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Discussion How to be a good game reviewer + Thoughts

Since most reviews are in either an American or British context, it actually is burned into our psyche. An 80%, or a B, is a pretty passable grade overall ever since we were kids. A single 70%(or a C) can prevent you from getting into college, cost you scholarships, and in general ruin your entire rest of life and force you to go into a hellish minimum wage job and be a wage slave for the rest of your life.

This has literally happened to 5 people I know from high school. A single C.

Don't drag the british down with the Americans for this. We do a lot of shit wrong, but grades isn't it.

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70% being a top grade is something well understood in the UK.
 
This is another thing I've seen a lot, too, and I'm sure I've referenced it in the past: people often don't seem capable of separating whether they like something from whether that thing is good. They like a thing, and so it is good, and likewise for things disliked. In reality, something might be legitimately good, and you can see that, but you also just don't care for it. Or you might recognize something is unmitigated dreck, but you enjoy it regardless. Usually there's something of a mix.

To veer a bit farther, confirmation bias is a connected concept. We'll have already determined something is true, so we seek out sources and authorities that tell us how very right we are and we discard and denigrate those that disagree -- without even considering that we might be wrong.

In the end, we don't grow by never allowing ourselves to be challenged. And we can't properly provide the necessary sort of challenge to others if we're unwilling to hear them out. We stagnate, and we might even rot.

I'm going a bit far from the game criticism and review topic here though.

But yes, "did I like this (and why)?" and "is this good (and why)?" are different questions. Sometimes it might be worth answering both.
I always appreciate your well thought out comments. Personally, I can't agree with this, for a lot of the same reasons @EtherPenguin has said.

To me, the fact that we have to separate "liking something because it is genuinely good" and "liking something because you just like it" is already very telling that the argument is based around some sort of authority or "factual" basis, which is why I think the second paragraph - though its intention was originally about the need to validate multiple sources - to me seems a tad contradictory. Surely if we are already admitting that putting a sample of critics on a pedestal to further your agenda is a flawed argument, then putting all critics, or an average of critics, on a pedestal to further your argument is also flawed? Imagine you are arguing against a very popular, well-liked acclaimed game being good. Under these circumstances, there would be no way to really justify that take.

And of course, most critique is ultimately a time capsule of what the accepted norms are for the time. So it doesn't actually tell us that much that most people liked a thing at a time, because we are always progressing forward and finding new standards for what makes video games so great. Even in an industry which has mostly stagnated since the creation of the "modern" 3D game, our tastes are still changing all the time and we are still perfecting our craft (just look at how Bethesda's formula went from one of the most acclaimed of all time to behind the times in less than a decade).

You didn't use the word "objective" in your comment, which was refreshing, but to me the argument over whether a game is "actually good" or if you just "like it" is essentially the same exact argument, and I'd posit that it's one of the worst forms of entertainment debate out there. Just to be clear, there is such a thing as realizing a game is good but not really thinking it's for you - but that's still ultimately based around your subjective viewing. Ultimately, people championing that entertainment is about subjectivity is more challenging than giving in to critical, commercial, or player consensus.
 
Totally agree here. Reviews are almost always entertainment and marketing masquerading as critique. Not to even shit on them at all, it's just people doing their jobs working for profit. I think I even heard this on IGN somewhere and I think it's true: reviews are there to help you make a purchasing decision; after you've made that decision yes or no, the review should have no bearing on your actual enjoyment of the game: that comes from actually playing the game. If a review is "living rent free in your mind" the problem is actually with you and how you process you own life, not with the review.

I think another thing that's just gone way too far and people place an even more disproportionate burden on reviews is this idea that one has to advocate for a game or series or franchise extremely positively and vocally in order prevent that series or franchise from dying. Every single time. If a game gets a bad score, or if there's too much negative chatter from anonymous individuals online, somehow that will translate into Nintendo making even fewer games in that series, or ever again. And then somehow arguing incessantly and loudly with strangers online will somehow convince them to change their anonymous tune and then magically that will help create the next game in X series in 5 years. It's just an absurd way of thinking. Nintendo made Pikmin 4 because they wanted to and thought they could sell enough of it to make it worthwhile. Not because strangers have been yelling at each other in forums for 10 years.

Some games with good review scores often get sequels 10 years later; some games with bad review scores get continuous sequels every year. The thought that any individual or small group on the internet make any difference in that calculus is just plain silly.
I agree with all of this. Game reviews are, or should be, a buyer's guide. It's ridiculous to expect any genuine insight beyond impressions of whether a game is fun and functional from someone who had to play through it and write up a review in like a week. That stuff comes later.

