Editorial: An End To “GIT GUD” – You Don’t Need To Be “Good” At Games To Enjoy Them

A really unpleasant gaming trend is getting louder and louder of late, where it’s considered of vital importance to observe when other people are “bad” at games. And of course insinuating that one is “good” at them at the same time. Such an attitude reveals an extraordinarily narrow-minded view of gaming, and indeed of humanity. It’s really time for it to stop.

There are a few running jokes about me on RPS, from being a bad healer to being far too attractive and clever. In their number is that I’m “bad at games”. And I happily take it, because I’ve deliberately opened the door to it. Over the two decades of my doing this, I’ve deliberately been open about how I don’t enjoy it when games have large difficulty spikes, when I’ve not been able to get far into a tricky game, or argued that it should always be possible to skip ahead in games. I’ve said it because it’s true, or at least it’s what I think, and few others are willing to. There’s a bravado, a need to appear to be the best in the world, which obviously most critics out there are not. Everyone’s just not willing to admit it.

And no surprise when there’s such hostility out there now. A few days ago Polygon uploaded a half hour video of one of their writers playing Doom, and yes, without doubt, the player during the recording isn’t performing particularly well at the game. Clearly playing on a console, he or she spends more time shooting at walls and the floor than the enemies, and appears to be ill at ease with the controls. It’s weird that Polygon uploaded it. But what you cannot tell from the video is whether the person playing is having fun. They could have been having a great time.

However, that is not how the video has been received. Loud voices have declared it as proof that Polygon as a site is incapable of providing expert opinion on games, despite there being no suggestion that the player in the video is the person reviewing the game. Whether the player was enjoying themselves, whether they were forced to upload the video of their first half hour getting used to the controls because bosses wanted footage while the clicks were high, whether they were used to mouse/keyboard controls and struggle with a gamepad for shooters (I know I do), whether they were drunk or high… nothing else is considered. Instead any potential expertise is called into question and they are laughed at. And I think this is really sad.

And this is as nothing compared to the roaring tedium that’s surrounded the release of Dark Souls 3, Stellaris, and any number of other games that are notably difficult to play. Unless one is the best at the game, one cannot claim to have opinions. Which is such a warped way of thinking. (I recently wrote about how I found Stellaris impenetrable, and received some rather strange responses. I’ve not played Dark Souls 3, because I detest boss fights at the best of times. I’m not personally affected by either, but I’ve read so much nastiness directed all over the place.) Because a person can have a splendid time with a game while being terrible, mediocre, quite good, or brilliant at it. Because games aren’t exams. And treating them like they are is ugly and stupid.

This attitude has had a very peculiar side effect on games journalism, too. It’s ever more the case that anyone reviewing a game daren’t admit to struggling with it, or finding it too hard in places, or admitting they had to give up at a certain point, because they will be on the receiving end of absolutely ridiculous abuse. I know this because I refuse to be bullied into being dishonest when writing about my own experiences of games (which are, of course, reflective of a large proportion of players), and as such receive a lot of said abuse. But few are joining in any more. Reviewers make ridiculous claims about completion times of games, fearing that if they say it took them eight hours, and everyone else says six, then they’ll look “bad” at it. Rather than, I don’t know, took more time to play it. There’s an idea. Or, and this would be just fine, weren’t as skilled at it as another reviewer so took longer to finish it.

Despite taking a couple more hours than someone more skilled, that person can still have an expert opinion on the game. Because the notion that they’d need to be top of the high score table before writing anything is… it’s really fucking stupid! Good grief, why is this even a thing that needs saying? Never mind that they’re going to have had a limited time to play the game and write about it, and not the weeks or months post release to become an expert. But for fear of cruel backlashes and public humiliation, us hacks are more likely to pretend we didn’t have problems, and as a result write a dishonest or far less helpful article about it. Screw that.

I recently reviewed Homefront: The Revolution. I know for a fact that I wasn’t as “good” at the game as another journalist I know. I chatted to him the night before it came out, after I’d written my review, and he mentioned how long he’d played it for. I realised I’d been playing for far longer than him and hadn’t got as far. And I had the thought, the worry, “Oh no, what if…” And caught myself. Because I’d written 2,500 words of considered, competent criticism of an intricate game, about which I had conflicting feelings. It turns out that his perhaps being “better” at it (or indeed playing it less thoroughly, missing side quests, etc) had no impact on my ability to write a damned good review of the game. Go figure.

Somehow as a gaming collective we’ve allowed notions from the likes of eSports to infiltrate our expectations of how ordinary people play games. They play them normally, not as world champions. In fact, if a games critic is to be of any use to the largest proportion of readers, they need to be in a position to have a normal experience of a game. They cannot be inept, someone cannot usefully review a game if they don’t understand the rules, or aren’t able to play it. However, they can certainly write about that. Reading about those experiences is revealing and valuable and informative. Not that they’d likely want to in the hostile and cruel atmosphere into which such things are received.

In this mess people have lost sight of what a review is for. It’s not a world-leading gaming expert explaining how they’re best at it – it’s a regular gamer who is hopefully an expert writer, eloquently describing their experience of the game. The farther a person drifts from this criteria, the less useful the criticism becomes to the largest number of readers. And in turn, the presentation of such high expectations, such high demands to be considered acceptable, puts off those reading, regular players of games, makes them feel unwelcome. It has a huge impact.

The loudest voices are almost always from the smallest minorities of gamers, and when someone writes about – or videos themselves – being less “good” at a game, it is these loud voices that respond. Furiously and often cruelly, mocking and chastising, and ultimately dismissing, because they might have a better aim, or a greater affinity for a particular genre. However, as is very often horribly demonstrated by those doing the mocking and dismissing, what they aren’t better at is informative and entertaining writing. Which might rather be the key.

I’ve made the decision to ignore dull people shouting insults at me for having normal experiences of games, I’ve committed to putting up with it. (I know some could respond arguing I’m only saying this because I’m “bad at games”. I’m not. I’ve decided I’m officially “quite good” at games.) But that shouldn’t need to be the case. No one should be struggling to enjoy the entertainment of playing games in this wretched endemic culture of “GIT GUD!!1” I know that I play games to be entertained, challenged, surprised, changed, soothed, and agitated. I do not play them to be the world’s best, and it’s preposterous to expect that of critics, YouTubers, friends, anyone, and wildly illogical to desire it.

Shaming people for being less “good” at a game is gross. Requiring those writing commentary/recording footage of the experience of playing a game to be better than you at it is infantile and irrational. Games are not a competition, unless they’re a competitive game. So go have fun, and enjoy everyone else having fun.

508 Comments

  1. uNapalm says:

    Using the Polygon Doom video as an example was not a good idea. I’ve watched said video and the player has real issues with simply looking and shooting at the same time. They can’t even turn corners without stopping to move the camera. They also regularly shoot enemies, run past them and then, rather than turning to look where the enemy is, run backwards until they can see them again. They often fight the enemy at close blank range while looking at the floor.

    It’s all very strange and stilted and I genuinely wonder if they were playing one-handed or it was their first time on a controller.

    This is all fine, of course, but is this really the footage you would choose to promote a game on your channel? This shows a lack of judgement on Polygon’s behalf. If you were a website that reviewed cars, would you release a video of someone stalling, grinding the gears and kangarooing said car up the road?

    • ROMhack2 says:

      Yeah, it sounds like Polygon’s editors threw the player under a bus wanting to get the video out ASAP. That’s not playing fair either.

    • Sarracenae says:

      To be fair, i’ve had various forms of computer for 37 years, back from my spectrum, BBC, Amiga and PC. I’ve played FPS since the original wolfenstein, doom, quake etc etc.

