Disclaimer: I’m not 100% sure why I felt the need to write this. It’s pretty much a “devs stop whining” as opposed to “leave Kairi alone” as we all know she’s perfectly capable of fending for herself. Errrr, my thoughts don’t reflect those of Elemental Focus as a company? Something like that.
Indie Gamer Chick is a relatively new site for XBLIG reviews created by Kairi Vice (not her real name, its just easier to refer to her that way). It’s grown a lot in the two months so far that its been running and looks set to continue, at least as much as the indie game scene will allow. However, many developers feel the game reviews are particularly harsh, obviously aggravated by her somewhat Yahtzee-like style to bemoaning failings within their games, pertaining her to be the troll under the bridge that gorges itself upon their hopes and dreams. Kairi has now taken to calling these people out as much as possible, making it clear that she’s not about to change her style just because a few developers can’t face being told that someone doesn’t like their game.
It may already be fairly obvious where I stand in this discussion. Kairi is quite possibly the most professional of any of the XBLIG reviewers out there. She will accept pretty much any challenge to review a game (there are some exceptions, but nothing that should trouble you if you’re not Silver Dollar Games), plays the game the entire way through and on any mode she is capable of doing so and will give games a second chance, such as if things go horribly the first time *cough* The Cannon *cough*. Despite what it seems to many developers, she is very much in active support of the XBLIG, determined to give promotion and good press where its due. Her reviewing morals are sound: never reviewing trials (to be perfectly honest, trial reviews drive me up the wall) and buying all of the games herself (no codes from reviewers). In writing the reviews, she provides a vital service to the XBLIG channel, so why the hate?
Firstly, the way the developers that complain do so makes it sound like they feel they are entitled to a good review and should only get a bad review if they have actually done something wrong. This is completely the wrong way to look about a review, or even creating games in general. You want to be creating something that is unique and fun, not just creating a game that ticks all the standard boxes. You can tick every stupid box you want, but the boxes of ‘fun’, ‘entertaining’ and ‘a worthwhile use of one’s time’ can be very ill-defined. Another common idea is “Oh, but our games only cost a dollar and should be evaluated as such”. While this may be true, the thing to remember with these lower priced games is that the main investment someone will make in them is their time. If she doesn’t feel a game has been worth the time she’s put in, chances are Kairi’s going to make up for lost time by squeezing humour out of it in her review.
Which brings me onto her style. The language used in Kairi’s reviews can be somewhat flamboyant and some developers seem to take this as a personal attack when her criticism is leveled squarely at their game. Of course, it’s also entirely fair, she’s paid money and put a fair chunk of time into the game, if she hasn’t felt that that was worthwhile then she should have every right to spout about it. Maybe that makes it sound a little too much like revenge. There’s a lot of feeling in an indie gamer chick review, its not just a list of features and it can give you a good idea of how she spent her time with it (even if you might not be on the same page on the enjoyment level). I’d like to direct you to an Extra Creditz video on reviewing right now, but its currently unavailable due to a little switch-up they’re going through so ho hum on that. The style is also important for readership. It’s not easy to write reviews that people want to read. I can tell as I’m writing this that it’s not going to be the most riveting read, I’m just spouting a load of my thoughts and have to watermelon try hard to keep you paying attention.
Finally, brutal reviewers are good things. Reviewers known to be brutal make it far easier to tell which games they enjoyed. The criticism remains constructive and will make clear what a developer needs to do if they want to make her happy next time. If everything is various levels of shiny, nothing stands out. If only one or two things are shiiiiiiny….well, they then stand out. If every single game gets 4 out of 5 stars then the point of having a review is defeated and we’re just back to square one, too much choice and not knowing what’s really good.
People might not always agree with the overall view or the criticism levelled. Some people may have found the game fun where others have not, but these are issues with any review. If Kairi doesn’t like your game, it doesn’t necessarily mean everyone else thinks it rubbish, but she’s also not going to be the only person who thinks that way. Buckle up, take your criticism on the nose and use it to make your next game that much better.
Of course, none of this has anything to do with the fact that she put the Cannon at #10 on her all time (of the two months so far) list.
(and on the subject of reviews, another favourable one went up on VVGTV!)