#1 Posted by chrollo (75 posts) -

Lately I've become more and more aware of the strong comparison between the contentious authoritarian government in China to that of the typical strategy for game developers. The developers or publishers pretty much have final say in the out come of the game, much like the CCP has the final say towards policy in China. However, both have a system of petition embedded into their structure. For China they have the Xinfang system which allows the common man to petition the government(despite what you might thing social protest is larger and more successful in China than in the U.S. so you can save your comments about how the people have no voice. If you need a source read Social Protest and Contentious Authoritarianism in China, by Xi Chen). For game developers they have their website forums in which players, especially for games with a strong online component, can appeal to the developers, about planned or current grievances towards their games. However, this petition system is incredibly weak, and shares the same failures as the Xinfang system, which are: it encourages extremist, and discourages moderate petitioning, as both systems are more likely to address those who petition for a long time or have a collective petition. It also encouarges protest outside of the designated system, such as twitter(Weibo for China) or social media sites.

The problem here is, I don't think this Contentious Authoritarian style is pro consumer. While not every petition should be addressed, the majority of sound opinion is marginalized by a loud minority in game forums. I have specifically seen somewhat absurd reactions to forum petitions in games like planetside 2 and rift. I'm sure we all have, and while no one other than those working on the game can legitimately conclude the reasons for these changes, I think a large percentage of these changes are reactions to forum advocates. These changes often create game imbalance, and create more forum petitions.

I don't how yet, but I seriously think the way games developers currently subscribe to and use gamer feedback is flawed, and should be immediately redressed.

#2 Posted by joshwent (2143 posts) -

I'd be happy if devs paid less attention to "petitions". There's a reason why they're the people making games, and the reactionary screaming masses... aren't.

Also, going on about weirdly specific things about China + Having the default avatar image = Me assuming this was spam/the rant of a crazy person.

#3 Posted by erhard (392 posts) -

Someone who creates games owes nothing to and has no obligations towards "consumers." It's a market, not a democracy.

#4 Edited by Video_Game_King (36074 posts) -

@erhard said:

It's a market, not a democracy.

Aren't those the same thing in American politics?

#5 Posted by GERALTITUDE (2961 posts) -

@erhard said:

It's a market, not a democracy.

Aren't those the same thing in American politics?

Boom, headshot.

#6 Posted by Fredchuckdave (5339 posts) -

Anything that follows China's example is probably going to do quite well (though the comparison is obviously fallacious)

#7 Posted by chrollo (75 posts) -
#8 Posted by Pezen (1565 posts) -

This reminds me of the news I read a while back regarding Chinese internet agents steering conversations on social platforms with one or more aliases. Sometimes even arguing with themselves and have the conversation go a cerain way.

Also, games are a form of entertainment. And like all other forms, I prefer artistic integrity over design by committee.

#9 Edited by EXTomar (4509 posts) -

Creators should be free to listing to public suggestions and take them into consideration. But then people forget it is just that: A suggestion for consideration where the creator is free to ignore it.

And by the way, China uses "Xinfang" as a stand in for democratic methods that is at best gathers information on abuses and at worst no more effective than the "Suggestion" box. Suggesting this is a great system for game developers to take is kind of crazy.

#10 Edited by chrollo (75 posts) -

@extomar: thats what im saying, this is a bad model, but one that is used with almost the same outcome and has been a negative impact on games for instance remember the hair redesign in infamous 2, also at the end of the day most of these games are design by committee before even being revealed when you exclude indie games

#11 Edited by believer258 (11677 posts) -

@erhard said:

Someone who creates games owes nothing to and has no obligations towards "consumers." It's a market, not a democracy.

This. Except that last bit doesn't work so well.

The only obligations that game developers have toward consumers is ensuring that their game is functional (i.e. the game is playable and functions for the majority of people) and that there's no false advertising (i.e. you can't say that there are policemen in your game on the back of the box and then not put policemen in it. Big Rigs, if you're looking for an example.)

To talk about the business side of things, you are paying money for a product. But that product is a creative work. Call it "art", if you will, but any way you want to talk about it, it's still an expression of creativity. I don't think that should be held back by "what the consumer petitions for". You shouldn't have any role in a game's creation unless the developers invite you to tell them what you think of it, like in a beta.

