I’ve been playing a lot of crap games over the past 5 years. As part of The Lame Game Marathon I’ve spent more time than I’d like to admit scraping the bottom of the barrel to find the worst games ever made, so I like to think that I’ve become a bit of an authority on the topic. Not just any bad game will do for our fundraising event, so I’ve put many hours into researching these games, digging deep into their history to understand how they work, and know what truly makes a game like Superman 64 “a literal piece of shit”. The thing is, over the years of paddling across this ocean of videogame poo, I’ve reached the other side with a strange realisation – bad games really aren’t all that bad.
If you think about it, the worst games can’t help the fact that they are boring, repetitive, or broken. I’m sure they were never meant to be bad, as no developer starts out with plans to make an awful game. These guys love games so much that they decide to make it their full-time job, so they must have an idea of what makes a game good, right? I try to be an optimist these days, so I take a moment to stop and think of the good intentions these games were built on. Maybe on paper they were great ideas, full of things like innovation, immersion and visceral..ity, but they just didn’t work out in practise. Or, perhaps the game design was solid but it was held back by other issues. They underestimated the budget? The deadline was pulled back by 12 months? They were forced to implement motion controls? The story content was completely scrapped and rebooted 6 months out from release? Making games is a long, drawn out process with many parties involved, and often all it takes is for one of these cogs to jam for the entire game to suffer as a result. So I say we should start trying to be a little bit more forgiving with rubbish games, as they really don’t deserve all the hate. As Lady Gaga says in that song – “I know I’m pretty shit, but I’m just made this way”.
Yeah ok, they may be unplayable, and butt-ugly, but at the Lame Game Marathon we’re trying to give these shitty games another chance. They may never change their Metacritic scores, but we can give them an opportunity to finally do something good, something that actually benefits humanity. I do sympathise with those who originally played these games who’ll never get back entire minutes spent furiously uninstalling the game after booting it up once. Sadly those moments are lost, forever, but that doesn’t mean that something good can’t come out of it.
So once a year, we load up the poo-bum games, and we broadcast ourselves playing them for 24 hours straight while asking our viewers to donate to UNICEF Australia. We give the unloved and the forgotten another 15 minutes of fame in the name of something truly worthwhile – helping UNICEF in aiding children both local and abroad who are facing poverty, famine and crisis. But as well as the humanitarian goals, there is something else.
Why do we play games? Most would agree that we play games for the fun and memorable experiences they give us. Over the past 5 years with the Lame Game Marathon, my experience playing the worst games ever has honestly been a fantastic one. You may see us struggling with the backwards-ass controls and terrible graphics for hours on end, but we’re always laughing while we do, and everyone who’s watching on Twitch is laughing along with us. In a way, we’re helping these games finally achieve their true purpose of providing fun and entertainment to people, and in return the games are helping us promote a noble cause and raise funds for those who truly need it the most. So in the end, maybe these games aren’t that bad after all, they just needed the right opportunity to do something good.
…Or maybe they’re just a pack of shit games, but at least it’ll be fun to watch us play a bunch of them for 24 hours for a good cause.
Dan works with a team of gamers from Melbourne to produce The Lame Game Marathon, an annual 24hr gaming event raising funds for UNICEF Australia. So far the team has raised almost $30,000 for charity, and the fifth LGM is happening this weekend from 12 noon on Saturday till noon Sunday. Check it out at www.lamegamemarathon.com, or at www.twitch.tv/lamegamemarathon.