You're Going to Love This!

Being told that you will love something makes it exponentially harder to actually love that thing. This is a fact, as unimpeachable and immutable as the fact that cake is better than pie. Again, these are facts, and they are not up for debate.

It is for this reason that I have to this point held fast on not playing Heavy Rain. It's not willful stubbornness, or at least not any kind of bullheadedness that I have the faculties to control. It's just that as each person, a long line in seemingly endless succession, informed me of how very much I would love the game, I felt the barriers go up like watching the opening credits of Get Smart in reverse. No, I wanted to say, I will not, and it's your damn fault!

Maybe it's that the bar becomes so high as accolades become an avalanche of expectation, and that feeling of uncertainty which so deliciously fosters a sense of surprise is lost under the overwhelming perceptions of those who advocate for the game. Maybe it's just that I'm kind of a contrarian dink. Either way, as I wandered toward the checkout counter yesterday with Heavy Rain in hand, I had a sinking feeling of money poorly spent.

It's not fair. Not in the least. But, as I plugged the game disc into the long dormant drive, waited the predictable eternity for the PS3 to update using what I assume is a dial-up connection and an abacus, and plunged into the exciting world of getting dressed, I had to actively fight not to pick out any tiny flaw as though I were collecting evidence for a grand jury indictment.

"Is this really the voice acting I'm going to be subjected to the whole game?" I thought. "At least if something bad happens to these kids I won't have to listen to them talk." Had there been a QTE that allows you to shrug in apathy, I would have Generation X'd that whole intro.

I stress: This is a terrible way to approach a game, and I have no one but myself to blame.

I bring this all up so I can get to this paragraph, however, and it is hopefully my one opportunity for redemption. Following the first big emotional gut-punch of the game, a moment I watched with a kind of detached fascination but little investment, I finally hit the first action moment of the game, and for a second there I got it. It made sense what the game was capable of, and why everyone's been going on about it.

That was a good moment. I will try to build from that.

Comments

When I find something that I loved, or loved for a particular reason (I was on a given mindset, whatever i happened to love reminded me of something), I try to give the context while trying to tone the overall experience down, just to lower expectations, lower barriers and have the "sharee" as unbiased as possible.

Sometimes it works, usually it doesn't.

Internet response to good things usually follows this timeline:

Wave 1: Holy sh*t, this thing is awesome! Wave 2 guys, you totally need to buy this. You'll love it.
Wave 2: What is this? This is just a game, not the second coming of Christ. Look, dummy, it's got all these problems. God, what a stupid thing. I can't believe you like this.
Wave 3: Huh, I guess wave 2 guys were right. I used to like this but now I see how dumb it is.
Wave 4: I haven't played it, but I feel pretty safe in saying it was "interesting but flawed."
Wave 5: A sequel from the B team in Singapore? SWEET! Surely this will fix all of the problems while retaining everything that made the original special!

I think Switchbreak just captured the very essence of the internet gaming forum.

See, that's the thing, though Switch. I don't question at all the devotion of the early adopters. I think there is magic in being among the first to take the plunge and have your expectations broken. I'm not even saying that this isn't the second coming.

This has far less to do with Heavy Rain itself than the way expectations change the experience itself.

There's a niggling part of my mind that wonders if I disliked BioShock and Mass Effect so strongly because they were pitched to me as games that I, personally, would enjoy. It wasn't necessarily that they were games that got a lot of hype (because honestly, what doesn't get a lot of hype these days?) but that that hype was directed specifically at me: it wasn't just anyone who would like those games; it wasn't "gamers" who would enjoy them, but me, personally.

I began each game with a different approach than you did, however. I began each one with a sense of great hope, waiting and expecting to be thrilled in some singular way, and was slowly crushed by the petty details you mentioned: the voice acting or the weapons balance or the character animations.

I'm hesitant to try Heavy Rain on that mythical day when I justify to myself the cost of a PlayStation 3 because it's another game that's been hyped to me personally. I can't help but expect that I'd begin the game anticipating perfection and receive instead something flawed on some level, any level, and give up on it then.

Elysium wrote:

See, that's the thing, though Switch. I don't question at all the devotion of the early adopters. I think there is magic in being among the first to take the plunge and have your expectations broken. I'm not even saying that this isn't the second coming.

This has far less to do with Heavy Rain itself than the way expectations change the experience itself.

I'm joking around, but I actually think you make a good point. The only thing worse than trying something that has been hyped to you is when you hype something to someone, and then actually sit there and attempt to show it to them.

