On Being a “Good” Player of Video Games

When I sat down to write this post, I initially had in mind to cover some of the recent news concerning Far Cry 5, due out March 27th, concerning it’s length. The crux of the article was going to be something along the lines of “does game’s length matter anymore?” But then, as I was perusing game sites for further inspiration, something else caught my eye, a statement from Far Cry 5‘s executive producer. You’ll find it in this GameSpot article, and it’s a rather innocuous sentence, really. When it comes to the time it might take one to complete the game, the producer said:


I would say that a good player will go through it in 25 hours.

It’s not the “25 hours” that interested me here. No, it’s the phrase “a good player.” Because here’s where my brain went:

So…if it a good player of video games could finish Far Cry 5 in 25 hours, would a bad player of video games take longer to complete it? Shorter? Or never bother because they are bad at games?

I’m not after this particular person for his choice of wording, because it’s something I’ve heard plenty of time before — that there’s some sort of invisible delineation between people who are “good” are games and people who aren’t. It’s something that’s never made sense to me.

It’s an issue that made headlines late last year when a video surfaced of a game reviewer having a difficult time with the game Cuphead. The question arose then then of just how good should game reviewers be at games, which was just as curious a topic.

Slight digression here, but I posses a yoga video that contains a voice-over introduction that states, “you cannot be good or bad at yoga. Just do the best you can, and you’ll reap the benefits.” I think the same can be said of gaming. Because I’ll be honest, I’m terrible at some games sometimes. I can’t fly/glide in games to save my life. My hand-eye coordination kind of stinks sometimes, so I can have good and bad days when it comes to playing shooters. I’m really great at dying in stupid ways. I tend to get really stressed out at and overly frustrated with difficult boss battles. And if my attention span just doesn’t sync with a game, I can end up trying the same thing over and over and over again to no avail. So am I a “good” player or a “bad” player? I’d like to think that my decades of experience playing games speaks to something, but maybe that’s not good enough these days? What the heck does it mean to be a “bad” player, anyway? If I want to try to stealth my way through a shooter, is that bad? If I want to spend hours exploring over completing a story, is that bad? If I want to find new ways to spectacularly die over and over again in a retro title, is that bad?

Going back to that notion of what people might think makes for a “good” player of video games, the only concrete thing that I’ve heard within my own social circle is that “good” players tend to complete games to their fullest extents. They go for ALL the achievements, one hundred percent, getting to the point where there’s nothing left to do but move onto the next game. And then they do it all over again. But then there are vaguer idea about what makes someone good at games, like determination, spirit, technical know-how, a willingness to learn from mistakes, and possessing an innate talent for gaming. In a way, this builds off if my last post, Is Gaming Teachable?, because it makes me wonder if someone can be taught to be a “good” player of games? And if not, then are they considering “bad” players. again, if have to ask, why would “bad” players of games play at all when they could be doing something they’re good at? The only thing that’s clear to me is that “good” and “bad” are not great words to use to describe people who play games.

But maybe you guys can help me make sense of this, because I don’t want to play Far Cry 5 if I’m not good enough to complete it in the allotted time.

(Article source: Gamespot)


Apologies for the late sarcasm there, but really, is there such a thing as being “good” and “bad” at gaming?

Lede image by Flickr user Jaymie Koroluk (CC BY-NC-SA 2.0)

21 Comments

  1. I have a few thoughts for posts along a similar line (still sat in permanent draft state…) but briefly I would say for that sentence to appear from GameSpot seems a bit poor as it isn’t clear what is classified as good and the potential implications of it. I don’t necessarily think that there is a specific definition for a “good gamer” that would apply across the board. If one exists then it certainly wouldn’t be simple. Enjoy the games you enjoy, play them to whatever level and extent that you want to.

    Liked by 3 people

    1. cary says:

      Yeah, that’s what I was getting at (though I was much more long-winded about it, haha). People who play video games are just that, people who play video games. There’s no “good” or “bad” about it. If you play, whether or not to the best of your abilities, that’s good. End of story.

      (If you do publish your own post, I’ll keep an eye out for it. We can distill things down as best we can, but as you say, there’s no simple answer here.)

