Tag: etiquette

An Open Letter to Online Gaming Fans

Dear Mr. or Ms. Online Gamer:

I’m writing to express my disappointment in your behavior towards games journalists and reviewers. How you behave within your games is your business; if I object to how people are treated within a game, chances are I won’t play that game, unless I find it really compelling on its own or several friends of mine play. However, how you behave outside of games is something that needs to be addressed, especially when it comes to people trying to inform and protect you.

Let me be perfectly clear. Yes, games journalists and some very fortunate reviewers do, in fact, get paid. They get paid to report on games, to discuss them and inform you of their merits and flaws. And 95-99% of games have both: few and far between are truly peerless games like Portal or true ludonarrative abortions like Ride to Hell: Retribution.

The crux of this letter is, however, the following:

Video game journalists are not paid by video game companies to write particular reviews.

There are a lot of reasons a particular feature is not mentioned in a review. The review could have been rushed. It could have been based on an early build of the game. The feature in question, for example the number of maps in the game or the available customization options, might not have factored into the reviewer’s reasoning and therefore was excluded from the review. You know what none of these things indicate? Greased palms.

Roger Ebert never got a payout from MGM for a positive review of a film. Rolling Stone doesn’t get sacks of cash from record companies or bands to talk up a particular album. Amazon reviewers aren’t given gift cards for five star reviews. I could go on.

Games journalists do have privileged positions. Nobody would deny that. Press passes and junkets do exist, and in some instances, companies will hold events or parties to try and ingratiate themselves. That’s part of business. But direct payouts between companies and journalists rarely, if ever, happens. And when these incidents do occur, any journalist worth their ink would scoff at the offer and stick to their wordy guns. I think you can look at the back history of any games journalist out there to see evidence of said journalist’s integrity.

I’ve had the privilege of working with a few of the people in this industry. I can tell you first hand that they work hard. They often have to work uphill against public opinion to discuss the truth. And as much as fat sacks of industry cash would make paying their bills easier, the ones I know wouldn’t take it. Their dedication isn’t to making money. Their dedication is to the truth, and to you, the video gamer at home, and whether or not your cash is going to be well-spent on a particular game.

Shame on you. Shame on your inflammatory words and questions of journalistic integrity. Stop being blinded by your loyalty to a particular game, and look at the situation objectively. Remove your inflated ego from the equation and realize that not everyone is going to share your opinion. There are other, more positive ways to get the attention you are clearly seeking, and all you do when you accuse an establish games journalist of this sort of unscrupulous behavior is come off looking like an absolute prat at best, and a bullying cretin at worst.

You can do better than that. And you should.

Best wishes, etc.

On Net Decks and Feet in Mouths

Courtesy Wizards of the Coast
Art by Wayne Reynolds

Remember the old advice “If you don’t have anything nice to say, don’t say anything?”

Every once in a while I speak without thinking. It’s been known to happen. My emotionality has been a problem many times in my past, and while I have a much better grip on things now, I still occasionally slip up and say what I’m feeling rather than thinking it through. Sometimes I think I’m being clever. Sometimes I just want to express myself. But when it happens, and I look back on what was said, I realize I was a bit of an ass.

Case in point: I uttered the following words at my friendly local gaming store during the last rotation.

“If you run a decklist from some top player on the Internet, nothing personal, but I hate you.

For a bit of background on why this is the wrong way to approach competitive gameplay in general and Magic in particular, you should be familiar with Timmy, Johnny, and Spike. Here’s an article on these guys and what they mean to the average Magic player.

When you get down to it, not everybody is going to fall entirely into a single category or type, nor is it reasonable to assume other players will play the game you play it. When it comes to Magic, I’m a bit of a Johnny/Spike. That doesn’t mean Timmy players are wrong, nor are those who go fully Spike and are just in it to win it.

Neither I nor any other person has the right to tell other people how to play their games.

Provided you’re not being a jerk, cheating, or otherwise making the game deliberately unpleasant for other people, play the game however you want to play it. Some players just want big, splashy things to happen or to pull off an impossible combo. Others are interested in building their decks in new and interesting ways just to see how they play. And still others just want the glory of victory.

All of these are fine, and none are invalid. For me or anybody else to say otherwise is just ludicrous.

It’s probably part of getting older. When I first started playing Magic almost twenty years ago, there was no Internet to speak of. Folks had to take what cards they had and build what they could. When Scrye magazine or The Duelist arrived with some decklists and advice, such articles could be cited by aspiring professionals and enthusiasts of the game. How are “net decks” any different? In hindsight and examination, I can tell you they really aren’t.

All that said, all I can do is apologize for speaking as I did and hope I didn’t outright offend anyone in doing so. The only basis by which anybody can truly come down on how you play the game is if you’re making everybody around you miserable while playing for reasons outside of normal frustrating from losing. Basically, as long as you’re obeying Wheaton’s First Law, you should be fine.

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