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By 10 July 2014 | Categories: feature articles

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Pippa is disappointed in often being disappointed instead of forgiving. 

What is it about games that disappoint us? Naturally I don’t mean all games, there are always those that exceed expectations a million times over, but I occasionally wonder why it is that so many game reviewers, myself included, end up including the line, “I was disappointed” in their reviews.

Why? Was our expectation so great, so heightened, that the smallest thing that doesn’t quite measure up, for whatever reason, turns our anticipation and glee over a game into dissatisfaction? I say this now as I’m busy writing a review for a game where my first thought while playing it was, “Hmm, that wasn’t what I expected. It’s a bit disappointing.” 

On reflection, I think this is the wrong attitude to have, I really do. I’m not sure how quickly I’ll be able to break the habit myself, but being aware of it is the first step. Right? It’s like the 12 Step Programme: “Admit you are powerless over, uhm, using the word ‘disappointment’. That your writing has become unmanageable.” Ok, that doesn’t work quite as well as it did in my head, but nevertheless you get the gist.

We are too easily disappointed. We build up an unrealistic picture of the game that we’re playing based on trailers and preview material we’ve seen. Trailers that by their nature are designed to showcase the best that the game has to offer. Of course game developers aren’t going to say, “Well, we’ve worked really hard and put lots of blood, sweat and tears into the production, but honestly we ran out of time. The publishers also breathed down our neck to release, so yes it’s a little buggy here and there, but we did our best we swear!” 

This is probably the case 99% of the time, I mean let’s face it, anyone who has ever worked on a big project will at some stage have reached the point where you have to accept that if you spend any more time on that particular aspect of it, you simply won’t make the deadline. Plain and simple. And so we judge them based on unrealistic expectations. Give a score of 7/10 (not a bad score by the way, but considered average on most sites) because “it’s buggy and disappointing”. And buggy doesn’t necessarily mean it crashed every five minutes, but that sometimes things just don’t look quite as they should. Perhaps a texture behaves in an unexpected manner, or a character model interpenetrates with a wall (sounds dirty doesn’t it?). 

These things happen to the best video game developers, and while I still believe we need to be critical of the product that is being produced, we also need to be a bit more forgiving. A bit more understanding. A bit less, well, disappointed. Now if only I can remember that and take my own advice.

By: Pippa Tshabalala

Picture: Adriaan Louw from we-are-awesome.com

Makeup artist: Natasha Carstens.

Article first appearead in TechSmart 130, July 2014.

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