      Liked by 3 people

  2. ogreatgames says:

    I guess you are right in some point describing a good player. However, a player finishing a game beyond 25 hrs doesn’t make you a bad one. But not to be considered as the best player as well. In my own opinion a good player finishes the game, completed the achievements and missions no matter how long it takes or how many hours or days. But the Best player finishes the game in a small amount of time and completed all the quests and achievements with perfect stars. So i think there is no bad players at all just good and best.. great post.

    Liked by 3 people

    1. cary says:

      Thanks! I get your point. We all have different motivations to play, and for some of us, simply playing a game to completion, or to whatever level with which we are satisfied, is good enough. But some folks strive for more than that. It’s the same as with any hobby – some just want to become good at it, while others want to become the best. And that’s cool. Frankly, watching gamers being great at their games sometimes serves as motivation to keep playing!

      Liked by 1 person

  3. The Keeper says:

    I think the quote from your Yoga video is on to something. Being good, in the classic sense, comes down to being skillful. You’ll otherwise have as much fun as you allow yourself to have with a game..

    New game = new learning curve. Someone who has “decades of experience” playing games, or a particular style of game, will arguably have an easier time picking up a new game. Said experience will allow a gamer to move through a new game more quickly than someone without said experience, thanks to time honed skills like hand eye coordination or the ability to recognize familiar mechanics.

    I don’t think 100% completion or achievement hunting has anything to do with being “good” or “better” at games. Folks who pursue that level of play are considered “completionists” and I promise you they will not be 100% done with a game in 25 hours, especially not on a first play through.

    Thanks for the great read ^__^

    Liked by 4 people

    1. cary says:

      Very well put. I like your point about the learning curve , because I know that every time I pick up a new game, I always have a moment of doubt about my ability. And that’s speaking with those decades of gaming experience! “Will I be any good at this?” always pops in my head. But really the question is more like “Will I succeed at this game to the level that I want?” And I can’t answer that if I don’t try. Having the skill is nothing if you don’t believe.

      Boy, that sounds hokey, but it’s the plain ol’ truth.

      I get the completionists’ route, but I sometimes feel that has more to do with stamina than skill. Granted, some achievements require excellent gaming skills, but one also has to have an overwhelming motivation to attain them. I know I don’t always, so if that makes me a “bad” player in some eyes, so be it. Ha!

      Liked by 1 person

    2. I think I’d read somewhere that the younger kids that have grown up with touch screens and ipads, have had a harder time with the platformers (like Mario Bros. and Mega Man) that I grew up with.

      It’s interesting to watch my kids play their games on the tablets, and then try and hold a controller with dual joysticks. Probably has something to do with the size of their hands (6yo and 4yo) but it’s still just kind of foreign.

      We’re starting Overcooked, we’ll see how it goes.

      Liked by 3 people

      1. cary says:

        Y’know, in the recent past, I remember here being quite a lot of backlash (mostly from old fogies like me) against using tablets and iPads to play “real” video games because of having to use touchscreen controls. It’s fascinating to think there there’s an entire group of kids nowadays for whom touchscreen controls are completely normal.

        Like

        1. It’s strange to me that they can grasp the touch screen controls and some pretty detailed controlled schemes at that. But give them an NES controller with a DPad and AB, and it’s such a hard concept. I’ve seen it with my own kids. Funny.

          Liked by 1 person

  4. Hatm0nster says:

    I guess if I were to describe what a “good” video game player was, I suppose I would say that it’s someone who does their best to enjoy the games they play. I know a couple of people who don’t necessarily go into a game looking to enjoy it (like it needs to prove it’s worth their time or they need to play it out of obligation or something). Needless to say, it doesn’t always go well.

    Other than that, the criteria for whether or not you’re considered a good player depends heavily upon the game.

    Liked by 2 people

    1. cary says:

      That’s a great point, about it depending on the game itself. As with anything, we gravitate towards the things we enjoy, and it’s only natural that, individually, we’re going to like and be better at some games over others. Anyone willing to put in the effort is “good.”

