thread: 2006-08-27 : Kerflufflizing
On 2006-09-05, Alex Fradera wrote:
My experience as a eager indie games customer: The absence of public criticism does have a chilling effect on sales.
When I go to the movies, or buy a book, I can rely on formal reviews, my faith in the artists involved, or word of mouth. Because these are big industries, I can always find multiple objective reviews, will be familiar with some of the creators involved, and probably find a disinterested someone who knows more about it than me.
In the indie rpg area, my information is much more limited. Absent one of the rare social groups discussed above, I don’t have a way to get personal recommendations. Many creators are first-timers, or still cutting their teeth, so it’s hard to assess on that basis. So as the market expands, objective reviews are absolutely crucial. For someone like me, these will need to come from the indie games community, to ensure that they are reasonably informed and address the strengths of the game relative to the alternatives I already own/could be looking into.
I was excited by the buzz around the games coming out at Gen-Con, but I haven’t got round to purchasing any yet. I wanted to really shop around for some different and varied stuff, but it’s clear that some creators think that some of the products that made it onto the booth don’t work as a game should. As a customer this worries me and makes me think again about splurging - how am I to know what to avoid? This is always an issue with investing in stuff, but I think it’s greater due to the greater committment that rpgs demand, relative to the alternatives. Nothing worse than pulling a bunch of busy people over to engage in an activity that doesn’t work and requires effort to not work. Obviously, indie games are ameliorating this by being quicker to pick up and to play, but I still want to be sure that I’m not engaged in something broken.
Obviously one alternative is to continue to plug the positives, rather than hate on the negatives, but this lumps unloved/unknown games games in the same pile as played-and-hated. This would sadden me, as it consigns games to plunge into oblivion - “if no-one’s talking about it, it must be bad” - which seems wrong-headed.
In my ideal world (again, as a consumer rather than producer) this community would encourage gambles upon the unknown and the little games. But to do this, it has to identify the weaker games, rather than simply tout the stronger ones.