One of the (few) downsides to being professionally involved with games is that there is a certain pressure towards being an expert at all games. (I believe my subpar Foosball skills once disappointed a group of people.)
So, perhaps this is one of the reasons why so many games are broken: since most people testing are in some way involved with the industry and/or are gamers wanting to show off their amazing skills, they are afraid of admitting to finding the game/UI too hard. We are afraid of looking stupid, so we keep quiet about obvious usability and balancing issues.
Fortunately, the backlash is here. In order of appearance:
0:49 The next stage is a cooking show. “My style is rich, dope, phat, in which/We’ll make a cake today that looks rich.” That almost sounds like English.
0:50 “The other day I was called a little turkey/But I’m a chicken, got it, ya beef jerky?” This line always cracks me up for no good reason.
0:52 I fail the song, but I have no idea why. I thought I was doing OK, actually…
I admit it: I failed here too and never came back to the game.
2) How do I Play Game is the chronicle of a “non-gamer” playing Half-Life.
I played for 10 whole minutes last night. Got off the train, started moving around, started opening doors and wondering through. I figured out I was supposed to be looking for this test chamber. Scientists and security guards were talking to me but I didn’t have the sound up and wasn’t really listening.
Found a “break room” with vending machines and stuff … wtf?
Found a men’s restroom with feet under the stalls … wtf?
Found a room with a suit that looks like I’m supposed to get it but I couldn’t figure out how to get it from behind the glass.
Found a door, but a security guard wouldn’t let me through because I didn’t have a suit on.
Got frustrated and exited for the night.
3) Jurie Horneman has an honest post about failing at games:
- Skate and Burnout Paradise, where I respectively got stuck in the tutorial and failed to find the game.
- Mass Effect, where I instantly got lost in the first mission. I mean, be serious: Spawn the player in the first level and then point him in the wrong direction? Do you know how much trouble I went through to rotate the camera just so at the start of some of the Manhunt 2 levels I worked on? Maybe this was a glitch – I can’t believe this was left in the game.
- Assassin’s Creed, which generally befuddled me.
- Prince of Persia: Sands of Time. Don’t get me started on the first boss battle.
4) Jurie also mentions Donald Norman’s observation that most users (of anything) tend to blame themselves, rather than the design / game / object.
That leads to the good news: It is alright to blame the game. Don’t be afraid of admitting to failure.
Which gives me the courage to admit how I utterly failed at the desert level of Patapon. Here is how it went:
- I went to the desert.
- At the totem pole with some controller markings on it (X O triangle, something like that), pressed those buttons. No feedback either way.
- Was told to watch out for the desert heat. No indication what I was supposed to do to counter said heat.
- Repeat some more.
- Looked up some walkthrough. It told me that I should have the Juju. Unfortunately I did not recall every hearing about a Juju, had no idea what a Juju was and no idea where to get one.
- Put the game back in its package.
- Behold the 145.000 google hits for patapon + desert. I am not alone. (Phew – makes it a bit safer to admit it, doesn’t it.)
5) I think it should be officially OK to blame the game: What games did you fail at?