Thursday, November 26, 2015

I Hate It! or An Elaboration on a Simple Yet Overused Personal Phrase

"I hate it!"

It's something a lot of my coworkers, friends, and family have probably heard me say numerous times, particularly when referring to various games or up-and-coming developments in the game industry.  This phrase, when I use it however, is extremely nuanced, and I wanted to write about this and explain the various and different ways I use it and why.

If only I were a cat...

Why the explanation?

A few months ago, a coworker gave a talk on why game developers shouldn't use the word fun -- or any subjective word that can mean almost a variety of things.  Essentially, because the word is simple and can mean so many things, we should take the time to elaborate and choose better words such as engaging or challenging or thought-provoking or whatever fits the game we are creating outside of fun.
In the context of games, the phrase, "I hate it!" is also a similarly short and overused phrase I use to describe feelings of displeasure or dislike or disdain.  Anyway, here are all the different things I may mean, either exclusively or in combination, when I simply say, "I hate it!"

This came up when I searched "nuance"  I guess this has a nuance of like...madness to it...

I Hate It:  Frustration or Boredom

I feel like I've used this before, but it's such a good stock image for my attitude
This is probably my most common reason I use the phrase "I hate it!"  When I use it for this, I mean that the game I'm playing is either frustrating, boring, or a combination of the two.
To elaborate further, as a working adult, my free time is very limited.  I play games for a variety of reasons but to be bored by either an uninteresting narrative or yawn-inducing and overly repetitive gameplay or frustrated by challenges that are too difficult, take hours to complete, or have little to no reward are not the reasons.  So when a game wastes my time or stresses me -- and I'm taking stress from frustration -- more than I was before playing, a strong disdain exists, and I HATE IT!
Here are some games or gameplay aspects I've played that have made me say "I hate it!" and mean it in this way:

  • BlazBlue:  Chronophatasma:  The gameplay is fun to a degree, but the Story Mode had such poor pacing, I was bored and didn't even finish one character entirely.
  • Final Fantasy X:  Grinding for hours on end was extremely boring, and dying to the same boss five times because you didn't grind enough was frustrating.
  • Dead Space:  Stop generating enemies behind me!  And if you're going to have a complicated enemy killing system, maybe supply more ammo?
  • Halo 2:  I'm just not good at shooters; I haven't picked one up for a long time because whenever I do, I just get frustrated, and with so many games out there, why bother with a genre you are pretty sure you won't like?
  • Online Multiplayer:  Frustration from connection problems or from playing against strangers of varying skills, eventually becoming boring because there's no real goal.  I discuss this a bit more in a post about my love-hate relationship with modern fighting games.

I Hate It:  Disappointment

Screw it, I'm using this again!  Because it's just so perfect!
Another reason I'll sometimes hate a game is that it's been overhyped.  Whether by my own expectations or the marketing campaign, there have been times in the past where I've been very excited to play a new game.  One time I remember having a dream about a game before it came out -- I was that excited -- and the dream version was hundreds of times better than the actually released product.  I get a dream version will always be better, but it should only be a little bit better, not that much!
Well, when my expectations are smashed, especially due to false advertising, I HATE IT!  Also, I think a lot of players hate this as well.  I feel the more aggressive gaming advertising gets, the more hatred from disappointment occurs.
This doesn't happen a lot lately, to be honest, but there are some games I'm trying to be weary about to prevent it from happening.  One example of this is Street Fighter V.  I'm excited for Street Fighter V, but I've been trying to avoid getting too hyped about it, and I've avoided playing the now infamous beta (though if its first iteration had worked this might be a different story).  Overall, I want to be excited for the game, but know if I get too excited, there's a risk that the disappointment will turn into disdain, and I'll quickly stop playing the game.
This sort of happened with Mortal Kombat X.  I had really liked Mortal Kombat IX due to is strong single player; however, Mortal Kombat X, though it has remnants of it, definitely wasn't as deep, leading me to get bored of the game and giving up on it before all 4 of its initial DLC characters were released.

I Hate It:  Exclusion or Shame

It's Mother Angelica.  I kind of have to use it...and somehow she's still alive?!

This reason for loathing is a bit similar to the previously mentioned, but has it's own characteristics.  Instead of having the game hyped up by marketing, it's hyped up by other players, sometimes close friends.  You then play the game, and for any number of reasons it doesn't live up to your expectations or you end up hating it.
There's then the next weird part -- at least for me -- and you almost feel embarrassed or ashamed to not like it, like you're some sort of weirdo because you don't like "game X".  There's lot of flaws with this logic, but it's particularly irritating when playing a game with friends, and you can't stand the game -- probably due to being frustrated -- but this gets compounded by the feelings of shame and that eventually turns into resentment for the game.
The biggest example of this for me is Super Smash Bros.  I can't stand this game.  I'm just not good at it especially when approached from the Final-Destination-No-Items style.  I could be rude and say the game is overrated and bad, but in reality, I'm just bad at it, and the journey and time I would have to take to improve doesn't feel worth it nor would it be enjoyable.  Yet, when I see coworkers play it, I sorta wish I could join in more often, but instead, my resentment for the franchise grows.
One friend said I'm just a contrarian, that the moment anything becomes popular I resent it.  Subconsciously, this might be true to a degree; however, I think part of it comes down to the fact that I don't want to play it and actually dislike it and then feel weird about it, so I end up just avoiding it all together, sticking to games that I know I'll most likely enjoy.  A good example of a game I've been avoiding is Undertale.  I hear tons about it and see loads of fan art on Facebook.  Sure, I'll eventually play it, but I'm hesitant because it feels like it's a game I won't really enjoy that much, particularly the humor.  I have a weird sense of humor admittedly, and I'm afraid Undertale will feel like a big inside joke that I just won't get and ultimately not enjoy or the emotions it's trying to convey will just not resonate.  I'll feel embarrassed and ultimately resentful.


This doesn't quite get the onomatopoeia across that I wanted, but sure...

I was writing about this over the course of a few days, and I realized, I should probably get over myself.  The other two types of hate stem from two negative emotions:  jealousy and fear of change.  The biggest change I fear -- and despise -- lately is VR; I'll write a separate post on that later.  I'm coming back to this on the eve of Black Friday 2015 and feel I should be thankful for a few things:
  • I have no obligation to ever finish a game.  If I don't like it, I can easily quit.  Sure, I might feel a bit ashamed for quitting, but I'll get over that.  And if the story was particularly intriguing, I can probably watch a playthrough on YouTube -- a part me thinks playthroughs are problem with modern game development but another part of me think they are blessed time savers.
  • Every game, even if I hated it, is a learning experience.  Mostly recently, I attempted to play Dead Space, and by Chapter 5 gave up.  I had crossed the challenged versus frustrated threshold, but learned a few things.  The node upgrade system inspired me a bit, but there were things I learned that probably aren't good for design -- albeit the game is 7 years old and the developers probably learned for the sequel.
  • I can afford to play games.  This is probably why I should buy more games, even just to try them.  Sure, maybe I should never buy Call of Duty or any other FPS, but spending 10 dollars on a game on Steam, even if I end up hating it, isn't a big deal, especially if I learned something from it, and maybe by taking the risk, I'll found something new to enjoy.
Anyway, I'm thankful for these things, and should probably stop being so negative.  Sure, I'll probably still play a lot of games that I'll end up hating, and I can write about them here, but it's probably better to at least experience and know I didn't like them than fear the risk of a dissatisfying experience altogether.

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