      But stick me on a PC4 or Xbox controller and i’d suck as bad as the reviewer.

      I think they clearly just chucked a copy of doom on a console at some random person in the office and told them to video the first 30 mins to get some footage up. Which is fine.

      • Sarracenae says:

        Or editor, or website designer, or sound engineer or whoever did the video.

      • Rizlar says:

        Yeah, I just had to watch the video after reading a bunch about it and the person is definitely struggling with a control pad. It’s basically just a terrible device for trad FPS games.

      • buzzmong says:

        Joypads aren’t good for FPS’ing, but not to the extent the person in the Polygon video is showing. It’s mostly just accuracy on the pointing, not things like struggling to turn corners, running past enemies then back pedalling etc..

  2. DantronLesotho says:

    There was just a row in the Giant Bomb facebook group about how someone expressed exasperation at Brad Shoemaker failing to complete some mission in Hitman because he died on the livestream. It was one of those “you only get one chance” hits that he was taking on. Brad has a tendency to die a lot in games that they stream (they actually call it “pulling a Brad” on the site) and someone was unduly upset that he would even stream at all if he was going to be “so bad” at games. Fortunately, most people in the group were like “who cares, as long as you are entertained and they have fun”, which was reassuring.

    I can KIND of understand the notion that you want someone in their element to represent something you’re interested in so that you can relate better to it, but in my opinion, I’d rather have someone who is previewing a game not get to the end, so that I have something new to see when I play it. And also, I am in no way strict enough in my games entertainment to care about whether a person dies while playing it or not.

    I applaud this article and support it 100%.

    • scannerbarkly says:

      Being bad at videogames can be wonderful thing. Amongst my group of gaming friends we all have different games that we are terrible at and will normally use it as a vehicle for entertainment. “You think that death was funny…watch this shit!”

  3. kud13 says:

    Imho, as long as the reviewer provides context (such as what John usually does by likening all strategy games to doing taxes) in the beginning of a review, anyone can review anything.

    If you are targeting a niche sector, such as fighting game enthusiasts, or racing sims enthusiasts, then you should probably know more about the topic.

    If it’s a more “general” game though, as long as you briefly mention whether you know this type of game or not, anyone who’s put a certain amount of time into a game can give their opinion.

    And on the general topic: no one playing a single-player game needs to “git gud”- it’s your game, you are free to derive enjoyment from it whichever way you want.

    If you are playing a multi-player title, esp a competitive MP title, I would not be surprised by the “git gud” attitude, since some people take their hobby more seriously than others (personally, I don’t play any multiplayer, so I never had an issue with this).

  4. ROMhack2 says:

    I was going to comment with a long drawn-out response but it’s honestly not worth it. Don’t worry about it, champ. Being good at games is not as important as being good at other stuff.

    Youtube has a history of shitty comments too. And I imagine a lot of people don’t like Polygon and were simply being quite immature at venting their frustrations towards the publication.

    • ROMhack2 says:

      And Polygon’s intended audience does absolutely cover those types of overly competitive gamers. I think that particular publication has far too wide an audience for its the level of journalism they offer. I’m sure they’d like to think otherwise but, well, two of its five featured articles right now are covering League of Legends and Dota 2. Go figure.

  5. thelastpointer says:

    To be fair, you always seem like you are proud of being shit at playing games, grabbing every opportunity to state it. I found that to be a nice in-joke a few years ago, but now it’s tiresome at best.

    The Stellaris article was about “I played 30 minutes of this complex game and I don’t understand any of it” — while that’s understandable, it has to do nothing with the game’s difficulty. (Though I hardly understand what was the point of article.)

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      John Walker says:

      Nope, you’ve imagined that. You’d need to cite any example at all.

      • thelastpointer says:

        Yes, for example, you seemed like that yesterday.

        That being my impression of you, I guess you could say that I imagined it, however my point was that if you mention that you’re bad/impatient/too old/etc for games as often as you do, you can expect a few reactions that… express some impatience? Well, shitty comments, to be honest. And that’s a bit of your fault.

        I always thought that “git gud” was the the most sarcastic and least malignant of them.

    • laotze says:

      Except that he was criticizing Stellaris’s ineptitude at teaching players its complex systems, not its difficulty level. There’s a world of difference between being shit at Ghosts ‘n Goblins or Contra because they expect you to perfect their simple and quickly comprehensible mechanics versus being shit at Stellaris or Dwarf Fortress because they complex to the point of the labyrinthine and do a terrible job explaining themselves, relying on player wikis and videos as a crutch in place of legitimate tutorials.

      • scannerbarkly says:

        But on the other hand, how much of the complexity is expected to be properly trained in 30 minutes? I like Jon’s writing but he gets angry at games sometimes and then that’s the end of it for the most part, he will just always be angry at them.

      • Daemoroth says:

        My issue with that is, from John’s description, he wasn’t fully reading what the tutorial was trying to tell him in the first place before clicking off somewhere, interrupting the process.

        If you go in knowing it’s a complex game, that you have little to no experience in the genre, and have a true desire to learn, you should be prepared to learn.

        Learning isn’t a passive activity, you have to take part in the process. Half-reading instructions and mindless clicking is not learning and is, as demonstrated, a recipe for disaster.

        And that’s fine if John just wanted to write about his experience with Stellaris, but you can’t realistically critique a tutorial you didn’t take part in.

        This is coming from someone who has bounced off Europa Universalis, Hearts of Iron *and* Crusader Kings. I finally found my feet in Stellaris by taking things slowly and paying attention to the messages and what they were trying to convey.

    • Jimbo says:

      Yep, that’s how it read to me too. I think there’s a pretty clear contradiction between “I Really Want To Be Able To Play Stellaris” and giving up after 30 minutes.

      The issue isn’t John being bad at the game; the issue is advertising the article as being relevant to people who are genuinely interested in how they might get on if they approach the game in good faith and then not doing that. It read like somebody determined not to be able to follow even basic instructions so they could justify writing exactly the sort of article they already knew they wanted to write.

  6. Artiforg says:

    For any of you who haven’t seen this yet, sums up the stupidity of “Git-Gud”:

    Dara O’Briain on video games

    • Javerlin says:

      But in that very video he says the reason he loves video games is becuase you can be bad at them?

  7. Roybert says:

    I broadly agree with a lot of your points John but as a long time sufferer of watching Total War preview videos, I feel I must chip in. I honestly have no idea how people decided on whether or not to buy games before this whole ‘online’ thing because I don’t remember a time before that – for me and many others, watching preview videos of the games in question is a great way to judge whether or not the game will merit a purchase, beyond reading reviews. For reviews, like you say as long as the reviewer is not inept and can write well and articulate their feelings then that’s great and I’m happy to read their opinion. Sometimes it’s even helpful to read the opinion of someone who is very unfamiliar with the game or genre in question. But when it comes to online preview videos of games I’d much prefer to see competent players.

    The Creative Assembly developers and PR team, for example, are notoriously terrible at their own games. This shouldn’t be an issue and honestly it’s probably just my own personal problem but as someone who is familiar with a genre or series of games it is incredibly frustrating to see those games being played so poorly. When I watch a preview video for a Total War game, to continue the example, all I’d like to see in the video are what do the new units do? Are the models nice? What about the battleground? Is the campaign balance interesting? Details and questions about the game are being sought from these videos but for me it is incredibly difficult to see past the poor gameplay, weird camera angles and awful decision-making to answer them for myself. I imagine the people who are intimately familiar with Doom-like shooters felt much the same way about that Polygon video. In this specific situation, the preview video, the lack of competency becomes too much of a distraction.

    No-one should be admonished for being “bad” at a video game. I don’t want or need people showing off the game to better than me just simply actually able to show off the game. For the purpose of informing your audience is it really too much to ask for a level of proficiency when specifically showing off a game before a release?

