Fallacious Arguments in Gaming
The world of video games is full of bias when it comes to arguing on whenever a game is good or not. However, when it comes to flush out those biases, the task appears to be more subtle than it looks. I would like to dress a list of those common rhetorical arguments which - while it comes to be sometimes efficient to give the illusion of owning the truth - are not necessarily valid points. This topic does not cover a specific discussion; it can be reviews as well as common Steam or forum discussion.
This is a work in progress; so, feel free to add your suggestions.
Well, let's get started, shall we?
- Call Of Popularity -
(Yes, this is an extremely subtle reference to your favorite 7 - 77 years old shooter...)
The equivalent of Appeal to Popularity for gaming.
This argument consists in judging a game based on the majority opinion, sales figures, metacritic score, etc...
It's irrelevant because you blindly pick an external consensus in spite of your own judgment, without assessing those opinions. It's okay only if you fill your own argumentation with other facts, but the popularity alone is not enough, not only it is invalid but it also can be misleading when it comes to ratings (thanks to Charcharo for this video).
- 'Thousands of people play this game and like it, so, it's a good game.'
- ‘I see a clear majority of positive recommendations on Steam for this game, so it must be good.’
- Scapegoat/Messiah Referencing -
The equivalent of Argument From Authority for gaming.
This argument consists in rejecting/praising a game because someone or something is involved in.
For example, you are using a 'Scapegoat Referencing' argument when you say that BF1 sucks because EA made it. While we should aware about who makes a game and which are the previous entries in order to set our expectations, it is still irrelevant because it’s too arbitrary and loose, you still have to explain in deeper details why this the game is a good or a mediocre one.
- ‘PoE is made by Obsidian; it should be a clue it’s roleplaying high quality standards’.
- ‘Overwatch was good, until SJW put their fingers on Tracer.’
- ‘Another crap from Activision, I don’t even need go further into scatological details’.
- 'MGS5 is the last masterpiece from Konami; this is the last game where Kojima was involved in it after all.'
- Straw Man Argument -
From the same Straw Man used in everyday life.
In gaming, it consists in criticizing a game based on the idea you have of it, not on what the game is actually is, that idea often being an exaggerated caricature so it's easy to criticize it. This one is quite dangerous because it’s very efficient to discredit your interlocutor point of view. Of course it is irrelevant because you are not discussing about the actual game content.
- 'Ghouls immigrants are rapists, criminals, cannibals, pest bringer and ugly, so we have to stop them by building a wall.' - Mickey Trump, Make Fallout Great Again.
- ‘I hate JRPGs and VN because they are full of anime jailbaits or females with unrealistic oversized boobs wandering around in pants involved in nonsensical and immoral stories made for virgin geeks that can’t find a girlfriend so they can still jerk off on their beloved waifus.’
- Retro Referencing -
The equivalent of Argument From Age in gaming.
This one covers multiple cases:
- Old games which are praised just because of the time span they were released. By stating this, you are only positioning the context where the game is released, but you still have to give more explanations about the game qualities and why it is consider as a classic.
- Newer games that use retro assets (for example pixel graphics, 2.5D view etc…) and are praised for it. While I don’t have any problem with choosing old asset as an artistic choice, banking on nostalgia and making analogies with the classics the game is inspired of is another thing. Reusing assets that work earlier doesn’t guarantee that it will work each time, game mechanics is a combination of things we are judging as a whole, not to mention, some assets that were successful in the past may also be dated by today standards (the 2.5D isometric view on an old engine is very hard to justify nowadays).
- Git Gud -
In this case, you are trying to justify the game flaws as an intended design because of the intended difficulty. It also refers as the rejection of your interlocutor argument because you think he is not skilled enough to appreciate the game. This is a fallacious argument because it’s not refutable. It’s like someone tells you that you can levitate if you try hard enough, so if you don’t manage to do it, it means that you still have to try harder. This is a similar logic with the ‘Git Gud’ argument, if you fail to appreciate the game quality, it means that you’re not good enough and need to improve your skills until you can appreciate it.
- This is a regular topic in the Dark Souls community
- Darkest Dungeon is also another game with similar discussions.
- Other Fallacious Argument -
- The ‘Do it yourself’ argument, a convenient case to avoid game criticism by rejecting to your interlocutor its incapacity to make a better game by themselves, I’m not sure of it, but I think It’s a case of ad-hominem argument.
- Confusing game qualities with your personal tastes (for example saying that X game is good because it has robots where the latter one is more related to your personal tastes).
- ‘Not a faithful/authentic game’, I’m open to debate on this one, but I think rejecting something because it doesn’t respect its crowd or the previous entries of the same saga doesn’t necessarily make it a bad game. At the very least, it needs deeper exploration.
A more global view about the fallacious arguments:
The art of the rethoric arguments: