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Editorial

Review Scores Are Only Part of The Problem

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Time and time again when a negative review is posted about a much-beloved game, the gaming community rears its ugly head, as we’ve seen with the latest review score drama circling around the Washington Post review for Uncharted 4. People go online with their Twitter account to personally attack the author, as shown in a recent Kotaku article about the subject here, create petitions to censor things, and so on. However, and I’ve pointed out the hypocrisy of sites like Kotaku before, this isn’t just a problem with review scores, it’s an issue with the lack of moderation.

The gaming community can be wonderful if you’re in the right place, surrounded by the right people. There’s tons of people out there looking to have thoughtful discussions about video games in a mature and respectful manner. Unfortunately, there are those who want to create turmoil as well. But that’s normal, that happens whether your online or not. People are, however, more careful about what they say in person because there’s no veil of anonymity to hide behind, whereas online we have that luxury (mostly).

As you all know, online anonymity allows toxic conversations to sprout all over the internet, with people saying things online they’d most likely never actually say to someone’s face. Part of the reason this has become such a problem is because some of the online outlets don’t moderate comment sections enough. People aren’t afraid of the consequences for the actions they take online because there aren’t any, or so it seems like that. I guess you can be banned from a comments section, but to most that’s an “oh well” moment.

Review scores are part of the problem, sure. We’re all very well aware of that. People tend to focus on the score rather than the actual writing on the wall, though and that’s in part due to how most outlets treat review scores: 8-10 is good. 1-7 is trash.

That may be slightly exaggerated, but it’s probably not too far from the truth. However, I’m not really writing this editorial to discuss review scores. I’m more here to discuss journalists treating review scores as the problem for creating toxic gaming communities, when it’s more of a case of these outlets not doing their job to help fostering thoughtful gaming discussion.

Let me be frank. OnlySP doesn’t get a whole lot of comments in our comments section. That’s partly because fostering a community is hard work, and moderating one is even harder and more time consuming. The other reason for this is simply because we really don’t post a whole lot of controversial content, as we prefer to focus on the positivity in the gaming community and games rather than drama. But even so, when we do have a heavy-hitting article, we do our best to make sure the comments section are holding discussions and not posting junk like “OnlySP gave X GAME a 6 out of 10! WTF! Dis game is totally a 10. F THESE GUYS, they have no idea how to review games. F THIS WEBSITE, now I’m going to track down AUTHOR on TWITTER and threaten him with POOP EMOJIS.”

Not once have I visited IGN or Gamespot and not seen comments sections with stuff like that. When I see a trending topic on Twitter that’s about something controversial, I, again, see those sorts of comments. Once one comment is posted like that, other people start replying to it, and soon, you have a chain of 50+ comments that drive absolutely no discussion and usually devolves to people calling each other names or whatever other derogatory things come to mind.

IGN Comments

The sites that have the biggest influence on our industry just don’t take the time to moderate these discussions and provide avenues for people to actually discuss games. Just look at the Games sub on Reddit. I’m not exactly the biggest proponent for how they run things there, I’ll admit, but their comments sections are heavily moderated and only allow comments that add discussion. The kicker though? The moderators there do it for free. Another shining example? PSXExtreme (which unfortunately may not be around much longer) has always had good discussions in their comments sections because they didn’t allow toxic discussion to flourish which allowed the community to mature and respect one another.

We can have different opinions about games without being targeted for it. But only when we take responsibility and actually have standards for our discussions. Youtubers don’t moderate their comments section, and if they do, they usually just turn off comments. Major websites like IGN or Gamespot will occasionally chime in on a comments section if their writers are being heavily harassed, as was the case with Lucy O’Brien review of Uncharted 4. Now we have people basically saying that if we don’t give a game the score the community is expecting, you should expect to see backlash. That’s honestly bullshit and akin to blackmail.

Most of the time, I believe websites let these comments sections flourish because it boosts their comment numbers and increases return traffic from people returning to the fight. I bet if IGN actually heavily moderated their comments section, their Uncharted review would have about 2-5000 comments and not the 29,000 it has now. I completely understand that it’s impossible to curb all the toxic comments and knuckleheads on the internet, especially when you have an article containing over 25,000 comments, but we have to do a better job of moderating ourselves and our content platforms. We have to work on setting a standard for discussion that isn’t based around arguments or we’re going to keep coming back to this problem of the toxic few giving the rest of us a bad name.

The opinions in this editorial are the author’s and do not represent OnlySP as an organization.

If you enjoyed this article, please consider supporting us on Patreon! And be sure to follow us on Facebook and Twitter (@Official_OnlySP).

OnlySP founder and former site owner.

Editorial

Three Single-Player Games to Watch Out for in July 2019

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Three Single Player Games (July 2019) - Sea of Solitude, Fire Emblem Three Houses, Wolfenstein Youngblood

July, the middle of winter down here in Australia. Even in the bizarre New South Wales climate, the biting cold makes for a great excuse to stay inside and play games. 

Weirdly for single players, quite a few prestige games this month include additional co-op modes. With acclaimed designers behind them, such games will hopefully avoid the pitfalls of accommodating multiple players, as too many games have done in the past.

