Being excited is not a crime

Writing about games is what I do here on this blog.  This isn’t a news site or even a fake blog turned news site.  This is a blog, and that means that a personal element is present.  When you read something on Keen and Graev’s, you’re reading what one or both of us think about a game.  We’re putting our thoughts, opinions, emotions, and feelings on paper for all to see.  This is not a place to read objective journalism.  We write subjectively.

I want to address an issue that has come up many times over the years: Excitement. I am criticized and even insulted for being excited about video games.  A new MMORPG comes out and I am excited to play.  I give a few reasons why I am excited, maybe talk about the game a bit, and then try it out.  After a few weeks, I find that my excitement may have been in error, or maybe it wasn’t but I am simply no longer interested in playing.  I write why I have stopped playing.  The opposite is also true; I’ll say that I am not excited about a game, but I give it a try and end up liking it.  I’ve even been excited about a game and been absolutely correct, maintaining that excitement.

Being excited is not a crime.  If I was not excited about video games I would not play them, and I certainly would not write about them.  When I read someone posting on a forum or even on their own site that “Keen is just doing what he always does, getting excited then trashing a game,” I wonder if that person has actually read my writing.  Take SWTOR, for example.  I was never, at any time, super excited about the game.  I was a skeptic years before launch.  The proof of that can be found in the archives.  When the game launched, I wrote about some of our adventures and I wrote about some of the game’s shortcomings.  Turns out, SWTOR (as it exists currently), is not for me. I’ve been accused of hyping SWTOR then trashing it, when in reality I have done neither of those things.

What is wrong, in my opinion, is hyping a game with little to no proof of what you’re saying.  I have been guilty of this once before with Warhammer Online: Age of Reckoning.  I was absolutely blinded by my passion for Dark Age of Camelot, and I let that cloud my judgment.  I thought that Mythic Entertainment, creator of DAOC, could not possibly mess up what they got right in their previous game.  Turns out, I was wrong.  I hyped the crap out of WAR, and was wrong for doing so, but I learned a valuable lesson that has stuck with me years later.

I need to describe the differences between hyped and being excitement.

Hyping a game is intensively publicizing or promoting a game while trying to predict what features will be like without any way of backing up what you are saying.  Hype might be making unrealistic promises or exaggerations about features or qualities (and can be done so without realization on the hyper’s part).  If something is hyped it is crafted to sound good whether it is true or not.

Being excited about a game has a very honest feel to it.  When you’re excited you don’t try to hide flaws or exaggerate about a game. Excitement is value-driven and realistic.  Being excited about a game usually comes with a reason, and that reason can be shown.

I’m passionate about games and I want to be excited.  I want to have something to look forward to, and I will always choose being excited over being jaded.  I look forward to pleasure, not pain.  I want games to succeed if they deserve to, and not fail for no reason.  I am critical of developers and their games when I see the same mistakes being made, and I won’t hesitate to point that out.  I’m also not going to hesitate to change my mind if I feel that I am in error, or simply want to change my opinion.

I will not apologize to anyone for sharing, on my own website, what I feel at any given time.  That’s why I am writing, and that will not change.  I assume the majority of you visiting this site regularly do so because you find what we have to say interesting, entertaining, or useful.  If the day ever comes that I look at every future game as a negative before a positive, that’s when I will stop playing games and find another hobby.  What’s the point of doing something if you’re already planning ahead that you won’t enjoy it or plan to be unfeeling at all?  That’s a sad way to live.

  • Well I’ve been an avid follower for awhile now and stay here because you provide a well-written blog which brings excitement as well as info. You are guilty only of the rise and fall of expectation that comes with every new game, especially MMOs – just like me, and that’s probably part of why I keep reading 🙂

  • Bravo and well said. I tend to be jaded and pessimistic about the direction of the video game industry, so reading your blog often gets me caught up in some fresh enthusiasm. I’ll sometimes read an entire post here even if it’s a game or platform in which I have no interest. Thanks for all of your posts.

  • Ive been following the blog for years. After I found your blog I remembered reading your well thought posts on the IGN Daoc boards several years earlier. This is your blog. You can post whatever you want.

    With that being said, I read lots of blogs about video games and you definitely get excited about more video games than anyone else and it’s not particularly close. That’s not a negative thing. It’s just the way it is.

    All games are more fun when fresh. If you play any game enough it eventually gets stale. You consume a lot of video games. Again not a negative. Just the way it is.

