EDIT: (23 October, 2014) Nearly a year after writing this, I think I’ve changed my mind on a couple of things – namely that a game can be “Objectively bad” because, shit, that’s some dangerous ground there. What qualifies a game as good, critically? That’s a tricky biscuit, and maybe the subject for a different essay. But lots of the stuff below still holds if you take it with a pinch of salt.

Before we start, here’s two things I want to set out:

ONE. It is wrong to call a game objectively bad because you don’t like it.

TWO. It is right to not like a game because it is objectively bad.

Shocking, right?

Of course, “good” and “bad” are relative terms. We can argue the definitions back and forth until the cows come home, and I don’t want to do that. What I want to do – as a writer, as a critic, as someone who’s actively engaged in games and the gaming culture, as a consumer of goods – to discuss whether things are good or bad in my opinion and talk about why I’m saying so.

“In my opinion.” That’s a cop-out phrase, isn’t it? Of course it’s in my fucking opinion. Everything I write, everything I say, is in my opinion. However, I think my opinions are right, and will continue to do so until someone proves ’em wrong. They’re the only ones I’ve got. We shouldn’t be ashamed to have courage in our beliefs.

We need to criticise games. All of us. All players, of all levels. We need to say why a thing is good, or bad, and show why we think that. There isn’t some magic level you can attain in RPG e-peen that lets you judge a game as good or bad; you don’t have to write one to judge the quality of others. You don’t need to be a Professor of Game Mechanics to say whether something’s working or not.

 

THE ARGUMENTS (TO END ALL ARGUMENTS)

But the prevailing arguments amongst much of the RPG circuit are these:

If you don’t like it, it’s not for you.”

It doesn’t matter how bad a game is, so long as you’ve got a good GM.”

You don’t have to use rules that you don’t like.”

These arguments deny all criticism. They derail intelligent discussion about games. They derail whatever it is that I do when I attempt to have an intelligent discussion about games.

They remind me of the 5 Geek Social Fallacies, a piece so old you have to brush the internet cobwebs off it to read it. We have a problem, I think, with being too accepting by far when it comes to rules-sets. Too forgiving. Too close. Let’s take a look at these arguments.

 

“IF YOU DON’T LIKE IT, IT’S NOT FOR YOU”

Not every game is suitable for every person; there are a great variety of different experiences available for when you start throwing your dice. There are great, complex tomes of rules with maths for every potential situation like Hackmaster, or Rolemaster. There are rules-light pickup games like Risus or Wushu. There are story-focused games like FATE, or there are games that focus around telling a specific story like Dogs in the Vineyard.

I know not every game out there is going to to tick my boxes. I know that, say, the class system in Dungeons and Dragons 3.5 is so bound up and spread across different sourcebooks and reliant on knowing the source material to keep pace with the other players that I don’t really enjoy it any more. I know that the rules in GURPS are so fine-grain as to set my teeth on edge. I know that Exalted uses too many dice for my tastes, and relies heavily on a detailed setting that I can’t be bothered to read.

But they’re not bad. I’ve looked at the rules, I’ve played the games, I’ve decided that they’re not my bag. I can see how some people might enjoy them, but those people are not me.

But! But. Crucially. There are also bad games.

An easy one first: FATAL is a bad game. It is bad in so many ways. It so bad it’s almost, but not quite, worth reading. It is the Birdemic of tabletop RPGs, content that is so bad it’s funny and then immediately not funny, just content that creates a yawning void of hopelessness where your evening used to be.

deadEarth is fucking abysmal, but in a much more readable way – it was actually one of the first systems I ever made a character for, back when I was hungrily devouring every scrap of RPG I could find back in the early 2000’s. (It is almost impossible, in deadEarth, to survive character creation. Here is an excellent blog on that very subject.)

But it’s not just weird sideshow games that are poorly-designed, or have elements of poor design: Old World of Darkness is a bad system – compare the intent of the designers to make a gothic storytelling game with the eventual combat-heavy, unwieldy ruleset – but it was all we had. It is awkward and clunky and hard-to-use.

Shadowrun 5e is goddamn joke.

