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  1. #1
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    Please, RPS, tell me what's wrong with everything

    Has anyone else gotten the feeling lately that RPS' tone has become more negative, and that whatever they're talking about is more likely to be panned than praised? When I read an article on RPS today I have no expectation that the reviewer will like the subject of the article, and I am genuinely surprised when they do. I fully accept the possibility that I am too unobservant\dumb\optimistic to appreciate the truth in such comments, but the feelings I take away from a gaming session are far more carefree and fulfilling than the venomous accusations I too often read here.

    I also feel this negativity is projected and pollutes the comments. Maybe it's just that the articles I've been reading lately are contentious (Indie Game: The Movie, Diablo 3, Alan Wake, OnLive\Gaikai, Windows 8) but the community comments are often sharp, vile, and personally insulting, and the only provocation is the simple statement of disagreement. RPS' community used to be video games' last bastion of the cheerful, intelligent peanut gallery, but too often it feels like this once genteel group has reduced itself to mud slinging (often suffexed with "sir", feigning class). These forums are the exception - the people who post here, behind the scenes, are my favourite members of the community and know the difference between discussing, arguing, and fighting, and it's telling that forum posts are in response to fellow participants and not to RPS journalists.

    Video games have been my primary hobby since about 1984. I don't know about some people but I still enjoy this hobby. I recognize that video games are my escape from my working life, whereas games journalists remain permanently submersed, so maybe gaming means something different to me.

    Am I arguing that RPS is becoming out of touch with the common gamer? Maybe. Or maybe I'm the one out of touch. All I know is that after reading RPS' take on a game that strikes my fancy I'm probably no more inclined to play it. Maybe it's my fault for assuming this would be their objective, but I'm often compelled to contrast RPS' words with Metacritic to answer my many remaining questions.

    So I ask, Rock Paper Shotgun et al, where's the fucking joy? Far beyond the meanings, double meanings, technique, art, mood, comparisons, homages, control schemes, difficulty spikes, imbalances, oversights, disappointments, disagreements, and shortcomings, in the end isn't it about the joy?

    To be devastatingly honest, for the first time in 2 years I'm reconsidering my $2/month subscription.

  2. #2
    Network Hub Salix's Avatar
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    I haven't really been reading the forums long enough to comment on the community (that said there have been a ton of arguments recently which have turned a bit nasty) but I find that the articles aren't any more negative than they've ever been. As to your observation on the comments on contentious articles I feel it's the other way 'round; the articles themselves seem fine but the comments are bad enough sometimes that it can leave a bad feeling after reading them.

  3. #3
    Secondary Hivemind Nexus Heliocentric's Avatar
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    If you want hits you discuss big games, big games means big publishers, who are a den of filth and bullshit when it's profitable because of the principles of shares and stocks.

    So, yeah blame capitalism? Indie games are great but for 'unique clicks' you can't beat a AAA trailer.
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  4. #4
    Secondary Hivemind Nexus Rii's Avatar
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    I blame Obama.

  5. #5
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    To be fair, this article that John just posted is the absolute antithesis to everything I just said above:
    http://www.rockpapershotgun.com/2012...res-of-shuggy/

  6. #6
    Secondary Hivemind Nexus Nalano's Avatar
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    I'd prefer that RPS (and everybody else) call it like they see it. If that results in a surfeit of negative articles, so be it. But the worst possible reaction to such a complaint as the OP is to make saccharine-sweet posts just to "balance" it out, like Fox News during the Iraq War. Fuck that, tell it like it is!
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  7. #7
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    Quote Originally Posted by Nalano View Post
    like Fox News during the Iraq War.
    This is kind of my point. This isn't the gulf war, this is Pacman. This is an innocent pastime. Yes it's art, no question, yes it can have a serious message for grownups, and yes some games are just plain better than others, but it's GAMES. Amusement. Challenge. Fantasy. Inconsequential. Happy.

  8. #8
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    Quote Originally Posted by Heliocentric View Post
    If you want hits you discuss big games, big games means big publishers, who are a den of filth and bullshit when it's profitable because of the principles of shares and stocks.

    So, yeah blame capitalism? Indie games are great but for 'unique clicks' you can't beat a AAA trailer.
    Sorry but are we having the same conversation? This would be an apt response to John Walker's other thread about RPS covering some games more than others. I'm talking about the site's overall narrative tone.

  9. #9
    Secondary Hivemind Nexus Nalano's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by djbriandamage View Post
    This is kind of my point. This isn't the gulf war, this is Pacman. This is an innocent pastime. Yes it's art, no question, yes it can have a serious message for grownups, and yes some games are just plain better than others, but it's GAMES. Amusement. Challenge. Fantasy. Inconsequential. Happy.
    No, it's reporting. The games are escapism, not the articles.

