Should You Tell A Developer You Haven’t Played Their Game?

Truth, Lies

While sitting in on a developer demonstration for a game sequel, it’s not uncommon for them to ask those in attendance if they’ve played the first game.

In years past, when presented with a situation where I hadn’t played the original game in question, I had multiple answers ready, all various forms of lies.

1) “Yes, but only briefly”
2) “Sure”
3) “Well, one of my roommates/friends/co-workers did and I watched”

None of them were true, obviously. Since then, I’ve come to realize such answers don’t help anyone. I tell them I haven’t played their game. No apologies. I can’t play everything, though I do my best to try everything.

There are instances where a developer will be taken aback, as was the case earlier this week when I was checking out a sequel. I joked with the developer afterwards, telling him I could have lied, and he laughed it off.

“I would have found out,” he joked.

“No, you wouldn’t have,” said the voice in my head.



Filed under journalism, Rambling Man

11 responses to “Should You Tell A Developer You Haven’t Played Their Game?

  1. At PAX 08 I had to tell one of the big PR directors for Sony that I have not gotten around to buying a PS3.

  2. Already blabbed back to you via Twitter, but yeah. Any one of us could fake having played something since we’re so overexposed as it is, and no, he wouldn’t have been able to tell.

    But whenever I’ve got to choose between looking cool or socially acceptable while being ignorant and just copping to not knowing something, I always choose the latter. I’d rather learn, you know?

    The more interesting question, I think: When you are reviewing a sequel, do you tell your *audience* that you haven’t played the first one?

  3. Well, if he knew your xbl gamertag, AND the game in question was for the 360, he’d be able to find out.

  4. MJ

    “Are you in Home yet?,” asked the director of Sony’s Home during an interview at GDC.


    We moved on.

  5. the only problem that arises from honesty, and i have definitely become more honest, is that people can sometimes then presume you don’t understand their title at all, or their genre, or games, or human speech. then again, those people have their own problems to varying degrees.

  6. I, too, used to go the “I’ve seen a friend play it” route, but really, why bother? Sure, there’s some initial weirdness when I have to explain to PR people that I have to turn down their offer of a review copy because I don’t own a Wii or a 360 — or that I’m actually not that familiar with [insert popular game here] — but I think it’s for the best in the end.

    When I say that I haven’t played a prior game in the series, the developer/PR person — whether he/she is taken aback or not — will explain things to me, and I like it better that way. I get to learn about a game, and that kind of background info is always helpful in writing about it.

  7. pk

    @ferricide That’s the heart of the issue for me. I don’t have a problem admitting I haven’t played something to its creator, but if such knowledge sidetracks the possible conversation over the game at hand, that’s unfortunate. I’ve yet to come out of a demo feeling that way, though.

  8. Pingback: Daily Linksplosion: Thursday, April 02, 2009 » Infinite Lives

  9. Chico

    I work as a games developer and, personally, I do prefer the “honesty” way, to be honest. If I ask someone ‘have you played “my” game?’ and they answer me they have not, I would certainly try to encourage them to do so, or tell them a few things about it… But yeah, definitely I prefer it that way as well 🙂

  10. Operator C

    Interesting. If I were in that situation I’d be inclined to just be straight up honest about it. And if the PR/developer decides to start explaining from the very basics, which is understandable, I’d politely tell them how familiar I am so as to not waste precious time. That, and I’m sure the PR/developer would be tired of going over the same information after a while, and I’d want to make it easier for them.

  11. I think honestly is always the best practice. I would imagine the game developers would actually prefer it as well and may have a greater respect for you over someone else who simply said yes to stroke their ego.

    @Leigh: I don’t think its mandatory to play a current games prequel when reviewing a game as long as that is stated in the review.

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