      I also know a few people for whom gaming is like competitive eating. They play on the hardest difficulty simply to beat a game, even if they have to scream their way through it, just so they can claim some sort of “I’m the BEST at this” award. Ah, to each his/her own, I suppose.

      Liked by 2 people

  5. LightningEllen says:

    I proudly played Dragon Age Inquisition on casual difficulty. Everyone has their own goals in games. It’s hard for me to pin “good” or “bad” labels on players. If you’re having fun playing a game your way, you are awesome at video games (as far as I’m concerned) πŸ˜€

    Liked by 3 people

    1. cary says:

      I *always* play on easy mode these days. πŸ™‚ (Ain’t nobody got time to be throwing controllers at each other!) While some people might develop better gaming skills than some, in the end, gaming is all about playing what you love and being as good as it as you want to be. In fact, that the best thing about gaming, period!

      Liked by 3 people

  6. Ryan says:

    It’s an interesting topic for sure. I’ve had the same thought at times. When I compare stats of how long it takes me to complete a game, any game I’m always surprised by the number. Using Uncharted 4 as an example.The average gamer completed the single story campaign in 15 hours. That’s not including extras. My time is nearly always doubled. I think I finished my playthrough at 29 hours. I was playing on normal. I just took my time. The game is linear. I do also stop and look at the artwork, and see details and explore.https://howlongtobeat.com/game.php?id=20077

    Even the telltales games like walking dead and borderlands. people finished at about 10 hours. I took 18 or 19 hours.

    https://howlongtobeat.com/game.php?id=22804

    I don’t know how or why that happens. I play at my pace. I think I’m fairly good at games otherwise I wouldn’t be playing them. It’s all relative I guess. Sometimes I think when they say “a good player can finish it in 25 hours” I’m assuming that is for people who rush through the main campaign maybe without dying, i don’t know.

    Liked by 3 people

    1. cary says:

      It’s kind of a glib phrase when you think about it. As someone who knits, for example, I hear all the time that a good knitter can knit a hat in 30 minutes. Yes, they might be a speedy knitter, but how does speed translate into being “good?” Is my hat, which took me an hour to make, bad by default? Eh, maybe it’s just semantics. I don’t really know either.

      How Long to Beat is a really interesting site, and also use it to compare my progress with that of others. I find that my own numbers are usually way off, either too high or too low – so either I take my time or rush, I guess? I mean, as you say, we play at our own paces, so the right pace for you may not be the right pace for someone else. If people are using that metric to separate the “good” players from the “bad” ones, it’s not a very good one.

      Liked by 1 person

  7. Great points! I wrote something similar a while ago, prompted by the same Cuphead reviewer. It’s what actually prompted me to start my blog instead of just thinking about writing.

    https://wordpress.com/post/husbandfathergamergeek.wordpress.com/36

    Games can be a great hobby, but don’t let someone else influence your entertainment. You do you. I’ve also realized that no one cares if I beat the game on “Can I Play Daddy?” of “Another Broken Controller” difficulty. I’ve learned to enjoy my entertainment.

    Liked by 2 people

  8. Interesting post! I’ve started to ponder this in my gaming also. The Cuphead video prompted me to start writing my thoughts down in my own space.

    https://husbandfathergamergeek.wordpress.com/2017/11/13/the-one-about-cuphead/

    It’s interesting to realize how my gaming habits have changed over the years and I’ve gone from a compulsive completionist, to one that is more out to enjoy my entertainment at my pace.

    Liked by 2 people

    1. cary says:

      Ah, cool! I’ll have to check out your site. No matter how we each might define “good” or “bad” when it comes to games and gaming, the key is to enjoy whatever it is you’re playing. There’s little reason to let outside influences tell you what kind of a video game player you might or should be. And certainly, the type of player you are has to change as you change. That’s just life. πŸ™‚

      Liked by 1 person

  9. Sorry for the double comment. Didn’t see the first one pop up, so I had another go.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. cary says:

      No problem, and apologies here as well – sometimes it takes us awhile to approve comments from new folks, and I wasn’t sure if I was seeing double or not! πŸ™‚

      Like

Comments are closed.