The field of actual game design criticism and analysis is in its infancy and scattered across blogs, forums, YouTube channels, and probably random Discord servers in wildly varying quality and formality. There's no real standards for this, so it's really easy for a game to get made that completely misses basic things that are usually taken for granted across an established genre, or for there to be a significant disconnect in design philosophy between different scenes. For example, trial and error design is generally looked down upon today. But it seems to still be perfectly accepted within the niche of the shmup genre, perhaps because it never went mainstream enough for games that heavily rely on memorization to fall out of favor in comparison to ones that don't.

And I think a lot of people could stand to adopt the mindset that corporations don't actually own these games in any meaningful sense, it'd help a lot with the sales insecurity. If you love Metroid that much to the point where you have a deep emotional investment in its continuation, you can just make a Metroid game. That one guy did it! And it isn't any less valid just because Nintendo didn't put their seal on it. If Nintendo is working on a new Donkey Kong game in-house, how likely is it that anyone who worked at Rare, or Retro, or the original arcade game will have any meaningful involvement with it? The rumors are even that it's being made by younger staff who are fans of the Country trilogy. At most Miyamoto will check in to make sure they didn't give Donkey Kong a gun again.

People make games, not corporations, and corporations are completely fine with replacing those people. So if you can manage, why shouldn't you give yourself the opportunity Konami gave to anyone with a pulse to work on a Castlevania game? There isn't anything separating your effort from theirs but the logo of a company most people who made the game you like have probably long since departed. Many, many sequels are essentially fan games already.

I know I personally used to hold this view of fan works as something separate from and lesser than official material, and I imagine many others feel the same. It has a kernel of truth to it, that Bowser isekai story on Royal Road is probably not going to be very good even by the low literary standards of the Super Mario series. Without anyone to say no, anything can get made. That's great! It's also terrible! But in the end, it just means there's a lot more out there. Official material is far from immune to complete disaster. Let's not forget that Other M was from the same director as Super Metroid. It's likely to have greater quality control and produce more large scale works, but that's hardly a given.

Sonic fans were forced to figure this stuff out I think, but most others still seem completely dependent on the license holder. It'd be a much healthier perspective for more people to not feel like the thing they like is being constantly held hostage by a corporation. Or at least it'd stop me having to see so many numbers being thrown around like ammunition all the damn time.

This is something I admittedly really struggle with and your second paragraph actually hints at why I struggle with it. I struggle to understand how we can define objective good for something as subjective as media, and I've never seen a good case for how to define 'legitimately good' that doesn't essentially come down to an ad populum argument.

There are certain things regarding the content of a game that I think we can easily put in the box of objectively bad when it's something morally objectionable, but for something as abstract as game mechanics I just find it incredibly difficult to be convinced we can define an objective good without the argument being "well the majority says so" or "more sales means better art". I also worry that it adds to the vitriol some fans will have in the preferences they have for one entry in a series over another where sometimes it feels like they're campaigning for their preferred entry to get the majority vote to declare it the objectively good one.

Like there are definitely games that I have an unpopular positive opinion about. And things that I like about these are things that I truly believe are legitimately good game design choices but how would I prove that or gather evidence to prove myself wrong aside from majority rules?

I'm not even sure the issue of defining "objective good" has been solved in other mediums. It's no secret the bulk of what we consider the western literary canon was curated by wealthy white men and exclusionary of minorities. And Pauline Kael wrote plenty of criticism on the worship of auteur directors of the European art film heyday.

I'm also reminded of Stephanie Sterling's old "objective" Final Fantasy XIII review that a lot of people wrote off as disingenuous. But I've always wondered if they had point.
Objectivity and consensus are essentially synonymous concepts, or at least in a square-rectangle kind of relationship. Say you take a ruler and measure something to be 5 centimeters long. In all likelihood, just about anyone would read it the same way and get the same result. Something simple and observable like this is about the strongest consensus there is. But say someone had, I dunno, some sort of weird mutation that caused their vision to work completely differently. Maybe they even see in four dimensions or something, maybe they're an alien. They get a different answer. Are they wrong? Maybe. But maybe the way they see it is actually correct, maybe 5 centimeters isn't. Maybe both are equally correct or wrong. We can't actually know this, because we're unable to perceive it exactly as they do, and are unable to compare either perspective to "objective" reality through any means besides consensus, but we can at least try and understand their perspective. And maybe some of us will even come to agree with it.

Each of us can only perceive the world filtered through our own senses and brains, and because our bodies are not identical, no two perspectives are exactly the same. This isn't to say that they are all equally valid, by any means. Whenever I come across an opinion, I often try to figure out where it comes from as part of the process of understanding it. A lot of opinions come from nostalgia or a lack of understanding or any number of heavy biases or errors. One might say it's impossible for any perspective to be completely devoid of such things, probably, I dunno. I don't really care that much. Personally, most opinions aren't worth a lot anyway, they're not usually very interesting.

