First and foremost, I apologize if you take this as "adding to the fire" or whatnot, but I wanted to make a blog post about my first actual viral Facebook thread, which had over 550 comments and 70 reactions in just a couple of days. The topic of this thread was about the adverse reaction towards Frosthaven Kickstarter Update #80, as well as the way that the community voiced that adverse reaction, namely in the way some chose to bomb the Frosthaven Board Game Geek page ratings as well as swarm a couple of threads on the same page. Still, once again, I ask for forgiveness if you see this as being purposefully controversial, as I know a few had voiced those concerns on Facebook. Still, I want to discuss this topic in more detail, using some insights from the Facebook post's comment section.
Also, as an additional note, please do not take what I write as my personal opinion on anything related to the update; I'm merely trying to observe and hopefully add value to the topic.
To catch you up.
If you are unaware, about a week or so ago, the Frosthaven Kickstarter (the sequel to the widely acclaimed but in some cases dispised Gloomhaven) published an update to the Kickstarter page, the 80th update to be exact, with the title of "Getting the Narrative Right". The core topic for this update was hiring a Cultural Consultant to, from what I could understand, help write and edit the story of Frosthaven. The update was updating people the Cultural Consultant; that is the only core difference between how the game was perceived before the update and how it was perceived after. There were changes made to the game because of the addition of the Cultural Consultant. Still, nonetheless, it was the Cultural Consultant that was the catalyst for change. So, why were so many people upset? I knew many people were generally annoyed from the ratings and threads on the Frosthaven BGG page, but I didn't realize precisely why? I read the post myself; I thought it was okay, though a little combative at times. However, after reading over 550 comments from people either happy, unhappy, or neutral about the update, I understand why people reacted negatively and loudly. I'm going to put them into bullet points here, but I will explain the ones I think are necessary to dive a little deeper into after.
Here are a few reasons why the update riled so many people up.
Was it the wording of the Kickstarter update that incited the riot?
I want to discuss point two a little bit more, as I think what I am going to say really explains the adverse reaction to the update. Plain and simple, people don't like to be told they are wrong. This goes a bit deeper with this update, as it ponders that some people who enjoy fantasy worlds and make their own are morally wrong, which almost has an amplified effect, but either way, if someone is told they are wrong, they are going to go on the defensive, regardless of their actual beliefs, which is why I mentioned the difference between people who thought they were being told they were morally wrong because of their beliefs, or because of the fantasy worlds they love.
I have been there, I have been in an argument with my partner, or my parents, or whoever, because they accused me of something, usually regarding my intentions rather than my actions. This straight away puts me on the defensive, and until I clocked onto what was happening, I would often defend a point that I didn't even believe in. I would say that I was right and they were wrong, just because I was initially being told I was wrong. That on its own can make you feel a lot of anger, resentment, and combativeness, all because the lousy technique regarding communication was used. I think I have understood where this example, this very personal example that we have all experienced on a one-to-one level, can be easily translated to what happened with this Kickstarter update.
What about review bombing the BGG page?
According to the Facebook thread, I, along with many others, believe that the BGG rating system needs to be reworked. However, more manageably, I think that ratings shouldn't be allowed to be posted onto pages until the games arrive either in the customers' hands or on store shelves for the first time. Admins already check submissions to the website anyway, so having the page creator submit the page for ratings to be added shouldn't be too much additional work, significantly as many board games on BGG are never updated regardless because they never get published.
Some people's response to this might be, "why go through all that effort? BGG ratings are worthless anyway". That is the same as saying, "you're unfit, why would you want to go to the gym?" Making changes to something which could improve it should not be discouraged due to the current state of the particular thing.
I honestly think the system is more to blame than the people partaking in giving it 10/10 or 1/10 before receiving their copy. It's a case of if one person gives it an unjust 1 or 10, other's are going to feel the need to counteract it, and there will always be that one person regardless. So I do believe it's a system change rather than a mob mentality mindset change.
It's partly just because it's Gloomhaven.
Regardless of what I say, at least some small part (though I believe it might be slightly more significant than just a tiny part) of the problem is that Frosthaven is a sequel to Gloomhaven. Many people love Gloomhaven, but some people dislike it because it sits at number 1 on BGG. Being number 1 on BGG is a big thing regardless of what you think about the rating system. On the front page of the internet regarding all things board games, right there at the top is Gloomhaven, which states that Gloomhaven is the best board game ever to be created, according to the people. That will attract a lot of heat, and I'm sure it did in this case.
Who is right and who is wrong?
That's the problem right there, that question. It feels like it's always asked, and there is always a demand for a black and white answer. Honestly, I'm not bothered by what people do so long as it's fair, in my personal opinion. Still, I will say that I think it is fascinating looking at an event like this on such a scale, taking a step back and evaluating why the reaction happened. Is it just the topic? Is it the people? Is it the wording of the Kickstarter update? Is it the timing? Is it the project? All of these factors, I think, take effect, and it's not just down to one of them. If it were just down to one aspect, I wouldn't feel the need to discuss this topic. And that is what this is, a discussion. Please comment below on what you think about the reactions to the Frosthaven update.
I know this was quite a spicy post. I didn't think it would be particularly spicy until my Facebook thread exploded in less than an hour with over 100 comments, but after I analyzed the Kickstarter update, I can see why. Hopefully, this post was somewhat insightful; I'm just a regular person who likes making board games, so, like myself, you might take some of these points with you in the future when crafting your Kickstarter update.
Hello, my name is Niall Crabtree, and this is my comprehensive blog showcasing all of my game development endeavors and successes, as well as essays on game design.
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