ARTICLE: The Overrated Label: Just More Unnecessary Flamebait



Success breeds contempt, especially if being enjoyed by a title deemed undeserving by any of gaming’s seemingly innumerable amount of intolerant and finicky critics. The amount of hassle suffered from a given genre/platform rabble is usually in correlation with the game’s sustained popularity, as well as the level of imbalance in regards to the disapproving group’s standards on what supposedly “allows” the level of esteem in question.

A common reprisal towards the most enduring and high profile offenders are persistent efforts toward forcing a stigma upon it. One of the more common examples is quite familiar to the eyes/ears of most gamers:

“__ is overrated!!”

One of many whiny, high pitched sounds heard from a habitual critic/nitpicker’s latest axe grinding. A tired phrase that I feel has rapidly worn out of acceptable use in credible game discussion. One that also seems to commonly finds it’s place within the rhetoric of swollen headed critics who feel their long-winded, pseudo-intellectual overanalyzations take precedence over the gamer’s own preferences and personal experience when deeming how the gamer “should” regard the game they played.

The label, while still slightly bearable on an individual basis, truly shows how much of an increasingly clichemeans of attack it has become through it’s painfully predictable and repetitive usage by larger cliques of contrarian gamers (both in the amateur and supposedly “professional” ranks) waging repeated crusades against the credibility of popular games lying outside of their preferences.

Simply put, labels like “It’s overrated” are flame bait overdue for retirement.

There are enough headaches in the politics of gaming as it is with the likes of constant squabbles surrounding what games people should play, what they should play it on, and what they should play it with. There is no need for the nonsense of continuing to argue over how much gamers should be allowed to enjoy a specific game consistently being thrown into the mix. (There continues to be such a high number of gamers who seem unable to develop an opinion on a game without quickly turning around and making numerous judgements on the opinion “other” gamers hold on it.)

I’m not exactly eager to hear fans or media overly romanticizing their protected favorites either, but attempting to combat hyperbole with even more exaggeration from the side of negativity is pointless. Now, there is an amusing level of vanity found within all of these game related reviews and the best of this / top of that lists, but to be honest.. due to the difference in focus I’d rather sit through a stack of those reviews and lists before sitting through the entirety of a single “most overrated” list again(and we all know there is certainly no shortage of those on mainstream sites nowadays).

Authors from both aspects are at least in some ways a bit too full of themselves, but I feel with a list of favorites the writer is taking a stand that focuses on their own opinion and at the very least allows the possibility of providing the reader with a new level of insight or appreciation for the material from a unique take. On the flip side, most of these contrarian authors are taking the even vainer route.. pronouncing both their own preferences “and” others being wrong for having their own, while adding nothing of worth to the discussion beyond showcasing the sole intent to tear conflicting opinions down.

I’m in no way saying having a criticism or a conflicting opinion is wrong. I realize the universally appealing “perfect” game isn’t possible(like I’ve mentioned before, gamers can find a problem with literally ANY part of any game they target if they choose to look intently enough), which is why actual constructive criticism and the trading of ideals will always hold an important place for both the industry and the player. Gamers SHOULD always feel free to state what they do or don’t like about a game if they desire to do so, but I believe there is a difference between game debates based upon articulating a personal opinion and one that is designed to simply attack someone for being “wrong” in how they regard a game.

In the end I feel a person stating how they themself feel about a game, good or bad, is an actual opinion.. one worth clarifying or arguing. On the other hand, simply going after someone for how they supposedly should or shouldn’t feel about a game is not an opinion in itself, it’s just a petty attack. To claim something is over or underrated an examination of an existing opinion is needed, thus in my eyes at least, disqualifying these labels as an “individual opinion”. They are just spewed words latching onto something that actually is.

Thanks to gaming culture’s currently enduring preoccupation with “correcting” the view of others(and the hostility that this mentality breeds).. far too often is it necessary to wade through varying levels of bias and antagonism before any actual valid critiques from a balanced perspective can be found when drudging through the reviews/rants of accusing critics that insist on using labels like “overrated”. I find that insistence of these labels are often more about the critic’s agenda, ego, and antagonistic disposition leading their efforts towards “readjusting” the opinions of others than the actual reviewed games themselves.

Anyways, to sum my point up, labels like “overrated” are definitive terms that are too often hostilely strewn about by game critics(often due to the likes of ego, jealousy) in a subjective discussion. They are definitive statements that purvey the false notion that there are groups with “right” and “wrong” opinions on a specific game. I feel that gaming as a whole would benefit from the individual gamer maintaining focus on how “they” personally feel about a game without the constant need pit their impression against those of other dissenting gamers as if there can only be one valid opinion.. something that can only truly be possible when the individual gamer realizes that game discussions and disagreements can be had without insisting on the attachment of antagonistic opinion labels to every conflicting viewpoint.

