The Top 7... Should Have Sucked

Nov 26, 2007

Gaming - the ultimate escapism. One press of a button can transform you into anything, or anyone, imaginable. Want to be a space explorer or a powerful wizard? You can. How about a military hero or a star athlete? No problem. Have you always longed for the glamorous life of a farmer, a mathematician or a bladder control specialist? Now's your chance!

... Wait, hold on. Nobody wishes for those last three, and yet, entire gaming franchises have been built on the crazy notion that such horrifying drudgeries would make fantastic entertainment.

The weirdest part, as our Top 7 proves, is that they do.


Why it should've sucked: Instead of blasting aliens, you have to do math. Instead of saving princesses, you have to read Moby Dick. Instead of scoring touchdowns, you have to tell some creepy Japanese scientist what you ate for breakfast last Thursday. Brain Age is everyone you play games to avoid - your teacher, your boss, your parents, your spouse - combined into a single, all-purpose virtual nag. And just like them, you have to see it every day.

Why it doesn't: The game understands human nature, overcoming our inherent laziness by appealing to our inherent ego, narcissism and desire for self-improvement. We'll happily re-memorize our multiplication tables to hear a pixelated Dr. Kawashima call us smart. We'll gladly study classic literature when we're promised it'll make us smarter. And we'll obediently complete any nursery school task - identifying colors, counting stick figures - if we can prove we did it faster than our friends and family.