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Bugs: Recent Topics Paging, Uploading Images & Preview (11 Dec 2020)

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× Talk about whatever you like related to games that doesn't fit anywhere else.

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

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14 Jan 2019 14:36 #289982 by Vysetron

ubarose wrote: 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.


Wait, are you saying I didn't have to play the new version of Grifters as much as I did before submitting my writeup? Dammit dammit dammit.

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14 Jan 2019 15:22 #289987 by ubarose

Vysetron wrote:

ubarose wrote: 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.


Wait, are you saying I didn't have to play the new version of Grifters as much as I did before submitting my writeup? Dammit dammit dammit.


Maybe I was unclear. If they can't bear to play it more than once, they won't do a full stand alone review of the game. So when you read a negative stand alone review here, it means the reviewer has truly suffered.
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14 Jan 2019 15:37 - 14 Jan 2019 15:40 #289992 by Frohike
I enjoy reading or writing a negative review that goes beyond the obvious, abject failure and instead seeks to shed some light on designs that fall short of either their own goals or of the messaging/marketing that was used to push the game through the usual channels (often Kickstarter).

To write such a review, I need to be able to play the game repeatedly in order to gauge its dysfunction. If it's terrible enough to make a single play the gauntlet that turns me away from it for good... I'm highly unlikely to do anything but shitpost something to my comment section and call it a day.

It's the cynical ones or, as Pete said, the designs that were either the result or cause of misallocated resources that will prompt me to seek out criticism or write my own if I feel the problems haven't really been addressed or discussed enough. I don't like to see problematic games hide themselves away in the echo chamber of product enthusiasm. It does a disservice to both sides of the consumer equation.

I used to dread the reaction to these reviews but I've come to realize I actually appreciate some of the smarmy or personally defensive responses from fans... not because I enjoy bothering these people but because their rebuttals often carry more information than the entirety of the product's self-justifying oeuvre: the KS hype videos, unboxing videos, Man Vs Meeple infomercials, the adulation of the first session reports, etc, etc. Angry fans will eventually produce *some* amount of information. For instance, the defenses of "you played with the wrong expectations" force those unstated "correct" expectations into the light; sometimes these are in direct conflict with the marketing or presentation of the game, or with the population it was marketed towards, or with it's own rules & structure. While superfans may provide this information in a shitty, passive aggressive way, at least there's *something* other than product worship hemorrhaging out of the indignation.

I think negative criticism also pushes readers to think about what they enjoy in their game beyond its newness or their participation in the product enthusiasm bubble of the moment. Even if they come away staunchly defending their darling and accusing you of every game critic crime in the book, they've thought about their consumption a bit more. I can only hope that *some* mindfulness comes out of the transaction.
Last edit: 14 Jan 2019 15:40 by Frohike.
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14 Jan 2019 17:22 #289995 by mtagge
There is also the (unstated) factor that a reviewer has more overall interaction with their medium. A movie reviewer has seen way more movies than average joe, food critic eaten at more (different) restaurants, game critic played way more games and in more genres than me.

So while I might be okay with a mediocre game in a genre that I pull out every six months, to a critic everything mediocre is bad.
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14 Jan 2019 17:45 #289997 by san il defanso
Negative reviews in and of themselves aren't fun, but it is kind of exciting to pan a game thats is in the zeitgeist. Just panning Merchants of Kickstarter is shooting fish in a barrel.

Reviewing mediocrity is the most punishing part of this gig. I started seriously resenting all the time spent playing Quest for Whatever and not the stuff I really cared about, especially as table time got more rare. It's a much more difficult to get a mediocre game played than to watch a mediocre film, just in terms of opportunity cost. It begins to feel like wasted life.
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14 Jan 2019 18:30 #290000 by Jackwraith
I've been fortunate to have only reviewed games that I'd already purchased/traded for with the intent of writing about them. My lone experience with that kind of grind was playtesting. I was part of FFG's testing group for a while and the initial design of Starcraft was bad. We went through several games of it and I know it discouraged a couple of my regulars, such that they were no longer inclined to show up and eventually faded out of the group. Finally, I just gave up and told them I wasn't interested anymore. My then-wife had also run into some serious health problems, so my time became more limited. The reviews had come back almost universally negative, so they scrapped it and switched designers and it turned out well, but by then I was pretty determined to only play what I liked.
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16 Jan 2019 09:58 #290093 by Legomancer
People think I'm a sour son of a bitch because I can wax at length on games (and other things) I dislike and why I dislike them. That does indeed come easily for me. It's much harder for me to describe why I like something. I end up just going "bluh bluh I dug it".

"All happy families are alike; each unhappy family is unhappy in its own way," said Kurt Vonnegut, Marilyn Monroe, and Albert Einstein. And there's truth. The games I like I usually like because of a similar experience they provide: fun to play, some kind of arcing narrative, a clear feeling for who I am and why I'm doing what I'm doing, and so forth. When games fail for me they usually are just uninteresting but a lot of the times they fail in interesting ways. I still think the game is junk, but how it gets there is something I can talk about. Still, part of why I tend to not write reviews is my inability to articulate what I like about what I like.

As others have said, negative reviews often give far more information. I know I'm not the only one who's bought a game because of a negative review. (Not, "this sounds so bad I gotta try it," though I've done that, but "these things this person dislikes sound really cool to me.) I am tired, however, of all these Seanbaby-in-1998 "hilarious" edgy reviews ("this game stabbed me in the taint with a rusty spork made out of Justin Biebers!!! Cunt!!!!") But a good quality dissection, even if I don't agree with it, is almost always more interesting to read (and write) than another paean to an "innovative mechanic".
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16 Jan 2019 14:13 #290107 by SuperflyPete
Who is still doing those reviews?

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16 Jan 2019 14:39 #290113 by Legomancer
I see them from time to time still. There was one for a comic going around and I was all, "wow, we're still doing this?"

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16 Jan 2019 14:47 #290115 by Vysetron
Did board games every have someone who did this consistently? I've seen some stuff here and there over the years but never someone who really committed to the bit.

Also Seanbaby, man, that's a callback. Dude used to send my sides into space. He was always the best of the "angry at bad video games" set, not that that's a high bar.

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