All those games are bad in some way, and I can elaborate as to why in another piece if you want me to. Generally it’s because the rules get in the way of the game in some fashion. But I’m not allowed to say so, because lots of people in the scene view criticism of a game that they enjoy as a personal attack.

“But people are enjoying these games!” they say. “Don’t condemn people for having badwrongfun!”

Badwrongfun is a word with an agenda; one that says you can’t judge something that other people enjoy, and that doing so makes you an insensitive jerk. (This is where it all ties back into the social fallacies again, by the way.)

I’m not condemning the people, but – brace yourselves – I think that they’re doing it wrong. And that doesn’t make me a jerk. That makes me critically aware. I’m condemning their tools. I think that the games they’re using are in some cases flawed and in other cases complete fucking bobbins and we need to have that sort of criticism in place because we’re grown-ups, damnit, and these things are art.

Just because someone enjoys something doesn’t make that particular thing good. In fact, a lot of the reasons people enjoy bad games is thanks to the second argument…

I need to get me one of those cowls. Love a good cowl.

I need to get me one of those cowls. Love a good cowl.

“IT DOESN’T MATTER HOW BAD A GAME IS, SO LONG AS YOU’VE GOT A GOOD GM”

Obviously. Yes. It doesn’t matter how terrible this beer is if you get to drink it with your best friend. It doesn’t matter how bad the music is if the drugs are good and your mates are there. It doesn’t matter how uncomfortable the bus ride is if you get to see your wife for the first time in three months at the end of it.

There is an excellent talk on RPGs That Aren’t D&D that I recommend you watch if you’ve not already, because it’s a great source of new games info but also because the guys doing the lecture make a great point at the start of it:

If you were playing D&D and you had fun doing it, think about what was fun. Was it the act of rolling a dice to see if you hit a monster? Or was it something daft that one of your friends did? Was it a particularly memorable character that stuck with you? Was it a favourite dungeon that you took over and made your home?

Because only ONE of those things is in the rules, and that’s the top one. The other ones are all you and your mates having a good time.

And that’s fine! But we need to separate the rules from the improv if we’re going to talk critically about games. If you had a great time playing a game with a GM who knew all the rules back-to-front and knew when to use them, and when to let the story take over from the rolls – when to fudge dice, when to drag out fights, when to cut them short, when to let the rules go completely and just tell a story for a bit – then you had a great GM, not necessarily a great rules-set.

Don’t defend a shoddy game because you’re friends with a good actor. Worse, don’t defend a shoddy game because you once knew someone who was great at ignoring specific parts of it.

Which brings me on to my final point…

 

“YOU DON’T HAVE TO USE RULES YOU DON’T LIKE”

Everyone house-rules. That is: everyone has little tweaks to their games that make them run in a fashion according to their tastes. I house-ruled the psychic system in Dark Heresy into oblivion because, as it stood, I couldn’t plan combat encounters without the party psyker either steamrolling the enemy or passing out and summoning a demon. (Neither of which make for a fun experience for anyone else in the group.)

This is the most common defence against bad games; that the rules are optional. That we’re all there to have fun, and we can cut out rules that we don’t like. Okay – but unless the game has been expressly written to support random parts of it being entirely removed or changed, you’re no longer playing the game. (GURPS has been written in this way, I believe. I can’t stand it, though, because it’s cracker-dry.)

Don’t use rules you don’t like” is an excuse to write shitty rules. Do that enough and you have a shitty game.

House-rule, please. Make games your own. Do what you want to them. Just don’t defend your modified version to me, or anyone else, as though it were the original thing.

 

STOP MAKING EXCUSES

You, as a player, need to look at the game with a critical eye and think: what’s the system trying to do? What sort of stories is it designed to tell? Are the rules encouraging that? Do they match up with the fiction of the setting? Does the mood of play match the one evoked by the book?

Every game is designed to tell a story, by the way, not just “story games.” That’s a stupid distinction to make and I’m tired of having to make it.

D&D is designed to tell stories about interchangeable adventurers killing bad things and growing in power. Shadowrun is designed to tell stories about slick professional metahumans planning a run in meticulous detail and using every resource they’ve got to get out on top. Wushu is designed to tell wacky, over-the-top one-shot stories about characters who never, ever change and solve most of their problems by kicking them through windows. Every game makes you tell a different story. Every game pulls on different narrative levers.