  8. Iamjacksplasmid says:

    I agree with you to an extent, in that you shouldn’t need to be an expert to review a game. However, I think the issue people had with the Polygon Doom video, and with a lot of reviewers in general, is that the player appeared to be someone whose skill level was below the average for a person who would be interested in the game. For example, I’ve been playing a lot of Enter the Gungeon, and I’ve shown it to three different people. Two of those people made it to or past the first boss on their first playthrough after playing the tutorial. The third skipped the tutorial, struggled with aiming independently of his movement, and didn’t use the dodge-roll…he was dead by the third room consistently. If he reviewed it and said it was too difficult or unengaging, I would be critical of his criticism. I would speculate that he’s assessing it poorly due to his unfamiliarity with the genre and lack of general skills possessed by most fans of bullet hell games, and in doing so is making claims people will consider objective based on his own subjective experience without informing people that it’s entirely possible that he just isn’t really an average customer for the given product.

    Ultimately, the critic has to be self-aware. I found value in your Stellaris article because it established that it would be prudent for me to seek community advice outside of the game when I purchase it if I have questions about things, but it was also framed in a mature, responsible way that took accountability for your lack of experience in the genre. It said, “this isn’t necessarily a bad game, but it is far less accommodating and transparent than most reviewers are implying, and it is NOT the title that will serve as an ambassador for the genre.” That was a great thing to say, and a great read. Polygon’s DOOM review, on the other hand, was critical of the game in an objective manner, and thus people reacted with a healthy degree of skepticism to videos that raised suspicions that their reviewer might just not be the right man or woman for the job.

    Anyway, you guys have it right already…you don’t issue review scores. That’s the right way to review a game. Talk about your experience with it, and let it resonate in whatever manner the reader chooses.

    • scannerbarkly says:

      I think the issue people had with the Polygon video is that a couple of days previous to it they had an article that was talking about how they hadn’t gotten a code yet. They even said “we were told there was no promo codes” but still tried to leverage the devs/pubs into given them one and they were refused again.

      Then, upon getting their code they upload a, frankly, terrible gameplay video. It all just made no sense. Why not have the person reviewing the game just record some gameplay while doing so and then make a video?

      Don’t get me wrong, plenty of folk jumped on it because it was Polygon, I personally made the old social media jokes about it because the whole thing was just so indicative of the desperate need for content creators to get stuff online first and fast and screw any kind of usefulness to the actual audience.

  9. eLBlaise says:

    First things first, I was always under the impression that “Git Gud” was a joke. A light-hearted tease at worst, not anything anyone should be traumatized over.

    Alternatively, if you don’t want opinions don’t solicit them. No one is forcing you to post anything, you can easily keep things to yourself. The strangers you are interacting with don’t have any connection to you and thus don’t have an incentive to protect your feelings.

    • phlebas says:

      The strangers you are interacting with don’t have any connection to you and thus don’t have an incentive to protect your feelings.

      So not acting like a complete dick towards someone is dependent on knowing them personally?
      Git gud at empathy.

      • Distec says:

        Pining for a day when Youtube commenters don’t shower you in shit is the same as asking for hornet swarms not to sting you.

        It sucks and it’s immature, but telling everybody to “have more empathy” is not going to move the needle on this. The best, most practical – probably the only thing – one can do is ignore them.

        The breadth of my experience with the game examples John cites is a bit limited; I’ve only purchased and played Doom out of the ones mentioned. But the only case where I’ve seen people being outright dicks were on Polygon’s Doom video, and you can chalk that up almost entirely to the antagonistic relationships they’ve formed with certain other denizens of the internet. By comparison, most comments I’ve seen regarding Dark Souls and Stellaris (on RPS and elsewhere) have ranged from well-meaning but misguided attempts to teach the critic how to “play right” to confused annoyance that somebody might not understand the basics of a genre they love.

  10. Serenegoose says:

    Knowing what the likely response to this is, I can’t /stand/ git gud, as a meme or anything. If you’re trying to have a discussion, it’s just the immediate termination of all thought from one party, and otherwise, it’s just taunting. There’s no positive spin on it. If you do it knowingly you’re being an arse on purpose, if you do it without thinking you’re an arse innately, and otherwise, you’re just shutting down conversation, which is what an arsehole does.

    And of course it’s a big part of the reason that the dark souls community is the only community as thoroughly unlikeable as the moba one. Like, really. The games we disparage, the call of duties and other dudebrofests, have nothing on the general deplorable, repugnant mindset that games casting themselves as more sophisticated and requiring of intellect foster. It’s quite something.

    But yeah. I know. Git gud.

  11. Laurentius says:

    Well, it’s all perfectly fine but missing big points here. It is this ongoing cultural battle that game critics inserted thmselves/were inserted, it doesn’t matter. Game critics and reviewers on way or another picked this role of jumping on a high horse in and talking down to people and obsessing over their percieved audience more often then critics of any other medium. So yeah, right or wrong, conservative or progressive people universally don’t like to be talked down. So this whole spile here is just deflection: “you are not even good at games, so how come you are lecturing about other stuff”, it’s stupid argument but hey that’s how it works.

  12. Minglefingler says:

    If mine was one of the strange replies that you got to the Stellaris article then I came across in the wrong way. I was attempting to offer advice on how you could get into the game along with some encouragement that you should. I certainly didn’t intend to appear superior or elitist but I stand by my assertion that feeling overwhelmed by a strategy game in the first half hour isn’t unusual (whether things should be this way is a different question, I’m looking at things as they are right now) and that spending more time with it is the best way to learn. The thing is John, I’d be delighted if I saw an article from you in a week or two saying that you get strategy games and gushing over how much you’re enjoying say, Civilisation V. Because you gush very well and it’s always a pleasure to see a writer talk with enthusiasm about something new they’ve discovered. For example, Alec’s conversion to Dark Souls.
    I have no time for the whole “git gud” attitude, Biffo wrote an article on this a few days ago which luckily prevents me from droning on any further except to say that I’m at best an average player and have been for the 30 odd years that this has been one of my hobbies.
    link to digitiser2000.com

    • Rackam says:

      If it makes you feel any better, I read your comment and you made a lot of sense to me. It seemed like you were offering the sort of advice you’d offer a friend who was having a tough time with a game you recommended. “Stick with it, it gets easier, I had a hard time too”

      Honestly when I first played Stellaris I was a bit overwhelmed too but I did what you suggested there and just pressed on and eventually it made sense. Sure I made lots of mistakes early on but that happens.

      • Minglefingler says:

        Thanks, that’s exactly what I was trying to do. I’m glad you got to grips with it.

  13. Spoofi says:

    With so many review and reviewers available, there is enough for players to decide which they want to watch, read, follow and trust.
    We have so much information, there is room for everyone, and the variety in reviews and reviewer allows for all gamers to have someone they can follow and trust, or at least by whom to be entertained. The angry elitist jerks just can’t stand the idea of diversity it seems. The simple fact that it exists bothers them.

  14. Cedori says:

    Excuse me, I forgot it was just video of someone playing the game, posted in this person’s personal channel, lacking any sort of symbols making it related to any site at all. Surely it was my and many other viewers mistake.

    Now. You want games to be serious medium? You want games to be art? Then you need god damn standards! No one will trust and seriously listen to words of movie critic watching something with his ass; car reviwer who can’t drive; literature critic who doesn’t know what “explosion” means. If man or woman earn money for writing texts about videogames (not just texts in fact – reviews, a way for customer to understand whenever this game is for them or not!), they absolutely have to be skilled at this!

