Chris Ferejohn
United States
Mountain View
California
flag msg tools
badge
Pitying fools as hard as I can...
Avatar
mbmbmbmbmb
Something I wanted to start an intelligent discussion/horrible flamewar about. Often in negative reviews, a reviewer attributes the success of a game they don't care for to some kind of cult of worship around the designer. At the risk of being harsh, I think this is an incredibly lazy and specious argument.

Do certain people like certain designers? Sure. Will a "name" designer get a game to be hyped, tried by more people, and even given second and third chances? Absolutely. However, for most people who play and like a game, particularly to the point where they are writing positive reviews and/or defending the game from criticism, they are doing so because they actually enjoy playing the game not because they feel a sense of devotion to Vlaada/Reiner/Martin/Stefen/etc.

Attributing the success of the game to designer worshipper is just a complete cop-out to avoid trying to figure out what it is that other players *like* about a game that perhaps you don't, and frankly, that makes the review seem petty and ill thought out. If you say you don't like a game because it feels too random, or that you don't feel like your decisions matter, or because you feel no connection to the theme, or the color scheme makes you nauseous, that's useful information - I can match that up against my own likes and dislikes and consider whether that might be a problem for me. However, if you just say "all the people who are going to reply below are just fanboys" you are a) being insulting and b) providing no useful information.

So knock it off.

Corollary: If you conversely aver that criticism of the game comes from "Wallace/Knizia/Chavatl/Feld haters", you are just as guilty of reductive, unproductive reasoning.

This article sums up the human nature reason behind this pretty well:
http://psychcentral.com/blog/archives/2010/03/30/the-trust-g...

We are wired to believe that people who disagree with us aren't being honest - they are serving some kind of agenda and intentionally misrepresenting the "truth". The good news is that being aware of this tendency, you can fight it. So I'm asking you: do so.
18 
 Thumb up
0.25
 tip
 Hide
  • [+] Dice rolls
Curt Carpenter
United States
Kirkland
Washington
flag msg tools
badge
Avatar
mbmbmbmbmb
I'm not sure that's totally accurate. I do think people can be irrationally biased toward or against a game based on designer (among other things). And the reaction to the game might not be the same had they not known who designed it before playing it.

But actually, I haven't noticed this issue with reviews. If I were to rank the emotional irrational biases I've seen in reviews, I'm not sure designer would even be in the top three.
5 
 Thumb up
 tip
 Hide
  • [+] Dice rolls
Chris Ferejohn
United States
Mountain View
California
flag msg tools
badge
Pitying fools as hard as I can...
Avatar
mbmbmbmbmb
Really? I feel like every time I see a negative review of a popular game at some point the reviewer says something like "I guess the popularity of this game can be attributed to fans of (designer)". Certainly "you're a fanboy/you're a hater" comments often derail review discussions.
2 
 Thumb up
 tip
 Hide
  • [+] Dice rolls
howl hollow howl
United States
Oregon
flag msg tools
badge
Avatar
Chris, Curt is not challenging you whether there are accusations of bias in the repiles, but whether there's a bias at all in the review itself. I agree very strongly with Curt's final sentence, which means, by acknowledging the presence of "emotional irrational biases", I'm also disagreeing with your general emphazied statement "they actually enjoy playing the game".

That said, I don't think it's productive to pick at the perceived biases and motivations of the reviewer, but I also don't care much about whether or not the reviewer enjoyed the game, largely due to the presence of biases.
 
 Thumb up
 tip
 Hide
  • [+] Dice rolls
Derry Salewski
United States
Augusta
Maine
flag msg tools
badge
I'm only happy when it rains...
Avatar
mbmbmbmbmb
I guess I haven't seen the issue too much, but I've stopped reading so many reviews lately, and focus more on blogs written by the good ones!

I guess it's hard to separate in my mind whether I'd blindly try/overly consume/overly defend something based on the designer from just actually liking things and having those that I'd try/buy/defend be the ones that keep making things I like.

But if someone told me they went to an alternate universe where kingdom builder was designed by someone else and sold half as many units, I wouldn't be surprised!

Definitely see threads about everything derailed by claims of fanboy/haterism though! Usually annoying. Right once in a while, which makes it even more annoying due to the whole boy crying wolf thing.
 