And yes, I'm pretty certain that publishers of AAA games do peek into some games from time to time to tell their designers that they want a certain feature implemented. And I'm well aware of the idea of "designed by committee". But, honestly, I can't name many games that seem like they were designed by a committee. Medal of Honor kinda seemed like that, but otherwise most of the games I've played hardly seem like there was no creative effort put into them.

Not going to dig into the problems with comparing game development to China's government. Someone else will do that better than I ever could.

#12 Edited by ArtisanBreads (3758 posts) -

Are you asking for games to be designed by committee? Sounds awful. Not how good art works.

OP's tone is one of someone who has never crafted anything before.

Not that input can't be useful and there are games where this is more likely to help, at some point a creative has to have a vision though.

#13 Posted by Hunter5024 (5551 posts) -

@erhard said:

Someone who creates games owes nothing to and has no obligations towards "consumers." It's a market, not a democracy.

They're kind of dependent on consumers for their livelihood. If they want to continue to have consumers support them, then they are obligated to make a worthwhile product.

#14 Posted by Scrawnto (2435 posts) -

Are you asking for games to be designed by committee? Sounds awful. Not how good art works.

OP's tone is one of someone who has never crafted anything before.

Not that input can't be useful and there are games where this is more likely to help, at some point a creative has to have a vision though.

I think chrollo's saying that's how things are now, and that they need to change.

Online
#15 Edited by JasonR86 (9611 posts) -

What?

#17 Edited by Tru3_Blu3 (3192 posts) -

This topic is pretty robotic and dry.

#18 Posted by Jay_Ray (1070 posts) -

China don't care

#21 Posted by ArtisanBreads (3758 posts) -

@scrawnto said:

@artisanbreads said:

Are you asking for games to be designed by committee? Sounds awful. Not how good art works.

OP's tone is one of someone who has never crafted anything before.

Not that input can't be useful and there are games where this is more likely to help, at some point a creative has to have a vision though.

I think chrollo's saying that's how things are now, and that they need to change.

I think you're right! Funny I could come away with the opposite conclusion.

#22 Edited by Brodehouse (9625 posts) -

It's not remotely authoritarian. It's monopolistic competition. The market determines what it wants and it behooves developers and publishers to give it what it wants at a price it's willing to pay. The producers determine the supply, but they do not determine what the market wants. Attempting to portray it as a totalitarian system in which publishers tell me what I want and what I will buy.

#23 Posted by alwaysbebombing (1539 posts) -

As someone who literally just graduated with a political science degree. I can put my seal of approval that these are the rantings of a mad man.

#24 Edited by EXTomar (4509 posts) -

@chrollo said:

@extomar: thats what im saying, this is a bad model, but one that is used with almost the same outcome and has been a negative impact on games for instance remember the hair redesign in infamous 2, also at the end of the day most of these games are design by committee before even being revealed when you exclude indie games

If you believe that projects of that size and complexity only need one or two people to issues orders to complete then you are crazy. I'm not sure what the point of this post is then because when you have a project that takes 50+ people to complete saying "Oh man, it is designed by committee" is silly.

#25 Posted by Veektarius (4632 posts) -

Okay, first no need for that shot at the US - the role of social protest in a non-democratic system is totally different than in one where people get a referendum on the government every other year.

Second, correct me if I'm wrong, because I don't know anything about Xinfang, but wouldn't the primary determinant of government reactions to social protests be volume (size) rather than volume (noise)? If protest originated from a single voice, don't the Chinese put them under house arrest (see: Ai Weiwei). It's only in cases where the cost of suppression outweighs the cost of acquiescence that the government would cave.

Third, I'm not sure how feedback is integrated from forum communities, and it's unlikely that any developer will ever be completely honest about it because they don't want players to feel disenfranchised in the event that there is a problem. (This is probably similar to the situation in China). However, one needs to keep in mind that while forum-users represent a vocal minority of players, these opinions are likely being repeated in-game as well, to less-informed/invested players who may take these arguments as givens.

I know that I, myself, have fallen prey to this phenomenon. In Marvel Heroes, which I do not play seriously, I own Cyclops, and I was having some trouble getting him to do enough damage relative to other heroes. So, I stopped by the forums and watched chat and acquired the information that in fact, according to people who pay more attention than I am, Cyclops is horribly underpowered/broken and so I decided to stop playing him without really experimenting with different builds. In this sense, the fact that informed elites are bearing the cost of researching and developing opinions that are them disseminated in polemical screeds against the developers makes this system seem more similar to the United States than China.

