Stop Getting So Mad About Video Game Reviews

Illustration for article titled Stop Getting So Mad About Video Game Reviews

It's easy to take personal offense when you disagree with a game review. It's easy to believe dissenting opinions mask ulterior motives.


"How could that guy love Dragon Age 2?" you might think to yourself. "That game sucked! EA must have paid him off."

Or maybe you're angry about a video game's ending. Or a designer's disparaging comments about Japanese games. Whatever the subject, it can be easy (and gratifying) to get together with likeminded gamers and form a digital mob to take down your newfound opponent (who you will go on to forget about after a week or two, when the next controversy comes along).

Posting on his blog Insult Swordfighting today, writer Mitch Krpata has penned a reasonable essay asking mobs to tone it down a notch. Here's an excerpt:

The way so many people default to this line of attack tells me that they don't have anything substantive to say. They just want to gang up on someone. They want to elevate a simple disagreement into a clash of good versus evil — with themselves radiating pure white light, of course, no matter what garbage they sling, because they are armed with the correct opinion about a video game.


Really, though, it's not this particular case that bothers me as much as the pattern. Whether it's a negative review of The Witcher 2, or the ending of Mass Effect 3, or somebody saying he felt weird at PAX, the story is the same every time. The mob moves, locust-like, from one controversy to the next, with no sense of perspective or decency. They'll pick Bobby Hunter's bones clean today, forget the whole thing within a month, and then swarm the next one who strays from the pack. Guaranteed.

Read the whole piece—it's a great reminder that passionate disagreement is almost always a good thing.

An impassioned plea for apathy [Insult Swordfighting]



What's frustrating about The Witcher 2 is that most people completely ignored its existence and went on to praise the significantly-worse Dragon Age 2, nominating the latter (which was a terrible game and a waste of my money) for GOTY.

Also, there are some reviews which are just... amazingly fucking stupid. Several reviews of Alan Wake, for instance, said "it's not Silent Hill 2! This is a bad survival horror game!" Um, guys? It's not a survival horror game. It's an action horror game, so of course it's different. You can't hold it to the wrong standards. It'd be like getting mad at an action RPG because it wasn't turn-based and isometric.

Another Alan Wake review said it was absurd because it "wasn't realistic" and took qualms with a flashlight that could boost its light output (these actually exist), taking umbrage with a game for having the kind of abstractions you can find in essentialy every game ever. This same reviewer thought Dear Esther, where you just walk around, was a great game (despite not actually BEING a game).

So, you know, people being factually wrong or nitpicking because they come in predispositioned against something is a bad thing and should be discouraged.

Oh, and then you've got people saying "I dislike this game..." (Battlefield 3's campaign, Uncharted 3, etc), but giving it a high score regardless. On the flipside, you have people who don't like certain genres (Eurogamer's Dead Space/Alan Wake reviewer, iirc, loves music games and hates horror, so she gave them low scores). They shouldn't be reviewing games either.