I think there’s a wrong spirit to approaching certain games, like I would with any artform. There’s a kind of spiteful attitude or a sense of superiority that certain people will bring to the table when approaching a game, like when “hardcore” gamers will tackle “casual” titles and I think that’s playing the game wrong.
To truly understand a work, you have to take it on its terms, not on the terms you think all games should be. For instance, I personally dislike Mass Effect 2, but I don’t deny the quality of what it is doing. I approached the game knowing that Bioware was taking the RPG in a different direction and while I recognized it wasn’t for me, I wasn’t arrogant enough to call it garbage because it didn’t cater to my tastes. For what it wanted to do, Mass Effect 2 was a tight, well-made game.
I think we start playing games wrong when we try to make them bend to our tastes and ideas of what games should be instead of realizing the title is made with an intention to be something that may not be for us, but we can still find ways to appreciate and understand those games.
I think that’s where I part ways with the whole “this isn’t a game” school of thought certain “hardcore” gamers level at games with little interactivity. It may not be challenging, but just because you think every game should have a challenge doesn’t mean it’s not a game or it’s bad because you don’t find it challenging.
I guess that’s how I’d say people play games wrong. There’s plenty of nuance with that as far as when a game achieves something that is mediocre or a game has aspirations it doesn’t meet, but that’s a whole other discussion.