I should probably apologize for the previous post. My New Years resolution is to stop reading internet forums (except the one here, of course) because I realized that I was spending a huge amount of my valuable free time reading and participating in arguments about topics that have absolutely no value whatsoever. I really enjoy online discussion when it’s interesting and informative; there’s nothing better than reading a really insightful post by some anonymous internet guy and feeling like you’ve actually just learned something. But I quit forums because 99% of the posts seemed to be argument for the sake of argument, with almost zero actual interesting discussion. So I just went cold turkey a few weeks back and I have to say that the effect has been like quitting smoking–all of a sudden I have much more free time and energy than I had before.
But I’m sort of interested in what it is about the internet that causes people to defend some meaningless, trivial point as if it is a matter of life and death. I mean, look at Wikipedia’s list of Lamest Edit Wars Ever for an excruciating number of examples of people getting into intense verbal battles over the spelling of a word, the heritage of some long-dead aristocrat, or whether or not a particular comic is really the first appearance of a particular character. So much energy spent for so little return! These discussions are, as I said in the previous post, asinine because they are not constructive. You can debate whether Resident Evil 4 is horror, action-horror, survival horror, or whatever until the cows come home and neither side will have actually learned anything.
So the previous post was something of an experiment, and it was a little underhanded, which is why I apologize. I deliberately constructed that post to first complain about asinine arguments and then proceed to make such an argument myself (though I did try to actually include some interesting stuff). I was interested in which point would garner the most responses: the point about opinion wars of trivial topics being stupid, or the point about whether Resident Evil 4 is a horror game or not.
Well, it’s been about 48 hours since that post, and I’m not sure whether to call the experiment a success or a failure. On the one hand, the post worked as designed: it prompted a huge amount of discussion about one of the points and very little about the other. On the other hand, the level of “discussion” was much more intense than I was expecting. The test wasn’t exactly fair because once people started to respond, I sort of egged the discussion on by reiterating my arguments from the post. As of this writing there are 29 comments (including a few of my own) to the previous post, which I think makes it the most commented-on piece I’ve ever written. That’s right, the post about whether or not Resident Evil 4 is horror or not got more responses than the post on racism in Resident Evil 5, more responses than the article on Japanese horror that I spent months writing, and even more responses than my controversial decrying of Cold Fear. While a couple of people got my poorly-communicated point, a lot of other people took the proposed argument far too seriously. To tell you the truth, it’s pretty depressing that some asinine (if inflammatory) post can generate this level of response while the much more constructive and informative posts hardly garner a comment.
So, in light of the rather scary result of this experiment, I have a request and a proposal. First, I would like to humbly request that we spend our time on this site at least attempting to have constructive discourse. I don’t mind arguments of opinion, but if you are going to post something about how you feel, please go into detail about why you feel that way; even if we don’t agree with you, it’s much more interesting to learn about your perspective than if you just say “No, wrong, here’s how it is.” The previous post was an experiment that I’m not excited to repeat. I know it’s like this all over the internet, but my request is that we at least try to rise above squabbling about truly trivial topics.
In addition, I’d like to propose some topics that, while related to the argument put forth in my previous post, are infinitely more interesting. Maybe we can spend some time talking the following things:
- What about Resident Evil 4 is different than previous games in the series. What is similar? Why do you think Capcom changed the formula the way they did?
- What design aspects of Resident Evil 4 improve the game’s ability to scare the player? Which aspects damage that ability?
- If you enjoyed Resident Evil 4, what did you like about it (be specific!). If you hated it, what was the problem (again, specificity is key here–ranting usually has a very low signal to noise ratio).
Or we can talk about some other topic; we don’t have to stick to these prompts. I hope that future discussions will be more like conversations and reflections rather than opinion wars.