The Fretz Zone: A Comment on Comments

Imagine, if you will, a periodical written by a man who loves games. A periodical devoted to sniffing out the things that could be better, could be much better than they currently are. You unlock this door with the key of imagination. Beyond it is another dimension, a dimension of sound, a dimension of sight, a dimension of the mind. You are moving into a land of both shadow and substance, of things and ideas. You have crossed over into The Fretz Zone.


When I first started my tenure here at Touch Arcade, I was pretty green. Compared to most of our writers, I still am. Despite a lifetime of gaming, reviewing requires a lot of consideration for me to feel comfortable making a judgment. My approach to games was, and still is, that I expect them to prove something to me in order to get a great score. Now that isn’t to say I am intentionally harsh, but just looking for that extra PIZZAZZ! when reviewing a game. Recently I’ve been reflecting on the games we review and especially when our expectations aren’t met and the score is lower than some people expect(and even sometimes when the score is HIGHER than expected). A trip to the comment section is usually a mixed bag at best.

I guess I shouldn’t be surprised that among well thought out criticism and some praise, there is almost always a common denominator of a minority voice espousing a personal attack. I’m a grizzled 12 year member of the IT and tech support field, so I would consider my skin ridiculously thick when it comes to complaints from frustrated individuals. The rest of the staff, as seasoned industry veterans, also take this sort of thing in stride. What gets me is that legitimate conversation becomes watered down with pointless invective.

To the vast majority of my commenters: you guys are great. Really! There is nothing I like more than seeing a review get a stirring conversation rolling about a game I just sunk a bunch of hours into. When game devs feel comfortable entering the conversation in the comments, I feel like there is no higher praise I can receive as a reviewer. I like to think that the biggest reason they show up is because they have the expectation of a good discussion and common civility that is unlike most news/info outlets with a comments section. Without the folks that have been reading and commenting on TA for years, this isn’t a reputation we could have.

With that said, I feel like we can always be pushing closer to the ideal environment that welcomes everyone, devs included, into the conversation. So you might read this article and think I am telling you to shut up and agree with us, but I think that would ultimately hurt our credibility and of course be really boring. As a site, we walk that thin line between freedom of expression and creating a safe space for people to express themselves. If this sounds a little familiar, Reddit recently blogged about this exact issue. Now it might be a little premature for TouchArcade to release a full blown list of core values, but I can tell you we ponder over this stuff.

The Reddit blog post has been a source of pretty hotly argued debate. Is it better to allow people a completely unfiltered soapbox or try to build a safe area that is welcoming to a wider audience? I would venture to say that without a doubt we don’t run into this issue at nearly the same velocity that Reddit does. For one, we don’t have sub-forums that seem to exist only to trigger other users. Additionally, we mainly just talk about video games and don’t have the burden of addressing major political and social conundrums that manage to surface between the cat pics and reposted gifs. This is still something we think on and the bottom line is that being constructive in a Touch Arcade comment is going to get you a lot further than being incendiary.

I am a pretty big debate nerd so any time I have a chance to talk about logical fallacies I do so. Logical fallacies are basically akin to a foul in basketball but for the debate world. If you make an argument in a debate that contains a logical fallacy, you end up losing points for it. We aren’t in a formal debate environment here, but I think there is some value in presenting a logically sound argument. The ad hominem(personal attacks) in particular really add nothing to the conversation. Feel free to bone up on those other ones too, being smart about disagreeing really makes a conversation more enjoyable.

Ultimately I know that no matter what, a site that garners attention like we tend to do from the mobile gaming public will attract the odd troll. My point here is that you, dear reader, make our site so much better in general and specifically when we can all approach disagreement with a touch of poise and control.