    I’ve found out about a lot of games I would not have heard about otherwise here. But, your enthusiasm for a game doesn’t sell like maybe another bloggers because how many you get excited about. Again not a negative. Some people are more positive than others. It’s probably an awesome way to go through life.

    Post what you want. It’s your blog. Know who you are and go with it.

  • I hope you’ll allow me to speak candidly for a bit.

    There was a time, long ago, when I considered you to be one of those weird blogger folk who would love a game’s promise then strike it to the ground when it didn’t live up to your expectations.

    Then I realized I was like that to some extent as well.

    So I learned to respect you for your writing, and for being honest. 🙂

    So! Thank you for being you! 😀

  • Good post and an excellent statement of intent. I completely agree that there is nothing whatsoever wrong with being excited and that you are entitled to be as excited as you like as often as you like about anything you like. And it’s your blog (well yours and your brother’s) so you are entitled to express that excitement on it to your heart’s content.

    Obviously, if you demonstrate a pattern of getting very excited very often and then cooling off quite quickly and moving on to the next exciting thing, regular readers will take that into account, but that’s fine too. Reading bloggers, reviewers or critics over an extended period is all about learning their likes and dislikes, quirks and foibles, strengths and blind spots. Just be entertaining about it and you can write what you like and keep an audience.

    I do think you’re wrong about being jaded, though. It’s incredibly enjoyable and fun, which is why so many people indulge in it. It’s especially fun if you have a circle of jaded, cynical friends and you can sit in a pub drinking and being all jaded and cynical together. It’s also a lot of fun to read someone being jaded provided they know how to be entertaining about it.

    What really isn’t any fun at all is to be bored with something and drone on about how bored you are in a boring fashion. That’s very different from being jaded and a very fast way to lose either friends or an audience or both.

  • Well said sir.

    I also don’t want to hype games, but I do want to be excited about them (even if it is often difficult after many disappointments from promising titles).

    Like, for instance, I’m excited about Guild Wars 2. But I’m not going around telling people that it WILL be the best MMO around when it launches. I’m not telling people that it’s going to kill WoW, SW:TOR, the entire subscription MMO model, or anything else. I’m just saying I’m excited, and why I’m excited, and correcting any factual misconceptions (e.g. “Guild Wars wasn’t a real MMO, GW2 won’t be either”).

  • I agree completely. I, like you, am a gamer, and I get excited. Sometimes I don’t even know what I should be getting excited about.

    I was excited for SWTOR for a while, at least nine months before it came out. I enjoyed the Beta times I got in. It was fun. But then reality sets in after the honeymoon, and you get to see it with all it’s warts and weird body hair and you realize that it’s not as beautiful or amazing as we once thought.

    Sometimes though, you hear that others are excited about something, like GW2, and you swear that they are crazy. You didn’t like GW1, tired of fantasy, no way a non-subscription could really compete with a subscription. And then the press weekend beta happens, and now you are excited because you got to see just what it was really all about.

    This all happened to me. There are plenty of games I’m not excited about, plenty that are too far away to even get excited about (World of Darkness, Warhammer 40K), but I think six to nine months is fair amount of time. When they are doing beta sign ups and releasing NDA free stuff, then it’s okay to get excited.

  • @Bhagpuss: I probably should have said that I would choose to be or focus on being excited over being -constantly- jaded. I -am- jaded, whether I want to focus on being jaded or not because it comes with the territory –I’ve played games for most of my life.

    @Victor Stillwater: I do often love a promise and hate a shortcoming, and many people see that in themselves when they read my blog. I’ve been blessed by having a website up for over five years now. That means I have a LOT of stuff for people to go through and a LOT of people who have been with me all five years. Those people have witnessed the roller coaster that this MMO industry has been on.

    I’ve been living out that roller coaster with words for all to read, and despite it being a reality for many people, I am an easy target to pick on because I am sharing the process with the world.

  • I read blogs because of the excitement and passion that the authors put into them so, yeah don’t stop.

    Also we were all guilty of Warhammer hype 🙁

  • The oddest part about these “Keen does it again” accusations is that you are simply feeling the same way as thousands of other players do…it is not like your blog gets tens of thousands of players playing X game and then as you quit, the masses quit because of you. You are just describing your journey with a game and it starts and often ends at the same time as the journey of thousands of other…not because of you…but because of the nature of the game. I think people are just frustrated with the new releases and are looking for a scapegoat 🙂

  • You’re a unique blogger because of your unfiltered approach. Keep it honest and immediate…that’s why you get hits.