 Thumb up
 tip
 Hide
  • [+] Dice rolls
Chris Ferejohn
United States
Mountain View
California
flag msg tools
badge
Pitying fools as hard as I can...
Avatar
mbmbmbmbmb
Dave wrote:
Chris, Curt is not challenging you whether there are accusations of bias in the repiles, but whether there's a bias at all in the review itself. I agree very strongly with Curt's final sentence, which means, by acknowledging the presence of "emotional irrational biases", I'm also disagreeing with your general emphazied statement "they actually enjoy playing the game".


Huh? I think I must be misunderstanding - you're saying people who write positive reviews/defend a game against negative reviews *don't* actually enjoy playing the game? I assume I'm confused here.

Quote:
I don't think it's productive to pick at the perceived biases and motivations of the reviewer, but I also don't care much about whether or not the reviewer enjoyed the game, largely due to the presence of biases.


...and I'm confused again. A review is a statement of the reviewer's opinion about a game. If you don't care whether they liked the game, what exactly is it you care about? I want to know whether they liked or disliked a game and (probably more importantly) *why* they liked or disliked a game.

I guess some reviews are more or less rule summaries, but I was kind of dismissing those out of hand because I don't really consider them reviews and they also are generally absent the kind of thing I'm talking about, which occurs mostly in negative reviews.

Negative reviews can be hugely helpful in evaluating a game, but when they resort to "no idea why this is popular, I guess those people are crazy fanboys", they discredit themselves and make it hard to take the review seriously.
3 
 Thumb up
 tip
 Hide
  • [+] Dice rolls
Andrew Foerster
United States
Charlotte
North Carolina
flag msg tools
badge
Avatar
mbmbmbmbmb
I've certainly seen this though, as Curt mentioned, I'm not sure it's a top bias (hmmm ... top ones might be AT vs. Euro, where one side would hate a game that could be classified as the other just on merit of that, and maybe theme, which often dovetails with the AT vs. Euro thing).

I can recollect, at least, the Halifax Hammer thread, in which no small amount of people were defending A Few Acres of Snow, which had been demonstrated to be broken, by merit of Martin Wallace being a "professional designer" and thus those calling it broken must be wrong.

It happens elsewhere as well.
 
 Thumb up
 tip
 Hide
  • [+] Dice rolls
howl hollow howl
United States
Oregon
flag msg tools
badge
Avatar
cferejohn wrote:

If you don't care whether they liked the game, what exactly is it you care about?

Whether I will like the game, of course.

cferejohn wrote:

I guess some reviews are more or less rule summaries, but I was kind of dismissing those out of hand because I don't really consider them reviews

Agreed.

cferejohn wrote:

Negative reviews can be hugely helpful in evaluating a game, but when they resort to "no idea why this is popular, I guess those people are crazy fanboys", they discredit themselves and make it hard to take the review seriously.

I don't disagree.

I'll drop trying to explain the rest of my earlier reply; don't have the time.
 
 Thumb up
 tip
 Hide
  • [+] Dice rolls
Chris Ferejohn
United States
Mountain View
California
flag msg tools
badge
Pitying fools as hard as I can...
Avatar
mbmbmbmbmb
Quote:
I can recollect, at least, the Halifax Hammer thread, in which no small amount of people were defending A Few Acres of Snow, which had been demonstrated to be broken, by merit of Martin Wallace being a "professional designer" and thus those calling it broken must be wrong.


And that's kind of my point. Saying "the game is not broken because Martin Wallace is a professional designer" is just as empty as what I'm talking about. I guess what I'm saying is that people should address the game, not the perceived motivations of people who disagree with them.

I mean, can you imagine a music review that said "The critics don't know what they are talking about. Lady Gaga is a *professional musician*"
2 
 Thumb up
 tip
 Hide
  • [+] Dice rolls
Martin Larouche
Canada
Longueuil
Quebec
flag msg tools
Melting souls with cuteness since 2007
badge
Lovin' N-16
Avatar
mbmbmbmbmb
The ratings on BGG are 75% hype and 25% about the gameplay itself (numbers taken out of thin air).

A well-known and liked designer will result in a lot more hype. People will have a natural tendency to be attracted to the games of the more known designers, more chance to buy them, meaning more people to rate the game on BGG.

BGG's ranking shoots the game with more ratings up over those with less. To be #1 on BGG, you need high ratings AND a lot of ratings.

