About Us | Game Reviews | Feature Articles | Podcast | Best Work | Forums | Shop | Review Game

Negative comments (and) physical things

Brad Gallaway's picture

Red Dead Redemption Screenshot

Just a couple of vaguely games-related thoughts today...

1. The other day, someone left a comment insinuating that we've started to approve only those comments which agree or support the opinion of the review they are connected to, while deleting those that disagree. Honestly, that couldn't be further from the truth.

Dale, our webmaster and man-about-town, replied to that person's comment and laid the fact on him that the reason critical comments weren't being published was that they were so foul, inflammatory and full of profanity that they simply couldn't be approved.

Historically over the last ten years or so, we've never filtered or deleted comments left by our readers. We are strong believers in discussion and dissenting opinions, and there have been plenty of times when people have left paragraphs worth of venom and we've let them post away to their hearts' content. Unfortunately, it's been only recently (just this year, if memory serves) that the quality of comments left has turned so bitter, insulting and completely unproductive that we've had to institute a comment approvals and filtering process. We didn't want to do it, but there was just too much hate getting through and we couldn't stand it any longer.

As an example of how things have changed, I used to pride myself on reading and responding to every comment that came in to the site as a way of showing respect to people who took the time to share their thoughts. Not anymore. These days, I avoid the message notifications and I don't bother reading anything that hasn't already been approved by one of the other critics. I just don't have time or patience for people who don't have the ability to disagree without getting nasty.

Alan Wake  Screenshot

The moral of this story is that readers who disagree or have opposing viewpoints about a particular article or review at our site are absolutely welcome to chime in and let us know what they think—they just need to do it in a civil manner. If you are one of the many "readers" who's left an angry diatribe and then wondered why you don't see it posted, wonder no longer. Leaving a message on a privately-owned website isn't a right, it's a privilege, and when that privilege gets abused it goes away.

2. In the future, will anyone who's a fan of something be able to call themselves a "collector"?

I'm a collector. I love having things that I'm into... things like comic books, favorite CDs (and records!), novels that shaped my taste in reading, and of course, videogames that I've played over the years. There is a type of pleasure in the tactile sensation that comes from holding an object in your hand and examining it up close and personal. Turning it over, feeling its heft.

With the advent of electronic everything, the thought occurs to me that actually being a collector might not be a viable option in the future. Possibly the near future.

Very few people I know still buy actual CDs these days. iPods and other portable music devices that play MP3s are just too prevalent and too convenient. Books are heavy, and with the modern lifestyle on the go, many people are turning to audio books (also easily available in MP3 format) or e-versions on any number of handheld readers. Comic books are now becoming more and more available electronically while retailers slowly starve to death as their patronage disappears, and anyone who's even halfway been paying attention to the videogame realm has noticed that more and more titles are becoming available electronically, with many smaller games being download-only.

Game Collection Screenshot

Don't get me wrong, there are certainly many advantages to going electronic. The immediacy and ease of access to certain things with just a few clicks is truly a wonder, and something that would've been unfathomable just a few years ago. As a gamer, I certainly appreciate the fact that older titles on obsolete systems are now available in a way that they never were before. Times were that when you wanted to play an obscure Tubrografx-16 shooter you actually had to have the HuCard and a system hooked up to your TV. These days, all it takes are a few points to redeem and a router. Marvelous, indeed.

That said, I can't help but feel that there's something missing... something insidious about this shift. Looking at files in a folder isn't the same thing as browsing titles on a shelf. Clicking on a screen isn't the same thing as turning a page, and books have been written about the style and design work that goes into creating a good cover, or an attractive package. Having these things actually be things is part of the experience, if you ask me—not to mention all the rights problems inherent with not actually physically owning the items in question.

I've certainly heard the other side of the argument often enough from people who seem to have no misgivings about letting go of tangible goods in exchange for fitting entire libraries of media onto devices that slip neatly into trouser pockets, but it just doesn't sit right with me. Maybe I'm a dinosaur, or maybe there is something inherent in the "collector" personality profile that derives less satisfaction from a full memory card than a full bookshelf, but I'm just not okay with letting go of all these things.

Regardless of my feelings, however, I may not really have a choice. With so many things going e-enabled, will it be much longer before my favorite pastimes are e-only? I (and those like me) may enjoy being collectors, but as I said at the beginning, the thought that being a collector may not even be an option in the traditional sense keeps looming in the back of my mind.

Category Tags
Platform(s): Xbox 360   Wii   PS3  

Comment viewing options

Select your preferred way to display the comments and click "Save settings" to activate your changes.