It's funny, society kind of completely collapses if you don't take consensus as fact. Even something as base as language only works because of agreement on what each word means (though, it does so far from perfectly, as anyone who has been on the internet a while can attest). Things like laws and social pressure are all formed from somebody's consensus. When you look at it this way, all social interaction becomes a constant mostly unconscious war of perspectives attempting to control the consensus, and in some small way, influence reality.

That whole affair might sound dire and cynical and dystopian or something, but the beautiful thing about it is that when you look at art, which is so lacking in anything that might be called "objective truths", the fact that so much consensus can exist implies that there is some sort of universality to experience. There are certain arcane, poorly-understood things that humans tend to like, and that sense that we actually are able to connect makes communicating with people at all feel worthwhile. It makes analysis and research feel meaningful, because maybe you will be the one to find a deeper truth and create a better consensus than there was before. Even if that's something as small and pointless as researching the number of blocks of each type in every stage of a Mario game and drawing conclusions from that data (I haven't done this by the way; feel free).
 
Objectivity and consensus are essentially synonymous concepts,
Well no, when Galileo was placed under house arrest for the rest of his life for countering the popular consensus that earth was flat, that didn't mean the earth was actually flat during that time period and then magically changed when general consensus did. I don't even know where to begin with the ruler argument. Like, yes we have to accept some basic mathematical axioms to function unless you go full-on brain in a vat. But you starting there to make a comparison for how we engage with art as a response to the things I said sort of feels like it's getting into the dangerous territory of conflating scientific consensus with an appeal to authority. How scientific consensus is determined is a very different animal from popular consensus, we cannot compare these things
 
And that's great. It's wonderful that you have both the time and the money to be able to try a lot of stuff.
That's not what they were implying; you're making that up because they're disagreeing with your point.

It's not fair of you to warp what they said to mean "I have lots of money and time so I can try lots of stuff".
They were obviously saying "A 7 from a large outlet like IGN would not be the reason I wouldn't spend that money to get it if it's what I wanted to do".

It's rude and disingenuous of you to say this.
 
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Well no, when Galileo was placed under house arrest for the rest of his life for countering the popular consensus that earth was flat, that didn't mean the earth was actually flat during that time period and then magically changed when general consensus did. I don't even know where to begin with the ruler argument. Like, yes we have to accept some basic mathematical axioms to function unless you go full-on brain in a vat. But you starting there to make a comparison for how we engage with art as a response to the things I said sort of feels like it's getting into the dangerous territory of conflating scientific consensus with an appeal to authority. How scientific consensus is determined is a very different animal from popular consensus, we cannot compare these things
I'm not saying that the consensus is ever actually right, just that viewing anything from an actual objective perspective is impossible, so an agreed-upon consensus is the closest thing that exists to objectivity. Specifically scientific consensus, because of the very different attitude towards accountability and control from every other form of popular consensus, which can just be based on whatever made up bullshit you want to put in the zeitgeist. But scientific knowledge is still prone to being challenged and replaced like any other status quo.

So, uh, I suppose an "objective" video game review would be done... scientifically, somehow? Interesting thought experiment if nothing else, I can't imagine how that would be done, just in a practical sense.
 
I'm not saying that the consensus is ever actually right, just that viewing anything from an actual objective perspective is impossible, so an agreed-upon consensus is the closest thing that exists to objectivity. Specifically scientific consensus, because of the very different attitude towards accountability and control from every other form of popular consensus, which can just be based on whatever made up bullshit you want to put in the zeitgeist. But scientific knowledge is still prone to being challenged and replaced like any other status quo.

So, uh, I suppose an "objective" video game review would be done... scientifically, somehow? Interesting thought experiment if nothing else, I can't imagine how that would be done, just in a practical sense.
No one would disagree with the bolded part, that's what science is about. Scientific consensus comes about when an overwhelming amount of experts in a field can agree on something through repeatable results. Theories are meant to be challenged and updated, but we also have to understand when the evidence is overwhelming to the point of being undeniable like the basic principles of physics and gravity. I'm aware there are different philosophies to determine truth, and consensus is indeed one, but so is the correspondence theory which lays the foundation for the scientific method. That's why these things are apples and oranges.

And no I similarly can't imagine any way we can review art and media scientifically. That's the point. So I go back to asking why do we need objectivity to be a thing when discussing something as abstract as game mechanics? Why does objectivity need to be part of the discussion at all? The person I originally responded to said we must ask if we just like something or if it's actually good. My problem is that there is no room for growth or introduction of new ideas if the only metric to determine that is "majority says so". If the general consensus decides then asking if it's actually good just means checking its metacritic score. And being dismissed with "well I've never heard anyone say that before, that must be a minority opinion" isn't very fun. Pointing to critical consensus can just terminate any discussion.

If someone says Sonic Chronicles is actually a good game and presents their argument, I don't see how we can gather evidence and proof against them in the same way we could shut down a flat-earther.
 