  • I have friends to talk about cigars, cognac, hunting, fishing, sports, food etc… I do not have any friends that are into gaming. That is why I come here. it’s a place where I can read about various games and read opinion. I take your opinion and the opinion of the posters and decide one way or the other. I would not come here if everything you said was doom and gloom.

    If I want doom and gloom I’ll go to Mmorpg.

  • I think that part of the criticism is that most people are afraid of change, either themselves or something they follow. However change is important part of our lives and if we would allow it to be bigger part then we all could be excited in more things and also would understand that changing our opinions is natural part of us. But I am little bit pessimistic about this as most people seem to be happy to walk through their lives with blinders in their eyes afraid of change. So for these people it is aggravating that you are able to change your mind when you are not happy with things.

    I agree with all other writers that you should continue as you are doing so far. I also try to be excited in new things and in changing my mind from positive to negative and vice versa. Being same all the time is boring.

  • It’s not you so much. I’ve been following MMO’s since 2005 or so, and this happens every single time for virtually everyone:

    Everyones pumped— this is going to be THE game.

    First two weeks: OMG ITS AWESOME

    Next two weeks: There’s major flaws, but I still like it.

    End of free month: Eh, I’m canceling.

    Next two months: If they release this magic patch that fixes all my issues, I’d love to come back.

    Rest of time: Man that game sucked.

    And honestly, we keep falling for it again and again. I’ve done it more than a few times (I thought WAR and AION were going to be super awesome!) It’s as predictable as the tides. Which is fine, to a degree, but it undermines your credibility when this cycle keeps happening for virtually every MMO that you play. We’ve been seeing this happen for pretty much a decade now. It’s time to be a bit more measured in our optimism, and in our disappointment.

    There’s a difference between being hateful and jaded and being Charlie Brown thinking he can finally kick the football this time.

  • @Toxic: I agree. I think I have shown temperance for the past couple of MMO’s. Take SWTOR, for example, where I clearly had doubts and emphasized them (end-game). I pointed out a few features I was very excited about (loot boxes, turned out to be a lie), and even one I thought would suck but turned out to be half decent (companions).

  • Honestly i have always taken your blog as you personal opinion i just figure it will be about 2 to 3 months before you get tired of a game and then realise that its just a the same old cow but with a different paint job. But i still enjoy reading your articles no matter what you write about.

    And that enjoyment keeps me checking you blog on and off though the week.


  • Keep up the good work man. I read way too many gaming blogs and forums but your blog is always my first stop and where my own sentiments are often echoed and articulated.

    I’m often accused of this sort of thing among my circle of friends. I’m usually the first one to take the plunge and try a game out. I’m also often the first to cancel my sub when I’m no longer having fun. The market has been pretty stagnant in terms of innovation since late 2004.

    In any case, thanks again for what you do. Haters gonna hate — don’t let it get you down.

  • Here Here Keen. I dont often see eye to eye with your views but none the less it hasnt stopped me from commenting on certain threads for the last year or so because I too am a huge gaming guy. Dont let the cry babys bother you IMO.

  • Honestly?

    I find it cute, which has to be the strangest thing I have ever said about another man.

    I like, we can time a watch by your excitement level towards the next game. It’s like clockwork seeing you get amped as release is approached. And I really never fault you, it’s part of this blog, and has ALWAYS been part of this blog. It’s who you are. If someone dislikes your excitability over games, they simply should stop reading because they dislike something fundamental about what they are reading.

    I will say that over the years you have become a heck of a lot more even-keeled then you used to be. You used to go from 0 to 100 at a million miles an hour, then crash over time as you found flaws. Now its a slow ramp up, an optimistic but realistic high, and ramps down slowly and very…evenly. You are very cognizant of what you like and don’t like and don’t really play so much of the blame game anymore, just taking what you can get and accepting the limitations for what they are.

  • I should also mention that I FREQUENTLY disagree with your views on games, but that doesn’t change the fact I still read it. Your ability to, if not be more objective, at least be aware of your own biases, has kept your entertaining posts entertaining without ever feeling like, say, syncaine, someone who is absolutely 100% completely and utterly unlikeable and unstandable unless you agree with him.

