Unpopular opinion - how gamers should refer to developers

Antimatter

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I've wanted to get it off my chest for a while. The trigger was this Reddit thread about Minecraft and its upcoming voting for the next mob added to the game. Lots of players there use the following phrase(s):

"will Mojang add really interesting plants?" "If Mojang only added things that were “interesting” "Mojang really didn’t try this year"

Mojang is the game developer company title.

So what I'm not ok with is this exact approach where gamers refer to developers by their company name. Change that to e.g. "will Mojang designers add really interesting plants?" "If Mojang designers only added things that were “interesting” "Mojang designers really didn’t try this year", and the sentences suddenly make much more sense.

A game dev company is not a "person". It's an entity consisting of people, and these people serve different purposes, work in different fields, and have different expertise.

Such examples exist everywhere. "Game dev company title is good/bad" "I'm waiting until game dev company title fixes its X" "I wonder if game dev company title ever thought about Y" etc etc.

In every case, it would be much fairer and more correct to use a certain noun. E.g. notice the difference between saying "CD Project Red leadership team needs to make amends for the launch of Cyberpunk 2077" instead of "CD Project Red plain sucks". "Particularly, I was not fond of the Obsidian team working on The Outer Worlds and prefer the work by another Obsidian team which previously worked on the Pillars of Eternity titles" instead of "Obsidian games are bland".

There is always a person, or a collective of people, responsible for this or that task, project etc, not the whole company. Be it a design team, a leadership team etc - target your point more precisely.

From the industry insight point of view, I can say that reviews and opinions like "Mojang really didn’t try this year" don't really help going forward. If the feedback said it was the designers' fault, then the leads would make sure the next time designers do their job better. Otherwise, they will ask themselves, what "this Mojang" really is. And quickly come to the conclusion that "I'm not Mojang, you're not Mojang, so whatever".

When people say e.g. "I don't like Larian humour", what do they really mean? A much more useful would be a review that says: "In this particular case, under this and that circumstances, I didn't like how writers wrote this particular funny response".

The opposite side to this argument is when gamers target specific game developers (remember how many targeted a certain writer during any last gaming scandal you read about). It's rarely about an individual, but more about a team. Writers often work in groups, and they also have a supervisor. A producer, or even a CEO, or at least, a studio director, or a creative director, will manage other writers. So target your complaint appropriately. It won't be "company title is bad" or "this writer is bad", it's that you have a complaint about writing in this particular game and that's why.

Every game developer company has different departments: QA, design, leadership, LiveOps, etc. Often, companies have even different sets of teams working on different games, so criticism towards one game doesn't mean the same issues could be present in other games by the same company developed at the same time. When you refer to an exact team, it would make your point more valid and trustworthy.
 

m7600

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To your point, there's a similar discussion in philosophy about the nature of groups in general. Here's an example, taken from Korman's "Objects: Nothing Out of the Ordinary". Imagine the Supreme Court of the United States. It has nine judges. The question is this: Is the Supreme Court a unified, single thing? It seems like it is. However, due to the transitivity of the part-whole relation, if the Supreme Court is really a single thing, then it's a single fleshy creature with nine tongues and eighteen elbows, because each judge has one tongue and two elbows. Since this result seems implausible, we should instead give up the idea that the Supreme Court is a single, unified being. It's several beings. Specifically, its nine humans.

The same holds Mojang, or Larian. Is Mojang a single, unified being? If so, then its a fleshy creature with thousands of tongues and elbows. That doesn't seem to be the case, so it's better to think of it as a collection of many different beings.
 

Chronicler

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I feel like this is something everybody has to come to terms with in their jobs.

When you're on the clock, you're acting as an extension of the company. Most glaringly obvious when you're put in the position of apologizing for something somebody else did. The customer doesn't really know or care which part of the company's power structure was responsible for the thing that got fucked up, they're not really talking to you right now, they're talking to your uniform.

Maybe there are jobs where that isn't the case, but from my limited worldview it seems pretty universal.
 

Antimatter

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The point I was trying to make is not that I have a personal gripe with people bashing my department, or me personally, for other people's work. I was meant to say that if you want your point to reach the developers in question, target your complaint, review, or opinion, towards a more specific team or group, and don't forget that it's rarely (also) one person responsible for everything, or everything regarding this or that subject.

