Backlash Against BacklashNovember 18, 2008
So Michael Zenke over at MMOG Nation has a somewhat insightful, somewhat snide little piece about the apparent transition between the over-hype of WAR to the pendulum swing to negative criticism. Since he does me the honor of linking to a couple of WAAAGH! articles in attempting to show how I’ve shifted from hype to doom ‘n gloom, I thought I’d respond in kind.
He concludes with this charming quote:
I really don’t want to come off like a jerk here, but posts like the above just make me giggle. What in the Nine Hells did you guys expect?
I find this statement hypocritical (Zenke contributed big-time to the pre-launch hype with his articles at Massively) and the article misleading, to say the least. First of all, everyone buys into hype. It’s all there is to do before a game launches — no one should be faulted for that. We know that the hype goes away as the reality of the game sinks in, and bloggers hopefully become more balanced in both their praise and criticism. I’ve recently stated that I do like WAR, even with its faults and flaws, and will be sticking with it. Keen has expressed the same thing. It’s not as if we’re wailing because we feel like we’ve been sucker-punched by a fairy princess who turns out to be an old hag — the shift in mood and tone is to be expected of any game blog in the time following its release.
And, while I don’t want to come across as a jerk here, but what does Michael expect of anyone covering a game? To always be positive? To always be critical? To rise above bias and emotional states and capricious moods? Hey, that’s how gamers are, and bloggers reflect that. People with hobbies of any sort don’t just sit around holding hands and singing about how lovely their hobby is — they endlessly discuss, debate, analyze and engage in that hobby in all its ups and downs.
The point that I think his article missed is that not all of the negative discussion of WAR is backlash following the giddy heights of hype. I’m seeing a lot of it, including the links he included, where people who like WAR, who want to stick with it are critically analyzing it in an attempt to provide a better understanding and feedback for Mythic to improve the game. I know it’s hard to understand, but you can criticize something that you like because you like it — because you want it to become better.
If WAAAGH! seems a bit up and down lately, well then, we’ll just have to deal. But the fact that I still write about this game even after the veil of hype has fluttered away suggests that there is something here that stands above the backlash, something worth investing time and effort into.
P.S. – And if we can’t really criticize a MMO at this early stage, can Mr. Zenke please give us a timetable for when it might be appropriate?