A problem of representation in giving feedback

There are a few games on this forum that I’ve given a lot of feedback to and had a very receptive response. This of course makes me feel all warm and fuzzy inside, but in following the threads for some of these games and especially given the emphasis that COG puts on diversity and inclusion, every once in a while I can’t help but think that I’m not really helping all that much in making the game more successful both financially and… socially (I don’t know what word to use to describe promoting diversity in this context).

The first example that comes to mind is that of the ever popular romantic options. My natural inclination when giving feedback is to make suggestions related to female NPCs, since they could potentially be ROs for straight male PCs. If the author is particularly receptive to my suggestions though, I can’t help but worry that I might be pushing things in an unbalanced way, and I don’t really know what to do about this.

1 Like

As in all things, moderation is key.

Realizing your own biases, if you see hetero romance options being pushed by others, then you can lay quiet, unless there is a specific issue you can solve concerning one of them. Authors need feedback regarding all aspects of their writing and at times, if they are receiving feedback at all.

When testers start feedback loops between themselves (you champion one RO and another tester champions a second RO and you both start going back and forth more then once) it also can be problematic. This type of feedback loop rarely helps the author and usually results in a tester or two being flagged or suspended if continued for too long.

The term you are looking for is “diversified”. You help the game by adding your unique background and make-up.

As long as you don’t keep trying to place demands on the author to do something or not do something, I think you should be ok with self-censoring.

I’m also going to clarify your title so its not so “click-bateishy”

2 Likes

Sometimes it feels like I’m one of the few or only people giving feedback on a specific aspect of the game though, and in that case I’m not sure what I can do about it. There’s also the fact that, as I’m sure is true for many people, a large part of the motivation in giving this kind of “high level” feedback is in seeing your ideas in the game. It’s not purely about “what would be best for the game” because we all have our own biases and we all think that certain things would improve the game even if they don’t have anything to do with diversity of representation. I tend to trust authors to have some idea of what they want their game to be, and so I view being receptive to my feedback as prompting to continue giving feedback. They are under no obligation to follow my suggestions after all… of course you can’t be sure every author realizes that…

All you can do is be aware of your own biases and foibles and self-censor. I’ve been giving feedback for most of my life on games and game machines and computers … it actually takes experience and maturity to recognize your own faults and to be aware of them while giving feedback. It also takes practice to give constant good quality feedback.

Sometimes, after presenting a position or a particular type of feedback that is shaded with your bias, it helps to take a step back and review what you wrote … sometimes put off hitting the submit button and after some elapsed time occurs, review what you wrote with a critical eye.

It is heady working with developers and writers and programmers who (to you) are creative, and perhaps people you admire. I know that I met so many people that inspire me. Sometimes they enjoy the conversation too.

The thing is, if you really are motivated by seeing your ideas and such in the game, then perhaps it is better to become an author or developer yourself. I guess I’ve been on both sides of this (getting a rush from seeing your feedback implemented vs being ignored, even when you are right and the developer is totally wrong) for so long that the rush I get is tempered.

The hardest thing for me is to recognize when to move on if I really care for a game. With Elder Scrolls Online, I helped alpha test the PvP in that game and one the obvious flaws that me and my testing team saw was that the rewards for being top PvPer were permanent and too powerful - even after relinquishing the title. We put in that feedback (there were hundreds of us) but the developer didn’t listen. This was the case for much of the feedback provided.

The younger me would have been putting in feedback over and over and over trying to convince them that this would lead to people cheating the PvP system to gain dominance and that this dominance would be permanent, driving away more and more people. I was on board with this title since the developers first started talking about it because I love the Elder Scrolls world as it has been developed in the single player games.

Now, I say what I need to say and then move on. Most people I work with get to know me and learn to value my feedback for what it is, agree or disagree. I’ve met some authors here who I admire and who I respect very much. I think they recognize the value of my feedback. So, yes, an author can ignore my feedback or take it - and they are under no obligation to use it. Feedback isn’t meant to be the way to get a rush in seeing your ideas implemented. If this is your main purpose in giving feedback, this is the real issue.

3 Likes

I didn’t say it was the main reason. It’s an important aspect though because it feels good, and it’s intrinsically linked to improving the game, since you wouldn’t be suggesting stuff you thought would make the game worse.

I’m not sure what you mean exactly by self censor, because when I hear that I think you mean not saying something, but it sort of seems like you mean ‘not repeating something ad nauseum.’

Self censor (or perhaps self-editing would be a better term) involves both not saying something and not repeating it ad nauseum - it also involves, changing the way you say something in wording, emphasis or attitude that tempers your message.

Most people do this to one degree or another but when you are concerned about specific issues (ie diversity) an extra pass of your own feedback might be warranted. With this extra pass, using a critical eye on your own feedback, you might find and correct such things as bias.

Also consider that certain characters can easily be Romanced in different ways. Heterosexual women was your example- I say they can just as easily be lesbian. I’ve easily Romanced Caraway in Tin Star, also Gale, Jess, & Brinn, etc in Lost Heir as a female character. It’s fun to imagine different scenarios.

2 Likes

I would recommend against self-censorship for this reason alone. Logically if the lack of your input makes the game worse, then it is better to make one aspect of the game more compelling or to let it sink into mediocrity? What is worse? “Man all of the romance options in the game sucks” or “well at least this one character was very interesting”? While I can agree that we should try our best to make all characters interesting and as representative as we can, crippling the story of one character for fear of making that character too popular is counterproductive. Games and other works are ultimately commercial endeavours, leaving something fallow for this sake alone is irresponsible for anyone with a vested interest in having the game succeed. If a game succeeds financially then there will be a chance for the sequel. Perhaps a stronger representation can be pushed since the game, author, studio and possibly franchise has proven viable. They can take more risks since they have more slack. If the game sinks because all of the people contributing to it feel that they need to keep their opinions to themselves then the very idea that representative games can be commercially viable comes under risk.

Also if you are being paid to make a game as good as it can be then what you have done in such a situation is professional malfeasance or at least nonfeasance. In the context of CoG, we want all of our fine authors to succeed, to thrive. If anything the community can do to help in that endeavour, then we should do it. Maybe this time around the gay love interest is kind of flat but there is always the sequel or spin off to redeem this character or introduce a new one to fill that niche. If the game fails then this opportunity will never arise.

This is a common fallacy in the pursuit of “equality”, to hobble the gifted to ensure parity with the less fortunate. Consider instead raising the less fortunate to the same level, or at least narrow the gap, to those more gifted. That people have different talents and different levels of success when they can employ those talents is a simple fact of life. In general the rakish and debonair scoundrel will have more fans as a love interest than the stuffy but faithful character. Bend your talents towards giving the latter more humanity, perhaps you can hit on something that improves the character as well rather than holding off trying to improve either.

Give feedback on what interests you. Feedback is more useful when it is something the reader believes in.

Case in point your requests and gentle nudging about Denise being a romance option. That was useful feedback because you believed in her character and wanted to see more of her.

5 Likes