Don’t be afraid to poke under the surface and think: why is this rule here? What’s this rule doing? How does it make the game better? Don’t be afraid to think that the people behind the games have made bad design choices. Think like a designer. Better yet: think like a designer’s editor.

Games can be good and bad, and have good and bad bits. It’s up to us to say which are which, and argue with each other, and not to be afraid to say it. This isn’t elitism. This is criticism. Saying someone’s favourite game is bad isn’t the same as saying they’re a bad person. Remember that.


Categorised in: RPG, Tabletop

23 thoughts on “Games can be bad, and it’s okay to say so

  • pdunwin says:

    I’m not bought too far into the idea that if you’re ignoring parts of the rules you’re not playing the game. That gets used as an excuse to play rules utterly mechanically and literally, which no rule system can really withstand in style. Otherwise, I agree. Thanks for the article.

    • Erik says:

      I don’t think anyone would argue that you’re not playing the game if you use houserules. The argument is that there is a distinction in quality between a game that’s elegantly designed and a game that requires extensive houseruling just to be playable.

    • Matt says:

      I’ve seen a couple of occasions where people have complained about a game, the designer (or other people who know it) have asked about X rule, which is specifically designed to combat that problem, and people have said “oh, we don’t play with that rule”

      So… sometimes ignoring rules will dramatically change the tenor of the game? But sometimes it won’t.

      I regularly played D&D without bothering to calculate encumberance (beyond – “you’re carrying a lot of stuff. Put some of it down, or get some kind of penalty levels” for when people were carrying unrealistic amounts.” I don’t thnk that particularly hurt the enjoyment of the game, or it’s fundamental tenor.

    • Matt says:

      I believe that Jared Sorenson & John Wick used to have a thing at cons where they’d help people fine tune their games. This basically consisted of them frequently simply asking:

      1. What is your game about?
      2. How is your game about this?
      3. How does your game encourage/reward this? (or: How do the rules support this?)

      With the proviso that “Survival” is not a good answer (on it’s own) for this, since many characters (most, I would say) are presumed to be wanting to survive. So it’s kind of like talking about the sports & saying: First, breathe oxygen.

      It was kind of amazing how frequently people couldn’t answer these questions

      • grant says:

        I’ve been meaning to track down that blog post for a while. It’s a very, very clever way of looking at games design, as games as machines that power actions. All too often I see (and used to write!) generic games, because… well, because that’s all you can think of, often. But I try to envisage those questions, now, when I write games, or when I read them, and it’s an excellent critical lens.

    • Hasimir says:

      I beg to differ, as a huge amount of games (call them Indie or Forge or Story or whatever) are designed to work EXACTLY like that: follow the rules to the letter and you get the advertised game experience … in style 😛

      Just because your average AD&D3.xFinder causes problems if actually used as written, it doesn’t mean “all rpgs” have the same fundamental design flaw.
      (of course, D&D is just the most famous example)

  • Sean Holland says:

    Good article and I certainly agree. While game rules can be just bad they are usually flawed for their aim, your review of SR5 shows that quite clearly, but correcting them can be difficult. Much to think about here.

  • Todd says:

    This is the same argument seen about movies, music, TV and just about everything else in life.

    “If I (the speaker) don’t like it, it is bad and you are bad if you like it. You should substitute MY experience for your own. MY opinions are facts, your experiences are wrong if they differ from mine. You know I am right because I (am) (a) professor/musician/professional/have a blog/older/smarter/better.”

    It’s a cocktail arrogance, elitism and ego centrism. It was tedious in junior high arguments about which X-man could beat up Spider-Man. It was tedious in high school arguments about which bands rule and which suck. And it was eloquent tediousness in college when the professor slagged writers you liked because they were still alive. And yes, it is tedious in this blog post.

    Grow up. You’re not 11 anymore. Time to form a theory of mind.

    • Jesse says:

      You’re completely wrong, he’s saying games can have criticism too. Criticism is not inherently negative.

