Video games are great, I love them. That’s not to say that they don’t sometimes infuriate me to the point of tears and gnashing of teeth though. Because of the complex nature of video games (especially today’s video games), there are lots of ways for things to go wrong, and when they do, it can be down right maddening.
- Games crashing.
This isn’t higher on the list because most modern games have a pretty robust save system these days. You don’t typically lose all that much progress if you game happens to crash. Back in the day though, game crashes could mean several minutes, even up to hours of gameplay lost because your foot got stuck on the controller cord and you yanked the Playstation across the room. Nothing was more session-ending than losing huge amount of progress. There are games I simply refuse to go back to because I don’t want to have to redo certain parts.
- Bad AI.
Bad AI comes in two distinct flavors. The first is the dumb enemy formula. Now, I don’t need every enemy in every game to be the Moriarty to my Sherlock Holmes, but it’s also pretty unacceptable when enemies are so dumb that they become nothing more than fodder. In these cases, the only way for the game to up the difficulty is to put more and more of them in your way, until the horde of brain-dead morons barreling at you is so large that you become overwhelmed.
The second flavor of bad AI is, in my opinion, much more frustrating. I’m speaking of course of completely incompetent AI teammates. Any game where I have to escort someone or coexist with a team of these idiots almost always ends in a rage quit. Bad AI companions make otherwise enjoyable encounters unplayable with their stupidity.
- Terrible Controls.
This could easily be number one. Terrible controls make any game bad. To me, controls are the one thing a game should strive never to screw up. I mean after all, interaction is the only thing that sets games apart from film and TV, so it should be the one thing that you make sure you get right. If the art is bad, and the game is hard, and the sound is terrible; if the game still controls well then it still has a chance to be fun. Bad controls are infuriating and game breaking.
- Games blatantly cheating.
As games have gotten easier, this has become a bit less of an issue. If you need a lesson in cheating AI, give NBA Jam for the SNES or Genesis a try though. You’ll quickly find out what old-school games did to piss off their players. When a game decides to cheat, it does so in the most egregious way possible, too. It cheats not by breaking the rules, but by bending the reality of the game. Using NBA Jam as the example again here, if you were up by twenty points in the fourth quarter, the computer controlled opponents would start stealing the ball and blocking shots way more often than they had throughout the first three quarters, and way more than they should have based on their stats. The game wouldn’t outwardly break the rules in a way that was noticeable, it would simply alter the level of challenge on the fly. Nothing was worse than losing a game at the very end just because the game decided that you as the player shouldn’t get to win.
Lag is a more modern problem, but one that’s probably set to be around for a while. Whether you’re playing a twich shooter like Call of Duty or slower paced RPG like World of Warcraft, few things take you from zero to controller throwing faster than dying or losing because you weren’t fast enough. And it’s not even that you weren’t fast enough, but rather that the ones and zeros that you spit out didn’t make it to the server as fast as someone else’s. I’ve died many a time in Call of Duty only to see the other players all zoom by me at mach 5 as their character models caught up to their actual position. I’d shake my head in disgust knowing that I had little control over my recently decided fate, but rather the speed of my internet connection was my ultimate demise.