Does the Gaming Experience Require a Bell Curve of Play or a Gamer Profile Preamble?

So Elementalistly of Lowered Expectations put up a post a few minutes ago talking about the now-infamous one-hour impression of Rift. In the post, Elementalistly uses Age of Conan as a prime example of how one hour of gameplay does not accurately portray a good impression of a game.

For those of you who haven’t played Age of Conan, let me explain. The first 20 levels are essentially known as the Tortage Experience, in which your first hour defies most of the common traits we tend to ascribe to MMORPG’s. For instance, there is rarely a Question Mark indicating a questgiver, and the action is fast-paced and exciting because you’re trying to escape to the city of Tortage from a shipwreck. The game is voiced well, and it really feels like a polished game.

The problem with that image is that once you’ve completed the Tortage Experience (which takes more than an hour, usually), the game suddenly switches you over to a world where the MMORPG tropes exist in full force. You lose the voice acting, questgivers are everywhere, and a lack of content exists for people who do not want to simply kill ten rats.

Now, as an innocent thought, I told Elementalistly that due to his post, I felt guilty about spending only four or five hours playing FFXIV, most of it spent actually crafting more than anything else. To this, he replies through two tweets:

Should people then need to suffer more than 1 hour of FFXIV and it’s horrid gameplay? OUCH…

FFXIV is perfect proof against my point of spending more than 1 hour in an MMO to understand it and learn it…DAMMIT!

If FFXIV’s current state is a point towards the idea that one shouldn’t force himself to suffer through an uninteresting game, and Age of Conan is an example of how more than a passing glance should be given to games to get a better impression of them, I am left with a question in my head.

Does this mean that there should be “bell curve” to determine the best way to get an impression of a game?

By this bell curve, I am referring to the idea of writers needing a predetermined number of hours or a set point in the game met to achieve what could be considered an acceptable impression.

Obviously this sounds preposterous. While we could, as a cultured and civilized people, institute such a thing, it would have little bearing on the fact that every person is different and thus responds differently to particular stimuli.

Take for instance my earlier coverage of Darkall. Truth be told, I LOVE this game, but I keep stopping myself from playing it because the game brings up too much tension in me.It simply does not agree with my sensibilities despite the fact that I respect the game immensely for being its own sort of awesome.

While we may not need a bell curve of play, what might be better would be some sort of profile of the gamer playing X game and writing about it. For instance, if you’re the type of person who’s allergic to peanuts, and you’re asked to review a peanut butter spread, you’ll probably die right after posting that said peanut butter spread is poison. Sure, people will think it’s poison, and your point will be made because you’re dead, but that’s probably because you have an allergy to the bloody stuff to begin with that they don’t know about.

I’d think that being upfront about your preferences and letting people know that they don’t have to take your word as fact would be helpful in stemming the tide of people being up in arms about a one-hour impression.

Of course, as I said, that’s just my impression. It’s up to you to see if you should heed my words or be up in arms over it.