  15. OmNomNom says:

    I think its fine not being an expert at a game as long as your skills are passable enough that you can explore its intricacies in order to write a well structured review, and it sounds like they are. (and I’d like to say, your stuff is usually excellently written!)

    Whilst you’re not expected to play on the hardest difficulty I think its important not to play games on the easy setting though. As sometimes content is removed from a game or you can get a false impression of combat mechanics as they may have been dumbed down for instance
    Most games are balanced to be played on a normal setting and I personally think reviewing any genre of game on that setting is fine.

    Also, maybe you just being hard on yourself?
    Surely some game genres you are better at than others? Maybe you’d even consider yourself ‘very good’ at those? Would you play them on harder difficulties if they existed?

    Personally I know they genres I am particularly good at such as FPS and I know the genres I am mediocre at such as RTS games or racing games. Even then, I strive to improve so as long as the games are not too technical I start playing on normal I will inch up the difficulty level as I play, especially if the game offers both single player and multiplayer so I feel like I can at least put up a fight once I make a foray .

  16. Vartarok says:

    I think “git gud” is as a solid point as it can be. Not every game benefits from it as much as certain cases, but it is a totally valid complaint to make to certain reviews and articles.

    I can understand the point of view that sees it as a particularly disgusting form of elitism, but the truth is there are games that demand more effort than others, and games that can only be properly appreciated after understanding the depth of some of its systems and mechanical elements.

    Games like Bayonetta, Ikaruga or Nuclear Throne only truly shine when you get to understand how they work and when you achieve certain skill with them. The essence, the core of what those kind of games offer, and even more, ARE, depends on the player as much as it depends on the game itself. Because of that, it is totally reasonable to ask for someone that is able to reach that layer of understanding of the game. It happens the same with films and any other medium, really. I wouldn’t take very seriously the opinion of a person that only watches blockbusters if they said Mulholland Drive is an incoherent mess, because that particular film demands huge quantities of atention and active thinking in order to be not only enjoyed, but understood.

    I didn’t like what you wrote about Stellaris, John. It seemed like the rant of a person that didn’t like the game because it wasn’t to catering to very singular and private sensibilities and I’m sure the game doesn’t do a great job on explaining itself, but it also seemed like you blamed it for something could have been fixed by giving the proper effort.

  17. Dr.Ded says:

    But you shouldn’t give a poor review of a game because you’re not good at it.

  18. JohnnyMaverik says:

    OK. So i kind of agree with you but also not so much. On the surface I agree with you on the Polygon footage, it was weird criticism. I mean the number of Youtubers I watch for entertainment and opinion who are by no means great or even particularly good at most of the games they play far out weighs those who are good or great. I’d go further and say I watch different people for different reasons, I watch NorthernLion because hes fun, hes also sometimes but not always good but im ok when he is less good because he’s fun. I watch TotalBiscuit because I’m interested in what he has to say and I watch say. He is usually quite average sometimes falling a little further to one side or another, but for the most part I don’t watch him to be good. Bisnap I watch play Isaac because he’s really damn good and knowledgeable. I expect him to be really damn good and knowledgeable because thats the content he presents. If he plays terribly I’m concerned he’s upset or something, if he gets information wrong I will try to correct him, politely because im usually polite, others less so. I interact with different people and publication’s written content in the same way, for varied reasons and with different expectations.

    Now what I take from that is not, people really think a game journo should be in the upper percentiles of Doom skill levels to be able to review Doom… I mean that would be stupid beyond belief on a number of levels. What i took away is Polygon are very unpopular with a vocal group of people. I would imagine the same response, perhaps not from the same people, had the video been tied to IGN or, no offense, yourself.

    I also don’t believe back seat gaming is going away, ever. It’s natural, it’s reality, it always has been and always will be. Yes there is a culture where it often misses trying to be helpful even if irritating, which is understandable and everybody who watches games does it and they aren’t all dicks, and instead manifests as thinly disguised abuse with no intention of presenting helpful information. But if you deliver video game content is a video format, you should know that and you are going to have to learn to live with it. Sorry, life sucks and then you die, haters guna hate, shake it off, etc… at least you don’t work at PC World trust me, I did it. Git gud is not going anywhere, the language may change but people having that reaction and behaving in that way as a spectator has existed long before video games existed, just look at the history of any spectator sport. At some point, usually in multiple points, you will find examples of people saying, or being told, to essentially, git gud plz.

    Finally, some people are not the best people to review certain games. If you cannot beat a boss in Dark Souls, and I don’t mean can’t do it elegantly with out breaking a sweat or sipping an Estas. I mean if you literally can’t beat the boss, have no idea how you could ever do so and need to resort to a “skip section” option, you should not be reviewing the game. I’m not saying you should not review any game, or that you should not play or enjoy the game. Now to be fair, if a game is too hard and most people will get permanently stuck, it probably sucks. So if you want to write that review then go ahead. But I like to think that my reviewer knows, before they go into the experience, that they will be able to understand and grasp the mechanics unless the mechanics are terrible and/or terribly presented and the game is unplayable. If you suck at RTS games, find it difficult to understand RTS mechanics, kind of enjoy them but rarely finish any campaigns, I would rather not read your review on an RTS game. Now I’m not saying that was the case here, yes they were not great at Doom, but they were progressing, for the most part, and it looked more like a problem of technique in control rather than not having a single clue. Maybe they should try playing on PC… or not, it’s up to them.

    I’m just saying, you seem to be saying anybody can review a game if they can write even if they suck and I say no, not if they suck because they don’t understand. Or at least, they can review the game, but then when people turn around and say that from your expressed experiences and opinions they believe you missed a core point of a game and would like you to git gud in future… well rightly or wrongly or somewhere in-between, that’s their opinion im afraid.

    • Rizlar says:

      You may have missed this bit:

      They cannot be inept, someone cannot usefully review a game if they don’t understand the rules, or aren’t able to play it.

      Sounds like you are both basically on the same page.

  19. LegitChamp says:

    I also think a number of people sit in the “git gud” crowd not because being better than someone makes them feel good but, instead, because they dislike the idea of simplifying and lowering the challenge of games. Many people enjoy the challenge a certain game (like Dark Souls) brings and do not like the idea of games becoming easier and more inclusive because that often means the game is less interesting to them. Dark Souls is a good example. It can be a challenging game, but because it demands learning the areas you are in, the monsters you are facing, and having the patience and/or skill to overcome those obstacles. For many of us the true enjoyment in that series comes from overcoming those obstacles, it gives a sense of achievement not often felt in other games. So when fans see cries that the games are too hard, they start to worry that the games will be designed to be easier and more inclusive, thereby destroying the challenge they love. Difficulty settings don’t really help here because it just adds some blanket percentage.

    Honestly, not everyone has to play every single game. If a game is designed to be challenging and someone doesn’t like to be challenged, or like to be challenged that way or in their free time, they should just find something else to play. Not sure why so many take offense to that. I find RTSs too challenging and the gameplay largely uninteresting. Therefore I rarely play them.

    Of course, their opinion that it is too hard for them and they didn’t like it because of that is still valid. The problem is you will often see complaints voiced like this “X game is horrible, don’t waste your money, monsters kill you in one hit, stupidest game design ever.” And dramatic complaints like that will result in dramatic responses. I can also see people getting rude with bloggers or reviewers complaining about difficulty. Because it gives a negative impression that reaches a lot of people that might be unfair. If a review focuses on how they didn’t like the game because it was too hard or they didn’t have their hand held enough or they missed something obvious to others then you can understand why fans of that game that think its great would be frustrated by the review.

  20. derbefrier says:

    That polygon video reminded me of the first time I tried to play halo on the orginal xbox never having played an fps with a controller before. It was a lot like.

