March 29, 2013
No Such Thing As A Bad Game
I’ve played a lot of different tabletop games, most of which I have enjoyed and others… less so. There are games out there that just don’t quite peak my interest, either due to mechanics that I think are just too arbitrary or simply don’t work, or a story that doesn’t really appeal to me. A few come to mind as I write this, but I choose not to make mention of them specifically. However, this does not mean that I think such games are bad. I don’t think any game is necessarily a “bad game,” at least not one that I have played; they just don’t all work for me.
A lot of work goes into the creation of a tabletop game. Lots of thought and creativity, not to mention play-testing and revision work, are put forth in order to design a game. However, games usually start out the same way; with an idea. Someone had an idea that they thought would make a great game. Maybe it was a mechanic they came up with. Maybe they thought up a story that they felt would work better as a game than as a book. However it began, nearly every game starts out as someone’s idea, someone’s baby. As such, I have a difficult time fully dismissing a game simply because I don’t care for an aspect of it. I understand how much work goes into its development, and so even if I don’t care for it personally, I know that there are likely others who do. Every game will have to find its own audience. For many, I count myself one of them. For others, I’ll leave them to those who would get more joy out of the experience.
Another reason why I don’t believe in “bad games” is because I feel that someone’s impression of a game is based mostly on their gamemaster. If the gamemaster is able to make the game engaging, fun, and exciting, it doesn’t matter if you think the rules are trite or not. You’ll have fun. On the other hand, if the gamemaster runs a game that you just don’t enjoy, then it won’t matter if you are playing using the greatest system ever conceived, you’ll still be left wanting. The majority of your experience in gaming should come from playing the game, not just in reading through the book to understand the rules and setting. The rules of a game are there to provide structure, the setting to give you a starting point. The rest falls upon the gamemaster and your fellow players. A lot of responsibility falls on the shoulders of gamemasters when introducing people to new games for this reason alone.
There are games that I would have a hard time recommending to others, sure. I have my preferences. I am allowed that much. However, I recommend to all players, do not shun a game just because at first glance it might not appeal to you. Give it a try. If you had a bad experience with a game, try it with a different gamemaster. See if that changes how you feel about it. If it still doesn’t strike your fancy, then maybe it just isn’t for you, but at least you can say you gave it a fair try.
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