    • Jesse says:

      Also, you should always think twice before writing “Grow up” in a comment on the internet. And then if you decide to do it anyway, you’re wrong.

    • Josh W says:

      There’s a paradox here, that those who say “grow up” may be doing it because they themselves have not moved beyond childish interactions.

      I don’t know if this is the case for you, but if the criticism or analysis of the media you love you are involved in has never moved beyond daft secondary school conversations, you can see that instead of the conversations that adults are trying to have.

      The only true way to grow up beyond those conversations is to see what was wrong with them, but also how you can have whatever was valuable in them without the bits that were wrong.

      So is there anything to criticism that is not egocentric promotion of your own ideas? Yes, most obviously when you apply it to things you already like in order to improve on them. There’s no argument you’re trying to win there, there’s no posturing or competition. There’s just seeing what is good and trying to get more of it, to the exclusion of the bits that are not good.

      And there’s also criticism where you try to distinguish between comfort and quality. What do you enjoy mostly from habit and nostalgia, and what would you find good if you started it today? Or if you applied the lessons of the flaws of playing before?

      In my experience there are rule sets that I bent over backwards to accommodate, and then at some point you realise that really it’s not that this system suits you, but that you have made yourself suit it, and that if you built a game around yourself instead, it would come out quite different.

      If you cannot distinguish between comfort and quality, then you cannot create change or improvement.

  • Lenny says:

    An additional note, regarding criticism:

    As long as you’ve taken a reasonable precaution not to be a dick, you can ignore anyone who responds to your criticism with the tone argument, pretty much, because it’s the shittiest silencing tactic ever and a fallacy to boot. “You didn’t phrase your criticism in a way that appeals to me, so I’m not required to engage the substance of your claims.” Fuck that.

    This is my way of saying that I found the comment thread in your Shadowrun review frustrating. 🙂

  • Excellent points. Your thoughts moved me to a reflection on why I rarely post about games I consider bad: http://mechanteanemone.wordpress.com/2013/10/30/being-critical-in-a-small-community/ I think I shall be posting a couple of such reviews in the near future. (I’ll send all complainers your way!) ^_^

  • biggles says:

    This seems to focus on criticism of the rules text, conflating it with some ideal game play it purportedly signifies. What about criticism of the game practices the rules text produces? Or criticism of game practices that are not represented in any rules text?

    I think that the implicit assumption that (rules text -> ‘proper’ play) is the premier form of RPGs is problematic. If we criticise games, which we should, we should criticise what they are, not what they’re meant to be. So in my view, the kinds of inhouse rules a game has tended to produce are definitely a legitimate target for criticism. There’s no point in being a scaredey cat and confining yourself to text / the official way of playing if you want to criticise something in general. Rules text is an important part of a particular kind of game construction, but without anyone acting out or interpreting the rules, it’s pretty meaningless.

    In other words, what the game IS is meaningless without what the game DOES. And unfortunately, doing is generally informal and messy. Even moreso than text by supposedly anti-rules authors.

    • grant says:

      Nice dig at the end there, Biggles.

      The text is the thing, though. The text is what powers those messy and informal experiences – it is all we have, in terms of art and design, from the creators. It is the text that POWERS the play. Does that text inform a satisfying form of play, when adhered to? That’s the question. Because criticising individual play sessions, or the act of play itself, brings a lot of the users into the equation. Maybe too much. Are the users good storytellers, or is the game powering a good story? What’s making a pleasant play experience good, or an unpleasant one bad? That’s what we have to look at.

      Rules text is important because that is where the relationship between the designer and the user begins and ends. What the game IS is what it DOES: what stories, what experiences, it can create and how smoothly it can do so.

      • biggles says:

        Well, in every case of a game being played, the users are the large part of the equation. It’s a hard truth to swallow, but how successful (at achieving your stated goals) your game is in practice will be significantly determined by how others play it.

        In addition, there are games that have a history but no specific text aside from some light core system and the GM’s notes. They were played once, and nobody wrote them down or is sure how to repeat them. One of my favourite GMs does this style, and I think that it’s both good and legitimate. But this doesn’t mean that he is immune to criticism, or my attempts to write down his games. There are many other kinds of designer-user relationships possible. The designer-to-text-to-gm-to-group one is just the most easily commodifiable one. Which makes it appealing to people who think they’re such good roleplaying game creators that they should be paid to do it.

