for those game, but I don't see any games on Steam priced at a level where getting hundreds or thousands of hours of entertainment for your money wouldn't be a good investment. And if a game is really bad, I don't see how you couldn't notice after a relatively short time. Do these people really expect to be entertained for the rest of their lives for a $50 investment or so?

I checked out the link and some of the negative reviews are pretty funny when the amount of time played is taken into consideration.

At the same time though other reviews seem like legitimate complaints. I know I have read plenty of books and at the end I said to myself, "That was boring the whole way through and I didn't enjoy myself." So why did I keep reading? Usually because it looks like the story might get good anytime now. Similarly I know sometimes a game is not fun but it can still be addictive or maybe the story looks good but wasn't worth playing through a boring game to see.

My point is that maybe some of the people who played 50 or even 90 hours of a game didn't have much enjoyment for the amount of time spent and a recommend to steer clear makes sense in that light.

Of course the thousand hour plus negative reviews are amusing and confusing.
I would implement a rule on Steam:
- if you play a game after 30 hours, you automatically post a "thumbs up" with a canned text "I enjoyed playing this game 30+ hours". You can't undo this review or post a negative.
- if you post a negative review before the 30 hours mark, you can no longer play the game.
I think it's entirely possible for someone to play a game for 20 hours a week for a year and hate every minute of it. The world is full of people doing things they don't have to do that they wish they could stop doing, some of them a great deal more harmful than video-gaming. For various psychological reasons some people are unable to change their behavior even when they want to, while others don't even realize which behaviors are hurting them.

To write such people off as "liars" because their version of their reality is not immediately objectively understandable isn't really very helpful.
Comparing video games to crack cocaine isn't really very helpful either.
What about Mass Effect 3?

Let's say the game is 35 hours long. I can see someone who played it for 35 hours still giving it a negative review, just for the ending.

Or an MMO. You can play an MMO for years. Playing for a month might rack up a lot of hours, but someone who dropped out after 1 month might be critized for not playing enough.
Might've been a relevant argument a year or two ago, but iime played is utterly irrelevant, now, thanks to the Steam trading cards.

I've had friends ask me for recommendations on games that I've NEVER PLAYED because they saw I had 60+ hours clocked up, and I've had to explain to them that the only reason my 'time played' is so high is because I left it idling in the background while I did other things, until all the free cards had dropped.

Because those cards are worth money (I've sold foils for up to $24), and my CPU/RAM resources are more than up to the task of running two things at once.
I can tolerate moderately sub-par books/games if I expect that the resolution will make up for it. If it doesn't then an honest review would be moderately negative but I might be inclined to completely trash it because I of my disappointment.

I do have a limit to my tolerance. If it isn't good enough I will stop, however I know some people that can read once they start on a book will continue until they finish and if that book is book 1 of a 15 book series they'll finish that series!
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