Never virtual

I am a collector of crap too. And I hold solace that one thing can never go e-only: action figures. Music, movies, games, books, everything on my shelves can go away and fit on a tiny usb stick. Except my action figures. You can't play with an image on a computer screen.

Unfortunately, its seems the quality and imagination behind the figures is dropping or the price increasing. Or both. I can't bring myself to buy a Transformer figure without some piece of diecast in it... I certainly love my DC Comics Universe figures though.

Anyway, rambling aside, I will miss being to collect crap when the time comes that collecting is no longer possible.

That's the internet and the

That's the internet and the standard of the average internet user. Once you get over a level of popularity you have to deal with it. Either ignore it and allow every "low quality" comment to be published or regulate it with a restrictive moderation (which is rather hard work) or just disable commenting at all.

Unfortunately Beavis and Butthead won't change after your appeal.

PS
I hate recaptcha.^^

Get used to it, this is the way of the internet.

On the internet, almost everyone is protected by anonymity. They can get away with whatever they say and nothing will happen to them. They especially do this when they see an opposing to their's, or they're just plain assholes due to their miserable lifestyles. Almost every game reviews receive a lot of flak, whether a positive or negative review to any game. They don't even read the reviews, they just see the score and bash you for not scoring it higher or sometimes lower.

I remember when Edge Magazine scored Halo 3 ODST a 9 out of 10, even though I would've scored it lower (maybe a 6 or a 7, I would've agree with the score if the game was priced for forty bucks). Despite my disagreement with Edge, they've made good points and I could at least try to respectively counter-point their arguments. However, many others left regurgitating comments such as: "halo is overated! it sux!! Edge sux cuz they like gaylo!!! hur hur hur!!!". Hell, one game said that Edge was sucking this, posted a picture of a penis. No joke, thankfully the comment and pic was deleted.

It's sad the way the internet community is, especially around the gaming community.

I hate dealing with discs.

I hate dealing with discs. I've never had any sort of attachment to having my cartridges/discs at hand-they're clutter when I have too much of that already. They can be lost. If I have to reinstall Windows I can get all my games back just by downloading them without having to hunt down the discs. And if my apartment burns down and my systems go poof, I still have all my games.

I guess the lynchpin for me is just the practicality of downloads as opposed to discs. Less physical junk for me is better.

Captcha: Husband's Plumping (no he's not!)

I'd just like to say that the fact that you do take the time to vet comments and ensure that what's getting through isn't insanely vulgar or offensive is one of the reasons I so enjoy reading this site. When a rule of the internet has to be "just don't read the comments" instead of the comments being a place to share experiences, debate (without descending to homophobic, racist and sexist comments) and otherwise be part of something, it's really unfortunate.

I have a lot of respect for the writers on this site, even if I don't always agree with their assessments of some games or their opinions in some articles. But I like to read them, and I really like having a place where I know I can read the comments and even respond to them and not have to breathe deeply and remind myself that 90% of the internet comments are still not even 1% of humanity, and the world is not a horrible place full of awful people.

I wish more sites would implement such processes, especially huge sites that attract a lot of notice like newspapers. They could really learn a lot from what you're doing.

Thanks for the support Sunny.

Sunny wrote:

I'd just like to say that the fact that you do take the time to vet comments and ensure that what's getting through isn't insanely vulgar or offensive is one of the reasons I so enjoy reading this site. When a rule of the internet has to be "just don't read the comments" instead of the comments being a place to share experiences, debate (without descending to homophobic, racist and sexist comments) and otherwise be part of something, it's really unfortunate.

Thanks for the support Sunny. Now that we've moved to an comments approval system, I'm really happy with it and only regret that we didn't do it sooner. It would have saved the site a lot of grief and drama on countless occasions. Approving comments is really not as time consuming as many would think. It really does help raise the level of discourse. We're seeing more and more comments. I'm amazed that more sites don't do it.

Clearly, you want to

Clearly, you want to discourage low-content posts that consist of, "u sux" or "wtf that game was awsomeeee screw da haterz!"

But by turning video game discussion into, "Ah, yes, good sir. I agree that the visual representation of that particular title was jolly good, old bean," you sort of suck all the fun out of it.

People get charged up over stupid things, be it video games, politics or sports. Sometimes a profane but otherwise entertaining post ripping on some reviewer is a good thing, if it's crafted with enough wit.

I don't know what kind of posts you are deleting, but if someone is ripping on Brad Galloway in a funny way, why not let it through? You've got to develop thick skins on this Internet.

"They can get away with whatever they say and nothing will happen to them."

What would happen to them if they used their real name? What is the consequence of calling some reviewer a dirty word because you disagreed with his review other than getting your stupid post deleted?