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This is something I admittedly really struggle with and your second paragraph actually hints at why I struggle with it. I struggle to understand how we can define objective good for something as subjective as media, and I've never seen a good case for how to define 'legitimately good' that doesn't essentially come down to an ad populum argument.

There are certain things regarding the content of a game that I think we can easily put in the box of objectively bad when it's something morally objectionable, but for something as abstract as game mechanics I just find it incredibly difficult to be convinced we can define an objective good without the argument being "well the majority says so" or "more sales means better art". I also worry that it adds to the vitriol some fans will have in the preferences they have for one entry in a series over another where sometimes it feels like they're campaigning for their preferred entry to get the majority vote to declare it the objectively good one.

Like there are definitely games that I have an unpopular positive opinion about. And things that I like about these are things that I truly believe are legitimately good game design choices but how would I prove that or gather evidence to prove myself wrong aside from majority rules?

I'm not even sure the issue of defining "objective good" has been solved in other mediums. It's no secret the bulk of what we consider the western literary canon was curated by wealthy white men and exclusionary of minorities. And Pauline Kael wrote plenty of criticism on the worship of auteur directors of the European art film heyday.

I'm also reminded of Stephanie Sterling's old "objective" Final Fantasy XIII review that a lot of people wrote off as disingenuous. But I've always wondered if they had point.
Here's what I believe: Quality as an objective measure is neither well defined nor poorly defined. It is partially defined. Attempting to measure the quality of a media product is sort of like taking a measurement in a physics lab: You can report a best value, but there will fundamentally be error bars on it, representing a range of values.

Here's an example of what I mean: Food. The entire concept of "everyone has their own tastes" comes from food.
Everyone has their own tastes in food. But yet, I think we can all agree that there's some level of objectivity in what makes some food good, and some food bad. For example, unless you have a disorder like mica, no one thinks human feces tastes good. No one thinks dirt takes good. Bitterants are famoulsy used to prevent children from eating toys, due to how bad they taste. Similarly, most people think a good, professionally cooked dry-aged steak tastes wonderful, if they're not a vegetarian.

There are objective reasons for this. In nature, your sense of taste is used to tell what's edible, and what isn't. And there's an entire science of food, much of which is dedicated to figuring out what tastes good and why. Thus, you can't say that there isn't an objective aspect to the actual sense of "taste."

Yet, everyone's tongues are different. Some people have different taste buds. Nurture is important as well. Psychology and preference too. So, on a per-food basis, peoples opinions can vary significantly. I can't stand Brussel Sprouts, but my family loves them. Thus, there is an arbitrariness to taste as well.

Thus, when it comes to food, there is both an objective, well-defined portion to the concept of quality, and an ill-defined portion. One way to think of quality is as a "best measurement" with a range of error bars attached to it. This "cloud of error" can be thought of representing the probability distribution of people's own person ratings of the quality. For example, a 8+-1 means that, perhaps, 95% recieve the game as being somewhere between 7 and 9. Some games might have a wider distribution of scores than others. In science, error bars can mean a few different things, depending on the measurement and the expected error distribution. [Gaussian, stadnard deviation, et cetera.]

Science does this all the time, because nothing can be measured exactly. That doesn't mean that the measurements are meaningless, just that you need to qualify them with a bit more information, and that there:s some uncertainty with them. I think the same thing applies to quality as well. Some games are better than others, but that doesn't mean that there isn't a error bar on the review, whether people report it or not.

Also, if we're being really through: Quality is always relative to some concept. Something has to be good with respect to something. Is Ice Cream good? It tastes good, but it's terrible for you. On the otherhand, Broccoli tastes terrible (to me), but it's good for you. When you say something is good or bad, you should ideally give the context of what you mean. By itself, saying something is 'good or bad' is actually meaningless. We just usually assume that everyone knows what we mean. Case in point: Ever here the phrase 'Good movie, bad sequel?' That's where it comes from.


So, objective good does exist. It's just more complicated than a single word. When you say something is good, you need to provide the context for it, and admit that there's a natural uncertainty to the claim. Just like Physicists do with measurements.





For example, trial and error design is generally looked down upon today. But it seems to still be perfectly accepted within the niche of the shmup genre, perhaps because it never went mainstream enough for games that heavily rely on memorization to fall out of favor in comparison to ones that don't.


So, there's a lot to address if your post, but my current post is getting too long, so I'll just say this:

Most Shmups take about 30-45 minutes to complete in their entirety.
Shmups are arcade games meant to be played many times over.
Most good shmups do not require memorization to complete. Memorization is usually only required for high-score runs, or for 'special' difficulty modes.
It takes a lot more than memorization to get a good high score in most shmups.
Shmups, in general, tend to have very high skill ceilings.

Honestly, you're claims about trial and error, and memorization about shumps as some sort of antiquated flaw is kinda like claiming that racing sims are bad because 'all you do is memorize the track until you get a new time record.'

