Thursday, 8 August 2013

Why So Negative?

I don't know, and I'm not honestly sure I want to find out either.

Here we are, post number four-hundred ninety-nine. I tweeted earlier this week that five hundred would be me talking about this whole thing with Phil Fish, and I'm hoping that it still will be. My plan is to make a decently substantial post, and I'm trying to make sure that I have all the bases covered regarding this. At the same time though, there's something that although mostly unrelated, is a topic that I think will make an excellent lead in.

Even though the earliest recollection of something like this happening, at least for me, is the now infamous Legend of Zelda: Twilight Princess review on IGN, there is a trend that I am seeing more and more of lately. Hell, it wasn't even two months ago that I talked about this shit happening with The Last of Us. The latest game to fall victim to this is Dragon's Crown, which already had a fair bit of controversy over its depiction of women.

What am I talking about? I'm talking about how everyone who likes the game, or hell, sometimes it seems like everyone who buys the game, enjoys it, reads reviews that lavish praise, have a fun part. But the second that a review comes along that gives it a score lower than the norm everyone loses their fucking minds.

If you feel like killing a few hours feel free to go ahead and look at the extensive list on Tv Tropes. I'm not going to cover everything here, but suffice to say that I feel that this situation is rearing its head more and more these days. I do acknowledge that with the Internet allowing for instant replies and rebuttals that you can get a tempest in a teacup a lot more easily now than you could in the days that magazine reviews ruled the roost. Still, seeing it happening more and more is something that I'm finding deeply disturbing.

I realize that given how negative I am roughly all of the time in regards to some things that I write on here that it may be very hypocritical of me to say this, but all the utterly pointless shitflinging and kneejerk reactions to one or two out of tens or hundreds of review scores is something that has to stop.

Jim Sterling did a video this week where he talks about the whole huge deal that's being made of the one or two Dragon's Crown reviews that give the game less than exceptional scores. There's one particular train of thought that resonates with me here, and that is this:

"This is to say nothing of the hypocrisy of the hardcore gaming community that laments the homogenization of games. That lambastes the focus testing and pandering that goes in AAA development, and yet turns around to demand the very same thing from the gaming press. To order critics to tow the line, appeal only to the common consensus, to pander and to homogenize.

"Variety is the key to a healthy and productive games market, and the exact same thing is true of gaming media. It's good that there's a dissenting opinion, and it's good that it can be included into the discussion, as it keeps the discussion going. But to focus only on that one opinion, and worse, demanding that opinion be changed or stricken from the record because it didn't appeal to the masses?

"Well, if you do that, congratulations: you're the fucking Electronic Arts of people. Except, unlike EA, you actually gain nothing financially from the homogenization of a product. You don't get anything whether a game is praised to the moon or trashed into oblivion. You don't win, and that makes you kind of the worst."

We seem to take it to be our god given right to complain, even when our complaining doesn't accomplish anything except for making us look like petulant children. We complain that what content is no longer original, but then also take issue when someone has a dissenting and thus original argument regarding something. As Jim said, whether or not a single reviewer likes or dislikes the game means nothing. I've said it before and I'll say it once more: reviewers only have as much power as you are willing to invest in them. If you only play games that have been reviewed and praised by certain people, then you're probably missing out on a few things. Likewise, if your view of a game that other reviewers have enjoyed -- that you personally have enjoyed -- takes a nosedive or needs to be vigorously defended because one person has the "gall" not to absolutely love it, then your priorities are incredibly skewed.

You gain nothing from defending something that doesn't need defending. If you enjoy a game, then enjoy it for your own reasons, and if other people don't enjoy it for their own reasons, don't shove your reasoning down their throat like so many penises in an adult entertainment movie. That makes you a zealot, and most people don't care much for zealots.

Perhaps it is simply a symptom of the times, that it is of course easier to tear something down than build something up. It's easy to dismiss an argument or viewpoint that you don't like as being completely wrong, and the person behind it as being worthy only of scorn. However, that's generally not the way the world actually operates, thank fuck. It also seems to be indicative of a trend where those that do speak out, or have dissenting viewpoints, are often mocked, ridiculed, and undercut. However, at this point I think we're starting to verge on the topic that I have in store for tomorrow, just to give you a hint as to where I was going with this.

For today, at least, I leave you these words, coming from Yahtzee, who has no doubt gotten a lot of flak for a good number of his reviews in the past, present, and most assuredly will for the future as well:

"It's worth remembering that all reviews are subjective personal opinions, and if you personally enjoy the game then they shouldn't really get to you. Unless of course there's a despicable little niggling doubt in the back of your mind, that maybe you're not having as much fun as you've convinced yourself you're having, which doesn't go away no matter how many times you try to slap it down with the wet flannel of weak excuses,"

TL;DR? Relax. It's literally just a game.

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