    With that said people were hard on polygon because it was the review I believe and if you really suck that bad you are not going to have fun and your going to give the game a unfairly low score. With things like meta critic being so important to the industry a review isn’t something that can be so easily dismissed anymore as a couple bad reviews can drag down th e score and potentially stall any hope for continued development on a game you may love. If the game journalist and AAA publisher industry were not so intertwined people wouldn’t care as much but they are so it matters regardless of any whiney post you make.

  21. Radthor Dax says:

    $ git gud
    git: ‘gud’ is not a git command. See ‘git –help’.

  22. Jinoru says:

    A call to acquire some skill at a game isn’t a call to become the absolute best at it. As absurd as it is for anyone to think a journo should be the best at games, its just as silly to say people want our reviewers to have high ability at everything they play.

    As for fun, if Polygon wanted people to see they were having fun in that video, they would have shown that. Mistakes by all, the player, the poster, and the viewers.

    If you’re not having fun then fine, don’t get good, but geez, if you’re going to be bad at least make it interesting. So serious John.

  23. J133760 says:

    Has anyone even used the git gud phrase in a serious manner in the past couple years? Maybe this guy doesnt know but not only is it a joke but its almost always said in a self-conscious way that acknowledges the ridiculously ignorant bias and the whole insinuation that the one saying it is exceedingly adept at said game. Lol, this article was kind of silly. The guy writes fine but seems to forget that context and content are equally important, and eloquently writing an article about an insignificant or shallow topic still equals mediocrity. Everyone hates the git gud thing and thats kind of the point. It started as a serious and connotative comment YEARS ago and I havent seen or heard of it being used seriously in a really really long time. This article is basically a few years late and considering that the phrase has evolved and changed much throughout its persistent existence, it use as a mean jab and as a serious non-joking manner is virtually non existent anymore. Went right over his head, and Im embarrassed for him and honestly im suprised the editors even approved such an article to be published, permeates of mediocrity and is far from relevant anymore. I hope this doesn’t come off as rude or mean, I think this writer is good and sufficiently freshened up the article with a variety of vocabulary and writing style etc, I just think its a bit… Ummm… Out of touch i guess. Im sure im not the only one who feels this way and hope this comment is constructive or enlightening in some way.

  24. Geebs says:

    Re: you don’t have to be good at games to enjoy them – true in general, but not the universal truth you’re making it out to be. Some games only unlock their potential when you get mechanically good at playing them – see: Platinum games, DmC – and if the competitive urge causes people to improve and therefore get more fun out of their games, that’s a good thing.

    Re: “git gud is an increasing trend” – bollocks. Sledging pre-dates video games by millennia. Playing up your alleged opposition in order to seem more relevant is empty rhetoric.

  25. Freud says:

    I think to properly review some games you have to have the hand-eye coordination to play them at a decent level.

    How can you evaluate a fighting game if you can’t pull off combos? How can you evaluate a bullet hell game if you can’t avoid bullets? How can you evaluate Super Meat Boy if you only can beat the first five levels? How can you evaluate Dark Souls if you can’t beat any boss?

    I don’t expect my reviewers to be the best gamers but I don’t particularly enjoy reading the Hyper Light Drifter stuff from John Walker either, where he is angry that the game wasn’t aimed at someone at his skill level.

    • J133760 says:

      And i agree completely, you really do, or should be good at a game to be able to review it properly. Someone who sucks at Dark Souls will review it MUCH lower than someone who has mastered it, and to truly appreciate a gameplay style or game engine you really must be highly skilled at it. So unfortunately i respectively disagree with this article and its argument. If people sucked at the games they reviewed games would be rated at a much lower score, and we as the consumers would pay the cost and would suffer the losses. Hopefully the dude who wrote this reads these comments as they will likely help shape him and his understanding and ability as a game critic/reviewer. Not only does he not get that git gud is a stupid joke but he doesnt get why people should be skilled at a game they are reviewing. Fun is important sure, but its just a part of it. Some people just arent good at games and this is something that is common among older individuals, young gamers almost always master games they enjoy, especially shooters or games with competitive multiplayer modes. Considering the majority demographic is the younger crowd, it is probably better to reflect that and have an according skill with games in general. As i mentioned some people just “suck” at all games, or as a less blunt way of saying it: some peoples reflexes, hand/eye coordination and other gaming relevant skills are just not refined, and its logical to assume they will experience games differently, and will enjoy games less. I mean you cant deny the power of being complete garbage at a game and mastering it as a pro on your overall opinion and level of fun you receive. The rewards and payoffs of mastering a system or gameplay loop is in its own way a transcendent experience that elevates your enjoyment to another level. Personally I take notice and wouldnt credit someone as much/buy into what their saying if I know they simply arent good at the game they are reviewing. It would just be a disclaimer that said, hey this dudes experience is likely NOT going to indicate affinity in my own possible experience. And I would want a reviewer to be not only good but skillfully pro at a game they are reviewing, at least for me to consider the opinion as trustworthy and indicative of my own possible experience. Learn from this friend, and maybe play a game you enjoyed but were never good at, and master it. I would expect you will find your level of enjoyment to change and therefore overall opinion of it change. Because the thrill of dominating and feeling good and confident with your skill at a game is joyous and is always a nice pat on the back, acknowledging your time spent with it by affirmating with the reward of mastering it.

    • avtrspirit says:

      Totally agree. I don’t get why other media gets to have a range of difficulty and approachability, but for some reason all games should be ok to be reviewed by everyone.

      And, honestly, it’s super rare that someone can play a game that is way above their difficulty level and still enjoy it. John’s Hyper Light Drifter review is a good example of that (and I’m including the “mea culpa” addedum which was also coloured with frustration).

      • Faults says:

        That Hyper Light Drifter review was excruciating. Here was a game that a team of indies who’d poured the last three years of their existence into had finally managed to ship. The painstaking amount of attention to detail in the gameplay mechanics, overall balance, graphics, sound, music, and every other possible facet in the game was so utterly apparent.

        And yet, this wasn’t enough. The game got a black mark against it, because John simply found it too hard. I personally find this kind of attitude massively more disrespectful than some internet trolls who shout ‘git gud’ in jest. HLD kicked my ass too. For weeks. I still haven’t completed it. It’s still a wonderfully executed, thoughtful, often beautiful game, and if I just gave up with it at the exact point John apparently did, I wouldn’t have seen half of what the game has to offer.

        • HothMonster says:

          It really shows the importance of knowing the person who is reviewing the game. I read John’s original piece while I was at work and HLD was waiting for me at home. I wasn’t suddenly worried I wouldn’t have fun when I get home because I know when something John is complaining about is going to bother me or not. I also know that in that genre I have a higher skill level so if anything John’s frustration excited me. But I read it all to look for the complaints that would bother me, like the worthless map screen.

          I got home and enjoyed the hell out of the game and beat the boss that was causing him so much trouble on the second attempt. I found a lot of the visual clues that baffled John to be intuitive. I agreed on a couple small quips but on the whole I had a largely different experience than John.

          That is all fine for me because I’ve been reading John’s reviews for a decade. I know when his complaints will resonate, like his recent Homefront review, and when I will find them baffling, like his experience with Stellaris. So even though me and John have different tastes I am familiar enough with him to appreciate and his experiences and infer how they will reflect my experience. I don’t remember if I commented on that article but if I would have it wouldn’t have been trying to insult John or degrade the value of his experience with the game but to offer counterpoint. Neither of use experienced the game ‘wrong’ we just experienced it differently. But too many people take a criticism of something they like as an attack and respond with an attack, which makes it harder for John (or whoever) to internalize their criticism and reevaluate the game or see why other people might find it lovely even if it is beyond him to feel that way about it.