So the designer name can go a long way to make it's ranking higher, even if the game is bad. I suspect a Wallace game would enter the BGG top 1000 even if it was a very average game... On hype alone. The ratings are decided even before the game is released (case in point: Eclipse, which rose in the top 100 mere days after it's release).

So yeah, when a bad review mention that the high ratings are only attributed by fans of the designers... there's a "part" of truth in there.

I don't know how else to explain that BattleLore went up in the top 15 of BGG for a time soon after it's release, before falling way down...
 
 Thumb up
 tip
 Hide
  • [+] Dice rolls
Tim Seitz
United States
Glen Allen
VA
flag msg tools
badge
Like water spilled on the ground, which cannot be recovered, so we must die. But God does not take away life; instead, he devises ways so that a banished person may not remain estranged from him. 2 Sam 14:14
Avatar
mbmbmbmbmb
cferejohn wrote:
Quote:
I can recollect, at least, the Halifax Hammer thread, in which no small amount of people were defending A Few Acres of Snow, which had been demonstrated to be broken, by merit of Martin Wallace being a "professional designer" and thus those calling it broken must be wrong.

And that's kind of my point. Saying "the game is not broken because Martin Wallace is a professional designer" is just as empty as what I'm talking about.

Seems to me to be the opposite of your point, though. You're saying accusing people of doing it is lazy and specious, yet here we have a very specific example of it occurring.

So it appears that it does happen.

Quote:
I guess what I'm saying is that people should address the game, not the perceived motivations of people who disagree with them.

I don't think you'll find much argument with this statement, at least in theory. But people are often susceptible to cognitive biases, both for and against a game, for reasons apart from the game itself.
3 
 Thumb up
 tip
 Hide
  • [+] Dice rolls
Manchuwok
Canada
Mission
BC
flag msg tools
designer
badge
Avatar
mbmbmbmbmb
out4blood wrote:
people are often susceptible to cognitive biases, both for and against a game, for reasons apart from the game itself.


This is absolutely true. And of course, people are very often not able to recognize this in themselves. For example they might actually believe that they enjoy the game solely for its mechanics when it could very likely be that they were influenced by their love for the designer. Or even, their love for the designer provided them with the impetus to try a game enough times to get over any initial hurdles that they may have never crossed were it not for that love.

http://psychcentral.com/blog/archives/2008/10/19/fighting-co...
 
 Thumb up
 tip
 Hide
  • [+] Dice rolls
J T
Canada
London
Ontario
flag msg tools
Avatar
mbmbmbmbmb
I take solace in the fact that aside from a very, very few designers (like 3) I know nothing about who designs what. I buy and play games i think I'll like based on reviews and example of play videos. I couldn't care less who designed a game I just want games I like. The few times I have bought a game based on the designer I have been burned with a bad game.
 
 Thumb up
 tip
 Hide
  • [+] Dice rolls
David
United States
Dumfries
Virginia
flag msg tools
Avatar
mbmbmbmbmb
You might have a point. My feeling is that a lot of people on this website use their favorite game/designer as their filter when looking at other games. So if you're using your Agricola-colored glasses, Glory to Rome seems stupid. I'm guessing a similar statement might be made of game designers. If I try a game and like it, it's still a likeable game for me even if the snobs on BGG give it a low rating.
 
 Thumb up
 tip
 Hide
  • [+] Dice rolls
Was George Orwell an Optimist?
United States
Corvallis
Oregon
flag msg tools
John Coltrane - Both Directions At Once: The Lost Album
badge
Avatar
mbmbmbmbmb
Hype* can work both ways. For example, I think being a Martin Wallace title hurt the ratings for Tempus, because those who didn't like it had unrealisticaly high expectations.

The whole fanboy/hater thing has bugged me for years. It's juvenile, ubiquitous, and invariably derails good discussion. But when you get down to it, the majority of reviews here are of a pretty low standard, so it's not surprising that the comments they draw are no better.


*I'm using the term hype here in response to comments above. In my mind, hype is generated by marketers. On TV, you see ads with actors pretending to be consumers who gush over products. That's hype. When actual consumers with no financial incentive talk positively about games (or any other product), that's buzz. Buzz may or may not have been initially triggered by hype, but (at least until very recently) hype and buzz meant different things.
5 
 Thumb up
0.01
 tip
 Hide
  • [+] Dice rolls
Chris Ferejohn
United States
Mountain View
California
flag msg tools
badge
Pitying fools as hard as I can...
Avatar
mbmbmbmbmb
Quote:
cferejohn wrote:
Quote:
I can recollect, at least, the Halifax Hammer thread, in which no small amount of people were defending A Few Acres of Snow, which had been demonstrated to be broken, by merit of Martin Wallace being a "professional designer" and thus those calling it broken must be wrong.

