MetalFRO's Blog

Posted on Mar 8th 2022 at 01:00:00 PM by (MetalFRO)
Posted under Bad games, Gaming, game collecting


For those of us who collect games, we all understand that we have a few stinkers in the collection. Looking at the library of releases for any game console or platform, there will always be games that are objectively terrible, a lot of stuff that's just not very good, a lot of middling releases, a fair number of solid titles worth your time, and usually a small number of absolutely outstanding games that are among the best on offer. Unless you're curating a small collection of only games you enjoy, you're bound to have a turd or two on the shelf. Why do we pay money for these things? Let me offer a few ideas as to why there's nothing wrong with owning some bad games.



Reason #1: It helps us remember how good some games actually are.
As we age, not only are we drawn to things that we have nostalgia for, but we also tend to gravitate towards things that we feel are worth our time. After all, none of us are getting any younger, and we only have a finite amount of time on this mortal coil. Particularly when we all balance family, friends, job, and other life responsibilities, gaming is often relegated to those moments when we've fulfilled other obligations. In those moments, who wants to play a game that's no good, right? However, consider that we also have a tendency to become somewhat jaded as we age, and sometimes the good things in life no longer hold the same meaning or sway over us as before. In those times, it can be useful to look at your game shelf and see a couple terrible games, to remind you that you have had much more fulfilling gaming experiences. Or it might even be worth putting some time into a bad game now and again, to help give you more appreciation for the good games.


I'm pretty sure this is universally disliked, but I bet someone out there enjoyed it.

Reason #2: Taste is subjective, so one man's trash is another man's treasure.
There are games that are generally disliked, or even hated, that I know I've heard other people say they enjoy. By way of example, noted gaming journalist Jeremy Parish has ragged on the Game Boy launch title Alleyway a fair bit over the years. But you know what? It's a solid enough game that I played a lot as a kid, and I still enjoy it. It didn't change my life, but it also didn't do anything to earn my ire. Similarly, I've spoken with many gamers over the years who really like games that aren't generally well liked, or some that are even hated. Taste is subjective, and people like what they like for any number of reasons. Who's to say they're wrong for liking a game you think is terrible, right?

Reason #3: Playing objectively bad games can be instructive.
There are games that are objectively bad, something upon which I think most of us can agree. There are games that have broken controls, systems that don't work as the developer intended, games that are a buggy mess, and so on. Some games have incomprehensible storylines, mechanics that fight against one another, or ideas that aren't developed enough to even warrant inclusion in a game. But these kinds of can be fun to play, as well. Maybe you want to just laugh at the bad game, and have a good time making fun of it. Maybe playing the bad game will help you learn more about the fundamentals of good controls, which might give you insight into why some control schemes are how they are, or to help you better implement controls in your own game. Sometimes playing something truly terrible is a good way to blow off steam, because you're not invested in it, and after a bad day at the office or a hard day at home with the kids, a bad game can sometimes be a bit of comfort food, because you're not the only one who's had a bad day. The people who designed that bad game probably had several. Whatever the case, sometimes playing bad games can teach us more about good games than we might realize.


Did someone out there enjoy this game at all? Probably not, but there's always that one weirdo...

Reason #4: Obsessive collectors still buy bad games.
Those of us with the collecting bug know that collectors will buy bad games. It's just part of the experience. And when you have a bunch of them, it can be easier to part with them later if you bundle them with a good game, or something more rare. Selling your games in lots is a great way to liquidate a bunch of them quickly. You price the lot based on the expensive or rare game in there, and let a few lousy games go along with it. It helps pad out the batch and can soften the blow a bit to someone who might be wincing at spending that much money on a single game. Even if they know the rest of the games in the lot are awful, most will still spend the money on a lot, versus putting the cash down for a single game. It's basic psychology, and it works. Don't be shy about it, just create your game lots with confidence, knowing that you'll be enriching your collection by removing a few bad games and enriching someone else's collection by giving them the same opportunity later.

There are more reasons to consider, but here's the bottom line: it's okay to like, play, and own bad games. Sometimes it's even good to do so. Should we spend all our time on bad games? Of course not! But we shouldn't totally ignore or neglect them, either. So next time you stand in amazement of your game collection and cringe at that copy of Mary Kate & Ashley Sweet 16: License to Drive sitting on your shelf, remember that you might also have Castlevania: Symphony of the Night or Fallout 3 you can look proudly upon, knowing that you have more appreciation for them.


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Comments
 
While I have a ton of games, I generally do buy games I'm only interested in playing "at some point".  Having said that, I like to try and collect series of games when I can so I'm sure that has led to some stinkers in my collection. I'll absolutely pick up a known bad game if it's worth something and I find it for stupid cheap. 

 
  I have a few bad games that keep around because I always have fun when I play them. One example is Earnest Evans on the Genesis. The control is so awful and weird on that game! There's always some strange position or movement you can make your character do that cracks me up.

 
@Corkman: I remember messing with Earnest Evans in emulation once, many years ago. And yes, it's jank as all get out. But I can understand having fun with the game, and setting aside some of its quirks and problems. That's part of what I'm talking about in my article. Ultimately, just because a game is considered "bad" doesn't mean it's devoid of value.
 
I tend to agree with bear78 in that most of time I try to get games I intend to play. At the same time, there's plenty of games in my collection that I wanted to try at least once because of the genre they were, and even a few that I was curious just how bad they were. (Yes, Race Drivin really is as bad as advertised)

You also touched upon it, but I do think a nostalgia factor counts for something. For instance, Alpha Mission sits on my shelf because it was one of the games I had while growing up. I've tried to go back to it, but it just can't hold my interest anymore. Still, I like having it because of the memories of playing it before I had anything to compare it too.

 
@EZ Racer: I know the feeling about games you keep around for the nostalgia value. I probably have a few of those in my collection. There are definitely games I may never go back to, but I have fond memories of playing them, and thumbing through the shelves from time to time means I'll see those games, recall those good times, and get that sense of warmth that you get when you think back on memories like that.
 
I used to just buy everything to beef up the collection, but in a post-collection world I still find myself buying stinkers, though completely inadvertently.  But I rarely give up completely on games (except maybe Afterfall: InSanity) so at some point I get the urge and give it another go.  For me games are like food; with time taste tends to change.

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