Just because you don’t like something doesn’t mean it sucks.
This should be something that’s easily understood, as its common sense that we all have different tastes, but too many people treat anything they dislike as something everyone should dislike. You see it all the time with movies or music, where the individual interests of people are shot down because someone has decided that a certain song or film is junk because they don’t like it. It even happens with entire genres of entertainment. How many times have you heard someone dismiss all of country or rap music as crap because they don’t care for that style? Admit it; you may have even done that yourself.
Unfortunately, this attitude also spills over into gaming (heck, it probably spills over into anything where humans have opinions). People will dismiss or even mock a game system they don’t care for, regardless of whether anyone else involved in the conversation likes that particular system. It is especially tiresome when someone can’t even mention a thing they’ve enjoyed because they know it will set off a rant about how awful that particular game is.
For a while, my Saturday group was playing a D&D 4th Edition campaign. During that time period, it was the best choice for our group for a variety of reasons: most of us that can GM were swamped with life and didn’t have the time and energy to properly prep a game. The one person who did have time to run was willing but inexperienced. Despite its flaws, 4th Ed provides a structure that works well for new players and GMs, allowing them to develop a stronger understanding of pacing and balancing encounters. No one in our group would have named 4th Ed as a favorite system, but it suited our needs at the time and we had a great deal of fun with the campaign. Yet, any time I got together with other gamer friends, I would have to defend that choice or avoid mentioning the game altogether. Even sharing a funny anecdote from the campaign would set one or two folks off on a rant about how awful 4th Ed was, despite the fact that I was sitting there saying, “I enjoyed it.” Obviously, in their eyes, I was wrong.
This was all brought to my mind recently due to a game I played at GenCon. The game wasn’t really my cup of tea and I was regretting signing up for it. It wasn’t as story/narrative based as I would have liked, with most of the focus being on the combat scenes. The GM was also up front that he was experimenting with using Hollow Earth rules for a super hero game, something it doesn’t inherently support. He had warned that there were still some kinks he was working out, but I was more frustrated that the interpretations of the super powers were very static and limited.
Both the focus on the action over roleplaying and the inflexible rule interpretations are things that I dislike about games in general. Don’t get me wrong, I want an action packed game, but I also want a meaningful (or fun) story to go along with it. I also prefer super hero games that allow room for the players to stretch their creativity in interpreting their characters’ powers. By all these factors, this game should have sucked.
But then I looked around the table and realized everyone else was having a blast. There may not have been deep storytelling in what was happening, but there was a fun framework for the action taking place as well as a steady stream of jokes about the mess our heroes had to deal with. There was even a running joke about the heroes getting their resumes into shape to apply for other teams while the leader considered cutting our pay. When winged men from another dimension descended from the skies to attack us, there was a spontaneous chorus around the table of, “Flash! Aahaaaa!”
Once I got past my annoyance at the game not being what I had hoped it would be, I let myself appreciate the game for what it was. It may not have been my thing, but it was probably exactly what some of the other players wanted. Rather than getting bent out of shape about not getting what *I* wanted, I let myself go along for the ride and smile at the enjoyment the other players were getting out of the game.
Don’t get me wrong. There are going to be games that legitimately suck, either from a horrible unwieldy system, or a really bad GM, but we should have a little respect for our fellow gamers and their personal tastes. It’s perfectly okay to debate the merits of a particular game, but if you’re refusing to acknowledge the legitimate reasons why someone else may like that thing you don’t, remember ‘your mileage may vary’. One person’s tastes do not define awesome or suck, and if you can’t respect a different opinion, you just might be a dick.