Also, can I nominate @m7600 for the role of the Tavern's Socrates? ;)
 

m7600

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Also, can I nominate @m7600 for the role of the Tavern's Socrates? ;)
Lol! 🤣

This may come as a surprise, but I actually don't like Socrates at all! 🤪

I don't like his style... I don't think that pointing out contradictions wherever you see them is the best way to do philosophy. There are better ways. And by that I mean more sensitive, humane ways. People usually contradict themselves, yes, and I'm no exception to that. Even Socrates is no exception, since his famous phrase "I only know that I do not know anything" is itself contradictory.

Alright, enough ranting on my part : P
 

Antimatter

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Urdnot_Wrex

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if you want your point to reach the developers in question, target your complaint, review, or opinion, towards a more specific team or group, and don't forget that it's rarely (also) one person responsible for everything, or everything regarding this or that subject

I hear you. The problem is that we rarely know who is responsible for what or how big the respective team in a company is, or that sometimes some teams (like marketing for example) make decisions independent of those who created the content and we mix up the two things.

That doesn't excuse something like collective accusations, which is unpleasant in any case, and of course if criticism is unprecise, change can't happen.
That's a bit like saying "I wish young people nowadays were more polite" instead of telling your niece that you expect her to take off her muddy boots at the door and put the phone away during dinner.
 

Urdnot_Wrex

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Here's the question that I usually ask people when this topic comes up. Would you have a beer with Socrates?

It's perfectly OK if you say yes, but my own answer is: absolutely not. 🤣

I hope to have whatever the ancient Greeks drank (probably some wine) with him once I can be the cool assassin lady too. Or swear at him in the few Greek words we learn in the game if he's annoying.

Edit: Also, at the risk of thread derailment, I've always liked the dialogue questioning style and thought that finding contradictions can help to understand flaws, although of course contradiction is part of (human and general) nature and the style is a bit confrontational.
 
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m7600

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the style is a bit confrontational.
Just a bit? 😅

If I may clarify something about contradictions: sure, it's good to find them and fix them. The thing with Socrates though is that it feels like he rubs people's mistakes in their faces. I'd go so far as to call it intellectual humiliation, or even just straight up bullying. It's just not ethical to talk to people like that, IMHO.

Here's an analogy with martial arts. Suppose that Socrates is a black belt. Now imagine that he goes to some martial arts academy and he picks a fight with the white belts. And imagine that he says afterwards: "See? You don't know anything about martial arts. I know nothing of martial arts either, but at least I'm conscious of my own ignorance. You're not even conscious of that. That's why you're a white belt and I'm a black belt."

I think we can all agree that this behavior is completely unethical. If you're a black belt, you have a responsibility, especially to lower belts. You can't just bully them like that. If you're sparring with them, it should be with the intention to help them improve, not to rub their lack of knowledge in their face. The real fights should be reserved for other black belts, that is, people at your same level. IMO philosophers should behave the same way. Wanna unload all of your philosophical artillery against an interlocutor? Go ahead, but do that only with other philosophers. Don't go around picking on random people and rubbing their contradictions in their faces. Instead, try to be nice to them and just have a conversation, instead of a cutthroat Socratic dialogue.

Whew! As you can tell, the issue of Socrates really triggers me 😂. Sorry @Antimatter for derailing the thread! I'll shut up now, I promise : P
 

shmity72

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I've never been a Socratic method fan either m7600. more of a cs lewis without all the nay saying of pantheism and some thoughtful rudyard kipling poetry for my philosophy. metaphysics? read a neuro' scientists book on consciousness theory lol

so can I be a philosopher now?
philosophical postulation by me: inculcate present tense participles into your thoughts and speech. should and will become are and am real fast. GROW.
 

Urdnot_Wrex

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Well, I think it depends where you draw the line between language policing and respectful/efficient communication style. Any enforced rules usually make people who already have the truly negative attitude even more oppositional, on the other hand the way we speak influences the way we think or see people, or even the fact that we remember we're talking to or about individual people, not an amorphous mass, as with gaming studios or their publishers vs individuals responsible for certain choices.