Whenever I take friends to see shows by bands I like, I immediately start hating that band. Suddenly, they are to me the most derivative kind of bubblegum-pop crap and I can't believe that I dragged someone to be tortured by their horrible wailing noises. It usually takes me a few days to recover and remember that no, actually, I did like them for a reason. Same with movies and TV shows. I actually found myself despising Spaced, one of the best shows ever made, when I tried to watch it with a buddy to whom I had described the show in those terms.

Yeah, I independently came up with the same theory this past Halloween, and named it the "Tim Curry Effect". My wife and I were the first ones to introduce this scene to our circle of friends.

Since we just showed them the video cold, without raising expectations, they were all converted to the cult of the Worst Witch. However, this second wave of coverts is so excited by the video, that they raise expectations to incredible levels in anyone they try to convert themselves. This leads to inevitable disappointment from all parties, as not only is it impossible to live up to the hype, but it's just plain hard to enjoy something when you're being told during the process of a first viewing to "wait, wait, this is the awesome part!"

Also known in our circle as the "Stairway to Heaven" effect - my wife is convinced that the good part of Stairway will never show up, no matter how often someone says that it gets good soon.

I think the problem may be that people told you you would love it. Heavy Rain isn't the most polished game. Voice acting is subpar, movement controls can be frustrating and there are a lot of really slow parts that I just wish would pass.

I look at Heavy Rain as a game that everyone should play. It is the Avatar of the gaming industry. It was an attempt at something new that I have never seen in a game before. The way you interact with the world is fresh and new. The way you choose what you say or do when your character is under stress actually makes me feel his stress. The emotions that the character feels, I feel.

The biggest mistake you made Elysium is you didn't buy this game day 1. Shame on you ;).

This is why Heavy Rain is solidly in my "rental" pile. Far too much early adopter talk about "innovation". This means that the second wave of players will inevitably be disappointed.

I still think I'll enjoy the hell out of it, but I'm not going to get my hopes up. Because getting my hopes up is inevitably what will ruin it.

Elysium wrote:

This is a fact, as unimpeachable and immutable as the fact that cake is better than pie.

Clearly you judgment must be brought into question if you affirm that cake is better than pie! Scandalous.

Your lapse in judgement aside, I feel the same way about many much loved games. Like Clockwork I did not like playing Bioshock. I thought it was a phenomenal game, but the tense horrific atmosphere was not an enjoyable experience. I loved everything about the game, including that creepy feeling I got walking through Rapture, that is powerful game design, but I was too affected by the world I was in to really enjoy myself. I just did not like being there. I wanted out. I have absolutely no criticisms about the game except that I did not enjoy playing it. It deserved all the accolades it recieved, but I had a much more fun playing Assassin's Creed, which many people considered a fairly mediocre game.

There is just no accounting for taste. For instance, I love pie.

I don't care what you're expectations are - Heavy Rain is an awesome game.

You can pick out the flaws of every single game out there. I personally thought Mass Effect 2 was seriously overrated with tons of gaping flaws ignored by the masses, but I still had fun with it.

Stop picking on Heavy Rain!

So I guess what I'm saying is, I agree with Elysium?

Whatever, I hate all you Wave 2 losers anyways.

I like to deliberately un-butter people's expectations of things. Especially things I like myself.

"Yeah, you can borrow that game," I say. "But it's going to f*cking suck!"

Then, when it turns out to be slightly better than the morose picture I've painted, they can actually enjoy it.

Switchbreak wrote:

Whenever I take friends to see shows by bands I like, I immediately start hating that band. Suddenly, they are to me the most derivative kind of bubblegum-pop crap and I can't believe that I dragged someone to be tortured by their horrible wailing noises. It usually takes me a few days to recover and remember that no, actually, I did like them for a reason. Same with movies and TV shows. I actually found myself despising Spaced, one of the best shows ever made, when I tried to watch it with a buddy to whom I had described the show in those terms.

This happened to me when I tried to turn a friend on to the brilliant (!!1!11!!!) season 1 of Flight of the Conchords.

It made me bitter as I sat on the couch with him waiting for the laughs that didn't come. He just didn't get it. Had I been wrong with my previous enthusiasm, love (and hyperbole) for the series?

Turns out a few days later that I concluded the answer was a resounding NO!

I try not to build up expectations anymore when sharing things I enjoy with others. It's too much pressure.

Doesn't mean I won't blather on about something I esteem when someone lends a genuine ear, it just means that I don't try to control the outcome.

And this is how pretty much Dragon Age became ruined for me.

Whatever your opinion going into it, the opening tutorial/prologue part of Heavy Rain is awful in all kinds of ways.

