I’ve been in a LOT of online comment sections over the course of my digital life, and I don’t really know why I make this blog post simply for the fact that I don’t think it will accomplish more than either preaching to the choir or yelling at the deaf. That said, there’s been something about online behavior on my mind recently, and it is relevant to my gaming interests.
The show Scooby-Doo always had the same formula…a bunch of precocious adult-children arrive in a world that apparently is made of Halloween to solve a mystery, finding a person who has put together a scheme that involves a ridiculous amount of makeup and set-piece arrangement. And in the end, the bad guy is literally unmasked.
With the advent of crowdfunding and early access games, there seems to be a very strong need nowadays for everyone to wanna be the guy or girl who pulls the mask off of the devious villain causing trouble for their own selfish ends. Everyone wants that Scooby-Doo moment.
Pushback against a new way of doing things is always going to be the standard for any sort of progress, be it society or business-related. But there appears to be a proliferation of folks who wish to manufacture outrage over how videogames are made. The same number of folks who roll their eyes at the amount of safe sequels and formulaic design are now raging against the idea of funding a title without having had any actual time to play it, believing it all to be a scam of greed and corporate horribleness.
The first and best example that comes to mind is the ongoing “saga” of Derek Smart and Star Citizen.
Mr. Smart has penned a series of blogs calling out Chris Roberts and Star Citizen for being dishonest, believing that the amount of money spent on the game is wasted and that the game as designed will never see release. To his credit, several of his points do have a hint of merit. I can wholly appreciate and understand his concerns. The problem, however, is when you wrap the whole thing in alarmist and aggressive speak, it sounds less like the airing of grievances and more like a chicken running around burning off a line of coke.
Why should any of that matter? Why would you care how information is delivered if it’s delivered?
Here’s the thing–people need to be talked to instead of shouted at. You don’t make a point by roaring it out, as well as threatening scads of legal action and balking at responses in a very personal manner.
Further, any good points that are made and concerns voiced that are wrapped in a candy shell of assumption will be almost immediately discredited. Again and again, Derek Smart has claimed that the entire well of money for development has run dry without any evidence to prove it. A game of the scope of Star Citizen will no doubt require a lot of money and a larger amount of time–things that, according to Mr. Smart, have already been used up. The good points he makes are backed up by links to statements or pieces of fact. The statements that Roberts is launching Porches into the ocean from the deck of his fleet of golden yachts have no basis in reality with no evidence to support his statements.
People don’t have the attention span to wade through a mire of divisive and angry crap, and if all that’s being said is acidic, then the heart of your point is lost and forgotten, even though they are good points. Nobody will care if you spit venom in their eyes because you saw a fly on their face. You freaking spit venom in their eyes, asshole.
On the other side of the coin, those who are in support of this new way can be just as bad for the whole thing as the detractors. “White-knighting” is a term that makes me seethe because, apparently, people are not allowed to enjoy a thing. That said, there are folks who feel this odd, tribal need to defend their choice of game or hobby or other instrument of leisure because they believe it is under attack. Really, it’s be best to explain why you like a thing instead of assaulting the opinion of someone else, but that almost never freaking happens.
So, too, it is with Star Citizen–people who are likely otherwise completely rational fly off into a tornado of annoyance and rage because someone brings up a concern about how the game is being put together. It’s not helping the narrative, and it damn sure isn’t helping the perception of the title’s community, which sells an MMO even more than the game’s features do.
To be absolutely fair, I have felt this way about things I enjoy. WildStar’s problems have been a frequent source of my own angst and annoyance, both at the people who laugh at its face and the decisions of the devs. It is, by my own admission, spectacularly difficult to not take these things personally.
But the point is that people on either side of the coin should direct their criticisms at the title and not at the people, either those who are in the business of making it or those who like it. You can’t claim defamation if you yourself continue to roar at the head of a game’s company. You can’t claim being a victim if you attribute a company being taken to task as being you personally being taken to task.
And more to the point, you can’t assume the worst of every game developer. I’m not saying that consumer advocacy shouldn’t be a thing–obviously, people need to be protected from bad or aggressive business practices. What I’m also saying is that it’s entirely possible that not every new thing being done is meant to be a scam.
We are entering a realm of creating things that is beyond anything that has been attempted before–it literally flies in the face of convention. That worries and frightens some people. And those people are just absolutely desperate to have that “parlor room scene”. To be the one to rip the mask off of the bad guy and admonish them for their horrible scheme that harmed innocent people.
We don’t know that’s being done because it is a new thing, though. And personally, I’d like to see where this all goes before I assume anything.
But that is hard to do for many…because we’re so bored that we need to have some drama to spice things up. We’re too cynical to just try something different, but we’re too jaded to want more of the same old, same old.