So the problem for the developer or a US congressman is this - there may be no need for a bill to make Cyclops' powers do more single-target damage, but unless one is passed, it will be the opinion of both the political elites and their passive audience that nothing is being done to fix the critical, fundamental issues with Cyclops. And it may be that there are more moderate voices out there who say that, no, really all you have to do is make channeled blast do single target damage and you're set, and they're right, but because they're not as loud, their opinions are less likely to disseminate among the gaming masses.

What the developer has to do is look at their game data, see that Cyclops playing is at a relative low and is trending in the wrong direction, and then they have to target their solution to the publicly perceived problem that he has. Unless they address the specific issues laid out by the elites, the masses will not perceive that the issues have been fixed and will not invest the cost-time necessary to evaluate the changes that have been made. And if players aren't playing, they aren't paying.

#26 Edited by chrollo (75 posts) -

@alwaysbebombing: im about to graduate with a double major in political science and international studies :P

#27 Posted by alwaysbebombing (1539 posts) -

@chrollo: Yet you have no idea how terrible it is for the Chinese that live outside the cities.

#28 Posted by chrollo (75 posts) -

@alwaysbebombing: im very well aware of this actually, im not sure where you draw this conclusion from?

#29 Edited by alwaysbebombing (1539 posts) -

@chrollo: Where you try to argue that the common Chinese citizen has control in their government. That's just completely incorrect. The only one's with a meaningful say are the super rich and influancial. The Party even condemns it's own people who speak out against it.

#30 Edited by chrollo (75 posts) -

@alwaysbebombing: i don't think i argued that just pointed out the fact that social protest is very large in china and has been rising since the 1990s, and a combination of social protest and the Xinfang system have allowed for the common man to voice their opinions to the government. This isn't an argument these are provable facts. An argument would be that social protests in China are actually enabling the Chinese government to stay in power. Also it should be noted that the majority of petitioners do not speak out against the party, instead they claim loyalty to the government. Can't say for sure why, but those people do end up in jail quite a bit less. The majority of protests aren't appeals for democracy either.

Besides this isn't about Chinese Politicss, I only mention the Chinese Xinfang system because of the similar failures in both systems. Reacting to the those who are the loudest and cause the most trouble while being unable to adequately address the moderate voice.

#31 Posted by alwaysbebombing (1539 posts) -

@chrollo: China don't care what you have to say.

#33 Posted by PeezMachine (234 posts) -

Gave Dev Don't Care.

But seriously, I think one of the worst things that a game dev can do is read the forums. There will never be One Game To Rule Them All, and in a lifetime of reading forums, especially for games with betas, what I've seen more than anything is people clamoring for a game to be everything to everyone (or at least, everything to them). Typically, requests come down to "more" and "bigger," both of which can quickly sink a game (remember when Assassin's Creed was more about plotting murders than signing invoices?). First and foremost, a dev should have a vision for a game, a clear set of principles that guide all aspects of the player experience they are designing, and they should by no means compromise that vision to satisfy someone else's wish list. That said, I think it's more than appropriate to provide feedback on your experience, but there's a huge difference between pointing out a problem and demanding a specific solution to it. It's the same philosophy that guides a good game reviewer, who will comment on their experience but refrain from being an "armchair designer."

And while a lot of suggestions are misguided crap, there are some real gems out there. The Starbound beta is open for pre-purchasers, and a forumgoer created a mod effectively allowing players to "bank" currency to prevent it from being lost on death. They created a mod which the devs scooped up and rolled into the next update. I think this form of feedback was successful because it was phrased not as "there needs to be banking" but rather as "the current death/goldsink model is having a detrimental effect on pacing and is discouraging exploration of dangerous areas - here's one possible solution, including some pros and cons." It also probably helped that the proposed solution didn't interfere with the essence of the game. Clearly the devs had wanted some sort of death goldsink but hadn't fully developed that system and explored all of the angles.

To be fair, devs usually don't help themselves out here. Look at Stardock with Fallen Enchantress, which I beta tested. They talked a lot about the games systems and inspirations, but they never talked about what they wanted from the game or what the player's focus should be. As a result, there was nothing to really latch on to when giving feedback. Everybody wanted something different from the game, and Stardock never said, "we want this, so frame your feedback in terms of this. If it doesn't serve this, we're not interested." On the other hand, ArenaNet made it very clear from the outset what they wanted from Guild Wars 2 (which I also tested), and it really set the tone for which suggestions were worthwhile and which ones were just a matter of personal taste.