Spokker wrote: People get

Spokker wrote:

People get charged up over stupid things, be it video games, politics or sports. Sometimes a profane but otherwise entertaining post ripping on some reviewer is a good thing, if it's crafted with enough wit.

Sadly, that's rarely the case.

Spokker wrote:

I don't know what kind of posts you are deleting, but if someone is ripping on Brad Galloway in a funny way, why not let it through? You've got to develop thick skins on this Internet.

This site has been around for 10 years and as Brad, indicated we have some of the most liberal-minded and tolerant staff members you'll ever meet. I don't think you'll find very many game critics with thicker skin than ours. The problem is that negative, inflammatory and condescending comments lower the standard of discourse for the community, creating unnecessary drama and turn off readers from commenting. Since we've instigated comment approval, my head aches have decreased and the volume and quality of comments has increased fairly dramatically.

Brad, I found this website

Brad,

I found this website after recently being drawn back into the harsh realms of Boletaria. Demon's Souls is an obsession of mine - easily the top game of 2009 for me, and probably now my all-time favorite game - and I have been toying with the idea of writing a critical essay on it. A quick Google search on "video game criticism" led me here, where I read your review of DS as well as Matthew Kaplan's article on why DS is not Game of the Year material.

Obviously, I am inclined to agree with your take on Demon's Souls, but I equally appreciated Kaplan's essay. In fact, I think I will use Kaplan's article as a reference for my piece. Ultimately, however, I was most impressed with the quality of the writing on display with these posts, not to mention the relative civility of the comments found thereafter.

I am glad to have found a place where vulgarity and brainlessness are not permissible modes of conduct, and that the CoC is actually being enforced. "The internet" has become a place where thoughtful discussion is a rare oasis - most of it is now a desert of Digg-style one-liners and oneupmanship or, even worse, 4chan-style vulgarity and willful stupidity.

I can't stand hearing the smug refrain: "It's the internet, anonymity makes people jerks, Deal with it." It's hard to "deal with it" when this uncivil attitude is spreading everywhere. I don't want to be subjected to this sort of nonsense on every website I visit, but, sadly, that seems to be the trend, particularly when it comes to videogames.

Thank you for implementing a fair commenting system that raises the level of discussion. People (read: children) that want to post inane or insulting remarks have the rest of the internet to play with. As you have said, posting on a private website is a privilege, not a right. You have a found a loyal reader in me, and I will be happy to contribute to discussions on this website because you have created a environment that encourages thoughtful discussion.

For those that don't think comment moderation is necessary to maintain a high standard for discussion and debate, I need only point you to Digg. That website used to be a wonderful place to get the latest in technology news - now, it's just a hangout where people digg images hosted on imgur, and the comments are as bad as those on Youtube.

OK, enough ranting. Great site, thanks a million. Looking forward to reading more from you guys.

Replies to comments

This is a busy blog? Whenever I've randomly commented (and because of this, only rarely), I've never seen a reply - either by the author or anyone else.

Maybe I pick only the lonely posts... :(

Comment moderation is a tough gig, it depends on what you want to do to be honest. Screening things before posting does appear to be one way that is successful if you're not someone with thin skin I guess, since you'd need to have someone read every comment!

I enjoy some places which do self moderation - slashdot mainly - but you need a certain amount of fostering of the community to do so, and an amount of activity that makes it worthwhile.

It also appears you've never linked the forum and comments, meaning I am sure some comments go in one and some in the other! Might be worth changing that.

In any case, one issue perhaps is that you can improve your "About" page to include a link to this description of why comments are pre-moderated, since it appears to either be old or badly written since it implies no pre-screening. One thing that irks me is when such policies are so hidden for no apparent reason and there is no transparency of anything regarding comments! (I'm not going to name names though!).

Thanks for the comment...

Thanks for the comment... You're right, we should update the About page. Good call.

Regards!

Comment viewing options

Select your preferred way to display the comments and click "Save settings" to activate your changes.

Code of Conduct

Comments are subject to approval/deletion based on the following criteria:
1) Treat all users with respect.
2) Post with an open-mind.
3) Do not insult and/or harass users.
4) Do not incite flame wars.
5) Do not troll and/or feed the trolls.
6) No excessive whining and/or complaining.

Please report any offensive posts here.

For more video game discussion with the our online community, become a member of our forum.

Our Game Review Philosophy and Ratings Explanations.

About Us | Privacy Policy | Review Game | Contact Us | Twitter | Facebook |  RSS
Copyright 1999–2010 GameCritics.com. All rights reserved.