Grunt’s Grumblings: Criticizing the Criticism

In the past I am sure Frantic and I have both discussed our thoughts on how to offer feedback for developers on the games we love. The other day when I was hopping through time and seeing some older tweets of mine, I noticed I went on a mini-rant about the same subject several years ago. The majority of those rant-filled tweets were talking about how sending death threats to the developers of these games we love to play and demanding they change something is not cool.

While I can’t sit here and say there is a right or wrong way to play a game because we’ve talked about that before, I do believe, to some extent anyhow, that there is a sort of “right” and “wrong” way to provide feedback. I don’t think it needs to be said, but yelling at a game developer on Twitter or Reddit that you are going to hunt them down is probably not the right way to go about it. Wait…that’s exactly what I just said.

Something that I feel a lot of us gamers often forget is that there are real people that are creating these games that we play. Of course, many of the people that work on these games have thick skin and understand to some extent that there are plenty of angry people on the internet. So some of the things they read while browsing reddit or on other places where discussion about their game takes place might sting a little at first, but then they quickly realize that they need to move on and go about their day. That said, I believe we should think about that fact a little more and treat the developers with a little more respect when giving our own opinion on what needs changed.

While it is true that developers need to have a bit of a thick skin in order to read a decent amount of feedback from their community, I also do not feel like these people should be subject to constant death threats or threats of doxing or swatting. Granted, most of the above examples are technically illegal and one could get in serious trouble if they were to be caught doing so. Recently there has been an outcry against EA over the whole Star Wars Battlefront II thing, and while I can understand why there is so much backlash, taking to Twitter and wishing death upon some is not the right way to express your concerns for the game. However, it has come to light that this “developer” isn’t actually an EA employee; even at that though, I still go back to my previous point in the fact that these are actual people and no one should be subject to that stuff. Also in general, it’s kind of silly to get so upset that you would wish harm upon someone just because a gun in a game is too powerful or it takes too long to unlock a character to use.

Something else I also find silly (that’s a fun word to use) is when people come out in a fit of rage and start throwing around derogatory insults towards the developers. Nothing says “please listen to and consider my advice” like insulting someone. I also find it hilarious when people use the logic of “changing this would be easy, I could do it.” While it might be possible that the person who said that may know how the system works so they could know exactly how to change it, but that doesn’t mean it’s easy to actually do. Something along the lines of easy in theory, not so much in practice. I often use the argument of “game development isn’t easy” and at times I feel like it’s a cheap counterpoint to use but it is so very true in this case. Once you throw in deadlines of updates and the possibility of breaking how you pick up ammo when trying to change how much ammo your character can carry; it really isn’t as easy as it seems from the outside.

So what exactly do I consider the so-called “right” way? First and foremost, don’t type up your thoughts right after the game comes out. Give it some time, maybe you’ll find something else that needs changed more instead of one minor change; or perhaps you’ll find another weapon that does better than what seems to be in the “meta” currently. This sort of reflects on my mindset of people buying a game on the day it comes out and immediately writing an in-depth review about the game. It’s fine to voice your initial thoughts, but if you’re going to write an in-depth review or offer up possibly game changing feedback it’s honestly better to wait until you’ve had more than a few hours of playtime in my mind.

On top of that, I also think that being polite in the way you present your feedback can help it be noticed more. Yes of course, this is the internet we’re talking about and there is a certain level of toxicity that is present by default. I’m not saying you should make it sound like you are trying to be the teachers’ pet when leaving feedback because then that just becomes weird. Instead of insulting them and calling whoever made that game mechanic you dislike an idiot, try just referring to them as the person who created that game mechanic you don’t like. It makes your point a little more respectable to the developers, and even to the general fanbase, when you leave out the insults. Not only that, but it also makes it easier for developers to gather feedback and understand what exactly needs changed. I can only imagine how much easier it is to sort through posts and messages that contain concise and constructive feedback, compared to a bunch of rant and insult filled posts created out of pure anger.

There is a lot of harassment in the gaming world, not just towards developers because someone is angry they lost a multiplayer match, but towards other players in general. I shouldn’t have to say it, but it needs to stop. Who knows if this will ever change or if it’s just another one of those “that’s how society is” kind of deals. We can certainly start progressing towards that change by providing feedback in a nicer way. Besides, as gamers don’t we usually like progression?

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