The first rule laid down to any new writer looking to publish a piece of work online should be this: do not take some of the comments to heart. It’s a briefing that everyone who writes regularly for the Internet has to go through.
That’s no slight against commenters, rather the odd one or two who, er, take things to a more extreme level. Most comments, particularly related to video games, are of the harmless variety. Some are even revelatory; containing unknown embellishments that spark off meaningful debate among the readership. This is a very good thing.
Yet, for as wonderful and varied as article comments are, it’s the negative ones which catch the eye. One or two aggressive disagreements can quickly turn a peaceful feed into a raging flame war and in the latter half of 2011, one special flavour of murderous rage began to draw particular attention.
'You have officially lost the plot this site is a joke.'
'This site is awful, its (sic) like you choose to score games low for the controversy.'
These pleasant missives appeared at the bottom of Simon Parkin’s review of Uncharted 3. The Eurogamer scribe had dared to give Naughty Dog’s public darling 8/10, provoking a belligerent minority into a bubbling torrent of rage. Comments emerged decrying everything from Simon’s personal integrity to the inconsistency of previous reviews.
The vast majority of these expulsions appeared before the game had even gone on general release. People were angry on principle. Unwilling to believe that a sequel to a game they loved so dearly could be worse than its predecessor (those with far-reaching minds might recall the maiden issue of Gamesmaster magazine attracting similar anger for its less-than-enthusiastic review of Sonic 2).
During the high season, this phenomenon could be spotted all across the web. Any time a score skewed slightly below perfect, the floodgates opened. Reviews for Arkham City, Skyrim, and Skyward Sword were all under scrutiny from enraged onlookers.