        I think that the view of the text as a foundation for play is kinda shaky in this light. I don’t think you really need it in general. A game (wherever you choose to locate its centre) is a tricky thing. It doesn’t just create stories and experiences. It also produces or influences the production of things like:
        – Hacks
        – Inhouse rules
        – Discussions
        – Social groups
        – Props
        – Related games

        It’s not that in text-oriented rules-having games, rules aren’t important. It’s that games have a huge existence outside of that perspective. It’s that rules are (usually) not computer programs – they don’t perfectly prescribe the physics of the game world as a function of defined randomness and user inputs. They’re a lot more like recipes, both in the results of people trying to correctly follow them, and in the validity of people who read them and then intentionally don’t. So, yes, you can criticise rules text, but you are always implicitly critiquing the social results of that rules text.

        I wrote something about music recently that comes from a similar angle. https://medium.com/world-of-music/7008aed55232 It might make it more clear what I’m getting at.

  • Ryan says:

    Nice article but I have to admit I needed to read it more than once to get the full grasp of it.

  • I mostly agree with you in everything. But I believe there are moments for criticism, the right place to express them, and the right people to talk about them.

    It needs to be done, obiviously, but it needs to be done in the right way. It can be on your blog, on a website, or anyplace that is prepared to that. That the people reading will know you are talking about it.

    What I think is wrong is the people that start doing it in the middle of others conversations (it happens a lot in the internet). Someone is talking about a game they like (that might be bad objectively) and a critical jumps in feeling he has the need to inform that person about how bad their game is. That, for me, is just being a jerk.

  • Mike says:

    I like the article 🙂 Though I am not sure I agree with everything you say. Fundamentally I see what you are saying, though I do think personal experiences with things vastly colours your opinions, I don’t think it is possible to be completely objective and how you approach people with criticism is a big factor.

    For example I think D&D (every edition) is a terrible system, so bound up in rules that it becomes a maths and text book reading exercise. This can grind a game to a halt and cause arguments, unless the GM puts their foot down and veto’s the rules. That to me is a bad system. I know many people who disagree with me on this. The fact that they had to produce a separate “Rules Compendium” For 3.5 says it all. I am sure the rules are well thought out, but there are just too many of them and they are way too complex.

    Old World of Darkness as another example, I (and my various play groups) have never found it to be clunky or hard to use. I always found it to be fairly straightforward and simple. The combat rules only really get awkward if you use the optional extra rules (which are admittedly awful!)

    I tend to lean toward more abstract and less rules intensive systems and I know that colours my opinions of things. I think this really is where the crux of the issue lies for me. I really do agree with you that we as gamers should to be able to look at our games analytically/critically to see why things are or what they are doing. But since opinions on these things are subjective, You are going to get points of contention. Its how you approach the person that is important.

    Its obvious from the essay that you are irked by the fact people often take it personally when something they love is being criticised. But people do that! People get protective of the things they love. Whether is is good or bad. Its not just a geek thing either, go to a football match and criticise the team of a fan. If you go in and say “I respect you, but your team is shit!” You can expect to get beaten up, it doesn’t matter that you said you respect them you went in on the offensive. The whole tone of this essay felt like that. The language you use, the tone of statements and so on. If you want people to engage more you should probably use a more neutral tone.

    In closing, yes we as a community really do need to be able to look more critically at things, but we should be at least respectful in how we present our criticisms. That I think is why most people react badly to it, not because they are not open to it. But because most people when criticising do it in the form of an attack, rather than a reasoned debate or opinion.

  • Markus says:

    *I just had to comment on that.*
    —-
    *LOOK, ROBOT said:*
    _Before we start, here’s two things I want to set out:_
    _ONE. It is wrong to call a game objectively bad because you don’t like it._
    _TWO. It is right to not like a game because it is objectively bad._

    *I say:*
    I have read the rest of the essay. And to me it feels like the author understands each word of these two propositions but not the meaning.