It's ignorant.


Actually, getting a high-score in a good shmup is kinda like doing a time-trial in a racing game, in spirit. Same concept.
 
Toxic positivity is definitely a blight on enthusiast forums, and it drives me crazy.

The funniest example of it to me is people who think that it's perfectly possible to judge the good qualities of a game from prerelease trailers but any criticism of things seen in those trailers is premature because "you haven't played it yet".

Like, either we can make judgements based on this carefully curated footage or we can't, no?

Personally, I almost never interact with positive discussion - unless it's to recommend a game to someone asking. When I like a game, it's usually for the same reasons others like it, and the community will have that point of view covered. There's no meat there, nothing to add. But reading posts from people who dislike a game I like? That may actually expand my understanding. It may make me reconsider the game. Some of the most interesting forum posts I've read in the last 5 years are from people who dislike maybe my favourite game of all time, BotW.

On the other side of the coin, me posting criticism of a game others like may inform others with my tastes that hey, you may not like this either. I've done this a lot with, say, The House in Fata Morgana, which has like a 95+ metacritic but I genuinely believe is one of the worst highly-rated games / VNs ever made. And I wish I had been able to read the opinion I'm putting out there before I had bought that game, so surely it could be worth it to someone.

The counter-opinion always has value, imo, as long as it's honestly held and politely argued, even if just to avoid places becoming an echo chamber.
 
"It's funny because it's true" type of video. I've sporadically watched mainstream outlets reviews since the early 2010s and the dynamic of commentators' been the exact same, no changes whatsoever. Negative scores will get you people questioning the reviewers' intelligence and positive scores the revivification of entire websites.

It's bizarre but I won't lie, it's hilarious sometimes.
 
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So, there's a lot to address if your post, but my current post is getting too long, so I'll just say this:

Most Shmups take about 30-45 minutes to complete in their entirety.
Shmups are arcade games meant to be played many times over.
Most good shmups do not require memorization to complete. Memorization is usually only required for high-score runs, or for 'special' difficulty modes.
It takes a lot more than memorization to get a good high score in most shmups.
Shmups, in general, tend to have very high skill ceilings.

Honestly, you're claims about trial and error, and memorization about shumps as some sort of antiquated flaw is kinda like claiming that racing sims are bad because 'all you do is memorize the track until you get a new time record.'

It's ignorant.


Actually, getting a high-score in a good shmup is kinda like doing a time-trial in a racing game, in spirit. Same concept.
I... know and agree with all of this? Did I give the impression I don't play shmups? I won't pretend to be a genre expert, but I've played over 30 of them and have a pretty good idea of how they typically work.

All I was saying was that I've noticed shmup fans seem uniquely okay with trial and error. I always see Salamander/Life Force talked about as super forgiving due to its life/checkpoint system, which maybe it is by NES standards, but the very first level is made of walls which move unpredictably and kill you with a touch. And some games are outright discussed as requiring a ton of memorization to complete, but this isn't really considered a black mark at all.
 
What people need to understand is that there’s nothing wrong with not liking something.
 
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Exaggerated for clarity.
A: This is the best game ever!
B: This game is terrible.
A: ^Care to back that up, dude? (Otherwise you'll get a ban for shitposting.)
B: Writes his opinions, quickly.
A: Well, I don't think any of that is true! Explain some more.
B: FINE. Spends 20 minutes writing an essay.
A: Sure. I GUESS some pretentious people might think that. But hey, everyone gets to have their own opinions, right?
A: Now, as I was saying. This is the best game ever, and everyone needs to know that this is a fact, and not an opinion.
B: Oh, fuck you.
Poster B has been banned for hostility.
A: Another troll bites the dust. Good riddance, moron.
A: Now, let me list the 10 reasons why this is objectively the best game ever!
This is such a good summary of what makes having a negative opinion on a forum so frustrating, well put
 
On the other side of the coin, me posting criticism of a game others like may inform others with my tastes that hey, you may not like this either. I've done this a lot with, say, The House in Fata Morgana, which has like a 95+ metacritic but I genuinely believe is one of the worst highly-rated games / VNs ever made. And I wish I had been able to read the opinion I'm putting out there before I had bought that game, so surely it could be worth it to someone.
I have to be honest: The embryo of my feelings first started forming years ago when I bought Recettear, Y's, and Trail's in the Sky, based on forum recommendations. Also, Diablo II as well. The best of these games were mediocre, and the worst outright bad. I felt upset about this. Over the years, I've found that overly enthusiastic, niche, forum goers tend to massively oversell games, to the point where I'm actually less likely to like a game if it was recommended by forum enthusiast.

Whenever this happens, I want to go into their Falcom OT's, and their Steam Sale Hidden Gems OT, and tell people that these games are bad and should be avoided. But, I can't do that. That would be mean. It would start arguments. I'd get me banned. As some people would say, "read the room."

