A Handy Guide to Criticizing Games You Do Not Like

Something from the drafts folder.  I’m not sure what set me to write this back in August, but I fixed it up a bit and set it free today.

You know what it is like, right? All these new games keep getting announced, Kickstarted, early accessized, launched, and ported to this platform or that to the point that you cannot keep track of them anymore. And how can you possibly shit all over some game you’ve barely looked into to keep it on encroaching on the games you love and have sworn to protect?

Well your worries are over as I have put together this helpful list of ways you can badmouth games you hardly even know anything about.

Compare it Unfavorably!

Find the best, most popular game that bears any resemblance to the game you want to put down… it doesn’t need to be an exact competitor, or even that close really…  and dig right in with how this new game isn’t the one you’ve picked out.  I mean Path of Exile, Pillars of Eternity, and Papers Please are all pretty much WoW anyway, right?

I call this the “It’s not WoW” method, because in the MMORPG genre you can put down anything by claiming it isn’t World of Warcraft.  No matter what you’re comparing it to you can always claim that WoW somehow does it better and faster while looking good and being more fun to boot.  It must be a really effective tactic given how much it comes up in general chat in every single MMORPG ever.

It’s been Done!

Is the object of your scorn an entry in an already established genre?  Then you’re all set by declaring it to be derivative, unoriginal crap that has been done better, faster, and cheaper already.  This is basically the flip side of the first entry, because on the MMORPG front you can dismiss just about anything as simply being another WoW.  The best thing about this claim is that the more crowded the genre is, the more likely that you’re actually on the mark with this one.  It is like a double win!

Graphical Style!

If it looks like shit it must be shit, right?  It doesn’t matter if you actually think the game in question looks like shit or not, somebody out there does and if you say this enough times then somebody will agree with you and BAM you’re there!

And even if it doesn’t look like shit you can always go on about how you don’t like retro or pixellated or stylized or realistic or colorful or dark or whatever art style is being used.  You can trash them all with ease.

The One Feature!

Struggling to find something bad to say overall?  Then just pick on one feature!  Does it have PvP?  Toxic!  Non-consensual PvP?  Griefing gankbox! A Cash shop?  Pay to win!  A shooter?  Aimbots and hacks!  An MMO?  WoW clone!  Involves colorful fantasy? WoW clone! Does it have quests? WoW clone! Can you wield a sword? WoW clone!  Is its name three words with “of” being the second? WoW clone! Levels? Grind! Factions? Grind! Crafting?  Grind!  Also, WoW clone for those as well.  Really, is there anything that isn’t a WoW clone these days?

A Missing Feature!

Did somebody make a game and forget to include something that you are sure must be a standard feature for all games in that genre?  Is there a shooter without a single player campaign?  An ARPG without local multiplayer support?  An RPG without modding?  A strategy game without play by mail?  An MMORPG without housing?  Let that obviously lazy developer know what you think!  This is a slap in the face!

Crowdfunding!

Is the game in question a crowdfunded venture?  Well, you’re work has probably been done for you then.  Even if it has shipped it was almost certainly late and did not deliver on all of its promises.  And if it hasn’t shipped it is probably both late and still asking for more money.  Make sure you let people know that “backers” is just another word for “suckers” and that the whole thing is certainly just a scam.

Developer Hate!

Don’t know enough about the game to even go after it?  Then go after the developer!  This is a slam dunk for any EA game, because we know they’ll fuck it up somehow.  But every dev has their weakness.  If the developer is popular, then the game has probably been dumbed down to appeal to non-gamers, which we all know to be a sin, and not worth $59.99 on Steam.  If it is an indie developer, then it is probably buggy as hell and not worth $4.99 on Steam.

If you want to get more specific, figure out any mistake or recurring trait of the studio in question, magnify it one hundred times, then project it on this new game.

For example, does Paradox Interactive have a new game?  Then it is probably an overwrought boring strategic sim with a confusing UI and an erratically bad AI that will force you to marry your adult son off to a six year old cousin just to secure your hold on power.

If the game comes from Blizzard then they have surely just stolen someone’s game idea, put colorful stylized graphics on it, simplified and watered it down so even your grandmother could play it, and put a $59.99 price tag on it.

Or if the game is from Riot then even running the tutorial would turn your sainted mother into a toxic, foul mouthed, misogynist douchebag.  Hah hah, just kidding.  You probably already love League of Legends, the only game Riot has ever made, will ever make, and need ever make.  Right amigo?

Objectively Not Fun!

Here is the big secret to game criticism.  Any game can be made to sound like it is no fun if you pull back and simplify it enough.  For example, with something like Diablo you can say, “So you just click on shit and that’s it?”  With an MMO like WoW you can say, “So you just press buttons and things die?” With a shooter like Call of Duty you ask, “So you just listen to some 13 year old swear at you while he kills you again with an aimbot?  Or with EVE Online you can ask, “So you just sit in your Rorqual watching your excavator drones and hoping not to get hot dropped?”

Then you follow that leading question with the big pronouncement, something like, “Games are supposed to be fun! How is this fun?” and bada-bing, bada-boom, you’ve scored your point even if what you have asked is so off base as to be a complete mis-characterization of the game.  (Except for EVE Online, which has been scientifically proven to be not fun.)

