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What is the value of negativity on a forum?


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32 minutes ago, carlito said:

The world really must be a daunting place for some people.

 

Speak plainly, don't be passive aggressive and fuck off under your rock. 

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If you have to start your own separate thread about how much you hate a game, or you try and frame yourself as a lone voice of reason because some people liked a game you didn't, or you want to dress up your criticism of a game as influencing the zeitgeist... All that is every bit as laughable as speculating on whether people who didn't like Outer Wilds have low IQs. Or being so disbelieving that someone might enjoy Cyberpunk warts and all that they must be a corporate shill. Or thinking that people who don't engage with Soulsborne games the way you do are lazy and your enjoyment is directly tied to their failure (to pick several unhinged examples from this forum).

 

Nobody wants a place where there's no criticism or there has to be an unbreakable consensus on every game, but sometimes I see shit on here that is just a slightly wordier version of those Edge forum "Worst game ever" threads where everyone just posted Mario 64 or Halo. 

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I think the point mentioned earlier about it being a lot easier to articulate the negative things about a game than the positive is definitely true, and it's something that I often deal with when I come to write about a game. Typically, in a good game, it's lots of different things working in harmony together than make the experience enjoyable for the player, so much so that it's difficult to pinpoint what specific aspect makes the game good, whereas something bad about the game, even if it's minor, sticks out like a sore thumb and is easier to notice. It's sort of like listening to an orchestra where all the instruments are working with and complementing each other to produce a wonderful piece of music, only for the harpist to hit a bum note or for the cymbalist to be out of time  for a bar - suddenly, this very specific bad thing is immediately noticeable and can be easily identified as such.

 

I guess what I'm trying to say is that it's easy to nitpick something and occasionally the nitpicking might put a prospective player off a game, despite the game otherwise doing so much so well. People find it harder or more of an effort to explain why something is good than why it's bad.

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I’m all for constructive criticism, you can always tell when someone is making real thoughtful observations based on their time with the game - in fact it is not “negative” at all, people being dicks, and we’re all guilty of it from time to time, never ends well. 

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I rationalise some of my bitter cynicism as counteracting the relentless artificial positivity of marketing, especially when coupled with the inability to trust anything you read on the Internet at face value anymore.

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But this is a discussion forum. You should be allowed to give your thoughts and allow them to be scrutinized, agreed with or argued against.  

 

I felt I learned a lesson in the Shenmue 3 thread where I was trying to provide a counterpoint to the gushing praise by raising what I thought were fair points. But what I was saying is "here is why the game is rubbish" when what I meant was "here is why I think the game is rubbish".  It's a very important distinction because there are no rights and wrongs. When somebody gives an opinion they are not wrong because it is their opinion and therefore they are automatically right. A balance of positive and negative opinion is far more useful when weighing up a decision to buy a game filled with gushing praise from early adopters wanting to feel good about their purchase. 

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10 hours ago, Wiper said:
Spoiler

 

TLDR: 'negativity' forms a healthy aspect of open discussion, which in turn is a basic value of forums. In excess, negativity can be a problem, but in general it's valuable, for a variety of reasons.

 

The primary value, from my perspective, is that of making topics more interesting...Things are a lot more engaging when everyone in the group doesn't feel like their only options are either to agree with everyone else, or to keep silent. That sort of atmosphere - where people are pressganged into conforming with the group, isn't one I consider healthy.*


The secondary value is of making me think differently about games I've already experienced.

 

Of tertiary importance to me...the "buyer's guide" as you put it, which directly relates to the "balance" Qazimod discusses. If only positive opinions are put forward, then everything is great...

 

...

 

And if you think this was overlong, you should watch Tim Rogers' 6 hour video on why Tokimeki Memorial is a work of staggering brilliance and importance.

 

 

 

First off, I really do appreciate for the considered response, and I'm sure we're on a very similar page in terms of the value of healthy, balanced discourse both from a critical and community perspective. 

 

For some context, the OP is somewhat playing devil's advocate with myself to curb or question my current instinct to absolutely shit on games I've played and gaming as a medium. For the last year or so, I've increasingly felt that so much of what's released is reheated cookie cutter mulch. It's easy for that perspective to become a well-worn groove where discarded games form a river of slurry, with only my special little favourites safe on the banks.

 

And to be frank, that is exactly where I am right now. Most games seem to have very little value besides a low-level dopamine trickle of distraction and when I can feel the identikit little microhooks tugging at my flesh, trying to coax me in, they can get fucked. I'm not just talking about Ubi stuff, to be clear, there's a homogeneity to the beats and structures and design principles of contemporary games which I quickly find stultifying.

 

As a whole, while I do still really love 1%, and I've played some fantastic stuff this year, games don't inspire, excite, trouble, uplift or challenge me as they used to. Conversely, it's been years and years since I felt so excited by films, photography, music, cooking, and so I'm spending much more time...blah blah 40yo enjoys games less than 20yo all aboard the one-way ferry to Dignitas.