But...then how is anyone supposed to communicate their dissatisfaction? I did waste time and money on these games that I'd like back. It's a small harm, but a harm nonetheless.... So, I do think that there are real reasons why negative opinions are important, aside from the fact that people naturally want their opinions heard.

It was just a small embryo of sentiment, hardly the opinion I have now. But in the years since, I've begun watching how forum fights start, and I've noticed something: most toxic forum arguments aren't a result of people caring about games or movies too much. They're over people getting insulted and angry with other posters due to people being rude or dismissive. And on some forums, like resetera, the arguments are strongly driven by double standards on positive/negative, which allows certain posters to just irritate others by being honestly rude without consequence.

And then people complain that some people just take games/movies/TV too seriously. And it's like: "He's not mad because he cares too much about a video game. He's mad because you're ignoring half of what he says, twisting the other half of what he says, and dismissing all of it. Because you don't like the fact that he dislikes your favorite game or movie."

I think I'm starting to talk in circles now. I'll try to stop posting monologues in this thread.
I... know and agree with all of this? Did I give the impression I don't play shmups? I won't pretend to be a genre expert, but I've played over 30 of them and have a pretty good idea of how they typically work.

All I was saying was that I've noticed shmup fans seem uniquely okay with trial and error. I always see Salamander/Life Force talked about as super forgiving due to its life/checkpoint system, which maybe it is by NES standards, but the very first level is made of walls which move unpredictably and kill you with a touch. And some games are outright discussed as requiring a ton of memorization to complete, but this isn't really considered a black mark at all.
The way you phrased everything made it sound like you were calling Shmups antiquated trash that relied on bad game design, and needed to be "modernized."

To be fair, I'm coming from the C.A.V.E./Takumi/Touhou side of things, and pure memorization will not get you far in those games. If you're talking about Salamander/Life Force, then that might be a bit different. Gradius and R-Type like games are very much their own thing that I have less experience with, and they do seem to be a bit....sketchy.....

At some point "Shmup" is really just a gigantic umbrella. It's just that you post came off as really judgemental.
 
I have to be honest: The embryo of my feelings first started forming years ago when I bought Recettear, Y's, and Trail's in the Sky, based on forum recommendations. Also, Diablo II as well. The best of these games were mediocre, and the worst outright bad. I felt upset about this. Over the years, I've found that overly enthusiastic, niche, forum goers tend to massively oversell games, to the point where I'm actually less likely to like a game if it was recommended by forum enthusiast.

Whenever this happens, I want to go into their Falcom OT's, and their Steam Sale Hidden Gems OT, and tell people that these games are bad and should be avoided. But, I can't do that. That would be mean. It would start arguments. I'd get me banned. As some people would say, "read the room."
.
I mean, seeing as ‘read the room’ was the point I made, the answer to that is ‘if you can’t find a suitable one, make a room and give it a good title.’

If you start a thread called ‘highly recommended games I didn’t gel with’ or ‘I don’t like Ys, and here’s why’, that seems like fairly constructive ways to get across your dissatisfaction rather than piling into a Star Topic where the OP likely put a ton more effort in than any individual poster to tell them the game they spent all afternoon making art assets for is mediocre and they are a fanboy or whatever. Nobody is going to get banned for starting a ‘I didn’t like popular game’ thread or even expressing those sentiments, in the same way that piling into ‘I didn’t like x game’ thread with ‘I thought it was great!’ is also unlikely to.

However, if people are rude, hostile or dismissive though, that’s when people run into Famiboards rules. This includes being relentlessly positive in order to drown out or dismiss as irrelevant where someone is pointing out (for example) bigotry etc in a game. The thing is, where negative commentary moves into bannable territory, its often because, rather than criticism of a game, it goes for generalised, sweeping attacks on members in titles and OPs like ‘overrated’ or ‘don’t listen to the fanboy nostalgia here’, starting the thread circling the drain before it’s even started. The same applies to both, where relentless positivity in trying to dismiss serious issues or shout down critics as console warz or whatever is also likely to get reported and have moderators start eyeballing the thread. I’ve never signed off on a ban for constructive criticism of a video game or just disagreeing or disliking one in a year of moderating Fami. A thread isn’t a derail where two people disagree politely over something as inconsequential as video games. It’s just that such disagreements can have people escalate inch by inch, increasing the heat level slowly, until finally reports start piling in, mods review the thread and start looking at who thought they’d escalate way over the line following a dozen posts during which either party could have just ignored each other rather than throwing playground insults around.
 
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I've stated as much before in a similar thread about a similar video made some time last year by Steph Sterling, but I'll reiterate.