  • I see no reason not to be excited about games. A new game is like a shiny new xmas pressie. At the worst its a good chance to catch up with some friends. I am optomistic a good game will come out this year. If anything turns out to be a step up on Rift, it could keep me entertained for a while.

  • Being excited about features doesn’t stop one from remaining cautious and taking everything with a grain of salt.

    I’m excited about what is promised for GW2. Well, to say it better, the promised features are exiting. The promised features for Age of Conan and Warhammer were exciting too. See what I did here?

    I’m in the “yeah, that would be cool if they manage to make it” phase for now for GW2. But not more. Give me a beta spot, let me play for a few days, and then, and ONLY then, I may switch to the truly excited “zomg I can’t wait until that game is released” phase.

    Not being overly hyped and excited is the best way not to be disappointed and eventually have a nice positive surprise if it works.

  • Keen,

    I have been reading your blog daily for the past 4-5 years because I enjoy hearing your opinion. You have a excellent way of expressing yourself and unlike most other blogs, you take a personal approach to these games. You share your excitement about the games and your fears of what they may become. It gives the feeling of community to those of us who visit your blog often.
    Many of us have been burned by these games that promise change and are deemed “The Wow Killer”,yet end up being played for 3 months. There will be something better one day. I do not know if it is or is not Guild Wars 2 but, I am grateful that you share the same passion and EXCITEMENT that I do about the games we enjoy.

  • Anyone who has read you for any length of time (I think I’ve been reading for about 4 years) should have figured out by now that this is who you are and what you are about, and moved on if it isn’t their cup of tea. Of course you aren’t always correct- who is- but you are enthusiastic, you have your own voice, and you aren’t afraid to put your opinion out there and deal with the consequences. Like Tupac said, keep ya head up.

  • “With that being said, I read lots of blogs about video games and you definitely get excited about more video games than anyone else and it’s not particularly close. That’s not a negative thing. It’s just the way it is.”

    I very much agree with this. I am always a bit amazed about how many games you seem to look forward to/find exciting or interesting. At the same time you seem to spend less time with each game compared to a few years back, seemingly always hoping and sometimes expecting to find the next BIG thing (like most of us do).

    The only thing I would say I prefer is seeing a more balanced look after you begin finding the flaws of the game. I find it often a bit black and white (by that I mean only black :P) after you start liking the game less and less, its hard to find any real nuance in the blog posts. And many of the times when u are done with a game it sounds like one really crappy game, even though (from a bigger perspective) it might actually be a decent game.

    Btw, how come all this hate for Warhammer? Is it because of all the expectations and hopes prior to release? I found it to be a game with really good ideas and mostly fun to play, the low populated servers and the lack of things to do killed it for me though – but all in all it was a good effort that had huge potential to be a really good game in my eyes.

  • I absolutely agree with your post, Keen. As other comments have indicated, I think that your pattern of excitement into boredom and/or disillusionment is a pretty common experience with gamers.

    That said, I think that too much time gets spent criticizing the industry for churning out crap and not enough time gets spent on introspection into how we experience these games. Of course there is a place for criticism and all, I just think we should take a look at ourselves too.

    Part of the reason why we idealize pre-WoW games is a case of perspective. I don’t think I’ll ever have an experience in a game (at least given current technology) that equals my early experiences with EverQuest simply because I had never played anything like it before. I think the fundamental game itself was relatively weak early on, but it got a long leash because it was totally new and totally fresh. There wasn’t much competition out there too, so it’s not like you could skip off to another game very easily if you got bored. As a result, the developers had quite a long time to refine and expand their game and the results speak for themselves.

    Nowadays, there is nothing about any MMO that can rival the WOAH factor of stepping into a persistent online world for the first time. There is a lot more competition and expectations are MUCH higher. As a result we get bored quickly and jump ship. Developers don’t really have much time to build on what they’ve created before the inevitable narrative of “this game is dying” shows up. And from there on out it’s an uphill battle.

    I’m honestly not sure how to solve this problem, but it’s not just a problem whose roots lie with the developers. We the players are part of the problem. The industry is part of the problem. The impossibility of recreating those early MMO experiences is part of the problem.

    I think if we as a community want a great game we need to actively participate in building that game. Select a game with decent fundamentals and solid potential and invest in that game as a community — stick with it over time and play with the tools the developers give us. By game hopping we perpetuate the problem.

