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Short Cut to Remote Gaming Forum (29 Aug 2020)
Since remote gaming has now become a significant part of how we play board games, we have added a short cut to this forum in the menu on the left.
Games criticism, reviews, and SEO
While your example is on the extreme end, I think the underlying issue is that gamers aren't used to criticism because they don't see it very often.
n815e wrote: I recall someone on BGG saying that negative reviews were personal attacks against a game’s creators.
I don’t think many hold that point of view, but negative reviews tend to get negative responses. I try to remember to upvote negative reviews, even if I don’t agree with them, because they should be encouraged.
Think about it. The average person may not know a lot about movies, but knows there are films like The Seventh Seal and Casablanca, that critics love artsy weird stuff and recognize that the average blockbuster, as fun as it might be, is unlikely to be great in an artistic sense. Even people who don't see many films know about Hitchcock, Bergman and Kubrik. And if you tell them movies shouldn't feature nudity or political messages they will think you are an idiot.
Compare it to games. The average gamer tends to have a fairly narrow view on the medium. Most boardgamers don't know games like Dune, Die Macher or Civilization exist and, if they do, often dismiss them as being outdated despite not having ever played them. The newest biggest release is almsot always considered to be the best and people don't know who Francis Tresham or Sid Sackson are. And, unlike movies, the idea that games are art and can have political themes, cover attrocities or feature sex and nudity is still baffling to a significant portion of the audience. Perhaps not directly, but I sense that undercurrent in many people's reactions.
I've ran head on into this issue. One of my flaws as a critic is that I assume everyone knows what I do. I think everyone has played ten thousand different board games, has a Dreamcast connected to their television and knows how broken drawing carsds has been. So I work hard to recognize how gamers react to criticism and try to write in such a way they can understand better. I mention other games often, I explain small details like what a "social deduction game" is. I avoid small jabs towards overplayed tropes and so on. My editor has been a massive help in this.
Thanks for signing up for the newsletter. I hope it is what you were looking for. The fact that you didn’t know it existed, although the sign up appears on every page except this one and the front page means I really need to rethink its placement.
And yes, I don’t want to turn my my hobby into a hustle. There are a bunch of things we could do here to squeeze out a few more pennies per month, but none of them are things that would make this a better place. I hustle a bit to get review copies of games for our contributors, and to bump up their numbers to make them more desirable to publishers. The rest is up to them.
With regard to the OP, and the pivot to video. Video can make money on YouTube and Facebook. Once someone has enough Followers or Subscribers, they are eligible for ad placement and can earn per view. It is one of the reasons so many people do video rather than text.
Back to games criticism. I almost wonder if critique of game theme and game mechanics would be easier and less hackle raising than direct critique of specific games. I don't think that most games of a specific genre or type (say, zombie worker placement for example) are so different from each other than you couldn't address issues with zombies as a theme or worker placement as a mechanic to indirectly go after problems with specific games since they are all probably related.
As far as publishers cutting off reviewers for giving a bad review, it really doesn’t happen with any publishers worth their salt. First off, it’s unprofessional. Second all publicity is good publicity. Even a negative review gets eyes on the game. For designers, a negative review stings, but the ones who are pros will suck it up and leave a nice comment.
In the entire history of this site, the only publisher that ever cut us off was FFG, and that was a whole shit show. And it wasn’t entirely just for a negative review, although that seems to have been the straw that broke the camel’s back. I was notified that we needed to deal with the negative comments in the forum, because their designers were reading the forum and the negative posts were upsetting them and impacting their productivity. Which was kind of nuts, because for every negative comment we had six people arguing back that it was wrong. When we didn’t comply they blocked the site from their HQ. Some of their designers continued to read and participate here under new aliases so as not to get caught on the “forbidden” site.
As far as negative reviews getting fewer hits, I don’t see it. Good, bad or mediocre, number of hits over time depends upon the reviewers following and the popularity or”hotness” of the game.
And as far as readers getting upset and leaving shitty comments...whatever, at least they commented. Fans will be fans. Haters gonna hate. If it starts up a heated discussion, even better; the page will get more hits and more comments.
The main reasons you don’t see a lot of negative reviews is because reviewers don’t like spending their time playing games they don’t like. So right from the get go, they are declining to review shitty games. And even if they do end up playing a game they dislike, they will often decide that they don’t feel like spending enough time with it to be able to review it. This is another reason publishers know not to cut reviewers off for one negative review. Silence speaks volumes.