    The rest of the article is mainly a very long and very unnecessary rant about dumb games and dumb players rethorically disguised as an objective analysis.

    Don’t get me wrong. This pseudo-analysis shows some opinions that I share (not the ones confusing subjectivism with objectivism though). And even though I am deeply offended by this article, it is not because I like the mentioned games (I don’t know or play any of these even though I may do so in the future). I am offended because I sometimes can not completely explain why I like a game and why I don’t like a game even if I understand the rules and the background and everything. And so I am one of those dumb players using sentences like “If you don’t like it, it’s not for you”, “It doesn’t matter how bad a game is, so long as you’ve got a good GM” and “You don’t have to use rules that you don’t like”. Normally I use another phrase in a discussion where these arguments may fit: “You play the game you deserve to play” (or “You play in a party you deserve to play in” or something similar).
    —-

    *LOOK, ROBOT said:*
    _Of course, “good” and “bad” are relative terms. We can argue the definitions back and forth until the cows come home, and I don’t want to do that. (…)_

    *I say:*
    First of all: There are no definitions of good and bad. They are subjective, bound to each and everyones expectations and needs. The author makes it sound like personal opinions of likes and dislikes are nothing else but silly excuses of people who don’t really think about each and every aspect of a roleplaying game, their objective virtues to the objective roleplaying experience.

    But he is right in a way. With every published work there is, there is bound to be criticism and the criticism (praise or reproach) is necessary for the writers and authors to evaluate their work and update it, if they feel the need to do so. But this felt need and the criticism is – again – totally subjective. It is not like a roleplaying game is a book of facts. It is a book of fiction. Totally.

    Well, there are some aspects where the borders between fiction and mathematicals facts or mathematical ethics become blurred. This is where game mechanics can be mathematically tested and therefor discussed on an somehow objective level. These are probably also part of this analysis-rant-thing and I won’t disagree here.
    —-

    *LOOK, ROBOT said:*
    _“In my opinion.” That’s a cop-out phrase, isn’t it? (…)_

    *I say:*
    It not just a cop-out phrase. It is a (damn well needed) phrase to remind your audience and yourself that all you say is bound to your subjective view of the world, to your experience and your environment. It is a reminder to the fact, that all but you may not share any of these things and therefore have a totally different approach to things (like roleplaying). It is a confident remark about the self knowledge that everything you believe in may be important for just one single individual (you) and that everyone else therefor can, may and should have their own opinions.

    For me it feels weird that the author has such a dogmatic approach to clearly subjective issues. Dogmatic? Subjective? Right.
    —-

    *LOOK, ROBOT said:*
    _We need to criticise games. All of us. All players, of all levels. (…)_

    *I say:*
    I nearly completely agree to this part. Nearly, because I would exchange the word “need” with “can” in the first sentence. I don’t need to criticise games. I can and maybe I will. Maybe just to me or to the people I play these games with, maybe to a wider audience.
    —-

    *LOOK, ROBOT said:*
    _THE ARGUMENTS (TO END ALL ARGUMENTS)_
    _But the prevailing arguments amongst much of the RPG circuit are these: (…)_

    *I say:*
    I can only guess that the author has to often been at the wrong side of a discussion of roleplaying games to get to these weird conclusions. I could probably admit that getting into a discussion about things I like and that others don’t like would drive me crazy as well (and could make me produce an essay like this). But why would I want to convince others that the game they like is bad? On the other hand I have very often tried to convince people that a game the don’t like is a good game. But not by discussion but by inviting them to one of my sessions. Sometimes they would say something like “I tried it on many occasions but this is not my game” (before and after they played a session with me). And again, I wouldn’t think about convincing them that this is in deed a great game. They know, I like it and I know, they don’t. That is all there is to it.