It's also important to remember that from the way I've understood Antimatter's complaint, it's more solution oriented than language policing, so it's not just "don't generalize, remember the individual human being" but especially "be more precise in your criticism so that it can actually be used in a constructive way instead of being reduced to a generalized rant".

Once we read criticism of certain games or companies (or movies for that matter) it's pretty obvious that a lot of people just vent their frustration with generalizations. If only 20% of those who spam review or bash something were able to give examples of what exactly they didn't like where, or what exactly they preferred in other games in similar context, the odds that the approach might be adjusted in a future game would be significantly higher.

Take for example:
1. "Bethesda sucks they can't write dialogue and their pseudo romance is crap"
2. "Whoever wrote Serana in Skyrim should have written other NPCs too, especially romanceable characters, or someone else who can create a similar level of character interaction. It's much more immersive and interesting than the weird concept of simply wearing an amulet, agreeing to a ceremony and then getting your meals cooked and receiving your spouse's income. I seriously hope they'll take that into account for Starfield."
 

Antimatter

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On one hand, I can understand @Antimatter 's point of view. On the other hand, I don't like language policing.
Yes, @Urdnot_Wrex explained this just perfectly. I meant not policing in the first place, but more about whether you want your complaint, review, or review to actually matter and reach the people in charge. The example with Serana is just 💯.
 

O_Bruce

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The thing is, people who want to give well-thought feedback will give it anyways. But people who just want to vent should have the right to do so as well. And both will naturally be judged differently by either receiving part of third party. Freedom of speech means people can say and share whatever thoughts they want, but that also means that they are open to being judged by other people.

Another thing is, generalization is basically just a mean for people to conserve their cognitive resources for the day. You are spending them by basically every action that requires decision making - me typing this post included, for example - and in addition to providing feedback, researching who exactly is responsible for what is tall order sometimes. It is easier to refer to the company as a whole.

Yet another thing is, Bethesda's example is a poor one in this instance due to two reasons off top of my head - one, I recall an article in which Ted Howard said something like "fans won't be deciding how we make our games", so that roughly means fan feedback will often be ignored. Second, even the situation with Jet reckon in the Fallout franchise - the fan who pointed it out was first gaslighted by the writer, then attacked by fanboys on social media. In that instance, respectful feedback towards this particular company is a waste of everyone's time.

Yet another, another thing is in this day and age it is more and more common to blame the show's/comic's/game's failures on fans. Imagine trying to provide a valueble feedback with that mindset.
 

Antimatter

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Well, you're free to feel and think that way, yeah. It's just that
If only 20% of those who spam review or bash something were able to give examples of what exactly they didn't like where, or what exactly they preferred in other games in similar context, the odds that the approach might be adjusted in a future game would be significantly higher.
So effectively, if people don't want to invest more effort into the feedback they're providing, they're decreasing the chances this feedback will mean anything, as it'll be just discarded (by those that these people would want to get to) as a general rant with no purpose. So saving more cognitive resources might lead to the person actually wasting those resources they've decided to spend, because nobody will look into what they've written, at all.

On a side note, I don't read "fans won't be deciding how we make our games" similar to "fan feedback will often be ignored". I think that statement might mean that the developers have a vision of how they build their games, and this major vision won't be tweaked.
 

BelgarathMTH

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While I'll try to be more sensitive to this issue the next time I write a criticism of a gaming company or its product, I think you may be fighting a losing battle here, because of the nature of language.

The government considers a corporation to be an independent collective entity, and taxes it as such. For that reason, its finances also have to be accounted for as though it were its own independent entity. Even the word "corporation" implies "embodiment".

Collective nouns in English arise because we often need to talk about collective groups as one thing. If I say "I don't like the Jones family", most people are going to take my meaning to be "I don't like many things about the ways the individuals in the Jones family go about their lives and about treating others." That's a mouthful. I can just say "I don't like the Jones family," and people have a pretty good idea what I mean.

That example is more personal than when I refer to a collective corporation by name. If I say "I don't like Larian", or "I don't like Larian's latest games", I am not casting aspersions on the work or personality of any individual person necessarily. If I wanted to clarify "I don't like Sven's work," I could do so, but as a consumer I don't really know the roles of each individual who is an employee or executive at Larian, and I certainly have no interest in their personal lives or what kind of people they are personally. I'm just saying I don't like games produced by that company. I really don't think many people would misunderstand my meaning.

