Bad Games Are Good

I have a massive collection of old games. My computer speakers are sitting atop copies of Barney’s Hide and Seek and Columns. I’m nearly swimming in various CDs and cartridges.

I think it’s fair to say that a majority of the games I surround myself with are shit. When I say shit, I don’t mean they don’t play well or have bad graphics (though many of them do). I mean a lot of these games were ill-conceived from the gates, full of ideas so poorly implemented that they’re nearly a parody of themselves.

But in spite of their problems, these games are a black hole of fun. There’s something charming and comfortable about beating a level in The Count’s Countdown and seeing his smiling face say “Let’s Go” before I bounce around and collect more numbers in his colorful PBS world.

bird week famicom

Bird Week on the Famicom might be the worst thing in the entire world. It thrusts you in the role of a mother bird who must feed her babies before they up and leave the deadbeat nest. You’re forced to scrape by on chance and prayer, mashing buttons to catch enough flies and hoping you don’t killed by frog with a seven-foot vertical leap. But no matter how bad it gets, I keep playing. I want to see what nobody in their right mind would suffer enough to see.

There’s something magical about reaching a part of a game few others have seen. Part of what got me into games in the first place is that drive to explore the digital space put before me.

Exploring these games invokes the same emotions I felt the first time I hit a button and saw a game respond. I did that, right there. That was me. I’m in the game, and I’m a part of it, no matter how awful it might seem.

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