Ask a Game Dev 2022-04-10 19:04:28

Humans tend to project our own wants, desires, feelings, etc. onto others - that is, we tend to assume other people believe what we believe, like what we like, dislike what we dislike, etc. This tendency has many far-reaching side effects such as conflating criticism of the thing we like as criticism of ourselves, which leads to arguments on gaming message boards and forums because players often assume that what they like is what the entire player base likes, even if they are actually only a small minority and/or that any criticism about the game is a judgement on them as people.


The “git gud” attitude among players is also one such side effect. Belief in the “git gud” mantra tells me that the player very much likes things the way they are, and would rather keep out the others that don’t agree than risk the game being changed to something the player doesn’t like. In order to mentally justify this, the player divides the community into two groups - those who agree (those who are “gud”) and those who do not belong (those who need to “git gud”). As you might have guessed, this tends to be bad for player base growth, since it tends to chase many new players away.


From a developer’s perspective, we have two major goals: 

  1. Provide players a specific intended experience (including aspects like difficulty and execution) 
  2. Secure enough players/engagement/revenue to hit our business targets so we can keep making games and paying bills

As a result, we devs sometimes find ourselves in a position where what players want isn’t necessarily congruous with the intended game experience. The basic response here would be to tell the players who ask for a different kind of game experience that this is what we intended (which could be construed by our more fervent fans as “git gud”). While these might be somewhat similar on external inspection, what the hardcore fan believes is intended and what is actually intended are typically not the same thing. 


As a developer, I want as many people as I can get to play and enjoy my game. My joy comes from seeing players play my games, finding all the extra little touches I put in, and generally have fun with them. I dislike it when I see fans gatekeeping, because it means that they’re chasing away players who might otherwise have enjoyed my game for their own reasons. I don’t think it should be up to the fans to decide who is allowed to play the game and how. I don’t think that the game needs fans defend it on forums. I think that the game should be able to stand on its own and that it’s ok to like something that has flaws. I actually welcome criticism and negative feedback because it helps me identify issues that we weren’t aware of before and provides additional perspective on design decisions we made that we might not have thought of. We devs generally don’t need defending.

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