I'm fine with negativity, as long as it comes from a place of effort and honesty. Over the years, I've played a lot of games - mainly highly rated western AAA games - that I absolutely cannot find any love for. And even some of my favourite franchises have games that I just don't have the love for that others who are into these series seem to have - looking at you, Twilight Princess.

But I've actually played these games and am willing to express my opinion about it. And I've decided for myself that I find it a waste of time to play video games I'm fairly certain I won't get any enjoyment out of based on my experiences with similar titles in the past. There is no small amount of games that I'm actually into that I'd rather try and find the time to spend with rather than play the latest hype beast title from some company which hasn't made anything I've ever had the ability to care about.

And, given how my taste in games has changed over the last decade, I'm fine with that as well. I'm done with negativity for myself.
 
I mean, seeing as ‘read the room’ was the point I made, the answer to that is ‘if you can’t find a suitable one, make a room and give it a good title.’

If you start a thread called ‘highly recommended games I didn’t gel with’ or ‘I don’t like Ys, and here’s why’, that seems like fairly constructive ways to get across your dissatisfaction rather than piling into a Star Topic where the OP likely put a ton more effort in than any individual poster to tell them the game they spent all afternoon making art assets for is mediocre and they are a fanboy or whatever. Nobody is going to get banned for starting a ‘I didn’t like popular game’ thread or even expressing those sentiments, in the same way that piling into ‘I didn’t like x game’ thread with ‘I thought it was great!’ is also unlikely to.

However, if people are rude, hostile or dismissive though, that’s when people run into Famiboards rules. This includes being relentlessly positive in order to drown out or dismiss as irrelevant where someone is pointing out (for example) bigotry etc in a game. The thing is, where negative commentary moves into bannable territory, its often because, rather than criticism of a game, it goes for generalised, sweeping attacks on members in titles and OPs like ‘overrated’ or ‘don’t listen to the fanboy nostalgia here’, starting the thread circling the drain before it’s even started. The same applies to both, where relentless positivity in trying to dismiss serious issues or shout down critics as console warz or whatever is also likely to get reported and have moderators start eyeballing the thread. I’ve never signed off on a ban for constructive criticism of a video game or just disagreeing or disliking one in a year of moderating Fami. A thread isn’t a derail where two people disagree politely over something as inconsequential as video games. It’s just that such disagreements can have people escalate inch by inch, increasing the heat level slowly, until finally reports start piling in, mods review the thread and start looking at who thought they’d escalate way over the line following a dozen posts during which either party could have just ignored each other rather than throwing playground insults around.
There is a bit of a problem about this though. If a number of people want to complain or express less-than sterling opinions about a game, you can't make a second OT. There's generally a 1 OT per game rule on most forums. And OT's are also where people go to discuss games, not some random user's one-off complaint thread. So saying that "you can just make your own thread" is dishonest. Unless, threads would be okay with people making anti-OT's for people who want to criticize games.

Imagine it: When Mario Wonder comes out, we could have a "positive OT" for everyone who wants to uncontrollably gush about the game, and a "negative OT" for everyone that wants to criticize the game. Somehow, I don't think that's realistic.


I've stated as much before in a similar thread about a similar video made some time last year by Steph Sterling, but I'll reiterate.

I'm fine with negativity, as long as it comes from a place of effort and honesty. Over the years, I've played a lot of games - mainly highly rated western AAA games - that I absolutely cannot find any love for. And even some of my favourite franchises have games that I just don't have the love for that others who are into these series seem to have - looking at you, Twilight Princess.

But I've actually played these games and am willing to express my opinion about it. And I've decided for myself that I find it a waste of time to play video games I'm fairly certain I won't get any enjoyment out of based on my experiences with similar titles in the past. There is no small amount of games that I'm actually into that I'd rather try and find the time to spend with rather than play the latest hype beast title from some company which hasn't made anything I've ever had the ability to care about.

And, given how my taste in games has changed over the last decade, I'm fine with that as well. I'm done with negativity for myself.

To be fair, you understand that the negativity I'm trying to describe here isn't the negativity of someone disliking something, but the "true" negativity of someone being unable to accept that someone else outwardly disliking something that they like -- and all the problems it creates.

As I said, not liking something is natural, and it's natural for people to want to talk about both the things they like and dislike. Especially on an enthusiast forum. The problem isn't that "Why can't people be mean?!"; that's the complete opposite of what I'm saying! It's: A lot of people get vicious if you say you dislike their favorite things, or even just honestly criticize it, And that creates far more "negativity" and bad blood than someone just explaining why they think "X is a mediocre game."
 
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I previously lost this comment from leaving it floating around unfinished for too long, so I'll go ahead with what I have here and plan to get to the rest...

Abolish review scores, make people actually read reviews to find out if a review liked something.
Review scores are occasionally very useful for purposes of finding which reviews contain the most scorching of hot takes and hilarity potential.