    In the end this is not about bright rules or the right background or anything that can be measured in an objective way (as if these things could!). It is about what people like. You can’t argue with that and trying so… here is the result.
    —-

    *LOOK, ROBOT said:*
    _“IF YOU DON’T LIKE IT, IT’S NOT FOR YOU”_
    _(…)_
    _Just because someone enjoys something doesn’t make that particular thing good. In fact, a lot of the reasons people enjoy bad games is thanks to the second argument…_

    *I say:*
    The penultimate sentence is complete rubbish if it is meant in the dogmatic way the complete essay reads. Because the things is: *YES, JUST BECAUSE SOMEONE ENJOYS SOMETHING, IT MAKES THIS PARTICULAR THING GOOD!* At least for the one (probably ones – a complete party) playing this game. Yes, it sounds like the aforementioned silly excuses… but it has a very basic level of things. Giving a game you don’t enjoy but others do a dogmatic bad attribute is disrespectful – to game and to the players. “They are playing a bad game. AND THEY DON’T GET IT! LMFAO!!!” This is a depreciation to all the fun these people do have with that game. And of course to the people as well. And the question for me is not, why someone does not like the game or why these people do play the game (I already know the answer). The question is, what makes someone depreciate other roleplayers due to the games they like? Is this essay in the end just a cry for help? Can anyone help?
    —-

    *LOOK, ROBOT said:*
    _“IT DOESN’T MATTER HOW BAD A GAME IS, SO LONG AS YOU’VE GOT A GOOD GM”_
    _Obviously. Yes. (…)_

    *I say:*
    Obviously. Yes.
    I agree.

    But I would probably defend a game someone else might find shoddy because I liked the gaming session or the whole campaign. For me (and many of those that I play with – at least I think so) the game is not just the words written in a book but everything there is to the gaming sessions (and often even in between). And still I might criticise the game as written. RIFTS is a good example… I just love it though I can’t stand the rules…
    But then again… I would still call it a basically good game.
    —-

    *LOOK, ROBOT said:*
    _“YOU DON’T HAVE TO USE RULES YOU DON’T LIKE”_
    _Everyone house-rules. (…)_

    *I say:*
    I understand and accept that every game is build on a set of rules and as with all rules (in life) they don’t capture all aspects, strengths and weeknesses or needs and expectations of the individuals they are issued to. So naturally every single rolepaying party will solely use the rules they feel comfortably with and may even resort to change some. I see this not as an option (like being an individual is not an option) but as a foundation for each and every roleplaying campaign and party. The option is to stick to the rules as written.

    I’d probably agree that there is a border as to where I would stop tweaking the rules but put it away and either use a different set of rules or play a different rpg.

    But tweaking the rules is not only a hint to a person being dissatisfied with single rules aspects but also still wanting to play the game and therefor feeling that this is basically a good game (and “basically good” is “good” in a simple good/bad spectrum). This may not make a game I don’t like likable for me but that’s not the matter.
    —-

    *LOOK, ROBOT said:*
    _STOP MAKING EXCUSES_
    _You, as a player, need to look at the game with a critical eye and think: (…)_

    *I say:*
    Seriously?
    Even though the players may not have asked themselves these questions in exact the same way, they have answered themselves a very simple and more obvious question: Do I want to play that game? And at the bottom line that is all that matters. No one needs to justify their decision, no one needs to analyse the rules and no one has determine if a game is good or bad in any other way as to the simple fact: Do I want to play that game (again)?
    —-

    *LOOK, ROBOT said:*
    _Every game is designed to tell a story, by the way, not just “story games.” (…)_

    *I say:*
    Finally, there is not a single line I can argue with in this last part.

    I would add that not everyone who likes something can (or needs to) completely explain why. And not everyone who dislikes a game can logically explain why (I just hate d% games, don’t know why). And not everyone who doesn’t criticise is afraid of doing so. I guess (and hope) that these silent people ask themselves the very simple question: Where is the gain for me sending and especially for others receiving my opinion? Is it just me working with frustration? Maybe I should tell my hairdresser. But is there a gain for others…?

    http://lookrobot.co.uk/2013/10/25/games-can-bad-okay-say/

  • DD Ra says:

    Indeed we need to be able to criticise the rules of a game for us to have better rules. Such analysis will help us identify witch rules we will have to let go or witch rules to add to have a better game !

    Has you say, you can have a good game with bad rules, but it will be lot more easy (and even more fun) to play with well designed rules.
    It’s hard to have to play “against” the rules, and even harder to have to curb a good story because the rules make in uneffective to do it the way it should go.

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