Escapist Editorials

Escapist Editorials
A Bug By Any Other Name

Susan Arendt | 7 Dec 2011 21:00
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Drakan: The Ancients Gates is another game that I'd love to love, were it not for the presence of a single, game-killing bug. The game - high fantasy with a strong female protagonist and a talking dragon companion, how awesome is that? - will become irrevocably effed if you happen to walk through a certain cave at a certain time without your dragon pal. Which I did. And then saved. Thus ensuring that my only way forward was to start completely over and not go through that particular cave that particular way. Though I learned an incredibly valuable lesson that day - keep multiple save files, dumbass - I never did finish The Ancients Gates. I started over, and even got all the way back to that stupid cave, but my frustration over having to retrace my steps cast a permanent pall over my adventures. Even though it wasn't actually broken anymore, Drakan had stopped being fun, and I put it aside for good.

So what's the difference? Why do we forgive some games and punish others for committing, essentially, the exact same crime?

For me, at least, it goes beyond simple cost/benefit analysis. I could say that I forgive Skyrim its trespasses because the amount of time I spend dealing with bugs is vastly outweighed by the amount of time I spend enjoying myself - but I could say the exact same thing about Alpha Protocol. I think that when it comes to forgiveness, games are pretty much like people: You're willing to give the ones you love best the greatest amount of slack, but by the same token, when someone you love does something really bad, it hurts twice as much. So I'll overlook Dead Island's wonkiness because I've been won over by its other charms, but I'll never speak to Drakan again because it wrecked something that meant a lot to me. Patches - the gaming version of an apology - will sometimes be good enough to let bygones be bygones, and other times will just be too little too late. It's unfair, totally biased, and human nature.

But it's also kind of a compliment to the games. The worst reaction a game can possibly evince is apathy, because that means it's utterly failed to engage us in any way. When a game reaches us, we become attached to it, or are disappointed by it. When we form a connection with what we're playing, we take it personally, for good and for ill, and react to its flaws with corresponding amounts of benevolence or disgust.

Or laughter. Because, seriously, that's just hysterical. I hope that doesn't get fixed. Ever.

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