Corrupt Developer!

Hah, just kidding!  That is the sort of outrageous lunacy, sheer tinfoil, unbelievably biased, and unhinged craziness that will do more to sink your complaints than help them.  There is no point going there if it is just going to undo your hard work.

Make Things Up!

Let’s face it, this new game is a threat.  It could take players away from your game, and your value as a human being is directly measured by how popular the games are that you play.  So don’t let reality stand in your way.  Say whatever comes to your mind.  It is probably true to some degree in any case, right?

Special Bonus: Concern Troll!

If you cannot bring yourself to straight up attack a game (why the hell not?), then there is another route you can take.  You can pretend to like the game.  You can even say you like it a lot, but that you’re sure it could be even better.  And then you can start suggesting features and improvements that are pretty much contrary to the theme and focus of the game.  Just take whatever the game does and suggest the opposite.  Is it PvE focused? Then it needs PvP! Or if it is PvP focused, then it really needs a PvE server.  Is it vehicle focused? Demand avatar game play!  And if it doesn’t have vehicles, demand those!  Or pick a random secondary feature like housing and post over and over again how the game needs this.

But be sure to restate that you are a fan of the game in question, but you fear it is dying or incomplete, so you are trying to help the developer by posting your suggestions over and over in any comment thread about the game.  Never fail to bring up your pet suggestion, ever!  Maybe, by sheer volume of words, the developer will eventually waste time and wreck their game by trying to implement your suggestion.

Things to Remember

  • The more often you say something on the internet, the more true it becomes.
  • You’re totally normal, so everybody else who is normal agrees with you, so you should make sure people know you pretty much speak for everyone in your statements.
  • Negativity is all people listen to anyway.  If you want to be heard you need to go negative early and often.
  • Reason and compromise diminish you as a person and taint your family out to four generations.
  • People disagreeing with you have no feelings and are probably bots or being paid to say what they’re saying in any case.
  • You cannot definitively rule out that you are just a brain in a jar and that this is a simulation being run to test you and your ability to defend your game of choice.

11 thoughts on “A Handy Guide to Criticizing Games You Do Not Like

  1. Shintar

    I thought this list was missing my favourite option but then it showed up right at the end after all. Except of “concern troll” I tend to think of it as the “potential rule”. No matter what a game is right now, it always had the potential to be more (you can compare it to an existing game you like or make up new pie-in-the-sky features that would surely have been possible to include) and you will not rest until everyone on the internet knows what an insult it is that this game didn’t live up to your expectations.

    Like

  2. Wilhelm Arcturus Post author

    @Shintar – I had to work out a way to fit that in. I tend to think of it as the “If only…” option, because it is always, “If only game X had feature Z” then it would be successful or rebound from decline or be great again or whatever. And so many of those ideas are so patently bad, so clearly not thought through, that one cannot discount the notion that they are deliberate sabotage.

    As an EVE Online player this is a special pet peeve because so many people who otherwise hate the game and would never play it seem to have all the answers about how to “fix” it. Generally speaking they all pretty much involve throwing away the current game and making a new one. Fortunately CCP, for all of its faults, has the sense not to NGE the game.

    Liked by 2 people

  3. Bhagpuss

    I see just about every one of these on a daily basis on GW2’s WvW forums. Well, perhaps not the crowdfunding one. It drives me nuts. It’s one thing to critique a brand new game into the ground but people routinely post giant screeds on how to fix a largely abandoned game mode inside a seven year old game as if someone who cares might read it and do something about it. They might as well write their rants out in longhand, stick them in a bottle and throw them in the ocean!

    Like

  4. Benjamin Massey

    Decent article, but I would have preferred to have some graphics, and I feel like it’s been done before. Plus it basically read like a WoW clone.

    Liked by 2 people

  5. Anonymous

    Wow, that felt deeply cynical and bitter. All true, of course, but still… what was going on when this was first written?

    Like

  6. Nosy Gamer

    I feel like this was a 100 level course. If this was a 200 level post, you’d have mixed the subjects. Like, “An MMORPG without housing? WoW clone!”

    Like

  7. Yeebo

    Brilliant! The bizarre tribalism that so many gamers exhibit, shitting all over anything that isn’t built to cater to their peculiar fetishes, never ceases to amaze and disappoint.

    Like

  8. Wilhelm Arcturus Post author

    @Anon – I was probably reading the comments over at Massively OP.

    @Yeebo – I remain dismayed at times as to at how passion for your favorite game turns into “must kill all possible competitors!”

    Like

  9. Kryss

    “You cannot definitively rule out that you are just a brain in a jar and that this is a simulation being run to test you and your ability to defend your game of choice.”

    THAT. EXPLAINS. EVERYTHING!!!!!!!!

    Like

  10. SynCaine

    Great post, in some part because I think we have all made such posts before, and because as time goes on, most of us have stopped really caring. I will say however, at least back in the day, some blog posts did shape the direction of a game, however small, so it wasn’t ALL shouting at clouds.

    Also this post is, sadly, basically the current Republican playbook, or how Fox News wakes up and decides to create content for the day.

    Like

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