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A game being enjoyable does not entail that it is good

Content of the article: "A game being enjoyable does not entail that it is good"

Let me preface this by saying that if a game is not fun, that is definitely a point against it, but it doesn't make it bad. With TGA noms being announced, a lot of people are criticizing TLOU2 in comparison with Animal Crossing. These people say that Animal Crossing is enjoyable, but TLOU2 is not. Therefore, Animal Crossing is a better game than TLOU2. I think this is a mistake.

First: a game, or any work of art, being enjoyable does not automatically mean that it's good. Plenty of freemium iPhone games are enjoyable, and I think most people agree those are bad games. I don't find 2001: A Space Odyssey particularly enjoyable, but I think that movie is very very good. If you want to say that a work of art being "enjoyable" is a purely subjective notion, I think that's false. We can generalize and say that what statistically most people who appreciate games, and games of a certain category, find enjoyable, then that is the objective standard that makes a game enjoyable. All this is to say that the defense "Animal Crossing is more enjoyable than TLOU2" does not mean that Animal Crossing is better than TLOU2.

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So I'd like to propose an alternate way to account for how enjoyability can make a game worthwhile: that it is enjoyable for the right reasons. Of course, I don't know what ALL the right reasons are, or what they could be, but here are two examples:

Freemium games are enjoyable because they trick you into believing you care about logging in tomorrow to do your daily tasks. Once most people stop playing a freemium game for longer than a few days, they realize that they have no interest whatsoever in playing the game ever again. I think this is also true of Animal Crossing–I have a lot of friends who played it every day for months, but then they stopped, and told me they didn't realize until they stopped that it was a waste of time.

On the positive side, FromSoftware games are enjoyable (for one reason among many others) because they involve overcoming some huge challenge that involves skill. This is a good reason because it provides (1) a sense of accomplishment, and (2) developing a skillset, things that might be inherently valuable.

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So: is this convincing, or can someone provide another argument/objections to mine that show that enjoyability (in its unqualified sense) does always determine a game as good/bad?

tl;dr – there are games that are enjoyable that are bad, and there are games that are not enjoyable that are good. Therefore, we shouldn't say that a game being enjoyable instantly makes it good, or that a game being not enjoyable instantly makes it bad. It depends on if the game is enjoyable for the right reasons.


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