[Announcement: If anyone missed it, my first article for Holosuite Media is live! Holosuite is the parent company for the Beyond the Veil podcast, and I am super excited to join the team as a staff writer. Article can be found here: Reboots, Remakes, and Sequels – Oh, *Facepalm*. ]
I had a different plan for today’s blog; I’d started writing my thoughts about the Silent Hill franchise and the cancellation of Silent Hills. I had an experience that bothered me while gaming last night, though, so here we are.
Before I explain what happened, I’ll mention that I’m only using this an example of a behavior that I’ve noticed happening all over. In this specific case I missed some of the dialogue as I was busy killing things (10K achieves don’t achieve themselves!). So it may well be that the situation was not exactly as it appeared to me at the time. I’m also not trying to call out any particular players; I’m just using this one case of the behavior in question to illustrate my point.
The short version of my story is that we had a player in chat who was frustrated with a particular mission. He was having trouble completing it, and made a point of saying he felt it was due to poor design. He then explained at some length why he felt the design was poor. Other players chimed in to offer advice, ask questions about how he was trying to complete the mission, and a few mentioned that they did not find that mission to be poorly designed. From what I saw (remember, I may have missed some) no one was trying to insult him, but they were disagreeing about whether the mission was faulty. The next time I looked up at the chatbox, it was to repeat complaints from the player about “fanbois.” Chat wasn’t the greatest place to be for a while after that.
Here’s the thing. I have a number of friends who get very annoyed if they criticize a game and get accused of trolling. I understand that. They’re being lumped into a label, and feel folks are ignoring their sincere feelings and thoughts. What I don’t understand is to then turn around and accuse anyone who disagrees with your complaint of being a mindless fanboi/fangirl. Do you see the double standard there? As I tweeted earlier today, I don’t think the appropriate response to, “You are not listening to my opinion,” is to turn around and…not listen to someone else’s opinion. Conversation is give and take; if you expect me to respect your views, I expect that same courtesy.
Different people are going to have different experiences of a game; that’s life. There’s games I love that others can’t stand and games I won’t even attempt that others love. Even if the issue in question is an honest-to-goodness bug, it’s still quite possible that to some people the bug is not bad enough to ruin their gameplay experience. Doesn’t mean it shouldn’t be fixed, it just means someone else is having a different experience. For something that isn’t clearly a bug, the line is even less distinct. My favorite mission or mechanic could easily be someone else’s most loathed.
It feels like gamers sometimes feel a need to assert that their experience is the only, or “correct” experience, and you run into trouble that way. If you hated a mission and I loved it, I can completely respect that you hated it…but I’m not going to lie about my enjoyment, nor should anyone expect that of me. It goes both ways of course, I’m not going to be able to “make” you love it, nor should I. Conversations tend to go better when all parties can operate from a base understanding that multiple views might be equally valid, all participants probably have reasons for feeling the way they do, and no one’s enjoyment (or hate) of something needs to rely on validation from others.
Are there people who argue against game complaints in nonconstructive and insulting ways? Of course there are. I just feel it’s more constructive to call out those specific actions than throwing a blanket accusation of fanboi/fangirl around. There is nothing inherently wrong with liking a game that I think is full of fail, there is nothing wrong with loving something about a game that I legitimately think is horrible. I may not like it, but if you’re just another player I’d argue there’s not even anything wrong with you ignoring my ranting about something that bothers me. There is only something wrong if you attack me for not agreeing with you. And in that case it’s the attack that’s the problem, not how you feel about the game.
It could also be that I find “fanboi/fangirl” to be a fairly ridiculous insult. If I call a behavior trollish, I’m at least implying that someone is there only to stir up trouble and piss people off. If I accuse someone of fanboi/fangirl behavior, I’m accusing them of…liking something too much? Is it really my quest in life to make sure if something makes me miserable, that everyone else is also miserable? I sure hope not, that doesn’t sound very fun or very constructive to me.