    Furthermore, the games are not inconsequential, nor is everybody saying they're an innocent pastime. That's "kinda the point." When you have long debates over corporate attitudes towards consumers on topics like monetization of assets previously perceived to be free, or the balance between anti-piracy restrictions and customer support, or the walled gardens of platforms and pseudo-platforms and the effect that has on game quality, or the bias and prejudice inherent in game imagery when it comes to gender, ethnicity or simple preconceived notions, or the desensitization to violence and the immature manner in which such a problem is handled, or the ethics of marketing "free" games to small children, or the entrenched labor issues in the current entertainment industry, or the pseudosocial nature of multiplayer games and the obesity epidemic tied to passive pastimes, or, yes, whether games are art...

    ...funny enough, it ain't all fun and games, is it?
    Last edited by Nalano; 13-06-2012 at 05:22 PM.
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  10. #10
    Vector Jams O'Donnell's Avatar
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    I don't want sugar-coated gaming news. If there is something icky going on, it is good to be made aware of it.

  11. #11
    Secondary Hivemind Nexus Heliocentric's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by djbriandamage View Post
    Sorry but are we having the same conversation? This would be an apt response to John Walker's other thread about RPS covering some games more than others. I'm talking about the site's overall narrative tone.
    Tone is a response to mood, mood to content and content to situation.
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  12. #12
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    I really can't refute any of the points you're all making. If I'm the only one making these observations then maybe it really is just me.

    I'm starting to wonder whether I'm just taking exception to RPS reviews disagreeing with my personal opinions. Or maybe I play games for entirely different reasons than others.

    I'm feeling self-conscious now for writing such damning accusations. If anyone else has any opinions on this, either in favour of or in opposition to mine, I'm open to them.

    Still, I don't think the opposite of "truth" is "sugar coating".

  13. #13
    Secondary Hivemind Nexus Faldrath's Avatar
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    It's not really an opposition between "truth" and "sugar-coating", more like a choice of focus. RPS isn't a site with only an internal focus to games (previews, reviews, etc.), it also has an external one (the impact of games on society and vice-versa, the business environment in which games are produced and consumed, etc.). As games become more and more embedded on the cultural industry (I know, old-fashioned term, but still relevant), the contradictions between the internal and external sides become more acute.

    We can, and should, be entertained and amused by the games we play, and there isn't anything particularly wrong with escapism (up to a point, like with most things), but it's also very good that we have sites like RPS that don't let us forget about the other side. Today's article on women in videogames is a case in point. If I could give John an award for that, I would. Instead, I'll just offer him a virtual cookie.

  14. #14
    Lesser Hivemind Node Keep's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by djbriandamage View Post
    Indie Game: The Movie, Diablo 3, Alan Wake, OnLive\Gaikai, Windows 8
    Well there's yer problem.

    Big events = big expectations. Big expectations = frustration when they aren't met.

    and/or

    Big events = previews giving away what's good. Previews giving away what's good = every subsequent article/review takes what's good for granted and nitpicks on the problems.

    Start reading articles that you think look boring or you don't need to know about. Read about that pretentious indie game, that not-your-cup-of-tea simulator, that review of a game you never even heard of and the screenshot looks ugly.

    You don't know jack about them. You think you do. But your brain is tricking you. You'll find some good stuff if you give your curiosity that initial nudge of momentum it lacks.
    Free speech don't mean unchallengeable speech.

  15. #15
    Secondary Hivemind Nexus Nalano's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by djbriandamage View Post
    Still, I don't think the opposite of "truth" is "sugar coating".
    Well, the problem is, you weren't looking for truth. You were looking for positivity. If the truth isn't positive, what do you want people to do?

    If you want, however, here's how I look at it: This sort of "tone" or "attitude" is like an MMO forum. The people threatening to quit the game over this or that reason aren't going to quit the game, no matter how much they bitch about it. The quitters don't bother to post.

    So if you see a lot of arguing, know that there's something people find value in such that they're willing to argue over it. The negative gets focused on so that it's dealt with, lest it fester until there's no value left to argue over.
    Last edited by Nalano; 13-06-2012 at 07:00 PM.
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  16. #16
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    Quote Originally Posted by Faldrath View Post
    RPS isn't a site with only an internal focus to games (previews, reviews, etc.), it also has an external one (the impact of games on society and vice-versa, the business environment in which games are produced and consumed, etc.).
    I do enjoy the societal\general articles very much, and they're pieces you don't see anywhere else that could only be written by an enthusiast immersed in the gaming world. It's the reviews of games I so often disagree with. A seeing-the-trees-through-the-forest issue, to put it one way. Regardless of their size or scope or expectations or marketing there are some games that I just love for what they are, like Alan Wake, and maybe what I'm wishing for is for the reviewer to acknowledge, if not share, the specific details I admired.