That's just expressing an opinion. If I hoped to actually gain developer attention, I'd certainly be more specific, and I wouldn't just spout off in a random anonymous forum. I'd write to the company using their official customer service or customer relations channels, using my real name, and there's a good chance I'd be writing to a person who was specifically hired to evaluate my concerns.

Whenever a development representative says in a forum "We're watching your concerns and requests in this forum," I take that with a grain of salt. I've seen really bad results with game developers taking too much feedback from anonymous forum posting - look what happened to Pillars of Eternity 2 - and I also don't agree with the new business model of the eternal early access. I usually wind up never buying any products from any of the many developers doing that.
 

Antimatter

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I understand what you're saying. But what I mean is if you want to achieve your goal and reach a certain group of people (you don't need to know their names or how many of them are there), and you - more or less - can define this group (be it animators, writers, level designers, sound designers, or the leadership team (e.g. with CP2077, it should be apparent to anyone that the problem was caused by the leadership team)), you need to specify that group.

I get the logic you've used, but unfortunately, it doesn't make appropriate developer teams react fully or even partially to general criticism such as "Bethesda sucks they can't write dialogue and their pseudo romance is crap" and "I don't like Larian's latest games".

Let's take a look at the complaint of "Mojang really didn’t try this year" in the thread about the next mob added to the game, for example. Any Mojang developer would ignore it because they would think about the work that has really been done on the game throughout this year: bug fixes, new features, etc. The very core of the complaint is getting lost. So the message that probably 3 suggested options for the mob are all bland and uninteresting won't reach anyone with such a complaint--people will still vote, the mob will still be added, and everyone will carry on.

Or the Bethesda bit I quoted. Any Bethesda developer would shrug their shoulders, thinking: has this player really tried all romances in our last game, has this player tried romancing Serana, what are their thoughts on that? Because from the get-go, the phrase sounds like lacking any effort and not substantial, or not even well-thought.

Or the part about the latest Larian games. Such a sentence doesn't bring anything to the developer. It can be discarded as: "this player just personally is not into our stuff, carry on". There is no incentive to try and look at the feedback from such a player as in truth it doesn't give any details and doesn't allow to figure out what exactly this player didn't like and why.

It would be great to get feedback via official customer service or customer relations channels (for any developer), of course, but the issue with those is that usually, it's only a small part of people who use those channels, while there are thousands of people who write stuff on forums, Reddit, Twitter etc.
 

Urdnot_Wrex

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as a consumer I don't really know the roles of each individual who is an employee or executive at Larian, and I certainly have no interest in their personal lives or what kind of people they are personally. I'm just saying I don't like games produced by that company. I really don't think many people would misunderstand my meaning.

The point is not to focus on the individual persons and their lives instead of the company as a whole, the point is that people already make the effort of opening their twitter account, signing into a forum or reddit or whatever and typing a post, sometimes even a lengthy one full of very colourful vocabulary.
So why not direct this effort a little bit, add two sentences more, be a little more specific and instead of "I don't like (for simplification as they were already quoted) Larian [add your favourite insults over half a page] games" write for example that you find the silly item descriptions immersion breaking, that you think the advantage of height is overpowered, that the voice acting sounds arrogant and that the camera tilt with its impossibility to fully zoom out or look straight ahead drive you crazy.
Or that you think for all the effort that went into costume design, they could really have made portraits for DOS2 that don't look like molded clay.

That way, the same level of energy is spent, and yes it might still be ignored, but if so many of those ranters wrote similar things, it might eventually be heard.

Venting is perfectly legitimate. But if 85% of online feedback is inarticulate unspecific venting, none of it will ever make any difference and nobody gains anything, except for a quick relief of frustration and a few upvotes, and then the same circle continues.

Edited: And here I haven't even taken into account one thing Antimatter said, which is the fact that there might not even be the same people working on two different games of the same company.
Bioware: Does Neverwinter Nights have much in common with Mass Effect?
Obsidian: Can you draw conclusions from Pillars of Eternity to The Outer World, or Pentiment?
Is it likely that the same people are/were working on it?
 
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