Indeed, nobody at all believes that I wrote that review of Dragon Age: The Stolen Throne for any reason other than to troll Bioware fanboys. If I am a troll, I am one of the rare, righteous ones. I troll with the truth; it is super effective.
I logged onto blogger a couple of days ago to see a huge spike in views and an incoming link from Bioware’s forums. David Gaider has new book, Dragon Age: Asunder, the third of his Dragon Age novels, now set during the same time frame as Dragon Age 2. I haven’t finished reading Gaider’s other novel, Dragon Age: The Calling. In fact, I’ve only just started to read it. David Gaider’s comments in that thread will likely receive due attention when I get around to reviewing The Calling, where my remarks will likely be more pertinent (and pointed). To my surprise, the rest of the responses in that forum thread actually got me thinking.
I posted a response to all of the negative attention my review of The Stolen Throne received not long after it went online. It’s been linked on Bioware’s forums before, to similar reactions, and most of the negative comments accuse me of either being “pretentious” or not having played the games; I admit to the latter in the text of my review, while the former is actually incorrect (few of these people seem to understand what that word means). When I wrote that first response, I thought that the fans were taking issue with the fact that I did not like The Stolen Throne. I was wrong; they do not like that I wrote out the reasons why I disliked it.
There’s a certain line of thinking that runs through many of these posts, a way of viewing things common, at least from what I’ve observed, amongst younger fans of certain media, especially amongst fans of video games. It’s an attitude that informs many of the arguments in the evergreen “video games and art” debate. It revolves around the term “subjective.”
The fanboy/girl’s typical defense of their half-formed thoughts or opinions or appraisals goes like, “well that’s just my opinion,” as if it could be anything else. Another one: “well I liked it.” Yeah. Likely nobody would tell you otherwise. Often they invoke subjectivity directly, under the false impression that if something has a subjective element, that all criticism that surrounds it is inherently subjective as well. Take, for instance, the following post from Imported Beer, in response to my review:
I’m only going to address that last part, as it serves to illustrate my point, and I will try to refrain from snarking at the repeated use of the term “personal construct.” Imported Beer makes two claims in this paragraph. The first is that prose aesthetics are subservient to narrative. The second is that all criticism is subjective, and only personally useful. Basically: “I don’t care what you think, and it doesn’t matter what you think.”
That people of this mindset would denigrate criticism – but only negative criticism aimed at the objects of their fanaticism – is unsurprising. Another Bioware forum-goer, nedpepper, contributed what he calls an old cliché: “Writers write because they can, critics critique because they can't write.” I suppose he’s unaware of how many professional writers of fiction publish criticism of their peers; I suppose he’s also unaware of the semi-colon.
Of course, if everything about fiction is subjective, their evaluations of Gaider’s work do not matter either. They think that they have marginalized an outspoken critic; they have attempted to do so by marginalizing an entire media, the liberal arts, and those who study them. And they do so -- I think -- unwittingly.
Few things in the world are purely subjective. Fiction, for instance, is not. The text is an object. An evaluative critique is based on observations of that object.
The only person to respond to the review rather than react to it (sorta) was RosaAquafire, who would later accuse me of “rocking a big dumb bias.” Disregarding that second post, I appreciate that she both read my review and expressed disagreement with points I made rather than accusing me of “elitism” and “snobbery.” But then, she didn’t actually respond in the comments. In fact, none of the posters bothered to write a comment on my blog, in spite of my comments remaining open, even to anonymous posters. Bravely done, fellas.