And that's kind of my point. Saying "the game is not broken because Martin Wallace is a professional designer" is just as empty as what I'm talking about.

Seems to me to be the opposite of your point, though. You're saying accusing people of doing it is lazy and specious, yet here we have a very specific example of it occurring.

So it appears that it does happen.


OK, it appears it does happen when someone explicitly says it. I'm talking about ascribing fanboyism or haterism based on someone disagreeing with you. As you know (and as you discussed in The Long View) there are plenty of people who are aware of the HH and enjoy A Few Acres of Snow anyway, simply choosing not to use it (though I'm inclined to agree with your opinion). These people aren't sycophantic Wallace worshippers, they are people who enjoy games for perhaps somewhat different reasons than I do.

I can see why that seems counter to my original argument. Lord knows I saw enough "he's a professional poker player therefore his play was good" arguments in my days on the twoplustwo forums. When someone actually says "Martin Wallace can do no wrong, therefore this game is brilliant", they can be called out on it, but that's different than saying "anyone who disagrees with me is putting the designer on a pedestal/has an axe to grind, because that is almost never true and (more to the point) is just a proxy for *actually* analyzing what people who disagree with you actually like/don't like about a game.
1 
 Thumb up
 tip
 Hide
  • [+] Dice rolls
Chris Ferejohn
United States
Mountain View
California
flag msg tools
badge
Pitying fools as hard as I can...
Avatar
mbmbmbmbmb
Lavardi wrote:
Well I am a reviewer and I want to chime in on my thoughts.

A well known designer is automatically going to generate hype just because of the fact that they have shown success and created a fan base on past games. But as a reviewer I dont look at the designer while making my opinion on the game. Lets use Chad Jensen for an example. Dominant Species is a great game that has all the mechanics and replay value I believe is needed to make it a must own game, however the Dominant Species card game had alot of hype because of name drop and designer. The card game is so far from the mark as an enjoyable game for me that I cant give it any positive comments other then the art.


And that's totally fine. What I'm talking about is then going on to say that anyone who liked the game (and some people do) was just a blind Chad Jensen worshipper. That's the kind of thing that I feel like I keep seeing recently that has gotten on my nerves.

I think reviews that at least address other points of view (what people like about a game you didn't like and vice versa) are generally the stronger for it because the reviewer has at least put some thought into what kind of people *would* like this game. However, when they invent a class of people who have their bedrooms plastered in Martin Wallace posters (or a class of people who have Martin Wallace effigies and voodoo dolls) they are not actually doing this, they are just being insulting to people who disagree with them (and often alienating people who are reading the review - well alienating me in any case).
 
 Thumb up
 tip
 Hide
  • [+] Dice rolls
Freelance Police
United States
Palo Alto
California
flag msg tools
designer
Avatar
mbmbmbmbmb
BGG definitely has bias for and against publishers, which seems to be even more pronounced.
 
 Thumb up
 tip
 Hide
  • [+] Dice rolls
Chris Ferejohn
United States
Mountain View
California
flag msg tools
badge
Pitying fools as hard as I can...
Avatar
mbmbmbmbmb
Sphere wrote:

*I'm using the term hype here in response to comments above. In my mind, hype is generated by marketers. On TV, you see ads with actors pretending to be consumers who gush over products. That's hype. When actual consumers with no financial incentive talk positively about games (or any other product), that's buzz. Buzz may or may not have been initially triggered by hype, but (at least until very recently) hype and buzz meant different things.


Huh, I hadn't heard that distinction before, but it seems like a useful one to make. Are those terms standardized by marketers to mean those different things or just your own terminology. Either way, I'm going to borrow/steal.
2 
 Thumb up
 tip
 Hide
  • [+] Dice rolls
Tim Seitz
United States
Glen Allen
VA
flag msg tools
badge
Like water spilled on the ground, which cannot be recovered, so we must die. But God does not take away life; instead, he devises ways so that a banished person may not remain estranged from him. 2 Sam 14:14
Avatar
mbmbmbmbmb
cferejohn wrote:
Quote:
cferejohn wrote:
Quote:
I can recollect, at least, the Halifax Hammer thread, in which no small amount of people were defending A Few Acres of Snow, which had been demonstrated to be broken, by merit of Martin Wallace being a "professional designer" and thus those calling it broken must be wrong.

