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I wonder what you think of this: Do critics enjoy negative criticism?

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13 Jan 2019 18:18 #289914 by Erik Twice
A couple days ago I wrote an article about a commonly held belief people have about critics: That they enjoy negative criticism the most. And I keep thinking, well, what do other writers think of that? Because I wrote this without really asking anyone and I wonder what their perspective is. The article is geared towards a general audience and I can see many actual critics disagreeing with me.

Do critics enjoy negative criticism?

Sorry for the self-indulgent plug but I really wonder what you guys think or what your experiences with this are.
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13 Jan 2019 19:32 #289920 by Gary Sax
Erik, this is a imho, but I think that critics "like" negative opinions because it gets their material attention. The audience empirically generally responds more strongly to negative takes, is my recollection.

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13 Jan 2019 20:20 #289923 by DarthJoJo
www.theringer.com/pop-culture/2019/1/10/...ne-bohemian-rhapsody

A recent essay with a similar tack. The one that stood out for me was that it can be fun to shred something, though I think that may be more true for film and television as the commitment is much less.

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13 Jan 2019 21:47 #289932 by Michael Barnes
I believe that my most widely read article is “Why The Last of Us Sucks”.

Negative reviews usually aren’t much fun. It’s a drag to tell creators and their fans that something they did isn’t good. But I do like the discussions and arguments that negative reviews create a lot more than the “great review” accolades.
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13 Jan 2019 22:48 - 13 Jan 2019 22:49 #289933 by SuperflyTNT
I ~love~ it. It is a cosmic righting of a wrong. If a game is so bad that it commands a disemboweling, someone somewhere got green lit on garbage when someone else with something awesome got shut down. Only so many resources exist, and when bad games get made, they were misallocated. Critics get to deliver that karma.

It’s also easier to write funny material about shit products.
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14 Jan 2019 04:56 #289938 by MattDP
Critical reviews get a lot of attention, which is great, and they broaden the discourse around the subject, which is great, but unless a product is clearly, objectively lazy and broken, I hate writing them.

I'm taking an hour to potentially tear down days, weeks. months of someone else's work. I'm potentially taking money from their income by putting folk off buying it.

If I think something deserves it, I'll do it of course - that's my job - but I don't "enjoy" it in any way.
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14 Jan 2019 08:04 #289940 by Jackwraith
Like The Ringer article mentions, negative reviews are easier and in some ways more fun for the reviewer, since it's a release of frustration that however many hours of time was wasted playing/viewing/reading/listening to something that was obviously subpar or misdirected or simply didn't appeal to the reviewer. And, yes, it's always easier to tear down than to build up.
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14 Jan 2019 08:18 #289941 by Vysetron
It's a little of column A and a little of column B for me. The catharsis of writing a negative review is undeniably satisfying (I'm brewing one up now, actually), but I'd hesitate to say I -like- doing it. When I review something I play it a bunch of times and usually at every player count, so if it sucks I'm often pretty bitter by the end of it. I'd rather be able to recommend something really good and not force myself and others to play garbage.

As far as audience goes people definitely enjoy reading negative reviews more. I don't really care about reach as long as my stuff is useful though, so I don't feel pressured to be crap patrol.

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14 Jan 2019 08:29 - 14 Jan 2019 08:31 #289943 by Josh Look
I will say this: I learn more about a game from a negative review than I do a positive one. If I’m interested in a game, chances are I’m already aware of what the game supposedly does well. I want to know what its perceived shortcomings are. If they’re things that I know I struggle to get over, I’ll usually pass on the game all together. If not, I know what to look out for going in and my expectations are set so that I might end up enjoying the game more.

The major thing I’ve learned from this is that too often do reviewers mistake intentional limitations in the design as flaws. I expect that out of BGG users who are doing reviews in the hopes that somewhere it leads to free games, but we have people who make that mistake here. Not going to name names or list examples, but I’ve seen it at least 3 times in the last few months. That’s the challenge I put forward this year to everyone: Learn to understand the difference between an intentional limitation and a design flaw, and learn why those limitations are there.

On a personal note, the reason why I backed out of written reviews is that I played a review copy game that was so bad that I could not bring myself to review. This game broke me.
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14 Jan 2019 08:59 #289947 by BaronDonut

Josh Look wrote: The major thing I’ve learned from this is that too often do reviewers mistake intentional limitations in the design as flaws. I expect that out of BGG users who are doing reviews in the hopes that somewhere it leads to free games, but we have people who make that mistake here. Not going to name names or list examples, but I’ve seen it at least 3 times in the last few months. That’s the challenge I put forward this year to everyone: Learn to understand the difference between an intentional limitation and a design flaw, and learn why those limitations are there.


This is a good point, and a helpful reminder to approach a game on its own terms. That said, I think we can give intentionality too much credit--just because a design decision is deliberately or even thoughtfully made doesn't make it a good or effective choice.

As far as negative reviews go, I find that it's easy to write about stuff you really love or really hate. It's the uninspired middle that is the most difficult to muster up enthusiasm to talk about.
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14 Jan 2019 09:07 #289948 by Vysetron

Josh Look wrote: On a personal note, the reason why I backed out of written reviews is that I played a review copy game that was so bad that I could not bring myself to review. This game broke me.


You don't get to drop a line like that without a name and shame! The people need to know.

Your point regarding intentional design choices is why I started writing more. I noticed a lot of reviewers were writing about the game they wanted to be playing and not the game they actually played. This made their reviews useless. The questions I ask of every game are simple: what was the designer trying to achieve with this game, and where did it succeed?

It is OK for a game to have humble goals as long as it achieves them. It falls on us to ascertain whether or not that mark was hit.
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14 Jan 2019 09:25 #289950 by charlest
I enjoy the cathartic release of writing a negative review. It can feel like your wailing on a punching a bag or unloading into a target.

I don't enjoy publishing them and letting them out into the wild, although it must be done.
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14 Jan 2019 11:57 #289972 by SuperflyTNT
See, Josh, that's the thing - if a game is so bad it made you not want to tell anyone how bad it was, that's the game you HAVE to warn people about.

I like writing negative reviews and I ~love~ to publish them, solely because if a game is bad, and I don't mean it's a game I don't like, but rather an intrinsically badly designed game, people need to know. The hype wagon and false positive system the review media has developed does nothing to protect consumers, and ultimately, I view all reviewers' jobs as the last line of defense between the publisher and the consumer.

Just my 2c.
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14 Jan 2019 13:02 #289978 by WadeMonnig
I have an upcoming review where the player limitation is 4 to 6 players. Stepping back and looking at the game, it's simple to see why it is limited in such a way. But that doesn't mean I have to LIKE it. Or to "solve" the"problem" for them. I'm doing my job of explaining why I enjoy or don't enjoy a game. If someone's intentional limitation makes me enjoy it less, it's on them

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14 Jan 2019 14:15 #289981 by ubarose
Over nearly a dozen years of managing the publishing schedule for well over a dozen different reviewers, the thing I hear the most often is "I know I promised a review for game X, but it is so bad I just can't bring myself to play it again." Since nearly all of our reviewers don't write a review after a single play, if a they hate a game so much that they can't play it more than once, you often just won't get a full review of the game. If they feel obligated to review it because it was a review copy, they may throw it into an article where they give a mini review of several games.

However, it is the large number of "meh" games that they have to churn through that usually breaks a reviewer, rather than the occasional bad game.
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