  • Just make sure you stay constructive with both the pro and anti posts and I’ll probably keep reading. There way to much “This game sucks” or “This games is gods gift to gamers”, with nothing else about it, around these days. If it sucks, state your case, same as if it rocks. Good analysis is worth a read, rants aren’t ;o)

  • Spot on.

    The only thing I would add is how perceptions can change and solidify as a game moves out from expo demo through to closed beta, open beta and then finally release. I think it’s one thing to be excited early on, but there’s also balancing your opinion and recognising persistent flaws as the development process continues.

  • Keen is very self aware. He knows he is affected by the hype cycle, as we all are. There is a reason it is taught in textbooks.

    His thoughts are unfiltered, and I know pretty much every human being goes through the hype cycle when they are facing a product that aligns with their interests.

    “Technology Trigger” — The first phase of a hype cycle is the “technology trigger” or breakthrough, product launch or other event that generates significant press and interest.
    “Peak of Inflated Expectations” — In the next phase, a frenzy of publicity typically generates over-enthusiasm and unrealistic expectations. There may be some successful applications of a technology, but there are typically more failures.
    “Trough of Disillusionment” — Technologies enter the “trough of disillusionment” because they fail to meet expectations and quickly become unfashionable. Consequently, the press usually abandons the topic and the technology.
    “Slope of Enlightenment” — Although the press may have stopped covering the technology, some businesses continue through the “slope of enlightenment” and experiment to understand the benefits and practical application of the technology.
    “Plateau of Productivity” — A technology reaches the “plateau of productivity” as the benefits of it become widely demonstrated and accepted. The technology becomes increasingly stable and evolves in second and third generations. The final height of the plateau varies according to whether the technology is broadly applicable or benefits only a niche market.

  • To echo the sentiment. Your blog keeps me coming back every day to check in on your opinions. I even agree with most of your sentiments. Your excitement is what makes this blog enjoyable, and informative.

    Keep up the good work.

  • @Brett: I’ve even used Gartner’s hype cycle when talking about MMO’s. 😉

    Thanks for all of your kind words, everyone. I was probably preaching to the choir, but I have wanted to say these things for a very long time.

  • Lemmie – I think Keen, like myself, and like many other people, hoped that WAR would not just have huge potential, but that it would actually deliver on that potential. And I don’t think anyone can really claim that it did so.

  • Well, for me you can hype as much as you want, cry, criticize or cheer about pretty much any game a much as you like on your blog, all well in my books. 🙂 hyping is fun at times, in fact I find it a little sad if some cynical and grumpy people have lost the ability to feel hypey about a next, big game. sometimes vorfreude is all we get really, we might as well enjoy it (and what else is there to write on atm, anyway?) as long as possible.

    I’ve hyped GW2 extensively again today and tomorrow I’m going to mope a little. Go me.

  • @Lemmie: The people who made WAR made DAOC, and DAOC actually succeeded in all the areas WAR failed. I set my expectations way, way too high but Mythic also came in sub bar on many of their designs.

  • Keen.. I have been reading your blog a long time and post on the forums as you know. Your blog is my homepage…. that says a lot.

    I am used to the pre game excitement, hope moreso of a quality game and fully understand when it doesn’t meet expectation. You write about it in honesty and tell it as it is in your opinion at the time it happens. So it’s real not a “1 year back, re-look full of hate”. We share many of the same feelings as fellow gamers. Don’t let the haters get to you.. they are fanatic fanbois of xxxx game.. It’s easy to jab and hate on the internet then actually write a good blog.

    What I think I like most about your blog is when we get talking about philosophical game design, wants or wishes in future games. I think you have brought out a lot of good insight and debate in your blog community.

    Keep it up… and tell lazy Graev to post more! All the weight is on you!

  • I’ve noticed in the past where you completely fall over a game, then quickly spit it out. I have no problem with the incredible excitement and seemingly immediate hate you have the games you cover; what I find odd is the time in which you raise/drop your feelings for each. So, I find it kind of difficult to get excited about a game that you’ve covering because I know your cycle.

  • heard something interesting about war, apparently Games Workshop of warhammer ixnayed three faction early on because they did not believe it worked with the lore.

  • @John: Hate is a strong word. I have hated very few games. I don’t hate SWTOR. I was never uber excited for it, either. In fact, the past several MMO’s I’ve been amiable at best pre-launch, and simply let down post-launch.