A game called The Elder Scrolls Online launched recently—you may have heard of it. While you may not have heard me make mention of it, I have been pretty critical of the game for some time. There are some things about it that, in my opinion, are simply broken, but you could say that about many games, MMOs in particular. So this week after much goading by friends I decided to give the game a fair shake—many people are enjoying it, after all.
So off on an Elder Scrolls adventure I went, willing to put a whole week of my gaming time on it in the name of research, hoping to be proven wrong. I tried to look past the things I disliked and to enjoy the experience for what it was, and play the game in the way it was intended.
While there are some things that I was too critical of, and other areas that I think are quite good, on the whole I had a terrible time.
When I said before I was willing to put a whole week of gaming time into it, I should have said I failed to put more than a couple of days into it. I am purposefully being as vague as possible about what it is I like and don't like about the game; this isn't a review and the specifics are unimportant.
What it boils down to is that I wasn't having any fun playing the game. I was having fun chatting and joking around on Skype, but the game itself did nothing for me. I'll make it clear at this point—it’s fine if you like the game, I'm not saying you shouldn't, I'm just making the point that it's not for me.
When push comes to shove, I think the phrase 'it isn't fun' is the most damning thing you can say about a game. While you could write thousands of words explaining in detail why you believed it (just be glad I didn't) the phrase cuts so violently to the core of the issue. It isn't fun.
Of course, fun isn't the only thing games can try to be – the developer CCP maintains that fun is only a very small part of a user's experience, so there's little benefit in trying to design for it. But then, they would say that, they make the utterly brilliant but not obviously 'fun' EVE Online.