    In his review of Alan Wake: American Nightmare Adam Smith said something I've thought to myself too often:
    "When I read Alec’s judgement of Alan’s vacation in Bright Falls I realised that I agreed with everything he said while also thinking that I’d enjoyed the game a lot more than he seemed to."

    Quote Originally Posted by Keep View Post
    Well there's yer problem.
    ...
    every subsequent article/review takes what's good for granted and nitpicks on the problems.
    You've identified my issue precisely.

    Take Brendan Caldwell's Wot I Think of Indie Game: The Movie which he published yesterday. I really liked this movie and was eager to read RPS' take on it. Brendan had many specific criticisms of the way the film was put together and presented - technical aspects of filmmaking that I didn't consider for a second. These nitpicky observations were the bulk of the review and he didn't acknowledge any of the things that were so meaningful to me. I know the article wasn't called Wot Brian Thinks but I guess what I was looking for was an observation of the piece as a whole and its relevance to today's world, not just whether it ticks all the boxes in the film editor's guidebook.

    My concerns boil down to the would-be audience of this website. Is it me? Is RPS my advocate?

  17. #17
    Secondary Hivemind Nexus Kadayi's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Jams O'Donnell View Post
    I don't want sugar-coated gaming news. If there is something icky going on, it is good to be made aware of it.
    Pretty sure he wasn't asking for sugar coated gaming news.

    Personally I do think that the 'we know better' colonial 'oh you silly AAA publisher/developer' attitude does wear a bit at times. Firstly because EA, Activision , Ubisoft, etc aren't actually all knowing singular minded entities but are in reality large global organisations employing thousands of people across dozens of studios. There's enough lazy anthropomorphization amongst the comments at times (I've hated EA since they killed 'Bullfrog'!!!) without the Hivemind encouraging that mindset I feel. Instead of acting bewildered and perpetuating an impasse seek clarification as to the reasons.

    Also stuff like this: -

    RPS: And the demo was running on PC?

    Dominic Guay: Yeah, we’re running on PC at E3.

    RPS: Good. Then all is as it should be. Otherwise, I wouldn’t have felt right about thanking you for your time.
    http://www.rockpapershotgun.com/2012...s/#more-111011

    PCGAMERS4LIFE *yawn*

    /facepalm

    A developer takes time out to talk about one of the hottest titles to show at E3 and you think it's smart to pull a PC master race card? Let's hear more about the game.
    Last edited by Kadayi; 13-06-2012 at 07:36 PM.
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  18. #18
    Secondary Hivemind Nexus Faldrath's Avatar
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    [edit: should have quoted, but the following is directed to djbriandamage]

    Well, on reviews I think the issue might be one of expectations, then. When it comes to reviews, I usually borrow Robert Fripp's comment about music reviews: "the reviewer reviews himself" - he (or she) brings his biography, his repertoire, his expectations to the object he's analyzing, which will be different from mine, and yours. I think a more "positive" (meaning, in this case, "without this the site would be useless for me and/or I'd go completely nuts) attitude towards reviews, instead of "am I the intended audience", is actually to enjoy them when they're very different from your own opinions. Because you are perfectly capable of coming up with your own opinions, but when a review makes you see something you had missed, then it's valuable. It becomes another part of your horizon.

  19. #19
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    Quote Originally Posted by Nalano View Post
    Well, the problem is, you weren't looking for truth. You were looking for positivity. If the truth isn't positive, what do you want people to do?
    This is exactly my internal conflict as I wonder whether I'm being fair to RPS. If something really is the truth then I don't think it should be called positive or negative, thus why sugar-coating versus truth is a false dichotomy.

    Maybe my problem is that I'm looking for both truth and positivity. Maybe I'm selfishly looking for validation that the journalists I respect share opinions I feel strongly. Whatever it is, I often feel that the basis for their opinions, or the articulation of those opinions, are incomplete because they don't even acknowledge the existence of details I appreciated. Maybe I'm not helping matters at all by failing to articulate my own specifics. Or maybe it's all a coincidence based on the random series of articles I've read over the past while.

    I just think gaming is great, the sky hasn't fallen, and we're fortunate to have the luxury to debate such vapid topics at all.

    And crap.. I realize that last sentence is almost exactly Brendan's criticism about Indie Game: The Movie which I scolded him for. First World Problems: The Forum Thread.

  20. #20
    Secondary Hivemind Nexus Nalano's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Kadayi View Post
    because EA, Activision , Ubisoft, etc aren't actually all knowing singular minded entities but are in reality large global organisations employing thousands of people across dozens of studios
    And yet they act so consistently
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