Image via Call of Duty on YouTube

I love a good bandwagon. A good one, one that’s deserved, one that’s going to have a reasonable end game.

Bandwagoning is hype and hate going crazy – hoards of people on the internet going nuts over announcements, updates or movements. It’s embedded into Gaming culture through links to Internet Culture, and is a part of what we’re used to.

Rockstar holding company Take 2 sending a Cease and Desist to the Open IV modding tool team in 2017? I’m up on that bandwagon yelling ‘That makes sense, you guys hate making games anyway, why should anyone be allowed to’.

Valve and Bethesda teaming up to roll out paid mods in 2011? I’m there like ‘that’s not what modding is about’.

Both of these times, we saw a positive result from Bandwagoning efforts. But maybe we could be more constructive.

Mass-disliking a video that makes nothing but solid points and well-rounded arguments? Hold the phone, that doesn’t add up. Here’s what I’m talking about.

That was great, let’s look at the Like/Dislike Ratio.

Image via IGN on YouTube

Well that’s weird. It’s almost as if some of the viewers didn’t actually watch the video.

This is Alanah Pearce – a Journalist and Content Producer for IGN, whose done a bunch of these Opinion pieces for the Games News body so far. She’s pretty good that the Game Journalism thing.

I agree with everything in the video – whether or not the game is centred around the points being made out (which the comment section is overreacting to) is a topic for another time.

Alanah’s great, she’s dealt with toxicity in the community before, but for the sake of my argument, let’s just consider the Like/Dislike ratios we see here.

I think it’s symptomatic of bandwagoning. There’s no way everyone here disliking is adding a useful voice to the dialogue, or thinking about the topic critically, and this is damaging for images – for Alanah, for IGN, for Far Cry 5 and for our Industry as a whole. In Bandwagoning, any key points we could make out and express get drowned out by a flood of hate and negativity.

When the Likes and Dislikes are so boiled, it encourages involvement. Engagement? Less as much.

Alanah might have swayed the dislikes by naming the video along the lines of ‘Your Character Doesn’t Matter in Far Cry 5’, but that’s not the point, the point was to express how strange a female protagonist is in a game written for a male one. And that’s what the comments have taken aim at – the topic of sexism, but against the title and the first points – not the larger video.

It’s important that people don’t blast things out of proportion from this face value.

 

Another thing I want to talk about is  the Creation Club.

The Creation club is Bethesda’s follow up to the paid-modding fiasco of 2011, rebranded with a new mission statement for 2017. Let’s have a look at the trailer.

Aaaaand the ratio.

It was such a shame. The early incarnations and implications of the Creation club alluded that something amazing could come out of it – amazing content made by amazing community members.

But what we got was Pip-Boy reskins and backpacks. Content we already had for free on the Nexus.

However, there is a point to be made for modding experiences making there way to Consoles – and in that regard, bravo Bethesda, you found the Monetary path. But let’s contest the given points for a moment. Maybe our loud bandwagoning was disruptive to what we actually wanted.

It worked in 2011 when Paid Mods were rolled out, and the service was pulled almost as quick as it was implemented, but maybe Creation Club was an inevitable profit goal of Bethesda. Perhaps they interpreted the hate to be simple backlash from correlations to the original Paid Mods service, and chose to bat it of subsequently.

Gopher does a great video on that topic.

It’s worth considering is all that I’m saying. Maybe if the backlash Bethesda were awarded with Paid Mods was moreso of quiet and disinterest, maybe they would have been inclined to up the quality and quantity of Mods per Dollar.

It’s also worth considering that Creation Club is, to some extent, successful. They’re still supporting it, so maybe it’s popular on Consoles. It certainly isn’t amongst members of the Nexus community. So that’s another wrench in the gears.

So maybe in Creation Club’s case, we see the problem being Bandwagoning being problementatic for the sake of being Bandwagoning – Simply misinterpreted.

But hey, Witcher 3 won Game of the Year, and then from a different party, Fallout 4 also won game of the year, so everyone has a different view.

Let’s end on a lighter note – Infinity Ward’s Call of Duty: Infinite Warfare.

As if I didn’t need to make the Like/Dislike ratio the image of this article.

This trailer quickly became the Second Most Disliked video on YouTube ever. For the sake of my argument, I’m going to defend Infinite Warfare.

People got sick of the futuristic setting of CoD, and attacked Infinite Warfare for that, and the gameplay implications the setting had – things like jetpacks and Augmentations – Looper does a great article on a bunch of reasons why I.W was so disliked.

Ultimately, CoD is a difficult franchise – not in terms of gameplay difficulty, but in design conception. Because the developers are year after year trying to replicate the success of CoD4: Modern Warfare, it’s difficult to innovate on that – that’s really why we saw Jetpacks and futuristic interpretations of the model.

I’m of the mind that the bandwagoning was actually somewhat problematic for the franchise. The criticisms largely addressed the setting and the returning of advanced movement mechanics, but not as much the year-again model of the franchise, or the repetition CoD is accustomed to – it’s quite the black sheep in the modern FPS market. Here’s a good article about that which I did.

So maybe the mass-disliking of Infinite Warfare’s announcement trailer was an example of Bandwagoning being interpreted in the wrong ways.

Nobody can control the direction of a social movement. That’s one of my favourite ads of all time, for the Guardian News Website, about how the direction of a story bends and turns in all kinds of directions before it gets to a resolution.

I’d like to think Bandwagoning could come to positive, constructive outcomes more often, but it seems like it’s really easy to get bogged down in hate and flaming.

Instant social-media has given everybody a voice, hashtags are the megaphone and forums are the soap-box. So it’s difficult for the masses to be controlled. Bandwagoning is situation to situation, depending on who cares and who is effected, but it also happens to defend the comfortable.

Bandwagoning is problematic. In Alanah’s case, I haven’t seen any genuine disagreements to her points, and in the case of the Creation Club and Infinite Warfare, maybe the best bandwagon would have been a silent one – because it seems like in both cases, the developers and publishers got the wrong idea.

When we talk about Bandwagon’s on the internet, they don’t have leaders – they have the original content creators, the commentators through reply videos, defenders on Social Media, and then they have the flood – the dislikes and the hateful comments.

We can’t bat topics like these off simply by saying ‘It’s just a game’ – like it or not, games are a cultural element in 2018 as much as Movies or TV, so we should be approaching the tough topics are critically as they are handled in other mediums.

Know your bandwagons, pick your battles, know if something is the right thing to say at the right time. Or, maybe rally behind a set of guidelines. Lobbying for change has never been foreign to social movements.

Gamers Classified Disclaimer: Opinions expressed are solely my own and do not express the views or opinions of my employer.