203/366 – The Chicken Littles Of Online Game Forums

chicken-littleI run into a lot of stereotypes in my travels and my jobs around the internet, but if there’s one consistent thing I see in online gaming forums or sites every time I visit them, it’s the gamers who are Chicken Littles. While not as common as any other gaming forum stereotype (the White Knight, the Troll, the Hater, and the rare Optimist come to mind), they’re nevertheless a fixture in these places, and it’s rarely ever a good thing.

You’ve probably seen them in your haunts of choice online. They’re the ones making threads like “is this game dying?” and “Player population seems empty” and “Do you trust the devs with x feature?”. There are some more extreme titles, but these are the tamer, and partially legitimate ones. I say partially legitimate because it’s not that I’m saying criticism shouldn’t ever be leveled at studios – in fact, most studios worth their salt want to hear criticism to make things better. But there’s a difference between a concerned thread and one that declares the game dead before there’s even a chance for whatever change/patch/cycle to run through its paces. Chicken Little posters border on the willfully negative, justifying their attitude with past transgressions they feel they suffered under developers and the broken trust that it established.

I think that it’s very easy to get annoyed with Chicken Little posters, but I’ve learned that just about everyone who participates in your community, even the ones who believe the game will fall flat on its face and die at any moment, have something legitimate to say behind how they frame their opinion or idea. That being said, I think there are limitations to how many times someone can believe or say the sky is falling before general annoyance at attituded gets the better of them. Usually, the true Chicken Little posters – the ones who will believe the worst in a game, eventually will leave, or they get in trouble to the point of slipping into something blatantly rule-violating and getting banned. Still, it can be hard to handle them at times when you’re obligated to trade opinions and be respectful, but that’s typically what the prevent/ignore/mute function is for, right?

In the end, Chicken Little posters don’t really annoy me as much as they make me feel sorry for them. If you’re always running around disillusioned and wonder what will go wrong next, you’ll never quite be satisfied with a game. You’ll always feel like it could have been better and you’ll never get excited about something because you’re worried about how it gets screwed up. It’s just not a way to lead the gaming life – where some of the puzzles they present in gameplay always work against your own personal enjoyment. I prefer to have a more balanced approach – critical, yet able to tell someone that you don’t love a particular game with consistency. This way, it gets the message across much more than the all caps “the end is nigh” posts just don’t get anywhere with community folks. One can hope that someone (possibly crazy) will take care of themselves in that respect.

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