Surprise…then Disappointment

Posted: February 7, 2014 in Uncategorized

HankReactionHype can be a ruinous force.

I think that we’ve all had an experience where everyone- the critics and our friends alike- tells us something is good. And then we check it out and it’s just not what we were expecting. Humans in general are bad about hyperbole. I’ve seen my share of Academy Award winners and played my share of Game of the Year titles that left me cold. Arguably, part of the problem is my admittedly high and occasionally arbitrary standards for what I think is good (in some cases there is a certain je ne sais quos where I’ll like something or dislike something, and I won’t really know why); but another part of the problem is that if people like something, there aren’t any grayscale tones, just “I love this and it’s the best thing invented since ever!” or “Oh my god, this is an atrocity!”.

Now, in gaming culture, this sort of thing has been fostered by many of the gaming sites that hand out 8/10 and 9/10 scores to games with even the barest quantum of polish, with anything getting a 7/10 or lower being cast into gaming’s unofficial Pit of Carkoon. Of course, it’s also not helped by gaming’s rampant fanboy contingent ready to rain down hell anytime the object of their fandom doesn’t get a passable score. Few games should qualify for those 80 and 90 percent scores. You buy one because you’re promised the next big thing…and you may not get it. There’s not really any accountability.

But I’m getting away from my topic. Which is disappointment due to overpraise.

In any case, this is why some things are “Overrated”. They’ve received so much praise that you’re expecting them to be life-changing, amazing pieces of work but…they turn out to be less than that. All of this thought comes after reading the aftermath of the DICE awards. The Last of Us swept the awards (which I don’t consider to be fair; if a game wins Game of the Year I believe that it ought to be disqualified for other awards to allow other titles a chance to shine), and I’ve been told by trusted friends that it’s a fantastic game in addition to all the critical acclaim. Yet since it’s built up so much- I’m hesitant to play it. When there’s that much hype behind something, there’s bound to be disappointment.

I’m not fond of that feeling. It’s rather alienating to see something that’s universally praised but you only thought it was mediocre, or worse yet, you thought it was awful. It makes me ask myself, what did I miss? What’s so wrong with me that I don’t understand why everyone else is gushing with praise for this work?

It is possible to over praise something. Sometimes it’s necessary to dial the enthusiasm back a few notches and just say “You should check it out.” instead of “It’s the greatest thing ever!”. Where it might be life-changing for you, it might be a diversion for someone else. I’ve grown leery of gushing praise. So many in my generation adore the Harry Potter books; I think they’re good entertainment but nothing more. I thought Portal was a fair if unimpressive game…after I’d heard all of its memes thousands of times before so much as booting up the game. I probably would have enjoyed these more if everyone hadn’t positively exploded with praise for them. Conversely, I may have never heard of either of them had they not been so universally popular with their audiences.

But remember, when you’re telling someone else how great something is- your experience with it is entirely subjective.  Remember, that though for you, Final Fantasy X was the most important game of your life…

For me, it was Tuesday.

For me it was Tuesday.


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