Stereotyping is Not the Answer

Fan boy.  Troll.

Those are used a lot.  Most people don’t consider themselves those things or if they do they do it in jest.  But there’s a communication breakdown that occurs when discussing them in the context of feedback.  I myself comment on practically everything I read and listen to but not everyone is me.  There are a multitude of reasons I do those replies which include everything from interest in the topics to wanting to interact with the people who produced the media to wanting to gain attention to my music and podcast.

So this happened.  I’m sure opinions of G4 and Adam Sessler vary greatly as its not popular right now to be the popular kid, and this kid has a television station.  I don’t always agree with the guy and usually don’t find him funny, but I love hearing his thoughts and reasons.  What he preaches about is very much a problem and I thoroughly agree with everything he says in this clip.  I don’t think the world will ever change, but it is very much a problem.  But one part he doesn’t talk about is the disconnect between the audience, the reviewer, and whether a given person considers themselves a troll or fan boy.

Its very easy to dismiss people as fan boys or trolls.  They are words given to those we deem less than us.  Those people so out of control with their emotions and brand loyalty that they display an irrational opinion in the face of right (even though its impossible to be right on an opinion).  People who have to comment and insecurely defend whatever product, line, or franchise they love.  The problem is who in their right mind would think of themselves this way.  The only answer is no one.  Most people who interact with the internet via comments or  message boards have been called a fan boy or troll before.  I know I sure have.

Owning a PS3 in 2007 was not a pretty sight.  Oh there were plenty of games for it.  The problem was everyone and their dog being a giant dick because you had anything good to say about the device.  The general public would not accept my opinion it.  Period.  My liking of the PS3 back then was always whittled by message boards or comments down to things like being contrary for the sack of being contrary or, as should be predicted, being a Sony fan boy.  And let me tell you when people constantly attack you for holding to your love in these situations regularly, you start going on the defensive at the slightest jab.  Its not a pretty environment and its one that a person requires pretty thick skin to deal with reasonably.  Emotions are a very good thing that everyone should engage in, but anger is always blind, reckless, and needlessly damaging.

No one is ever going to identify themselves as a fan boy or troll except in jest or to avoid negative public feedback on a popular opinion they hold.  Calling people these names does absolutely no good what so ever.  All this whole article comes down to is everyone has an opinion and some people get paid for theirs.  A lot of us wish we got paid for ours.  Its alright to disagree with people, in fact I encourage it!  What I don’t encourage is trying to come off as superior when you do in any type of serious regard.  And if you are joking, you should mention it.  But really Wil Wheaton’s first rule of the internet is most imporant: Don’t be a dick!

Here is my advice on reading reviews, as every review sight has a different philosophy on the function of their reviews.  For the simplest reading experience, know that the review is an opinion piece that is going to give you details about how a game functions and what that game is about.  For the more serious about their review reading, become familiar with the personalities of the writing stuff.  There’s no clone of you out there in the media world so you have to figure out where these reviewers differ from yourself.  If you have already bought the product be secure in whatever opinion you hold of the product.  You don’t have to agree with the website.  People will still understand you so long as you express yourself in big boy words.  And last but not least, some reviewers LOVE getting controversy.  Let that be your entertainment.  If they’re a good enough writer, despite their need to poke the dragon that is the internet from its slumber, they’ll still either cause your brain to move your neurons into thoughts or at the very least, educate you on aspects of the game you may not be privy to.

And to you reviewers, I know many of you think of the developers as your audience.  If so, you should rethink that one.  I’m sure developers do read your articles, but they aren’t the ones who provide your income.  I know their work is required for you to have a job but they are a minority and your job keeps them in business.  I’m not saying do what the audience wants.  But I am saying provide the audience with a piece that makes them think they’re getting what they want, but instead give them what they actually need.  As a reviewer you have direct impact on the public’s brain.  When you can write something and thousands or hundreds of thousands or millions of people read it, you have the means to teach.  And building a better society is going to happen if we teach people how to be better.  Right now we have some pretty lousy teachers in the political press.  People learn by example and you have that on your shoulders whether you want it or not.  Everyone messes up but not everyone gets back up.

With all that said, Trek is better than Wars.