Sea of Solitude

Release Date: July 5, 2019
Platforms: PC, PlayStation 4 and Xbox One

At first blush, Sea of Solitude looks like yet another story of a young adult struggling with questions of identity and mental health while exploring a beautiful but harsh fantasy world.

Actually, that’s what it is. ‘Quirky, life affirming indie adventure’ is a whole cottage industry these days, but the fact that such games are now more prevalent should never dismay.

Hellblade: Senua’s Sacrifice was a masterpiece of refined design and storytelling, and Sea of Solitude appears be something similar—this time dealing with a fantastical vision of depression that turns ordinary people into literal monsters.

Players take charge of Kay, who has sought out the eponymous Sea—or rather, a flooded city based on Berlin—in the hope that there is a cure for monstrosity. However, despite its name, she is not the only person in the Sea. Avoiding the other monsters of the Sea seems to be a major part of the gameplay. These tense encounters are likely to provide rhythm and variety to the adventure and keep it from being a just walking simulator. (Not that being a walking simulator is inherently a problem.)

Although published by EA Originals, one would do well to remember that EA the company does not actually profit off the Originals that they publish. With a focused story and themes that still are not often explored in bigger games, Sea of Solitude should be of great interest to single player fans in a month otherwise dominated by multiplayer titles.

 

Fire Emblem: Three Houses

Release Date: July 26, 2019
Platform: Nintendo Switch

Almost certainly the biggest single player release of the month, and tied with Marvel Ultimate Alliance 3 as another massive Switch exclusive, Fire Emblem: Three Houses might be exactly what single players need right now.

Lately the Fire Emblem franchise has exploded in both its popular profile and sales success, buoyed by a hunger for both deep anime RPGs and polished tactics games. Three Houses seems to have doubled down on exciting trends and features in both genres: particularly a Persona/Harry Potter inspired magic school setting and an even deeper tactical battle system that ditches the rock-paper-scissors for more nuanced character progression options. As with many Japanese RPGs, the story is also a major focus and hinges upon a time-jump.

The early part casts the player as a teacher at the Officer’s Academy, situated in the center of the game world and attended by students from the three most powerful nations. Five years later, the second and likely larger part concerns the drama between the player’s teacher and their former students, whose nations are now locked in a massive three-way conflict.

As is to be expected for a series finally coming back to consoles after a long time on the 3DS, Three Houses is a massive technical leap over its predecessors. The game boasts better realised battlefields, more detailed armies, and a slick animated style that appears much more consistent compared with the three or four different art styles on the 3DS.

With such improvements, as well as the overall pedigree of the Fire Emblem brand, Three Houses should have no trouble satisfying single player fans looking for a meaty middle-of-the-year RPG.

Wolfenstein: Youngblood

Release Date: July 26, 2019
Platforms: Nintendo Switch, PC, PlayStation 4, and Xbox One

The recent Wolfenstein revival series is such a remarkable achievement in traditional shooter design and great, if goofy, sci-fi worldbuilding that the co-op focus of this latest instalment is somewhat disappointing.

Yes, as with F.E.A.R. 3 and Dead Space 3, following a well-received second chapter the Wolfenstein series now pivots to a co-operative focused chapter. Though the game is not a mandatory multiplayer experience, combat encounters and puzzles have been redesigned to accommodate the two player mode, giving single players an AI-controlled partner and bullet sponge enemies.

However, all hope is not lost for Wolfenstein: why else would it be the third game on the list? The narrative has been pushed forward in time, as B.J.’s twin daughters are now in their adolescence, now giving players a glimpse at the 1980s of Wolfenstein‘s skewed universe. Additionally, the level design itself is more freeform thanks to development assistance from Arkane, the developers of the Dishonored series.

Will Wolfenstein: Youngblood successfully deliver more of the series’s goofy charm and crazy alternate reality? Almost certainly. On the other hand, will the game be as fun to play alone as in multiplayer? That remains to be seen. Last month’s E3 demo that raised such concerns was naturally only a snapshot of a game in development, so MachineGames and Arkane have had plenty of time to resolve these potential downsides to a co-op focused game.

Those are our three big single player games to look out for this month. Other interesting titles coming soon include Stranger Things 3 on July 4 and Attack on Titan 2 on July 5, both games hitting Nintendo Switch, PC, PlayStation 4, and Xbox One.

On July 12 we will see the sequel to an almost-fantastic Minecraft-like RPG spinoff, Dragon Quest Builders 2 on Switch and PlayStation 4, as well as the Switch port of “anime Monster Hunter”, God Eater 3

The week after, July 19 brings us Switch-exclusive Marvel Ultimate Alliance 3: The Black Order, and at an undetermined time during the month Klei Entertainment’s anticipated survival-sim Oxygen Not Included will finally leave early access on PC.

Have we missed anything that you’re looking forward to? Let us know in the comments below and be sure bookmark OnlySP and follow us on Facebook, Twitter, and YouTube. You can also join the discussion in our community Discord server.

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