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May 5, 2021
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One player is enough, or handling feedback

by Igor Rashkuev on 09/15/14 10:23:00 am   Featured Blogs

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The following blog post, unless otherwise noted, was written by a member of Gamasutra’s community.
The thoughts and opinions expressed are those of the writer and not Gamasutra or its parent company.

 

 

A few months ago my friends and I made a game called “You won’t tell anyone, right?” for a game jam. Theme of the jam was “phobias”, and rules indicated accordance to theme as a very important criteria. We didn’t want to go with ordinary ideas like “the character is afraid of lava and spikes, so he/she must not step on them”, so we decided to explore a more uncommon and riskier theme - child abuse. The project is more of an interactive story than a game. It tells a story of a woman, who was a subject of abuse when she was little and developed a phobia after this traumatic events. After the jam I fixed a few most obvious issues, that we did not have time to deal with initially due to limited time, and uploaded it to a few websites.

 

It was predictable, that the feedback will be rather diverse. And it is hard to avoid alteration of your own perception of your game by public opinion. There were praise comments, there were critical and negative comments. It was not my first day on the Internet, so I didn’t care much about short negative comments like “waste of time” and “this game sucks”. But there was also some pretty detailed and thought-out feedback that criticized bugs, glitches, narrative flaws, lack of interaction and other issues that are obviously present in the game. Some people acknowledged that it is important to address such themes in games. Others said that such serious topics should not be handled in a hurry that game jam is and should be worked on with more time and effort, and it’s hard to argue with this point. Some people said the story was deep and interesting, some said it was shallow, and endings were obvious and abrupt.

 

Eventually, as it usually happens with all kinds of stuff I create, I completely lost sense of quality of the game and didn’t have a slightest idea what to think about it anymore. I just saw it as a huge pile of flaws.

 

 

 

One day, quite a long time after the game was released and all the feedback pretty much stopped, I discovered a notification letter from one of the websites with a comment about the game. And this was the comment that settled my perspective on the game and after which I decided to write this article. I don’t feel like citing it here, even though it is publiсly available, but it feels like something too private to share directly. It was an emotional comment by a guy, whose girlfriend suffered from an issue similar to one depicted in the game, when she was little. She told him about stepfather that lived with her and her mother for a few months and what he did. The guy said, he became filled with hate and even wanted to take revenge on this man. He was unrest and could not understand how his girlfriend lives with it. But the game changed his view on things. He remembered, that violence only breeds violence, and revenge doesn’t solve anything. He said he cried after playing...

 

I was almost speechless for some time after I’ve read the comment. At first I had a severe case of impostor’s syndrome, because it was so hard to believe, that something I made influenced someone so much, that it was not just a common praise but actual appreciation for real reason. That I’ve managed not to just entertain someone, but to help. That was it. I don’t try to evaluate our game anymore, but I know that it was not made in vain. No matter how flawed it was, it conveyed its message.

 

No matter how many people don’t like your game, or any kind of your art, and think it’s useless and shouldn’t have been made at all, it doesn’t matter, if there’s someone who sincerely liked and appreciated it. Sometimes even one player is enough.


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