          People have this tendency to look at critics as this singular being. If critic disagrees, they are wrong and stupid, if critic agrees then they are without fault. This problem is made worse by the big sites like IGN and Polygon that have high reviewer turnover. Its hard to build that relationship with the writer and its easy to look at IGN as a monolith and be upset when one reviewer rates something you like less than something a different review rated highly while you despised it. There is no objective metric, so if you don’t take the subject into account his subjective review is going be viewed as objective truth which leads to a lot of the vitriol and backlash to people expressing their opinion.

  26. Sarracenae says:

    Isn’t the whole point you need to look at reviews as individuals and find those individuals which have a similar taste to you.

    What would be the point of 99% of the population reading a review of DOTA, or CS-GO by a professional player? Their views are so far removed from most peoples experience that it’s pointless even considering their view.

    It’s like a bunch of kids having a kick about in the streets asking a professional footballer to review a new football. Chances are what they need from a ball is very different to the average premier league player, aside from being round…

    The truth is at high levels of competitive play it’s probably not particularly fun any more, it’s a job. I dare say in many games average or bad players have way more “fun” than pros.

  27. J133760 says:

    So rest assured if you received a git gud reply to some post of yours, it was most certainly an attempt to keep the joke alive and dont feel special about it: ANY post that addresses difficulty in any way for a game considered difficult will be met with a git gud every damn time, someone will shoot it out. Perceiving it with such disgust and disdain obviously shows your inability to git gud with internet memes and jokes and i recommending gitin gud post haste. I do agree and I remember when it first started in the Dark Souls forums years and years ago, it gained momentum and it almost immediately turned into a running joke simply because of its blunt and bull-headed demeanor in which its spoken. I didnt get it at first either so I know how you feel, I was like wtf?! What an ass response, I cant believe the gall that guy has! Lol, so yep it got me too. And in time you might even come to understand it in a way that allows you to appreciate it, whether its because of its ludicrous and ridiculous nature or because of its legacy as a running joke that refuses to die that was once said by someone in a completely serious way. But you can chronicle the evolution by the intentional misspelling of it, that should immediately indicate that it is in fact not being used seriously, as the original comment that spawned it was spelled correctly. This concludes your internet meme history lesson so i will disengage beating this dead horse.

  28. satan says:

    “Reviewers make ridiculous claims about completion times of games, fearing that if they say it took them eight hours, and everyone else says six, then they’ll look “bad” at it.”

    I can’t imagine taking anybody with this line of reasoning (gotta do it as fast as possible) seriously. I mean I’m all over the place when I play games, sometimes I run, sometimes I hide, sometimes I’m scared of you, but all I really want is to hold you tight- sorry. Anyway if I really like the setting or world, I’ll spend heaps of time giving the screenshot key a good workout, watch the sunset, watch birds, watch waves, mess with the physics, mess with everything.

    Then there’s reloading saves to try different dialogue options/combat approaches, going different routes… again I just can’t for even a second contemplate taking seriously somebody being critical of me taking too long to enjoy something.

  29. PancakeWizard says:

    “A really unpleasant gaming trend is getting louder and louder of late, where it’s considered of vital importance to observe when other people are “bad” at games.”

    I’ve seen the following:

    1) People who say ‘git gud’ ironically.

    2) People who say it to players who want to blame the mechanics rather than the game (when said game is enjoyed by many without issue)

    3) People who are frustrated to be given team-members that are letting them down.

    4) Idiots.

    4 is rare, and I’ve never not seen it called out. I’d say that 1-3 are legitimate and fine.

      • PancakeWizard says:

        Ok fair enough that’s a lot of idiots, but I think you’d become a lightning rod for that kind of ire being a public figure in the games industry. I know you don’t feel glamorous, but you sort of are.

        I’m not excusing that kind of behaviour -I think it’s abhorrent, but that kind of white noise – and on twitter of all places – I just don’t think it’s the typical experience of a struggling player.

        Haven’t you done reviews of multiplayer/MMO games where you’ve been anonymous and a ‘noob’ and been treated kindly? I seem to remember you have.

        I know it’s of little comfort to imagine you’re being singled out for this kind of abuse as ‘the price of fame’, but its an explanation as to why we might have had difference experiences.

        I do realise that given that I’m not the one putting all my thoughts online for people to read and pass judgement puts me in the more privileged position in that regard.

  30. buzzmong says:

    My issue with the Polygon review of Doom was that the player in video was struggling with the very basics of an FPS.

    I’m not expecting reviewers to be *good* at playing them, but there needs to be some level of compentance shown at the basics, and it makes me question their review of the game as a whole. The whole thing was sadly amplified by it being Doom of all games.

    As for “GIT GUD” as a theme, I mostly see it in mulitplayer, but there’s some (limited) justification for that in certain games, it can make a massive difference to how enjoyable your experience is for games where you rely on others. I suppose that’s more of a “GIT COMPETENT” rather than “Git Gud” though.

    As a general theme though, it’s nothing new and it’s just an evolvement of calling someone a n00b.
    Not nice behaviour and one that shouldn’t be encouraged.

  31. avtrspirit says:

    I find myself heartily disagreeing with the bulk of the text. The one part I do agree with is that if someone is having fun while playing a game that is too challenging for them, then the others should back off instead of trying to “correct” their playstyle.

    That being said, I don’t know why so many people are so resistant to the idea of gaming having a spectrum of difficulty and approachability, just like other media does. When someone finds it difficult to read Shakespeare or some dense classic, then we encourage them to steadily improve their reading skills to the point where they can be comfortable with more difficult texts. If a reviewer gives a complex book a bad review for lack of approachability, then I WOULD like to know if their comfortable reading level is around Dan Brown or James Joyce. That way, I can compare my level to theirs and decide if their review is useful to me or not.

    Similarly, if the reader of a game review can recognize that the reviewer is consistently uncomfortable with games that the reader finds approachable, then the reader can and should discard the review as not-so-useful for them. It’s not arrogant for someone who is good at Souls games to ask that the reviewer be competent in that genre. Not the best at it, but definitely one who isn’t immediately frustrated by the challenging nature of the game. And if no reviewers are that comfortable, it should be totally ok for the readers to ask that at one person try to steadily improve their gaming ability in that genre so that the review can be of better value to those who already find the game approachable.

    And finally, it’s rather conceited of John to think that he represents the “normal”. There is no normal. Some of us are great at twitch-based combat, others at strategy, others are hidden-object games. John, it’s best if you make your competence level in a genre very clear at the start of a review (which you do tend to do sometimes, so credit there), because your “normal” might be completely different to the rest of us.

  32. Distec says:

    A critic cannot be inept at a game, but my god, that Polygon video for Doom sure qualifies for that description. Whew.

    I think there’s some misreading of the winds here. If that video was uploaded by a Joe Random or a lesser known outlet, I’m sure it would have still caught shit but been largely ignored. What you’re seeing in this case as anger directed at inexperienced players (which is valid and real on a broad level) is really just an opportunity to mock Polygon; a cathartic circle-jerk focused more on the site itself than the perceived lack of skill.

    Pour whatever negative assessments you want over that, but that’s what it is.

    Some advice as well: If your professional video segment on a newly released game makes your audience ask questions like “Is this person playing the game drunk?”, then maybe it’s not worth uploading it unless you’re going to add some ZANY COMMENTARY for context. But… y’know… I’m sure somebody somewhere is exclaiming “SO REFRESHING” through gritted teeth while watching that piece.

  33. ruaidhri.k says:

    I’m nearly forty. I’m time poor. i dont have the time to ‘git gud’. I do have some money though and if i buy a game i allegedly am paying for the content. Any game that wont let me choose whether or not i can complete it can bugger right off.

    obligatory Dara O’Briain :
    link to youtu.be

    • Javerlin says:

      But he, in the video said, “I love video games becuase you can be bad at them.”

