The Worst Games I Have Played

Recently I was asked, “What is the worst game you have played”. The question took me for surprise. I have been playing video games for what feels to be all my life (30+) and I am sure I have played some pretty bad games, but it took me a moment to think of any answer. I have always have limited resources, and now time, to play games, so I have always felt that the games buy and play tend to be generally safe bets. Still, I want to take the opportunity to review all the games I have played in this latest console generation, to see if my feeling is correct, and if I do tend to play only “good” games.

So lets get this out of the way, there is no way of objectively saying if a game is good or bad. Even the worst of games have their fans. You can potentially make an argument that sales is an objective way of judging the quality of a game, but to me, that is a reflection of a game’s success. What I will be using to judge the quality of a game is average review score. Specifically, I will use GameRankings.com, which aggregates review scores.

Although I occasionally play PC games, the bulk of my gaming has occurred on my 360. So I have pulled all the games I have played on my 360, and looked up the average score, according to GameRankings. The following are the highlights:

Total Games

46

Average Score

86.56

Average Number of Reviews

49.72

Highest Score

95.15

Highest Scored Game

Skyrim

Lowest Score

70.79

Lowest Scored Game

Asura's Wrath

Games Scored 90-100

13

Games Scored 80-99

27

Games Scored <80

6

Based on review scores, I could say that I do only play good games. The worst game only scored a 70, which is not bad but average. This exercise however left me wondering how many games are actually “bad” or have we reached a point where we only have average to good games.

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Size and Scope

Maybe it’s a misconception on my behalf, but I still feel that most people do not understand how large the video game market really is. Again, maybe people still think only kids buy and play games. But a recent report by Newzoo (2010) helps puts things in perspective.

From the brief, the report indicates that, just in the , people spent $25 billion dollars on games in 2009. As a comparison, sales of feature films on DVDs were $8.73 billion (McBride 2010).

Additionally, the report indicates that there are 183 million players in the .  Which would be more then HALF of the current US Population (approx. 309 million). Although what the study defines as a player is not elaborated in the brief.

McBride, Sarah (2010) Cinema Surpassed DVD Sales in 2009. The Wall Street Journal. http://online.wsj.com/article/SB10001424052748704789404574636531903626624.html

Newzoo (2010) Newzoo Games Market Report. http://corporate.newzoo.com/press/GamesMarketReport_FREE_030510.pdf 

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California v. Video Games


So, the Supreme Court has decided to hear the case of   SCHWARZENEGGER, GOV. OF CA V. ENTERTAINMENT MERCHANTS, ET AL. (which for easier purposes I will just call v. Gaming Industry). The Court’s ruling on this would decide if regulations, signed into law in 2005 in California, to fine retailers up to $1000 if violent video games are sold to minors are unconstitutional (1). This decision brings up several interesting questions.

The first question is why this is important. Basically it comes down to a precedent being set. A ruling in favor of opens the door (which would have major ramifications, in my opinion on the movie industry, TV industry and others also) to other states creating similar laws. On the other hand, a ruling in favor of the Gaming Industry will close the door on similar laws being proposed in the future.

The second question is, how will the Court rule? Who knows. I am not a lawyer nor have I studied law. I try to be as educated on a subject as possible, but am not an expert, but it’s still fun for me to speculate. The way I see it, will pull the old “think of the children” argument. All the while the gaming industry will cry “free speech”. The Court will probably look at other rulings in similar situations. The one that keeps popping up is the ruling in the v. Stevens case. In this case, the Court ruled that the “a federal statute criminalizing the commercial production, sale, or possession of depictions of cruelty to animals, was an unconstitutional abridgment of the First Amendment right to freedom of speech” (2). I know that the idea of comparing video games and videos of animal cruelty seems like a stretch, but in the larger context it has several similarities. Now, the Court ruled that the statute was unconstitutional and gave nearly 40 pages explaining why the statute overrides free speech (3). However within those arguments might lay the strategy as to how the court could rule in favor of . Specifically, in my opinion, if the Court can be convinced that video games can be directly proven to have a long term negative impact on minors, and/or second, if it can be proven that the creation and selling of violent video games to minors results in a vast and profitable market.

Finally, what is the potential business implication of this? Well, in the case that the Court finds in favor of , it would make sense that developers will start to shy away from producing “M” rated games because of pressure from retailers. Since its retailers who would be fined, they could severely limit the number of “M” rated titles they carry on shelves to minimize the risk of being fined, and worse yet, being branded as hurting the nations youth. Now, can the industry survive with a limited number of “M” rated games? Well, if one looks at Nintendo then the answer is yes. However, it could be argued that with a lower number of mature titles that older audiences enjoy, how the overall industry would be impacted.  

1. http://kotaku.com/5524553/us-supreme-court-to-review-game-ratings-law?skyline=true&s=i

2. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/United_States_v._Stevens

3. http://www.fepproject.org/courtbriefs/Stevens.Respondent'sBrief.pdf    

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