Criticizing a Critic: You’re Doing it Wrong

As the years go on in the gaming industry, it becomes quite frequent to find that consumers are lashing back at developers who make blunders and bad decisions. I like to call this phenomenon “consumer criticism.” It’s usually founded with legitimate concerns and arguments and they have every right to voice them. The lowest common detractor, however, likes to call this “bitching.” Actually, they call it a lot of things, in fact, and none of the most common arguments put forth by them are actually stable enough to stand upright on both legs. So lets knock them down once and for all, shall we?


Do as I say, not as I do
Perhaps one of the first things a critic will hear in response from a detractor is the common drivel of “Quit your bitchin'” or “No one cares that you are complaining.” I can’t help but wonder what is going through the head of these innate, inept, and illogical individuals. In case you are having trouble deciphering what I am pointing out here (which probably means you happen to be one of the people who sing one of those tunes), it’s that the detractors are complaining about the complainers, usually to the degree that they will say complaining accomplishes nothing. To this end they are right; their complaining does accomplish nothing. That is, the people that are complaining about the complainers, because there is nothing worse than trying to make others look like asses when you yourself fall victim of being an ass.

Essentially if you are just going to take the angry role against critics, the most effective thing you can actually do is keep your big mouth shut–and I mean that in the nicest way possible. While everyone’s eyes and ears will do better without your witless banter, you will have also accomplished a greater task, one that few ever amount to–you completely ignored the critic. Which, I don’t need to tell you, is the worst thing you can do for a critic. Because without attention, the critic goes silently into the night and is forgotten in the sands of time. Thankfully there are quite a number of idiots out there, so you guys keep up the good work in letting everyone else know about critics when you link them to your favorite sites in an attempt to point out how “stoopid” they are when you are, in fact, just spreading their word. Talk about reverse psychology.


Guilty by association
Another typical argument used by detractors of critics is the direct approach method. Rather than waste their time on silly things like well-constructed arguments with legitimate points, most detractors will try a different method of approach. One common argument presented against a critic is, “Love it or leave it.” For critics, one should simply fire back with the “fuck you” rebuttal. People who are not willing to spend their time to try and properly refute a critic are better off not wasting everyone’s time by posting illogical bombs onto the situation, because, ten to one, a critic does not criticize something “just for the sake of it;” he criticizes because he wants the product and/or service to be better. Telling what could be a repeat customer to “love it or leave it” is an effective way to push away the customer from ever buying from the company again.

This plays into “customer is always wrong.” This is the extreme opposite of “customer is always right.” We all know the customer is not always right; in fact, most customers get their way by who ever can scream and yell the loudest. But don’t lump the people who write paragraphs of well-written criticism with the rest simply because it’s the easiest thing you can do without straining your tiny, little brain, because you only lump the detractors into the group of idiots, which only further supports the critics and puts down your fellow detractors. So if you want a real sure fire way to have something backfire on you, be sure to automatically dismiss an entire argument with something like, “If you don’t like the game, don’t buy it.” That way if the critics are calling the fans blind, you’ll be sure to prove them on that point.


Reading between the lines
If both previous attempts from the detractor have failed, he will then attempt to access the thin space between his ears for something more tricksy to use against a critic. In this case it’s the, “you should’ve read the reviews,” argument, where the detractor blames the critic for not finding out before buying the product that the negatives were already published in the reviews. It is usually followed by a, “furthermore, they never promised that.” This argument may appear strong, but, in reality, is supported by frail wooden toothpicks, as it stands in the hope that the critic won’t actually bother to do the research to prove the detractor wrong.

Of course the trouble is that the critic usually does do the research. So, after the logic bomb has been dropped, the detractor usually has a couple of choices afterwards. They die of intelligence radiation and do not respond to the situation or they go out guns blazing, hoping that if they spout out enough nonsense they’ll hit something. So as a protip it’s usually a good idea that if you’re going to call out people for not doing the research, you should, in fact, do the research yourself just to make sure that your fictitious sources are agreeing with you.


Wearing a pair of rose-colored glasses
Further with argument fail, the detractor will then attempt his greatest point of access of the imaginary space between his ears, yet again, to play with some math. Much like a child with his first abacus, high numbers rule the world here, so if a critic to a highly-successful game comes out of the woodwork, he’ll usually be met with the numbers argument. In this approach, the detractor pulls numbers like sales figures to refute what ever the critic has to say, with something like, “This game has sold two million copies, one complaint isn’t going to make much of a difference.”