  34. Rackam says:

    Doesn’t it stand to reason if average players need reviewers who have average skill at a game then someone who is an expert player would want a reviewer with expert skill with the game they’re reviewing?

    I don’t think there is anything wrong with reviewers having whatever skill level they have when writing a review but obviously they’re going to write a review that will be more useful towards people of similar experience to them.

    If reviewers helpfully stated “Oh I’m not so good at 4X” or “I’ve always been excellent at platformers” wouldn’t that help us determine how close to our own experience we might find their review?

    That said it’s not like someone who has a different skill level and is an excellent writer and reviewer will provide useless information to someone of a different skill level but it still helps to know where we’re coming from.

    • X_kot says:

      This seems sensible. The “About Us” page here on RPS kinda does that, though it’s also jokey.

    • Ragnar says:

      You’re absolutely right, and it’s a good argument for having several people weigh in with their opinion.

      Expert reviewers are obviously useful, and no one is arguing against them, but requiring every reviewer to be an expert does a disservice to the average gamer.

  35. Michael Fogg says:

    Git git git git gud gud gud gud
    Blood rush to my head that I should
    Postin on the fucking boards rubes
    Clockin’ wrist slit watch them so rude

  36. magogjack says:

    It seems to me to be honestly people mad that they can’t have your job because “they are so much better at the vidja gemes!1!” Ignoring their own need to “git gud” at writing…

  37. dontrllygetit says:

    6 year lurk every day, first time post

    high skill ceiling means less money
    consumer has access to less content
    consumer pays 60 / 120 usd for power fantasy and expects such

    games as whole makes less money
    u make less money

    writing articles that make casuals and content tourists feel gud sells more product

    call product interactive adventure
    cinemagame whatever

    have skill levels on games like children’s toys do
    more money and time invested into mass appeal
    less money and time invested into challenging gameplay for 30 year old gamers and enthusiasts

    cumulative skillset of 30 years of gaming vs. 6 games a year consumer = not the same product

    just call it something different, but then ppl would loose money
    money is obviously more important than art or challenge or vision

    mass dudebro game, gets lots of revenue but that only goes to the AAA,
    act like AAA represents the majority of the hobby, just the industry

    i played this game last night, i wont say name cuz. dude went on forum to complain, he was obviously
    incompetent and wanted the affirmation of playing a game branded as difficult ( us nerd brand power fantasy ) as opposed to the
    affirmation of overcoming the challenge of learning.
    dev told him git gud, in pc speak of course.
    i love them now and will buy
    every game forever.

    bought hard game branded as hard because it appeals to unjustified ego
    then throw hands up like i dont usually do this but…

    honestly at this point i dont understand why we consider these different types of media to
    be the same thing anymore we dont say doom clone still

    nothing wrong with being casual, just dont expect certain folk to
    take a non casual game review seriously from casual

    every industry caters to the elite knowing that their judgement will determine the
    perceived enjoyment of the majority. most media power fantasy.

    imo games began as power fantasy you earned / owned,
    that was the initial appeal
    i can be chuck norris myself
    instead of watching chuck norris like a scrub

    sometimes i play games to introduce me to things i want to do and learn in real life one day
    like boxing ( fight night ), or speeding ( forza, pcars, stock car ), or

    but now industry has grown, and therefore needs more than skilled meat to sustain peepol
    regular ppl can enjoy Tarantino movies
    movies are for everyone but Tarantino movies are for movie ppl

    i like books but i love games
    read Marcus Aurelius and git gud

    i respect yer honesty tho.

  38. Faults says:

    I kind of gathered this was a John Walker article before even clicking on it. I love a lot of the journalism here at Rock Paper Shotgun, but I find this kind of plaintiveness surrounding game difficulty to be really tiresome.

    Yeah, it would be really nice if there weren’t jerks on the internet. There, I saved you reading several paragraphs.

  39. Behrditz says:

    Not being good at a game, but still enjoying it is one thing. But being really bad at a game, and then writing a review saying the game is awful because you can’t play it well is another.

  40. 3DFruitBat says:

    Yeah, I’ve found that people often refuse to understand others. Especially on the internet.

    The main thing is that different writers play at different skill levels. They almost always implicitly or explicitly define their skill level. If you want the opinion of a skilled player, go find it.

  41. Jimbo says:

    Go you. You wrote another ridiculous article which -like a lot of what you write- came across as disingenuous and rabble rousing and it got replied to accordingly.

    Not all games require you to be ‘good’ to enjoy them, but it is ok for *some* to expect a certain level of effort and/or competence for you to enjoy them. ie. more effort and competence than you displayed with Stellaris.

    The Stellaris article was you being the ‘Why doesn’t the NPC soldier open the door for me?? OMG Why doesn’t he have ‘FOLLOW’ flashing above his head???’ guy of strategy gaming. Not all games owe it to you to be that. Sometimes you just have to appreciate your own tastes and limitations and accept that a game isn’t for you.

  42. anonzp says:

    git gud is simply a term we use when faced with the multitude of entitled millennials that whine about a game being “too hard”

    which is honestly why i’m not surprised at all to see an article like this at RPS, seeing as most of you seem to enjoy whining about games rather than reviewing them

    really loved that guys long article about how stellaris was too hard to get into.

    honestly, if the phrase “git gud” pisses you off, we’ve achieved out goal.

    I come from a time of internet gaming when there was no REPORT button when someone was mean, or cursed, or backstabbed you.
    life isnt cuddles and rainbows and how the majority of you people even tie your own fucking shoelaces is beyond me.

    git gud.

  43. noilly says:

    I think the internet logic goes thus:

    you are games writer/critic
    therefore you play games for a living
    therefore you are playing games 24/7/365
    ipso facto you must be a god at games with all that practice
    after all, you are being bribed by games publishers to do so

  44. plugmonkey says:

    Three completely unrelated issues here for me. One is Polygon posting a poor quality video. Your internet content needs to be entertaining. It could be entertaining because it shows off the game (your basic “Let’s Play” game journalism), it could be entertaining because of the high skill level on show (Esports, speedruns), it could be entertaining because the player is really bad (PewDiePie and his $MILLIONS), but it has to be entertaining. If your video is painful to watch because the person at the controls is too bad to show the game off and you haven’t made the effort to make that fun in itself, people are going to point out that it’s a bad video and they’re going to tell you why. The blame there lies squarely with the editor of Polygon. Don’t publish lazy, ill-conceived content and people won’t criticise your lazy, ill-conceived content.

    #2 is internet snobs telling people they shouldn’t play a game because they’re not good enough. That’s pretty crappy and you’re right, as long as people are having fun, who cares? It’s just a game. Work with what you have. It particularly drives me mental in multiplayer games when some clown who had no strategic insight to offer before everything went to hell suddenly finds their voice to tell everyone to uninstall afterwards. If you’re so damn good, take a lead. Coaching a rookie team to an unlikely win is infinitely more satisfying than any amount of post-match chat box hard mannery.

    Dark Souls’ “git gud” isn’t that though. Sometimes people ask how to complete a tough bit of a game and there’s nothing wrong with their strategy, they just need to do exactly what they are currently doing but faster and with greater accuracy. There isn’t any better advice to offer. Try harder! I get Dara O’Briain’s points, but at the same time I also really like playing games that make me buckle down, get better and overcome a challenge. It’s incredibly rewarding. There’s room for that in the great sphere of gaming too, isn’t there? And then when you ask me how to do it, what am I supposed to tell you? As per #2, I’m not going to tell you to uninstall, so the only other option is practice more, try harder, get better.

