st97 May 25, 2020 How subjective expectations shape the in-game experience

How subjective expectations shape the in-game experience

It’s hard to objectively evaluate things in a vacuum. We all have a reference to fall back on, a nostalgic memory by which we judge the present world. If your favourite basketball player growing up was Kobe Bryant, you might take offense to proponents of LeBron James, many of whom proclaim him to be the G.O.A.T. It’s human nature to seek out opinions that affirm our own, while rationalizing or even dismissing facts that dispute our version of reality. While you can get by living in your own bubble, you’d be missing out on incredible ideas, tangible or otherwise, that can enrich your experience and help you appreciate things for what they really are.

This could be us but these devs playing ;(

For me, this clash of old ideas versus new impacted how much I can enjoy adult visual novels. Granted, I’ve only been a part of this community for about five years now. Still, I feel like I have a pretty good grasp of what I like and don’t like at this juncture. If the username wasn’t a hint, I prefer games with a narrative. It doesn’t have to be detailed, nor realistic, but it has to exist (for me). I don’t expect Dr. PinkCake levels of storytelling from every adult game developer out there but give me something coherent, ideally above a fifth-grade reading level. By virtue of genre, we already know there’s going to be sex at some point. But what are the characters’ motives for wanting to fuck someone? Is it just infatuation or something more? Do they have any ambitions besides getting off? Why are dads in every incest game dicks? … Sorry, that last one belongs in a different article.

Here’s the thing though: some games are only meant to be a quick romp, and judging them based on other criteria is as pointless as it is biased. Harem games are a classic example of this criticism. If the developer’s primary goal is to supply the MC with an endless supply of women who only exist to worship his cock, then why are we expecting anything else? Maybe it’s because we wanted hoped for something more. Maybe one day, one of these harem games will have characters so riveting, you’ll even remember all their names *cough*. It’s kind of like that new Adam Sandler movie, Uncut Gems. The man synonymous with unsophisticated comedy just reminded everyone he can play a serious role too. And although critics tore him apart for his earlier films, audiences for the most part loved them. Who here has the high ground to decide what’s right? The overwhelming majority of moviegoers who rated his films positively, or a small group of critics with narrow definitions for what constitutes a good comedy? You may feel compelled to say obviously, it’s the moviegoers! Well… not so fast, Horny-Wan.

It be like that sometimes

Having expectations isn’t a bad thing. Being happy with good-enough isn’t an explanation; it’s a cop-out. However, we have to draw the line between wanting something to be better versus trying to turn it into something it’s not. You can’t criticize a harem game for its lack of storytelling, unless it’s actively trying to tell a story. The nerve of a sex game to have too much sex… how dare they?! On the flip side, slow-burn games with a focus on the story shouldn’t be disregarded for not having enough sex scenes during the initial chapters. Apples and Oranges. They’re both fruit you can eat, but you can’t peel them the same way, and they sure as hell don’t taste the same.

So what’s the lesson here? For starters, let’s temper our expectations before we play one of these games, or start something new in life. It may help us see something for what it is, and not what we want it to be. Secondly, we all have our own tastes and that’s okay. Fortunately for us, the umbrella of the adult gaming community is large enough to support just about everyone. Pervs worldwide can rejoice.         


I started learning to code and render in the year 2020. What a noob, right? I'm the developer of the adult vn 'The Changing Season'. My long term plans involve medical school and hopefully a published book or two.

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1 year ago

I liked the metaphor with Adam Sandler movies. Yes it is time and effort to find what you really love in adult games and then you can choose better and you don’t have to complain about a game what is not made for you.

1 year ago
Reply to  st97

I appreciated this feature. Enjoyment certainly is correlated to my expectations going into games which is why for the most part I try to dive into new games expecting nothing. Even then, I’m still disappointed a lot of the time 😆.

That being said, at least in one way or another, there are plenty of games I’m impressed by.