Well, I’ve never been one to kid myself into believing the bickering around such topics will ever truly subsist, it’s just how people are and will continue to be unfortunately(just thinking out loud/in text in the meantime). Perhaps if at the very least a few of the most nauseating “overrated” debates could finally die out already, maybe there can at least be some level of relief.

Here, in no particular order, are just a few examples that quickest come to mind.. mentioned as much for the typically targeted archetype it falls under as the game itself. This is NOT about whether or not these game deserved their level of grief or if they are overrated or not. It’s about the predictability of the industry’s incessant trolls.. and well, me being completely ****ing tired of hearing the arguments surrounding them:

– “Overrated” overdone, debates that need to just go away already –

The Legend of Zelda: Ocarina of Time, Nintendo 64 -1998-

Do you have an a middling game site in dire need of some cheap traffic, or are simply a belligerent attention junkie with no real gaming or editorial talents looking for a quick fix? When dissecting today’s successful games is not enough.. ragging on the supposed sacred cows of gaming like Ocarina of Time as being grossly overrated will certainly do the trick! Perfect for those who can never settle on what they feel the best games of all-time are(that ofcourse would involve actually having a choice of their own being subjected to criticism..), but know for CERTAIN that “your” picks aren’t it.

Ugh.. few ploys from these groups are as lazy, cliché, and contrived as these “sacred cow barbecues”. These unbecoming flails for attention would be humorous if they were not so consistently off base and contradictory.. “oh, __ and it’s effect on it’s fans / genre are just so overrated that I am going to join the other multitude of naysayers who insist on creating long, drawn-out overanalyzations of the game YEARS after it came out”. Yes, quite the fascinating logic they have there.

Hmm.. but then again, perhaps we are in denial. You know all those favorites you are enjoying right now? Stop.. don’t bother. Why continue carrying on that enjoyment if there is possibility that it may be considered invalid 8-10 years after the fact by the rants of middle-aged malcontents who say we were only having fun because we “didn’t know any better”?

Shadow of the Colossus, Playstation 2 -2005-

Art. The mere mention of the word in even the faintest association to a particular game sends a good deal of gamers instantly reaching for their stickler-grade magnifying glasses(you know who you are). Fair or not, the likes of Shadow of the Colossus and it’s sibling Ico will continue to receive a unique type of scrutiny for not only their acquired taste type of gameplay and structure, but also for their positions in the infamous “Are games art?” debate.. one that I can honestly say I have grown completely tired of discussing.

I do not feel compelled to chronically find ways to justify gaming’s “artistic merit” to the Roger Eberts of the world.. as a dedicated gamer for quite a few years now, I find it beneath both fellow gamers and my lifelong avocation to play some back and forth game of “Is it art yet? Is it art yet?” with these people.

The fact of the matter is a small handful of games will not make or break the argument of either side, especially so early in the medium’s lifespan.. form a personal perspective and move on. The whole nonsense where mocking critics who do not have some sort of blissful artistic epiphany partway through playing and subsequently deciding to call out both the game and it’s status as being a possible symbol for the cause of games being able to be considered art as being overrated is quite obnoxious.

Final Fantasy VII, Playstation -1997-

I have always considered myself to be an avid and versed RPG fan. My fellow genre fans can be some of more insightful gamers to converse with, but even I cannot deny the fact that they can also be by far some of the most insufferable.. the decade plus long melodrama surrounding Final Fantasy VII is yet another testament to that unfortunate fact.

Like I have discussed in previous entries, few games have seen such a level of sustained resentment for it’s enduring popularity quite like FF VII. The timing of it’s immensely hyped release and subsequent success was one of many factors that essentially created a perfect storm of contention. The first RPG to see any real mainstream success incited flame wars on numerous fronts.. not least of which included Eastern vs. Western gaming, PC RPG vs. Console RPG, Nintendo vs. Sony, and even a pretty massive splintering within the franchise’s own fanbase.

Ofcourse, all of which is nothing but immature flaming over whether or not the game should be considered overrated that has persisted for far, far too long. Whether it’s the bickering over the supposed order of best entries in the series, which were the “true” RPGs of the mid-90’s, or how much FF VII’s once highly touted “blocky” graphics have or haven’t held up over a decade later.. the debate has run well beyond its course.

So please, both low level editors who vainly believe that throwing out the ocasional condescending remark towards the game and it’s fans will magically grant them genre credibility and Sephiroth/Cloud fanatics teetering on the edge of creepy alike, MOVE ON.