    It’s that boiled down to an irritating meme, but is there any other kind of meme? It doesn’t necessarily make it vindictive.

    • Javerlin says:

      I would just like to say that Dara states “The reason I love video games is becuase, unlike any other art form, you can be bad at them.”

  45. ttpete says:

    John I absolutely agree that no one deserves to be shamed or made fun of for being bad at a video game, and indeed, you can have fun playing any game for any reason at any skill level. That’s not what’s at stake.

    While I agree the internet can be mean and perhaps people have been too mean, one would hope that someone offering critical analyses on a product that will directly affect the men and women who worked on that product would demonstrate some baseline competence at playing that game.

    Would you buy or pass on a car based on the recommendation of a reviewer who couldn’t pass a driving test or pull out of a parking spot?

    Would anyone take a SF5 review seriously from a reviewer who didn’t know how to throw a fireball?

    These things matter, and I am a bit mystified that you seem to have lost the plot.

    I still love ya though =D

    • Premium User Badge

      John Walker says:

      I think I must have typed the sentence about how people shouldn’t review games if they’re inept or don’t understand the rules in invisible ink.

      • Faults says:

        Maybe because the vast majority of your readers gave up before they reached that point, or reasoned that it was a bit of a non-sequitur sidenote in an article that otherwise entirely contradicts that assertion?

  46. ShatteredAwe says:

    Honestly, this entire “GIT GUD” bullsh*t is what’s been turning me off gaming related media. Nowadays I can barely play games quietly and by myself.

    I think the problem is that too many people act as if gaming is their f*cking lifestyle. Too many people lead trashy lives, and instead of using gaming as a means to have fun, they use gaming as a means to escape that life. Because, for those moments when they’re in game, they don’t have to think of the rent that’s due or the fact that they didn’t do well on their math test. In those moments, they’re whatever character they’re playing as. And, who knows, they might become better at that game than anyone else is. And if they do, they’ll take a special obsession with them being great at that game, especially if that game has a reputation for being “hard” (coughcough DARK SOULS coughcough). When newcomers come into their “territory”, they’ll act all high and mighty over these new players, and even over old players who might not be as good as them. Because the game’s their domain. In this one area of their lives, they can be “the boss”. For once, they have “the power”. And like all humans, that power makes them mad.

    And honestly I’m getting sick and tired of people being like this, and treating other people this way. The fight over “OH, YOU HAVE TO PLAY X GAME TO BE CONSIDERED A GAMER / LOL GIRLS DON’T PLAY GAMESSSSS!!!!”. The fight over “Dur le SJW are trying to ruining video gaming!” bullcrap. The freaking “EA HAS DLC IN THEIR GAMES?!?!?!? CANCER!”. It’s ruining what used to be my favourite hobby, and it’s all because a couple of idiots are taking their HOBBY too freaking seriously.

    Honestly, who the cares who considers themself a gamer? Who cares how good/how bad a person is at playing a game? Why is it so bad that other groups of people want to be represented in a medium that they enjoy and support? For f*ck’s sake, this elitism in gaming has to end. This gatekeeper bullsh*t.

    Sorry I just had to go on a tangent. But honestly gamer elitism needs to die. Gaming’s almost not fun anymore, and it’s all because of a couple of as*holes who take it too seriously.

    • Abacus says:

      Gaming’s still fun. Social media and video game related websites aren’t.

  47. Deathstrips says:

    This is all a very nice article and I agree with the sentiment, however in the case of Polygon I still find it something that does deserve ridicule. I even will go as far as to say that defending them for their blunder shows a lack of understanding.

    I don’t expect the person playing the game to be ‘good’. I expect them to not be terrible, so they can show off how the game is supposed to be played. Just as you said in the article you couldn’t tell if the reviewer was ‘having fun’. Thus, how the hell am I as the consumer supposed to tell if the game is any good from their poor performance in the game? It was a long preview of unadulterated gameplay footage (more like first 10 minutes) of DOOM which many consumers use to see if they will enjoy the game. This should be a demonstration of the product, not a painful 30 minutes struggle of someone who has never played a FPS learn the mechanics slowly. If anything the player’s poor performance in the game might even turn people off from the game as it gives off the impression that the controls are clunky.

    As an example, think about how bad it would look if at a Car show they chose a 14 year old kid who has never even gotten behind the wheel to take their new shiny Mustang for a ride. And then treated the audience to a blundering display of them struggling to drive around the parking lot and smashing into every single parked car along the way. That does nothing for the image of the product, in fact one leaves that demonstration knowing even less about the product then they did previously

    It doesn’t matter if that guy was having the fucking time of his life. No one cares if he had fun, because watching him was simply painful for anyone who is even half way decent at driving.

  48. Reanimator says:

    There is a larger argument here that you blissfully blow by and in doing so are being disingenuous to the reader. The influx of largely casual users to the gaming genre has created this idea that it is OK to not only ignore but expect the “game” portion to be cut out so you can enjoy a narrative experience divorced from the very violence and challenge that is inherent in a game. That is fine, but at the end of the day these are still games and if you are unable to embrace the challenge and conflict inherent in them, then you have failed at your profession.

    That you had problems with Stellaris is not only fine but understandable; the game was released as a buggy mess. What is not fine is the lack of effort on your part to push through your initial frustration. Not because you are a gamer or a writer, those things are immaterial, but because you decided to give up after the minimum effort and pass that off as a product that we would want anything to do with.

    Gaming is strife, violence and often times the best teacher is failure. Having played Stellaris I can safely say that you were in no danger of losing anytime soon, assuming you were using default settings, because the AI barely functions. You had plenty of time to try, fail, and try again in order to discover how to play the game, to get good in other words. That was both your job and your failure. No one outside of the occasional asshole is going to slam you for being a mediocre writer or gamer. No one should forgive you for failing to show the modicum of effort required of you to fulfill the basic tenets of your profession.

    That is the basic problem. That you not only expect us to read some drivel about how you can’t take the time to not only do your job but actually engage in a hobby you are supposed to enjoy, and on top that require the public at large to not forgive but support this lack of effort is just ridiculous and proof of a real lack of character.

  49. BlindSp0t says:

    I don’t really know how to take this piece. While I agree that no one should be made fun of based on their skill level, as no one can be good in every single game they play, I feel like a reviewer has a duty to be the most comprehensive towards people reading what he wrote. And for that, there’s no secret. A good player can see more of the game in a given time than someone having troubles. A good player can hopefully put himself in the place of a lesser skilled player, which is not possible the other way around. For instance, I think you reviewed recently a game that was advertised as being difficult and threw a fit about it being too difficult. The review wasn’t pleasing to read at all, didn’t feel to be a fair representation of the game fun factor, and all in all didn’t give me any wish to buy it or even look at it more closely (I didn’t know this game existed before your review). But I could have had fun with this game regardless. You also make my point entirely in your piece here. You say at one point that a reviewer shouldn’t have to be good to review a game, but then a few lines down you just say the exact opposite “They cannot be inept, someone cannot usefully review a game if they don’t understand the rules, or aren’t able to play it.”. Is it one or the other? When you reviewed the game I talked about earlier, you gave up because it was too difficult for you. Doesn’t that mean you “weren’t able to play it”? Where is the required skill line drawn?

    It feels as if you asked a veteran novel writer to write reviews about movies, without any knowledge of cinema culture, the previous movies in the series, or previous work from the director.

    What I mean is that if a game doesn’t cater to your liking, or you can’t play it, pass the ball along to someone who’s better suited to do the job, and refrain to write a flawed review.

    I really hope that this doesn’t come across as rude, it feels like it would, but I struggle to word it differently.