Why You Shouldn't Always Listen To Loud-mouthed Assholes On The Internet

THIS GAME IS BROKEN. YOU NERFED IT. THE NEW SERVICE SUCKS. I HATE THIS NEW THING. Listen to "fans" of games on the internet and a lot of the time that's what you'll hear. Loud, indignant complaints.

Sometimes, sure, they'll have a point. But other times? They're making noise. Being arseholes. And aren't always speaking for a game's entire playerbase.

Developer Dan Cook has written a great article for Gamasutra that, while based on studies of his own games (like this one), sound like they apply across the board to most gaming communities, if not all of them.

Cook's piece centres on the argument that those who loudly and publicly revolt at changes made to a game, or decisions made by a developer, are rarely representative of the wider audience. They are instead a minority.

Some of these people, he argues, are members of a community which is "playing a game that isn't your game". Sure, they're nominally involved in playing the actual game, but their actions on blogs and forums are evidence of belonging to "groups jockeying for power and influence", who will "say whatever it takes to advance their position independent of the actual situation in the game."

Others take strong stances in an attempt to "promote an ideology", which can be central to "an identity as a specific class of core gamer".

"How you buy and play games signals that you are part of an elite group and how you are not your mum," he argued.

Finally, he raised a point that should be common sense, but which is easily lost in the momentum of an online shitstorm: "The internet is a series of echo chambers where bias massively swamps any real signal about player behaviour."

What this means is that developers need to either use or come up with better ways of accepting feedback than places like forums, because the people commenting there, by the very fact they're signed up to a forum and are actively commenting, aren't necessarily representative of a game's entire playerbase.

Like I said, Cook's specific examples relate to rather casual games, so he's not coming at this from the perspective of Electronic Arts or Activision. But his points could easily apply regardless of the publisher, budget or genre of a game, so it's definitely worth a read.

Opinion: Player Metrics Vs. The Vocal Minority [Gamasutra]


Comments

    try any fighting game, there is always one character according to the community that is OP, but weirdly, it changes as soon as someone finds an even better combo for a character.

    i remember when everyone played as sentinel, and everyone said he was cheap, now all i see is Dantes and Weskers (which i use :P)

      I'm sure his nerf from most health in the game to the mid-range helped with that.

      Dante isn't that OP; he just has the most moves. Want OP? Dark Phoenix >.< FFFFFFFFFFFFFFFFFFFFFFFFFFFUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUU----

    I think Dan is just angry that his games are shit and trying to preserve as much self-esteem as possible.

    Happens all the time. Usually they're trying to change the game to the way THEY play specifically.

    It's why I always hate posting on the Bungie: Halo forums. I'm suggestin ways they could experiment or change that benefit ALL players, but I'm immediately shut out by tryhards who ALWAYS brings up stats. Half the players there think if your K/D ratio with your default, starting weapon is above 1 that you're a loser noob with no life.

    News: Many gamers are rude, entitled little shits. Anyone surprised? Pretty much any official forum (eg Blizzard, BioWare, etc) is soul-crushing in its indignant stupidity and ignorance. Chances are, you'll find more constructive discussion in community-supported sites like WoWhead, Team Liquid etc.

      Definitely the case with the Halo community. HBO is a much better place than bungie.net ever was.

    the majority is not always correct

      Then what is?

        Whoever made the claim that the Heatmap and weapon/class/character usage data best supports.

    Because the majority, who love to use and abuse ANYTHING that gives them the advantage in a game, are going to actively try and help balance said game with constructive feedback....

      Where the Hell are you guys online? It's complete bull how everyone I find is cheap as hell but all I see on the net are people that claim to play without abusing crap.

    Sure, this may be the case for crazy gamers arguing on the developers forum about the game mechanics etc.

    But I always take the arguments aimed at publishers seriously.

    "developers need to either use or come up with better ways of accepting feedback than places like forums, because the people commenting there, by the very fact they’re signed up to a forum and are actively commenting, aren’t necessarily representative of a game’s entire playerbase."

    Yep. Isn't that obvious, though?

    Forums are always going to be a tiny percentage of people who play the game, and even though they might be the most devoted (or zealous, or fanatical, or obsessive) they aren't necessarily going to provide the best feedback.

    Which is why I love stuff like telemetry. It gets data from *all* players, not just those passionate enough (or angry enough) to sign up on forums.

    While there are some good points here I have to wonder; has Kotaku US turned against its fan base? This is the second article in less than 24 hours where the author bashes a part of the gaming community.

    Is there any way that Kotaku AU can completely break away from the Kotaku grouping and establish itself as some sort of independent that actually has a brain and likes its community and the community it is reporting to?

      The authors on Kotaku US get paid by how many hit's they get to an article. Hence why they commonly have article's that are generally nerd bait.

