With most things, there exists a sort of hive mind that helps decide trends and that is used to determine the quality of things. Quality is of course a rather abstract concept and is purely objective to the individual, but with that being said and understood, there is always a consensus involved, which leads to the hive mind. The hive mind is a sort of collective consciousness where something is willed into the realm of fact or even into existence because many people believe the same thing. Sure, I could go into a lot on this topic about religion, politics and everything else, but instead I’m talking about gaming.
We see this in gaming all of the time and are bombarded with it on a daily basis. Games are produced with either tender love and care or are assembled in a hasty fashion in a big, monolithic building of some faceless corporation, produced and then sent out into the wild where the game is assigned a number or star value (or any other witty way to score a game) and that is what it is. We as a whole tend to rate things because it is the easiest way to relate our opinions to other people. Even if take is objective, somehow assigning it a value, even if that value is arbitrary, shows people where on a scale you determine it to be. We see lots of stuff like MetaCritic that compiles those scores and tells the world what it all averages out to be.
This is how we determine which games are good and which games are bad and a lot of the time it feels like gamers should simply like or dislike a game depending on how well the scores stack up for it. The more you consider that, though, it tends to leave out the all-important matter that is the individual’s taste. Say you dislike shooters, why in the world would the latest Call of Duty game getting a 9.5 out of 10 persuade you to pick it up? The chances of you enjoying it are probably rather slim because you dislike the genre, so the score should not matter at the end of the day.
There are some great games out there, though, that even if the genre fits, the game might not fit. For example, I’ve been playing the Grand Theft Auto games since the first one was released and I found out that I could edit each individual sprite in paint and make it whatever I wanted it to be, as well as tweak values in the ini files. Grand Theft Auto III was a monumental accomplishment and I enjoyed most of the spin-off games that it spawned as well, yet when Grand Theft Auto IV came out, something felt off. I bought it on the first day and sat down with it and while it was fun, it never seemed to truly click for me. To this day I’ve sat down and re-started it a good half a dozen times and it has yet to register as something I’d ever want to spend my time with.
The scores all tell me that it is a great game, a lot of my friends might say that it is a great game, but when it comes down to me actually playing it, it doesn’t feel like a great game. Instead it feels a lot more like a chore to me. It might still be a great game that most people love, but I quite simply don’t like it and that is alright, because even though the old ones were for me, this one wasn’t.
As we enter into this new year, there is going to be a lot of talk about what the best games of the last year were and which ones weren’t, and the thing to remember is; you like what you like, that is what makes you, well, you.