Gaming Your Way

May contain nuts.

Worth stating ? Possibly not.

I read a fantastic quote from AA Gill on the subject of being a critic,

"Can anyone do it? Is everyone's opinion worth the same? No. My opinion is worth more than other people's. Of course that's a horrendously arrogant thing to say, but that is the nature and basis of criticism. If you are sticking your opinions in front of two million readers every Sunday, then you have to believe that your opinion is worth more."

It got me thinking seeing how our little indie world is virtually all based on the critique of complete strangers. By that I don't mean just how well our games are received and arbitrarily ranked with handy little stars, which of course does have a direct effect on our earnings ( We crave those front pages, partly as a pat on the back for a job well done, partly to pay that bill which just came in ), but in the very direction we take our future developments.

Does that sound too strong ? That the influence of I3yRo1dV1rg1n has on us with his "Sucks 0/5" comment is being given too much weight ? If you release a game which you think is like a golden dolphin flying through the night sky, a vision of gaming beauty, and enough people tell you it sucks because it doesn't have a shop, or it's not original enough, or it's too original and they don't get it ( No matter what, the vast majority mean "If I was good enough to create a game myself, and I was making this one, I'm make it much better than you did, and here's how..." ) then are you going to follow a similar path next time ? Are you going to birth that sequel that you kind of planned in at the start because you thought the game was worthy of a sequel, that not all the story had been told ? Worst case scenario, are you going to lose the courage of your convictions and make a game that aims to be popular for the sake of popularity ( Been there, much to my shame ) ?

You could argue ( There are no answers here, just thoughts, so argue away as I'm not taking a particular stance ) that those are our consumers, we make games to entertain and to be played, with the happy side effect of them paying the bills if they hit that front page, and if the people we give our game to say it sucks, maybe it just does. Maybe you're not all knowing just 'cause you made something. Maybe you've got blinkers on because after investing so much time and effort you don't want to stand back and see the Mona Lisa that you created in your head in the cold light of day is just a stick man. Drawn on a toilet wall. In shit.

But going back to the quote that this post hangs on, maybe not all views are equal. Perhaps those 0/10 "Sucks" comments are just as pointless and trite as those 10/10 "Awesome" reviews that make us feel all warm and fuzzy. Possibly we should just take on board the reviews that actually help us as developers, the ones which are articulate and well thought out, even if they say that our beautiful Mona Lisa is a bit of a dog, because they explain why.

That someone plays your game is nice, it's rewarding, after all games are meant to be played. It means the game has achieved it's required result, even if the player hates it. That someone cares enough about your game to provide a well thought out response to the experience is absolutely fucking fantastic. It's quite possible the person writing that just likes seeing their own words, that they want to rise above the 0/10 and 10/10 gangs and show that by giving you a sample of their intellect ( Shit, I'm writing this post, as if my words carry any sort of weight about anything ) but it's equally as possible that they cared enough about the game they've just played that they want to show you and in effect help you become a better developer.

I read a great article about anger management the other day, and there's this theory that at times we actively seek confrontation, it's the whole adrenaline and dopamine reward it gives us. Sometimes being pissy just feels good.
I've found I'm very guilty of this. If I see those 0/10 "Sucks" comments, I find it near impossible not to bite. Ok, maybe not those as they're just noise, but give me a little something that has some meat with it's venom and I'm in there. I'm coming at you bitch with all the sarcasm and bile that you accumulate over 39 years.
( Can I just say this unhealthy desire for an angry dopamine hit is only to do with my games, I'm not a mental who goes looking for a fight under every stone. I think it's a combination of loving your baby that you've just put out in the world, and expecting people to piss you off with trite throw away comments that take them less than 30 seconds to write, after you've spent months making the very best work you can. If you know you're going to be annoyed you get in there first, you're ready for it, and attack much quicker than perhaps you should. Sounds awfully like a previous relationship ).

So, where has this rambling path taken me ? Basically I'm going to try and improve my shit filters. Why should I get defensive / aggressive with strangers who aren't best placed too comment on my work. Praise from my peers, people I respect, matters to me. I think it matters to everyone. Critique from people who I don't know whose views are just vacuous and there because it's an available avenue aren't going to get under my skin anymore.
Players who provide constructive feedback are in effect aiding the game post release, as I learn from them, which is what I aspire to do, to learn from people and become better at what I do.

Worth stating ? Possibly not. Possibly so.


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