Writing on the internet is fraught with confusion and misunderstandings, all the more so because I am expressing opinions. Over the weekend I posted my Dreadfleet review 2 to BoardgameGeek. If you don’t know this site and are at all interested in board games you really should go and have a look. It has a data base of over 50,000 games and is the reference site for board games on the net. I thought that I would add my review to the corpus of reference material there because it would temper the shallow glosses I’d so far read. How silly of me.
I have to admit that I was warned against doing so. I will refrain from using the same descriptor of the posting community that I was given, but suffice to say that it was not complementary. Me being me, decided to give them the benefit of the doubt and ploughed on regardless. If you’re interested in following the whole thread it starts here, but I have picked out the nub of the problem below.
The review itself is the same as the one here on Quirkworthy, sans photos, so you’ve probably read it already. There was some debate about individual bits of rules, which was fine. Then we had (and I’m excerpting bits of longer comments):
Poster A: “My main problem with your review is that I don’t believe it to be representative of the true quality of the game (for most players) as well as the slight hinting (which is possibly just me being over-sensitive) that anyone enjoying it is, well, a bit simple.”
Is my review representative for most players? I’m honestly not sure how you could ever test that empirically. Without a possibility of an exacting analysis, I work on the assumption that most people want to have a game in which they can feel their choices and those of their opponent make the difference between winning and losing more often than not. The review basically says that DF is too random to allow this, hence my conclusion.
But everyone who enjoys it is a bit simple? Not what I was saying at all. So I wrote back:
“I don’t mean to suggest that enjoying this makes you simple (as in stupid or foolish). If pushed, I might say it made you less critical than I, or less demanding, or less competitive, but then I often think that it would make life a lot easier to be so, so that’s far from being an insult.”
I know that I am competitive and that I can’t help myself looking at the odds and looking critically at a game’s mechanics. It’s just how my brain works. I also know that this sometimes gets in the way of my enjoying games, which would be more fun if I could turn off the critical and analytical bits of my brain. I have had many discussions with gaming friends over the years on just these topics. Someone else piled in though:
Poster B: “Is this really an even handed thing to say? People who disagree with you can only reasonably do so because they have lower expectations? I’m actually having trouble finding how that doesn’t insult everyone who disagrees with you.”
Being less critical, demanding or competitive seem suddenly to be interpreted as being retarded. Personally, I am less critical of what brand of baked beans I buy than what kind of game I buy. Am I selectively retarded? The accusation is nonsensical, and seeking to find insult where there is none. It also seems deeply ironic because, as I replied:
“the comments you decide were insulting were actually coined by a good friend of mine of himself when we were discussing why he liked some games and I wasn’t so keen. I’m fairly sure he wasn’t insulting himself, nor was that how I intended it here.”
As usual I find myself beset by an inability to communicate (or perhaps by Trolls) whenever I venture out from the calm waters of the Quirk. Perhaps I should confine myself to these shores.
On the other hand, perhaps I really am a rude and curmudgeonly old man, whose arrogant ramblings are universally insulting. Perhaps. But if so, quite a few people still come to read them, and so I shall continue to write my thoughts on gaming as they come to me, and review games as I see them, and try not to worry about whether or not I am repeating what is safe or popular to say. If a game needs panning then it shall be panned; if paeans need singing in its praise, then you’ll hear my atonal croak in their honour.
As always, polite and well-argued comments are very welcome, especially if they have a new angle to illuminate the debate. However, please do try to assume that I’m not out to get everyone. It’ll make life ever so much simpler.