      Plus it's a plunket article which is never a good start.

      Though i'm not sure how this is a surprise. It's only logical, because when something launches and it's broken for some you go in the forum's and it's full of people complaining. The problem might only affect 5% of the userbase, but they will be complaining and everyone else will be playing most likely oblivious. So that 5% makes it look like everyone is having issues. Because the other 95% aren't sitting on the forum's when they could be playing their games.

      My guess would be that the majority of the playerbase generally isn't saying anything. The wide majority doesn't bother raging on forum's because they simply don't care. Especially with consoles. If the game pisses you off just go and trade it back in, why bother with the strife, for something that may or may not be fixed.

      Hell personally i think the CoD franchise still makes for decent, i don't have to really think shooting at the end of a long day. But i also believe that the changes in KS alone since MW have ruined the game because it causes the wrong style of play. But I figure i'm definetly a minority in the BOOM BOOM world of shooters these day's which seem to depend more on show than substance

        I think that might be for all Gawker Media sites, i dont know how many articles on Gizmodo are nothing but Android vs. iPhone flamebait, made it entice the fanboys.

        Its also starting to happen on the Aus Gizmodo as well, i think the only website that has got journalistic integrity is Lifehacker. (im talking about the US sites)

          yup, all the gawker sites are paid by hits i believe.

          While the Aussie one doesn't contain that sort of taint.

          Which is why we get awesome articles instead of stuff intended to drive hits.

    "Fans are clingy, complaining dipshits who will never ever be grateful for any concession you make. The moment you shut out their shrill, tremulous voices, the happier you'll be for it."

      Yahtzee quote. Love it

    Good job providing some examples to help proove your baseless theory.

    The truth is, if the majority of people find a game bad, than its bad. That's just how things work.

    Sounds like what developers need is to make a feedback system that's private. Trolls won't get their exposure and the devs get feedback that might actually be constructive

    I'm developing my own game (won't go into detail here), and I've definitely noticed this behaviour. Its particularly interesting in that its more or less the exact opposite of what you'd expect in terms of design feedback from humans. If you consider game design as a node graph, and the users as doing "the work" by providing the feedback on how to traverse graph to the optimum experience, they are like machines and can only provide low cost feedback with immediate high gain in traversing that graph. To get to the really sweet part of the graph sometimes you need to traverse the graph indirectly and make broader changes that users can't anticipate or really understand in overall game design. An excellent example of a company that handles this correctly is Blizzard, in that if users flag an issue like "x class damage sucks" their response is not "buff x class", but to reevaluate the whole system and for example decide that everyone else is actually doing too much damage, etc.

    TLDR: users can flag issues, but they know jack about the appropriate solution (usually).

    "THIS GAME IS BROKEN. YOU NERFED IT. THE NEW SERVICE SUCKS. I HATE THIS NEW THING."

    Sounds like the players of Mabinogi NA after an update. It gets seriously annoying.

    This doesn't just happen with video games, it happens with OSes too. The Windows Developer Preview Forums have quite a few posts saying things along the lines of "Windows 8 is a steaming pile of sh!t built by a bunch of kids that just want to play with their Metro Blocks. It's absolutely useless, Metro is the worst thing on the planet since global warming, I hate it, I want my Start Menu back. Microsoft fix this or I won't ever buy one of your products again (of course I'll totally forget about my promise when Halo 4 comes out) rady rady rady rah!"

      Yep Lambo indeed. They did the same with 7 and that sure flopped didn't it... Wait what?

    Shit, just realised reading another fine junk article by plunkett....kotaku seriously need a filter implemented

    You people really need to stop and read the article before you start bashing Luke Plunkett. He didn't write the main content of this article. He's re-presenting something written by Dan Cook over at Gamasutra. Which you can bitch and moan about if you like.

    However, if you do, note that you are a group of online commenters bitching and moaning about something on the internet. You aren't the majority and you're not always right.

      article?
      what article?

      it is just VERY recently that Luke's so-called "article" is getting more elaborate, if we want to call that.

      usually it's only a couple of lines and full of pictures or links to other site

    RE5 WASN'T SURVIVAL HORROR, ALL THAT OF WHICH RE STANDS FOR!!!! WOW IS SHIT SINCE THE END OF BC AND IS NOW MADE FOR CASUALS! DK IS SO OP, MAGE IS SO OP, LOCK IS SO OP, PALLY IS SO OP.. OH WAIT I'M JUST SHIT.

      You left Caps Lock on.

    If you're enjoying the game, you're probably playing it and not on the forums so they definitely apply a skewed vantage point of the community. Heck, a lot just troll for the warped fun of it.

    Why spell arsehole correctly in the article, but misspell it in the header?

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