Or, more constructively, to search out which reviews might best demonstrate what people like and dislike about a given thing. They certainly aren't the be-all-end-all they're sometimes propped up to be, and the why you don't find in the score will be more informative than the what of it all. Unfortunately, discourse of such things often begins and ends at that what, growing only into the score or into "I liked it/It's incredible" or "I hated this/It's trash," and then it just dies.*

The content of the review is absolutely more useful than the score attributed to it.



Whenever this happens, I want to go into their Falcom OT's, and their Steam Sale Hidden Gems OT, and tell people that these games are bad and should be avoided. But, I can't do that. That would be mean. It would start arguments. I'd get me banned. As some people would say, "read the room."

But...then how is anyone supposed to communicate their dissatisfaction? I did waste time and money on these games that I'd like back. It's a small harm, but a harm nonetheless.... So, I do think that there are real reasons why negative opinions are important, aside from the fact that people naturally want their opinions heard.
I suspect the decision to eschew from these actions was wise, not because there isn't room for criticism, as there clearly is or at the very least should be, but because going into these particular places entirely to "tell people that these games are bad and should be avoided" is unlikely to lead to much any desirable outcome. Especially as regards the OT, people there are likely to have already made up their minds and won't be swayed by such declarations, and the people you're trying to warn are unlikely to see your comment. Further, if those in need of warning are indeed present, warnings as indicated here will give them no more reason to heed than the exaltations already spread throughout the thread. It's essentially akin to mere review scores: the comments don't really tell you anything, and it becomes a numbers game; in this way, people can perceive the overall sentiment in a thread of being right.

And therein is the crux of it all! All becomes a cycle of blank praise punctuated with like condemnation. I know you see part of the problem as being the need to expend more effort into one's biting criticism than the masses impart into their effusive praise in order to avoid undesirable outcomes, but the heart of the matter is that both tend to be vapid and lacking in any real reason to care, mingling to create an insipid soup of words. Sure, there is likely an initial reaction to fire off a quick retort, or there does emerge an urge to expurge oneself of putting in more effort than the other party -- after all, why should they be able to do less? -- but, when one gets down to it, this isn't going to have any intrinsic value.

While comments as such, on equal grounding as what they stand in opposition to, can often be seen as mean and cause for argument -- laying aside any notion of being banned, as the extreme isn't even necessary for the entire ordeal to be most unfruitful -- I would suggest that this often doesn't even change when one outs forth the effort to fashion their thoughts and observations into something that conveys more. It should be less provocative, should create more opportunity for conversation, but I know I see people around the internet go ballistic when confronted with even this. And that, I would suggest, exemplifies your concerns and bolsters the overall point further.

Much of this might be attributed to a propensity to shut out discordant views and create a space intended primarily to affirm what we already think. I'd previously suggested as much, with the observation that these seem often fueled by the idea that "I like it so it's good" or "I dislike it so it's bad." If I may go further, this lack of introspection can compound the issue, as it can facilitate the faultily construing someone coming in with the opposing opinion as a personal attack on oneself.

Far from being disagreement entire, this actually falls in line with some of your own stated observations:
I've noticed something: most toxic forum arguments aren't a result of people caring about games or movies too much. They're over people getting insulted and angry with other posters due to people being rude or dismissive. And on some forums, like resetera, the arguments are strongly driven by double standards on positive/negative, which allows certain posters to just irritate others by being honestly rude without consequence.

And then people complain that some people just take games/movies/TV too seriously. And it's like: "He's not mad because he cares too much about a video game. He's mad because you're ignoring half of what he says, twisting the other half of what he says, and dismissing all of it. Because you don't like the fact that he dislikes your favorite game or movie."
This might be a different view toward these proceedings, beginning not at frustration with those who will not listen but instead with the initial perceived insult, the internalization of criticism toward one's preferred media, but it also exists on the throughline of these bickering disputes originating from (perceived) insult.

I would still say, of course, that the answer to being a good reviewer still involves digging into details, into the why of your ultimate takeaway rather than just throwing out there what that conclusion ended up being, which can help both a theoretical audience and the reviewer. This does, however, not necessarily help against backlash to the review. Again, it often boils down to mere review scores and to perceived personal insult.



Maybe not the place to argue this, I don't know, but Big Rigs: Over the Road Racing is an 11 out of 10 in my book. Just a celebration of big rigs. A triumph in over the road racing. And an absolute revelation in its implementation of pavement, I assume.
How dare you say such an ill-begotten sentence. The internet is worse for hosting this absolutely vile statement, this utterance devoid of any merit! May the internet mods have mercy on your digital soul.

I know nothing about Big Rigs here except that I only seem to see reference to it in conversations such as this. It must be a contentious subject, in deed, and I wanted to feel a part of it.

*I was resisting the urge to tag the comment there with "so it goes," but I ended up compromising by noting it here. So it goes.
 
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