Sunday, June 19, 2011

Why So Pessimistic?

I have to be honest, a lot of gaming is filled with negativity, for reasons I'll never understand. I've always looked at gaming as something positive - something to get us by, a fun way to spend some hours of our lives. I remember being a child and the wide-eyed glow I'd get whenever I loaded up the NES. There was always a world awaiting me, something new to find. Even games that were pretty horrible, I found something to love, because they always took me to a new special place.

As you get older, you start to get jaded. There's no way to avoid it - reality sets in - and suddenly you're aware of all the flaws. And the majority of the time, flaws can completely ruin games for us. So who is really at fault? Is it us for expecting too much because we forgot to see the magic in everything like we did as a child? Is it the developers that are really failing us? To be honest, I'd say it's a little bit of both. I've seen people complain about all kinds of nit picky faults to a game, and they totally let it ruin their experience. I understand if the flaws are serious, but some things are so minuscule that they aren't worth stopping to get off the ride.

Being a game journalist has especially opened my eyes to a lot of the negativity. So many times I open up my twitter feed to a list full of complaints and shortcomings of games. I wish I could say that happened as often to games that are actually wonderful. It was truly amazing to see all the positive remarks surrounding Child of Eden this week; I want more days full of this. In general in life, we are often more likely to share disappointment than we are to share the things that grab us to that addictive "I can't stop playing," level.

And so many times, we're also afraid to acknowledge the positive. Recently, I wrote a hands-on preview for Final Fantasy XIII-2. I stated my honest opinion: the game is looking better than I ever thought - I'm hopeful about where it's going. It was an utter surprise for me, as I had no interest in the game, since I greatly disliked Final Fantasy XIII. I walked out of that appointment happy with the direction that the game was going in, so I wrote that preview to reflect it. However, many were immediately skeptical. Now don't get me wrong, I understand XIII promised so much and let a great deal of people down. But here's the thing, I heard from more than one person that I was over-hyping myself for the game; simply being positive and hopeful for its future wasn't the way to go into XIII-2. I'll be honest, when I go to E3, I see a lot of games, and it's really obvious to me which ones stand out from the pack. It's strange, though, even games people are highly anticipating are filled with doubt from fans. Is it because it's easier to pessimistic? That way if you're letdown, it doesn't burn as much? Are we truly afraid that being positive and hopeful will only set us up for disappointment?

In the end, I think we have to find the child in us, who truly embraced games and let them into our hearts without second guessing. You know, the child who didn't immediately go to the negative, but instead stayed optimistic throughout the journey. It's much too easy to surrender to the negative, let's fight to see the positive. It's okay to be hopeful and see the lighter side to things every now and then. Who knows? It just may change the way you experience games.

P.S. I hope this post gets the message across, since by writing it, I had to bump my favorite entry yet off the front page.


  1. I think that's why I try to go into games knowing as little as possible, so I don't have exceptionally high - or low - expectations going in. Or none at all. There's less to disappoint me that way I think, granted, the chance is still there. But so is that 'jaded' part - with as big of a letdown as XIII was, the simplest reaction is to expect more of the same of the sequel. So as like you said, the burn won't be quite so deep if the game does turn out to suck.

    I think it's why I flit from genre to genre - I don't get bored, and I don't get so pessimistic. With something totally different around the corner - ie. by going from, FPS to WRPG to visual novels or some equally bizarre path, it's a way to keep that childlike anticipation intact IMO. If we can keep that, the love of games won't become tarnished (or at least not as quick).

  2. We're surrounded by pessimism. I try to remain positive about games in general, but people always try to shoot me down. That's why I endeavor to surrounded myself with other positive people like you.