After all these years, and growing up with Windows 3.1, I have seen an entire evolution of computers and software. Touch screens and large resolutions were a pipe dream just 15 years ago. Now it's the norm. Going from a Packard Bell (yes, before HP) that couldn't run 3D Ultra Mini...
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I think you're right about WHY people view it this way, but I think it's a problem none the less. School marks and Game marks aren't actually measuring the same thing. When we review a game, we are assessing the quality of the game. Marks in school are an indicator SOMETIMES in quality of, say writing, but often in quantity of things remembered during the class. To say you've truly learned everything in the class, you should be over 90%. If you're not there, there are things you seemingly didn't learn. 50% means you only learned HALF the material in the class. We're right to say, that's pretty bad. But when it comes to assigning a level of quality to a game... it seems like the bottom half of the out of 10 is just useless. There's no difference between 1 and 5 essentially, except HOW bad a game is. If you were to use it to be more clear, 1 would be "The Worst Game Ever" 10 would be "The Best Game Ever" and 5 would be "Neither Good, nor Bad." As it stands now, where really only 6 to 10 is used, you might as well just be marking out of 5 and be giving a lot of 2.5s. That would at least be more honest looking.
It really depends on the game. If the main quest is interesting and/or story based, I'll be more interested in seeing what developers have in store for me. Conversely, if the main quest is only there to guide me from place to place, with side quests to broaden and liven up the world and my companions, I'm all for them.
That said, here's the thing: sidequests are generally much more interesting because in my experience most developers got lazy with the main quest, and wanted to pad out time (I'm looking at you, Borderlands), while in a good game, the sidequests bolster the experience of the main quest. Also I think we can all agree that semi-mandatory sidequests are the worst thing possible, few would enjoy going drinking with Roman in GTA IV or the exploration to find missiles in Super Metroid if it were absolutely mandatory for finishing things.
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