Finding More Joy in Sports Video Games

Operation SportsCorrespondent IJune 24, 2008

In gaming, what so many of us over at Operations Sports want is for games to be as realistic as possible. However, when it comes to expectations too many of us are not realistic about the games themselves. So many people nitpick small things that should just be ignored.

“I’m not getting the game because there are no hand towels on the players,” or “fans don’t leave early during a blowout game, so it’s not worth a purchase.” As a consumer it’s your right to choose to pass on a game for any reason, so if those hand towels are that important then by all means pass on the title. It just seems as if too many people are missing out on very good titles because they aren’t truly giving games a chance. That or they’re complaining about a title to no end and spoiling it for others. No one should call a game “garbage” months before release. Until you actually get your hands on it you don’t know how it’s going to turn out.

Other people believe a game is going to be amazing. "This is finally the year that things will be turned around and different." This becomes a mantra for some and is just repeated over and over all summer until the game actually releases and they instantly think it’s a disaster. Similarly to going to a movie with high expectations after building it up for weeks then finally seeing it on release day and thinking, “wow, that was horrible.” Sometimes that might be the case, but in some cases it wasn’t so much horrible as it didn’t live up to your colossal expectations.

Games are what they are; don’t expect Madden to dynamically change what it is. It’s a game that generally has an offensive focus and allows you to get more yards passing than on the ground. NCAA Football is a great game, but the defense in it is lacking. Fight Night was fun in the ring, but its career mode was mundane. Games at their core are for the most part going to continue to be what they have been in the past, but that doesn’t mean that beyond all the negative things there aren’t a ton of fantastic aspects to the games as well.

I’m not saying that we necessarily need to lower our expectations; sometimes it’s our expectations and voicing of our opinions that helps to push developers to make the games better. It just appears that many people aren’t getting the joy out of gaming that they could get, because they write off games early for what they don’t have, or simply spend too much time focusing on the negatives in general. Take time to appreciate all that games have to offer, focusing on the positive might actually help you to get more joy out of your gaming experience.

Should these things that are consistently poor in games be addressed and fixed? Absolutely, but unfortunately there is only so much they can do each year. Everyone has their own opinions on what needs to be fixed to improve the games, and it’s impossible to make a game perfect for everyone. While there may never be a perfect game, there's still plenty that are enjoyable and playable either way.

People do spend good money on games, and sometimes it’s hard to understand why games don’t see more improvement. Some things still boggle my mind, like the fact that we've been in the "next-gen" for four years now, and we’re still not seeing some of the fantastic features we saw on previous generations. But we get what we get and we can either play it or decide it’s not worth being played. Generally though, with most major titles I think enough can be found in a game to make it enjoyable.

Unfortunately the new world of gaming is full of exclusive licenses, which has created limited choices for gamers. Stemming from this, games are now somewhat like families, you need to learn to love them despite their flaws and errors. For instance if you want to play a game of NFL Football, Madden is all you’ve got, so you have to learn to get past the flaws and understand that it’s not going to be perfect. It is what it is, you don’t really have any control, and there isn’t another NFL title, so hopefully you can find some joy in what is out there.

I hope this serves as a reminder that unfortunately no game is perfect; all the games that will release this year will have flaws. But this year let's not be quick to kill a game off just because there are one or two problems in it, and on the flip side, let's not set our expectations so high they can’t possibly be met. Instead look for some of the good in the game first and hopefully you’ll get a little more enjoyment out of it.

This article was written by Rob Fetter for Operation Sports. Operation Sports is the internet's leading sports video games resource.