Gets better though...you're going to love it

...Well, apart from some of the voice acting. If it can be called that.

My wife does this with Youtube videos. She'll sit visitors down and run them through her favourites.

Invariably, it never goes over as well as she thinks it does, as folk sit there blank-faced, wondering why they came round our house if all they're going to do is watch videos of a woman dancing with a dog.

Meanwhile, muggins here, who's seen them all a squillion times, leaves the room and fetches a drink.

Heavy drinking helps smooth the road of elevated expectations. While Elysium may have set himself up for dissapointment, King Corona would have dug it from the start

Bullion Cube wrote:

Heavy drinking helps smooth the road of elevated expectations. While Elysium may have set himself up for dissapointment, King Corona would have dug it from the start ;-)

So you're saying that horrible taste in beer might carry over and make him less discerning in other things?

Yeah, this is why KaterinLHC didn't like Firefly. THE ONLY REASON.

I don't think anyone likes being told how much they're going to love something ahead of time. You'd might as well just say "Hey, you're such an easy to read, simple minded slug, here's something I know you'll love, you shallow bastard."

Kind of makes you want to prove them wrong and hate it.

Certis wrote:

I don't think anyone likes being told how much they're going to love something ahead of time. You'd might as well just say "Hey, you're such an easy to read, simple minded slug, here's something I know you'll love, you shallow bastard."

Kind of makes you want to prove them wrong and hate it.

"Oh this? What I'm reading? You wouldn't like this. Here's something more your speed."

So you're saying that horrible taste in beer might carry over and make him less discerning in other things?

Actually, that's not the worst hypothesis I've ever heard. It's only provable through extensive testing, though.

Switchbreak wrote:

So you're saying that horrible taste in beer might carry over and make him less discerning in other things?

Quintin_Stone wrote:

Yeah, this is why KaterinLHC didn't like Firefly. THE ONLY REASON. :D

I don't know about her taste in beer, but her taste in TV is apparently excellent.

Certis wrote:

I don't think anyone likes being told how much they're going to love something ahead of time. You'd might as well just say "Hey, you're such an easy to read, simple minded slug, here's something I know you'll love, you shallow bastard."

Or it could be something like, "You look like an intelligent person, most people are too dumb to appreciate Dostoevsky, but I know you're smart enough to really dig The Grand Inquisitor."

EDIT:

On second thought, that still has an air of elitist snob in it either way.

Switchbreak wrote:

Whenever I take friends to see shows by bands I like, I immediately start hating that band. Suddenly, they are to me the most derivative kind of bubblegum-pop crap and I can't believe that I dragged someone to be tortured by their horrible wailing noises. It usually takes me a few days to recover and remember that no, actually, I did like them for a reason. Same with movies and TV shows. I actually found myself despising Spaced, one of the best shows ever made, when I tried to watch it with a buddy to whom I had described the show in those terms.

This happens to me with movies and TV shows sometimes. I'll watch it with someone and watch it as if, like them, I'd never seen it before, and in that new light it's suddenly not as funny, more derivative, than it was earlier. It doesn't happen all the time, but when it does it's a little crushing and embarrassing. "Oh sorry, I thought that would be better."

It certainly didn't happen with Spaced though, I made my friend watch the entire first series in one sitting because it is the greatest thing ever.

Elysium wrote:

I felt the barriers go up like watching the opening credits of Get Smart in reverse.

This is also pretty great.

Which is why I reduced my recommendations to: "Try this. You might like it."

As a social experiment, I wonder if Elysium's theory held if I told the average teenager "try porn, you're going to love it".

I've stopped recommending things to people for just this reason. If I want someone to like something, I'm liable to hint that it exists and nothing more. You have to make them think it was their idea.

oMonarca wrote:

As a social experiment, I wonder if Elysium's theory held if I told the average teenager "try porn, you're going to love it".

Try hovering behind them and saying "oh wait, this is the best part!" every thirty seconds. That should put a dent in their enthusiasm!

How do we reconcile this concept with the idea that recommendations are more important than reviews?

"Hm. This game got a 10/10 in Eurogamer. But is it really up my alley? Let me ask my friend. Wow, my friend said it was indeed awesome. Now my expectations are too high! I'm going to hate it now!"

Do we all have to pussyfoot around each other now so as to not raise each other's expectations?

"Well I loved it, but that's just me. You might feel differently. Our tastes have aligned in the past, so statistically speaking, you may also like it. Or not."

Just seems ridiculous to me. If I think you're going to love a game, I'll tell you. If you're dissapointed in it, that's not my fault for raising your expectations, it's your fault for not meeting the expectations I set of you