Bad games like ET are worth playing

Deliberately playing bad games might seem like a terrible idea, but there’s a lot gamers can learn from experiencing the worst of the medium.


When it comes to discussions of video games, many gamers are quick to exaggerate. A game that can live up to the hype surrounding it is heralded as a masterpiece, while any game that can’t live up to the highest expectations is quickly labeled a failure. While it’s not always unwarranted, most games don’t deserve the title. However, playing really terrible games can actually help gamers set more realistic expectations for what the medium can deliver.


Bad video games can often have an even bigger legacy than good ones. The video game adaptation of ET: The Extra-Terrestrial was so terrible that it was blamed for almost destroying the entire video game market in the 80s. In recent years, the notoriously buggy and unfinished Sonic the Hedgehog ’06 nearly ruined the integrity of the series with fans, while other titles like Aliens: Colonial Marines were considered major errors. While the reception of these titles as shoddy is mostly unquestioned, there’s still some merit in playing them: an appreciation of how most games touted as “terrible” are actually quite acceptable.

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With so many titles released each year, gamers are treated to fantastic experiences across all genres and styles, and 2022 has seen several great games so far. With so many great options available, it might not seem worth intentionally sitting down to play bad games, but playing these titles occasionally can help give gamers better context for the titles they enjoy playing. Having a familiarity with truly terrible games means that the relatively minor missteps or mistakes seen in most AAA titles won’t feel as devastating as they otherwise might.

With upcoming titles like Monitor 2 seeing the controversy over questionable gameplay choices that separate it from its predecessor, some might be tempted to say the game is bad after release, though it still has a largely competent design. Even with Monitor 2 not meeting the same standards as the first game, being able to recognize that Monitor 2it is Missteps are a far cry from what less developed games looked like can help fans recognize that even significant drops in quality can mean a game is just okay: not fantastic, but not terrible either.

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Even when it comes to games that are widely acknowledged to be bad, playing them can give players an appreciation for the few moments of greatness they contain. The metroid infamous from the series Other M still has some sections worth playing. The infamously terrible game Desert Bus — a title in which the player must spend eight hours in the real world driving a bus through a featureless desert – has seen unexpected growth in affection due to sketch comedy group LoadingReadyRun using the game as a central pillar of their Desert Bus for Hope charity stream. Sometimes poor quality can be its own reward: the success of films like Bedroom proves that poor quality is not an obstacle to an enjoyable experience.

With gaming being a medium of such devastating highs and lows, making sure to experience the full range of what the industry has to offer can help gamers understand that relatively minor quality changes in AAA games are not as terrible as they could have been. seemed. Keeping media consumption diverse will help develop a much better understanding of the intricacies of game design, storytelling, and direction that would be missed without the experience of truly horrific games. Despite the tendency to want to consider anything under a 7/10 an awful game, being just okay is sometimes all a game needs, and even sonic ’06 has reason to be played at least once.