Of course, one critic can make a difference, which is something I know all too well, especially if that one gets together with thousands of others and effectively put out their concerns to the rest of the gaming world. This is where groups reach tens of thousands of members and again the numbers argument is still pressed. Of course the only trouble to the numbers argument is that a sale does not equal support of the product (as the critic is obviously proving), especially when a vocal minority of the people who ever buy a product ever actually voice their opinion on it (negative or positive). Basically what you are hoping for when bringing up sales statistics is that the critic will be blinded by a high number and hopefully give up through your facade of what is a poor argument. Thankfully no one really falls for it.


Character battles
When all else fails, the lowest common detractor will result to the basest of basest ways to argue; the ad hominem approach to things. Usually the detractor is fully aware of what he is saying and is only attempting to goad the critic to make a fool of himself and, sadly, it usually works, much to the chagrin of the critic who views the aftershock, because it usually then focuses negatively on what the critic had to say in response.

Flames are easy to fall for, especially if they get to a point where it’s just down-right personal.  However, sometimes they are hidden in sly and snide comments, which can be the worst kinds of flames, considering it means you’re dealing with someone intelligent enough to know that he’s just trying to get at you while trying to appear as if he is doing no wrong. This is where sarcasm usually comes into play, such as, “Once you get into college you’ll get to learn all about this.” The only trouble, however, is that after the dust has settled, people will find that the real culprit behind the flames was the fire starter himself, the detractor, and thus you’ll end up weakening your position while, again, strengthening a critic’s, albeit he’ll have a fewer people to support him after he rightfully blasted you into oblivion for being a douchebag.


Practice what you preach
My last and most favorite argument used the most by detractors is the entitlement argument. If all else has failed up to this point, then the detractor will finally have to resort to a shred of logic. And while this logic is still attacking the person, it is, at least, putting into question what the critic has to say. Like, for instance, if the points brought up by the critic have much merit or would make much of a difference, or if it is just nitpicking. Of course, the big trouble to this argument is that no critic, again, criticizes something just for the sake of it; they do so because they feel as if there is a legitimate problem to be had. However, detractors are nearly able to dismiss the argument if they are able to pick out a few minor details, call it nitpicking, and then call the critic an “entitled bastard.”

I always get a laugh when that bit is used, almost like as if asking for something is extremely wrong in the scope of consumerism. I wonder how a product would ever be made or improved if everyone just shut their mouth on the situation? Furthermore, this is all the more hilarious because the people who usually tell critics to “shut up” or “love it or leave it” or “this isn’t Burger King” are the same people who, in other instances, will defend civil liberties like freedom of speech when they themselves are attacked. Sorry detractors, it’s not a one way street. You can’t simply tell others to shut up and then say that you have a right to say as much. At this point the only entitled bastard here is you, the guy who thinks he has the authority to dictate what can and cannot be said about something, and then has the audacity to cite the very document that you piss on when you tell a critic to shush for no good reason at all other than, “because.” This is the ender for any future privilege you may feel that you have when you open up your mouth on a future discussion, because at that point no one will take you seriously.


Aftermath
In truth most critics, without any true platform to speak on or any movement behind them, are usually silenced by the overwhelming majority of those that enjoy conformity and mediocrity. In the end one of the best things that you low life detractors can do in order to “hurt” a critic the most is either to logically refute the critic’s points (which we know you won’t bother to do) or just ignore the critic altogether. I vote ignore the critic. We already have enough “legitimate” news sources having their reporters make asses out of their selves when they join in on the hate machine, and I’d rather much see they lose credibility than some faceless twit behind a computer screen in a dark-lit room some where.

Or there’s always the alternative. Troll it up and indirectly spread the word of the critic, possibly even achieving renown fame for the critic. Hey, it’s worked in the past, and will continue to keep working, thanks in part to the nitwits who scream and cry louder than the critics themselves. Keep up the good work!

Originally written: May 2009

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About Agamemnon
Started blogging back in 2007 amidst that whole Hellgate: London fiasco on a blog known as flagshipped.com. Eventually moved on to do my own thing in December 2008 at gameriot.com and started Caveat Emptor there. Wrote there for six months, gained some notoriety, and then left. Now I'm back.

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