 

I could be reductively nihilistic and say what's the point in anything we're just waiting for our number to come up might as well play a game as have a wank, but that's not my experience or view, either. I get much more out of sitting and listening to an album for an hour than I do playing 99% of games. I feel great, like my brain is fizzing, keen to do something creative or do some exercise or make contact with someone. After an hour of gaming, the sensation is typically a flat stupor. I don't feel satisfied but I feel like my endorphins have been drained nevertheless. To that end, I might as well have had a wank, and spent 57 minutes doing something else. 

 

And so I have very little positive to say about games these days, but I do really like this forum and I don't really want to shit on anyone else's fun. I enjoy the discourse overall here, and there's a pretty amiable, respectful tone outside of the console wars. I laugh when I hear it described as the second cuntiest forum etc because you get temp-banned for language I use on a daily basis elsewhere. Anyway, I've been biting my lip quite a bit over the last few months on various topics because I do wonder about the value of going into a thread where people are having a good time away from all the other shit they've had to put up with over the last year or so, and to wade in and break down why they shouldn't really be enjoying themselves quite so much. I know that is patronising and conceited on some level, but probably also a reflection and projection of my own reserves at this point. 

 

A number of people have hit the nail on the head, though (@acidbearboyand @Stanley more succinctly while I've been droning on). There's reflective criticism and there's the gleeful narcissistic iconoclasm of a cunt, and probably a few steps in between.

 

Right then, that was a good use of 57 minutes. 

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2 hours ago, deerokus said:

I see the 'not being negative' thing lasted. 

 

In my opinion, this is a decent enough gag which works in passing, but upon closer inspection there's a flawed internal logic here which relies on a distortion of the original sentiment. Nevertheless, I would chuckle again and would expect the gag to go down well among those with a broad comic sensibility. 

 

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Let's say we have a gushing thread on here about a game. If I didn't enjoy that game I don't want to shit on everyone's parade in that thread, but I'll sometimes post anyway just to make people aware that other folks do have issues with the game and it might not be everyone's cup of tea. And I'm quite happy to see other people do the same in threads as long as there is reasoning behind it.

 

Like I'm sure many others do here, sometimes I buy games based on forum recommendations and if someone pipes up in a thread that's otherwise positive to post something negative about the game it might make me think twice. There are people on here who I know have similar gaming tastes to me and if one of them spoke up about not really liking a game or ranting about some aspect it might ring alarm bells, and that helps me to make a more informed opinion.

 

Without negative constructive posts about games, it would be much harder to differentiate the best games from ones that might only be to some people's tastes, or be riddled with flaws that some players, but not many, can overlook. And its even more important in echo chambers like forums to have differing opinions made known to get a clearer picture of where people stand.

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23 minutes ago, Sabreman said:

I think the point about negativity is that deep down inside everyone wants to correct people they disagree with, and ultimately change their opinion.

I’m not sure about that so much as sometimes we can react to opinions in a way which speaks more to our own insecurities about ‘having to be right’ rather than actually just being comfortable in ourselves and our opinions without getting into pointless arguments - that’s where the negativity comes from. I’ve read opinions I’ve disagreed with but they were put across so well that I can’t help but just let them be or even pos them for their honesty for how well they were articulated. And some people are just genuinely entertaining and charismatic aren’t they, those bastards get away with saying whatever they like :blush:

 

I personally love people who go against the grain provided they do it well, and there are plenty on here that do just that - and by going against the grain I just mean being truthful and saying stuff with knowledge and conviction (however uncompromising they may at first appear) - @Broker and @Wiper are two I’ll read anything by, whatever they’re saying, for example. 

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If somethings good then I will say its good. If somethings shite I will say its shite. 

 

It's just my opinion on a subject and not important. Who gives a shit?

 

Although if someone comes out with something just stupid then I will just either laugh or call them a cunt (depends if they are a piece of shit if I say this) 

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38 minutes ago, Stanley said:

I’m not sure about that so much as sometimes we can react to opinions in a way which speaks more to our own insecurities about ‘having to be right’ rather than actually just being comfortable in ourselves and our opinions without getting into pointless arguments - that’s where the negativity comes from. I’ve read opinions I’ve disagreed with but they were put across so well that I can’t help but just let them be or even pos them for their honesty for how well they were articulated. And some people are just genuinely entertaining and charismatic aren’t they, those bastards get away with saying whatever they like :blush:

 

I personally love people who go against the grain provided they do it well, and there are plenty on here that do just that - and by going against the grain I just mean being truthful and saying stuff with knowledge and conviction (however uncompromising they may at first appear) - @Broker and @Wiper are two I’ll read anything by, whatever they’re saying, for example. 


:wub:

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5 hours ago, matt0 said:

Or thinking that people who don't engage with Soulsborne games the way you do are lazy and your enjoyment is directly tied to their failure (to pick several unhinged examples from this forum)

 

Citation needed.

