Extreme Fandom and Hatred
When a game rises in popularity people seem to end up jumping to one extreme or another. Those fans that have to constantly go on and on about it and then those that do nothing but vent hatred towards it. Anybody with a neutral opinion seems to get overlooked or is automatically placed on a side. I have been on both sides at some point admittedly. I’ve loved a game and felt put down by others, and I’ve also come to despise games for seeing them everywhere. While a debate can be fun and light-hearted, a lot of us are also impassioned about games and can accidentally get a bit carried away.
Hearing so much glowing appraisal for a game can really set your expectations high, so it’s no surprise that a few will be left disappointed. The experience can also be spoilt by hearing too much about it before you get a chance to play it. We don’t all have the time and the money to get every game on launch after all. Originally I might have had a neutral opinion on a game or could have even come to like it, but being surrounded by something you’re not sure about all the time can start to grate and push buttons. It’s even worse if it causes a change in our favourite websites and communities and I’m also concerned that this popular game could push the industry in a direction I’m not personally keen on. On top of that, it’s difficult to be able to express an honest opinion about the game without fans getting overly defensive and retaliating. Apparently I’m just being stubborn and avoiding it because “it’s popular,” but I feel like I made some valid points. Some even go as far as to down-vote negative reviews and make attempts to remove them. Critique is important as this allows games to be improved and gamers can make informed purchases. It can also be hard feeling left out and unable to connect over the excitement, but despite my best attempts I just don’t understand what all the fuss is about. Why can’t I be left alone to play the games I enjoy instead of constantly being pestered to try something I’m not interested in? Besides, it’s just a game, so why are they taking it so personally? Let me talk about what I enjoy for a change.
It’s far better to focus on the things we enjoy rather than to go on about everything we dislike. If the haters don’t like a game why don’t they simply not play it instead of always raining on our parade (some of them haven’t even played the game they’re criticising.) I try to be gentle with my own distaste of a game, but some will go as far as to send out hate mail and spam fake negative reviews. It’s as if they want to sabotage the game and spoil it for everybody else. When we respond back they accuse us of being overly defensive and fling insults at the entirety of the fan base. It’s unfair to group and categorize people and we can’t all be held accountable for the actions of a few out of control fans. They might just be games, but this is downplaying the connection we can have with them. Storytelling and music are respected as a form of expression and something we can relate to, and games are no different. I could also use the same argument in turn and say, ‘it’s just a game, so why get so angry about it?’ I never actually intended to get on anybodies nerves, I just wanted to share what I love with people that I care about. Instead I felt like I was being put down for my tastes; Anybody that does this isn’t fun to be around. Why can’t they just be happy for me to have something I enjoy? It’s unfair towards the developers as well, as they are just trying to make a living out of the game and too much negativity can break morale. While a major title can bounce back, a small Indie developer could be seriously hurt by it. I’d like to see more games like this too, so I really hope it doesn’t deter them from making more.
Of course, there are also those people that don’t care either way but seem to enjoy winding everybody up for the sake of it. The truth is that each side probably fuels the other and trying to convince anybody is going to be mostly futile (See the video ‘This Video Will Make You Angry‘ by CGP Grey.) I’d much rather see people enjoying themselves to the hate, but I personally feel that jumping into either camp can be a disservice to games. We can try to ignore it and not get involved, but once things get heated it can be very difficult to have any sort of a conversation about games without somebody getting upset. Anybody considering a game and looking for further balanced opinions will find themselves having to wade through hype and complaints to get there.
No game is perfect. I’m even happy to point out the flaws in my favourites and the good points in the ones I don’t like. Whether I like a game or not is usually down to whether the good points outweigh the bad. We all have different reasons for why we play too, and so what could be an appealing feature to some could be off-putting to others. That’s why no amount of pointing out the negatives is going to convince somebody to stop liking a game, and the same is true in reverse.
There is a time and a place for criticism. For fans it’s nice to have the opportunity to be silly and share in the excitement together without having to deal with somebody who’s just going to be a downer the entire time. On the other hand, we all have a right to our opinions and we need to be able to talk openly without fear of retaliation (the outlet is especially needed if the popularity of the game is starting to get on the nerves.)
In the long run I’ve found that the impact of each extreme has only ever been minimal. Games that people have hated seem to keep on running anyway, while popular titles haven’t resulted in a reduction in other genres. I find I can be obsessed with a game one moment, just to lose interest and move onto something even better the next. A particular franchise that grates on me does eventually fade away to be replaced by something else.