And that's kind of my point. Saying "the game is not broken because Martin Wallace is a professional designer" is just as empty as what I'm talking about.

Seems to me to be the opposite of your point, though. You're saying accusing people of doing it is lazy and specious, yet here we have a very specific example of it occurring.

So it appears that it does happen.


OK, it appears it does happen when someone explicitly says it. I'm talking about ascribing fanboyism or haterism based on someone disagreeing with you.

I agree that it's wrong to just jump at that as the only reason someone could disagree with you, however, I do believe that fanboyism is a phenomena that can still happen even when it isn't explicit.

Quote:
When someone actually says "Martin Wallace can do no wrong, therefore this game is brilliant", they can be called out on it, but that's different than saying "anyone who disagrees with me is putting the designer on a pedestal/has an axe to grind, because that is almost never true and (more to the point) is just a proxy for *actually* analyzing what people who disagree with you actually like/don't like about a game.

I agree that it is usually not true ("almost never" seems a little strong, given we still see explicit versions appearing), and I agree that discussion of the relevant points of disagreement is far better than ad hominem.

At the end of the day, though, we're talking about tastes, and there are a whole hosts of reasons people may or may not like a game, and the designer's name on the box is just as valid of a reason as any other reason someone might dream up.
1 
 Thumb up
0.01
 tip
 Hide
  • [+] Dice rolls
Was George Orwell an Optimist?
United States
Corvallis
Oregon
flag msg tools
John Coltrane - Both Directions At Once: The Lost Album
badge
Avatar
mbmbmbmbmb
cferejohn wrote:
Sphere wrote:
*I'm using the term hype here in response to comments above. In my mind, hype is generated by marketers. On TV, you see ads with actors pretending to be consumers who gush over products. That's hype. When actual consumers with no financial incentive talk positively about games (or any other product), that's buzz. Buzz may or may not have been initially triggered by hype, but (at least until very recently) hype and buzz meant different things.


Huh, I hadn't heard that distinction before, but it seems like a useful one to make. Are those terms standardized by marketers to mean those different things or just your own terminology. Either way, I'm going to borrow/steal.

It's the way I've heard them employed over the years. The online dictionary definition for hype mentions publicity or promotion, which is what marketers are all about:

hype /hīp/ Noun:
1.Extravagant or intensive publicity or promotion.

I confess that I had to dig further for the usage I'm suggesting for buzz though:

buzz /bəz/ Noun:
5. Slang
a. Excited interest or attention: "The biggest buzz surrounds the simplest antioxidants: vitamins" (Carol Turkington).

Essentially I see hype as top down, deliberately generated, and buzz as spontaneously developing, peer to peer. I do think it's a useful distinction.



1 
 Thumb up
 tip
 Hide
  • [+] Dice rolls
Tim Seitz
United States
Glen Allen
VA
flag msg tools
badge
Like water spilled on the ground, which cannot be recovered, so we must die. But God does not take away life; instead, he devises ways so that a banished person may not remain estranged from him. 2 Sam 14:14
Avatar
mbmbmbmbmb
Yes, as a marketer, that's how we use the terms

"Buzz" is people talking about you/your product

"Hype" is marketing (making extravagant claims)

You hype something to try and generate buzz.
1 
 Thumb up
 tip
 Hide
  • [+] Dice rolls
Curt Carpenter
United States
Kirkland
Washington
flag msg tools
badge
Avatar
mbmbmbmbmb
When it comes to reasons why people do or don't like something, especially as spouted in BGG forums, the relative amount that I find useful is so low, that perhaps I've just subconsciously trained myself to ignore most of it, and hence don't notice the issue raised in this thread. I don't mind chatting about this or that, arguing with others for or against a game, etc., but when it comes to actually believing what someone says here, I pretty much only pay attention to what my geek buddies say.
1 
 Thumb up
 tip
 Hide
  • [+] Dice rolls
Front Page | Welcome | Contact | Privacy Policy | Terms of Service | Advertise | Support BGG | Feeds RSS
Geekdo, BoardGameGeek, the Geekdo logo, and the BoardGameGeek logo are trademarks of BoardGameGeek, LLC.