 

 

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There's been times lately elsewhere when a few people have been chatting positively about a film or a game and I've thought "right, I'd best log in and have my say, this is starting to snowball."

but then I've just thought "ah, fuck it, I haven't got time" or "who really wants to know what I think?" and I don't think I'm just being lazy. The compulsion soon passes.


Spending 20 minutes trying to articulate something's flaws, focusing on that negativity, it doesn't make me feel good, and it usually makes me anxious because no matter how politely you say it, you're more or less saying the people who like it are wrong and if it's something that's really popular it's you against the world which is never a nice feeling :lol:

Spending my free time doing something more fun and concentrating on the things I like seems like a total no brainer.

 

I might give that a go. If I start twitching and talking like that wife out of misery I'll knock it on the head.

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2 hours ago, Wiper said:

I already had it ruined when you deleted your call-out thread (which I had quite enjoyed), and thus removed my Important Post about the confusion that games have wrought between the terms axonometric and isometric :(

 

(relatedly: did you know, the game frequently lauded as the first ever isometric video game, the Sega classic Zaxxon, is actually called Zaxxon because it's using axonometric projection? Well, you do now)

This post is pure projection.

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@ImmaculateClump Absolutely spot on, and addresses the other implication of the OP question, i.e. 'what is the value for me?'

 

Even if I offer a reasonable criticism and break down what I don't like about something in articulate detail, I don't necessarily feel that's worth anything to me. I don't tend to feel better for the outpouring, it rather seems like a waste of my time. Being concise, brutal and dismissive makes me feel something, at least, but I will then sometimes feel bad after a while, like you say. 

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One of the most interesting threads I’ve read recently (which I’m aware isn’t actually new) is the abandoned games thread. People generally write a short analysis as to why they’ve given up and that’s that. It inspired me to sack a few things off and not be ashamed of deleting something I don’t like. 

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4 hours ago, Wiper said:

I already had it ruined when you deleted your call-out thread (which I had quite enjoyed), and thus removed my Important Post about the confusion that games have wrought between the terms axonometric and isometric :(

 

(relatedly: did you know, the game frequently lauded as the first ever isometric video game, the Sega classic Zaxxon, is actually called Zaxxon because it's using axonometric projection? Well, you do now)

 

I meant to post in the other thread but it got deleted. The reason games traditionally used axonometric projection is because a 2 by 1 pixel gradient gives you nice clean lines at low resolution that also fit nicely in to an 8x8 character display. A true isometric perspective gives unevenly stepped lines that look messy and don't fit nicely in an 8x8 or 16x16 grid. 

 

Into The Breach is a game with a true isometric grid done in pixel art and it sets my teeth on edge every time I look at those jagged lines.

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8 hours ago, Sabreman said:

I think the point about negativity is that deep down inside everyone wants to correct people they disagree with, and ultimately change their opinion.


Deep down?
 

 

12 hours ago, Sketch said:

I felt a bit stronger than that. The game actively hates the player.


Some of your criticisms of this remind me of what happened when Super Mario Maker put a subset of Nintendo's tools into the hands of amateurs- bastard hard levels steeped in cruelty, created for the amusement of the designer instead of being fun to play. I'd expect more from people being paid for the task.

I may have a cart of this somewhere and I think your review will force me to move it up to the top of the backlog to see if it's really that bad, so... negativity piqued my curiosity in this case. Whether that's good or bad remains to be seen!

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It's just human nature to want to feel we're not alone in our experiences, and I'm most likely to say something positive about a thing I like if it's getting shat on. Likewise, if a thing's almost universally praised and I don't like it...

 

But I'm not trying to change anyone's mind, just reaching out to see if anyone else is on the same page for a friendly chat. Except our views often draw the most responses from those who completely disagree, so I've stopped going against the grain when I fall into that hole. When I was depressed I used to get frustrated by people enjoying stuff I couldn't (which is maybe the number-one cause of hateposting), so I take more care to present my feelings now.

 

In other words, positivity and negativity are great as long as they're allowed to coexist, with both groups respecting each other's right to comment. In the past I went overboard because I figured there were probably others with similar feelings who didn't wanna go first, but so as not to troll I've learnt to stop when I'm the only person on either side.

 

Interestingly, when full-on negative threads are started I tend to not read them. I think the Game of Thrones thread is actually one of the standouts here, where it's understood that our constant gripes over its later seasons were never meant to detract from the praise we had for its earlier ones (it was group therapy!). Most recently, the Cyberpunk thread's been pretty well-humoured and balanced from what I've read of it. Allow balance and I think all decent posters are happy.

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In my younger days I did rage on consoles I didn’t like or games I didn’t like.


Now I just pretend they don’t exist. I know what my tastes are, what I’ll like and what I won’t. I just buy less games and don’t go into threads about games I have no interest in.

 

It’s not worth the time and effort to rage or get involved in console wars. I’d rather pretend Microsoft doesn’t exist. 
 

It helps that Nintendo aren’t completely useless now that they’ve sidelined miyamoto and have a beast in the Switch.

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