Of all things that I am certain of, one thing is that I am glad that people are willing to put their work out there for other people to see and try. From animation, movies, sketch comedy, music and, yes, video games, I am thrilled to know that there are people out there testing out new ideas, giving old ones a spin and giving us the pleasure of seeing it all. I would not be here sitting down and writing like this to people if no one was willing to put out their work for the masses to see.
However, as you know, not everyone views the ubiquity of one’s art getting exposure as a good thing. There are those creators that take criticism to heart and use it to further improve their work like the much revered — and despised — Scott Cawthon, who created the “Five Nights at Freddy’s” series from the heavily critical reviews of his previous works, and there’s the other kind. The kind that you often hear about in articles talking about falls from grace, or, really, falls from wherever they were at before due to their poor reactions to criticism, controversy or other similar poor takes. People like Derek Savage of “Cool Cat Saves the Kids,” The Romero Brothers of “Digital Homicide” and Ann Deborah Fishman of “Swiped” are all people that took their criticism so poorly that they became laughing stocks for their reaction.
No one is obligated to give a good review. When someone’s work is brought into the world, it is completely normal for people to observe the work and give their thoughts on it, whether it be good or bad. Yet some creators don’t seem to understand that and attack their critics, like the Romero Brothers, who created awful video games at the pace of which people correctly suspected them for spamming Steam with their terrible works to the point of Valve banning them off their platform. However, their most infamous move was suing a reviewer named Jim Sterling for over $10 million for criticizing their work. Part of the justification for the lawsuit that they gave was that the many reviews that he has done on their work weren’t “fair” — assuming that a review has to be balanced to be a legally protected critique. The sheer lunacy of the whole story can be found on Sterling’s YouTube channel, where he goes in depth about their dispute.
The story of Fishman is a similar one, not with video games but with a movie: “Swiped.” A story about a nerd making a hook-up app for college kids. It goes into moralizing whether or not it’s a good thing for people to simply hook-up without meaningful relationships, etc. and is generally not considered that good. She then goes on to condescend the reviewers by sending them legal threats and harassing certain people on social media. Much like “Digital Homicide,” Fishman believed that the reviewers were not giving it a fair shake and began attacking the reviewers’ character as well as even harassing a 17-year-old girl over critiques of her movie.
This is nonsense. A significant number of these cases start with a reviewer online making criticisms of a product, then the creator turns around and begins to attack those who think poorly of their work. None of these — that I can tell — have come from a place of legitimate spite toward the creator, and, more often than not, even negative reviews can get people to watch and interact with your product.
When criticism is taken well, it can strengthen one’s product to that of a result worthy of the praise the creator seeks. I’ve already mentioned “Five Nights at Freddy’s,” but there’s also “No Man’s Sky,” which I have talked about before. “No Man’s Sky” was abysmal at launch, but over the years they have been constantly improving the game and making it a more attractive experience, to the point where I have no problem recommending the game to others. That was all done because people were giving the game’s team feedback on what had to be done.
And that’s what a review is supposed to do: give you the feedback you need to better both yourself and your work. So please, don’t be an asshole when someone gives valid criticism of your work, or you’ll end up like the rest of those who fought about it.
Edward Park is a third year student with a BsED writings track. EP909767@wcupa.edu