Discriminating Tastes

I appreciate readers and writers who are aware of distinctions. Here on the internet, we have nigh-infinite room to work out fine details, and we can discuss subtle gradations of merit and failure. We can identify the good and the bad in things, and encourage the one while mourning the other.

I mourn when I see so many unable to develop a thought more precise than “wow sux” or “wow rox.” We could say that WoW has taken the standard DikuMUD model to is most successful implementation, with a strong solo game that moved the entire industry from farming-based leveling to quest-based leveling, with a heavy focus on late-game raiding and weak PvP content. We could discuss the changes over time, both in the game and in the industry as a result of the game. We could discuss the effects of a strongly solo-friendly leveling game or the relative merits of multi-hour PvE raids. But it can be hard to hold that discussion while surrounded by screaming children.

I can’t even tell how many are interested in seeing gradations. One uncomprehending post can throw off an entire thread, either in my perception of it or with people trying to corral it. And then someone else will post the same thing, not bothering to have read the replies that reiterated the fine distinctions. I suppose this is why the news is in sound bites.

It is important to understand that things can have both good and bad points, and saying the good outweighs the bad (or vice versa) does not eliminate those finer points. We can even recognize that, due to our different preferences, we might disagree on whether some of those points are good or bad, or agree on every particular but have different weightings so that a good game for me is bad for you. Ultimately, there is no good, just good for or good at.

: Zubon

6 thoughts on “Discriminating Tastes”

  1. I know this is going to seem overly thoughtful, maybe even borderline pompous, but I take this as a reflection of our changing western culture.

    The slacker generation has passed and now we’re in an age that’s highly competitive. Much of the rhetoric reflects that, regardless of the topic, whether it be politics or videogames.

    Hard lines get drawn and while you’re talking about the nuances of game design, someone is bound to come along and claim that what you’re really doing is supporting the competitor. If you say something critical about Warhammer, you must be for Warcraft, right?

    It’s the age of the pundit. Is everything partisan now?

    The competitive nature of the discussions go in odd antagonistic tangents at times. Some have their web traffic, comment-count and googlerank more in mind than the topics. Anyone who’s honestly passionate about these games can easily get lost in the noise.

  2. My biggest gripe with WoW is that it created so many newbs. Syncaine has a good post over at Hardcore Casual on how WoW was so many people’s first MMO. If it has to take a WoWesque game (Warhammer, and shinier than Warhammer) to grab their attention in the future then it worries me. How many companies take that risk? So now we get to expect maybe 1 new MMO a year, if that?


    WoW sux

  3. To be honest I’m not sure a blog is the correct medium to hold the kind of discussion you’re talking about.

    If I were asked to make a suggestion, I would suggest a mailing list + blog/site.

    The mailing list could be used to throw around ideas — and discuss the finer points — by people who care enough about the subject to register to the mailing list. Just by the fact that it requires registration a mailing list would have a higher barrier of entry (and so would weed out the casual drive-by troll) compared to a blog’s comments. A moderator could further enhance the S/N ratio by removing people who try to troll or make inane/off-topic posts consistently. Or could even set an arbitrary threshold such as being an active MMO blogger.

    Once enough discussion had occurred on the mailing list, a balanced and hopefully well-written post could be blogged to a central blog (e.g. wowinsider?)

    Another alternative would be a semi-closed Wiki. Alterations to the wiki pages would be made by registered people only, again using the same criteria as the mailing list example, above. Discussion would occur as sets of on-going revisions to a core article, or on the article’s “talk” page. This would be a more public format and has its own pros and cons compared to the mailing list method.

    Hope this helps :)

  4. Dudez WoW sux, WAR is da winz.

    I also really hate the whole ‘thread derail’ comment, and it’s all too common now, even on blogs. At the same time, I think some of the more interesting debates I’ve had over MMOs have started on seemingly minor points.

    It’s kind of like blogging, you never know the reaction a post might get. I’ve long since stopped trying to write a ‘get people mad’ post, because those are usually ignored, while at the same time I’ll write a little ‘here is a random though I had this morning on the toilet’ and I’ll get 50 comments telling my to DIAF. EVEN WHEN I WAS POINTING OUT SOMETHING GOOD. All part of gaming and the fan base now I guess, but it sure is unpredictable.

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