When I was younger, I would always look forward to my parents going out and Molly, the nice Irish lady from next door, coming around to babysit. I loved to hear her tell the story of The Billy Goats Gruff. If you have heard this story then you know that Trolls live under bridges in the middle of nowhere, but what I suspect you don’t know is that somebody has erected an exchange in the middle of nowhere and that all of the bridges have ADSL connections and that the Trolls are now spending their time on the internet. (Yes, this is good news if you are a goat).
At the beginning of the year I was reading some posts on Joystiq about the best PS3 games of 2009, I thoroughly enjoyed the posts because I felt they reflected the opinions of the authors and not of any sponsors that the website may have (which is why I stopped reading gaming magazines). In one of the posts it was suggested that Killzone 2 was a disappointment, Kevin Kelly didn’t say it was a terrible game, just not the game that most people were expecting, a sentiment that I agreed with completely but that sparked a huge debate riot in the comments section. A subsequent post on the same theme listed KZ2 in its “good” list and Call of Duty: Modern Warfare 2 in it’s disappointment list. I disagreed with both of these choices, but could see that it was just someone with a slightly different taste in games expressing their opinion, however the comments list was once again the victim of marauding trolls flaming anyone that dared to dislike KZ2. I tweeted about how unreadable the comments sections were and was surprised to receive a response from one of the news writers at Joystiq, acknowledging that there were some “unfortunate remarks” but suggesting that I should “take the good with the bad”. I can see what he meant, after all I applaud the people calling for a new version of Time Splitters, accept many of the criticisms of MW2 and can see that some of the pro-KZ2 crowd were expressing genuine opinions, I just feel that the human : troll ratio was incorrectly balanced.
Then this post popped up on Engadget explaining how Windows 7′s market share had already “surpassed all OS X versions that are being tracked”, here the flame baiting started in the frickin’ article. (Kudos to the first commentor on this post though who succinctly captured my feelings when he added “Yeah, no sh!t, and the sky is blue. Is this really news?”).
Flame baiting/trolling is not big and it isn’t clever and tends to suggest that you have failed to develop the skills necessary to a) have a proper, rational debate and b) realise when someone holds a differing opinion and to respect it and move on and hence the rest of us are more likely to ignore you than engage you in a pointless debate.
I would like to finish this post by mentioning another Joystiq post on the game M.A.G. which caused me to start watching this series of videos on YouTube. I downloaded (eventually) the beta for this game and my experiences were exactly the same as the guy in the video so I genuinely lolled at it. I know a lot of people are going to rush out and buy this game and will love it in every way (and that’s fine), but give me MW2 or a miniature flaming ninja monkey with a chaingun any day!