Frosti-writes: honesty in your posts

One of the hardest things you can do as a gaming blogger is write a review. On one hand, you want to give your readers an honest opinion and let them know if a game is worth their time and money. Then on the other, you want to give the developer credit for their effort.

These sides don’t always play nicely together and can conflict if the release is a bad one. It’s especially difficult if the review is for a game you received via a free key because you might feel a bad critique could damage your relationship with the developer or publisher. Come across a critique which absolutely gushes about a title but doesn’t specifically explain why it’s so good and is extremely far removed from most other opinions on it, and you’ve likely found a blogger who’s experiencing this kind of struggle.

It can be a balancing act, and a lesson I’ve had to learn myself since starting blogging. I now only accept keys for games which are the sort of thing I usually enjoy – point-and-clicks or narrative-based adventures – and I know which public relations (PR) contacts are likely to promote those sort of experiences. Accepting a free code comes with the obligation of publishing a review, and life is too short to spend playing video games you’re not enjoying and then having to write about them.

That being said though, it’s important to never shy away from expressing your opinion even if it’s a negative one. It is your blog after all. But it’s just as vital to make sure you’re able to explain why you feel the way you do. The reason ‘I just didn’t like it’ can sometimes be valid and the only one you can give, but it isn’t enough if you’re trying to give a well-rounded critique to your audience. It also doesn’t give the developer much to go on: if you’re able to provide more details, they then have opportunity to improve their work in the future.

Someone who I admire in this regard is Frostilyte from Frostilyte Writes. His honesty (along with his awesome artwork) is one of the reasons I enjoy his posts and streams as much as I do. If he has a view on a video game or genre that many others are unlikely to agree with, he doesn’t shy away from it. Instead he’s happy to talk about it and always strives to explain his opinion so you can see where he’s coming from, and you can be certain when reading one of his reviews that it’s really what he thinks.

I first realised this when watching him on a Frosti Fridays evening as he began streaming Hollow Knight to his Twitch channel a few months ago. My other-half had attempted to play Ori and the Blind Forest for our GameBlast20 challenge earlier this year, and made a comment in chat about the coordination to play these kind of Metroidvania titles. This moved us on to a conversation about our thoughts on Moon Studios’ release and Frosti wasn’t scared to give an opinion that was quite different to most I’ve heard before.

His honesty during this situation, along with his very kind nomination for the Super Happy Love Award last month, made me think about the way I express my own opinions. Do I ever ‘adapt’ them so as not to be so far removed from general consensus or seem like I’m just trying to be different from the majority? I already know that I don’t like writing negative reviews, because if I’ve not enjoyed playing a game then I’m not going to enjoy writing about it either; is this a part of it too?

Twitch, stream, chat, Frostilyte, Frostilyte Writes

It’s possible that I hold back in my posts without even realising I’m doing it sometimes. This could come in part from not wanting to share my blog with many people in my real life and concern about what they might think if they stumble across it. It can also be hard to say what you truly think about a game or a company when you know so many others around you feel completely differently. For example, I’ve had an idea for a post about Nintendo for a while now but I’ve always been too scared to write it.

Perhaps it’s time to start letting go of the doubts we feel about sharing our thoughts as bloggers and the worry we feel when expressing a different view. Everyone here in our community has different backgrounds and experiences which make us each react to the video games we play in a way which is unique to us. It’s this which keeps our conversations interesting: there’s something to be learned from everyone we speak to and every discussion is a chance to open your eyes to something you might not have considered before.

Talking to Frostilyte during his streams has made me want to be more open in my writing. The thing he has taught me over the past few months is that it’s ok to have your own opinion, even if it’s totally unlike that conveyed by everybody else. But you’ve got to be able to explain it so others can understand why you’ve arrived at this view, even if they don’t necessarily agree with you. It’s certainly something I’m going to try to stick to – as well as tuning in for more Frosti Fridays.

I know what I’m doing this afternoon now. It’s time to finally start writing that post explaining why I don’t like Nintendo.

10 thoughts on “Frosti-writes: honesty in your posts

  1. Thank you for the kind words! 🙂

    And you absolutely hit the nail on the head with how I try to approach expressing myself in my blog (or in all things): I want to communicate my opinion so that even if someone disagrees with me they’re able to understand how I arrived where I did. It’s important because you can’t expect the other person to read your mind, or to feel the same way as you.

    And let it be known – thinking critically about your opinions and expressing them clearly is a skill. This isn’t something I was born with the ability to do. Rather, it has taken years of practice for me to be able to articulate myself at the level I currently do. That’s to say, you might have to slowly ease yourself into it, but as long as you keep pushing you’ll eventually get there.

    This might be worth rambling about on stream tonight…hmm…

    Also, looking forward to your Nintendo article. I’m sure it will be great even if people bust out their pitch forks and torches in response. 😛

    Liked by 2 people

    • So we did have a brief ramble about this on Friday evening. But mostly we discussed flang. 😆

      It’s taken me almost four years to work up the nerve to even start the draft on that Nintendo article. I’ve thought about my reasons for disliking the company and can explain them, but there’s a part of me that still kind of nervous about the sort of reactions it might get. I don’t know why I’m so worried though: I have the courage of flang on my side.

      Liked by 1 person

  2. I think honesty is one of the most valuable qualities your reviews/articles can have as a “small time” blogger – I mean, if people want to read vague, always-positive reviews, they can just go to IGN. My favourite part about reading reviews from the people I follow here is the fact that I know I’ll get a more well-rounded view of a game. People shouldn’t have to be afraid to share their opinions (even if they’re negative) just because a game has been generally well-received; I feel like readers should be grown up enough to realize that not everyone is going to share their opinion (even though I know this isn’t always the case).

    And not to play this card, but as a female in the community, I always get a bit nervous when I share an unpopular opinion, because I feel more vulnerable to people telling me I don’t know what I’m talking about, or coming at me with “well, actually.” But as you said with Frostilyte, I try to be very clear about what I like/dislike, and how I came to those conclusions.

    Bottom line, I think it’s quite useless to try to create an echo chamber surrounding games, where everyone just reiterates the same opinions, and genuine criticism/open discussion is shunned. No one learns anything (players or developers), or has their views challenged if that is the case. Also have to agree with Frosti above: I am very much looking forward to reading what you have to say about Nintendo!

    Liked by 2 people

    • I totally get what you mean about being a female in the community. I’m not sure why this still worries me after several years of blogging though; in all that time, I’ve only had a few very negative comments and the people that left them didn’t reply when asked why they felt the way they did. I guess it’s just the worry about whether you’re going to be ‘prepared’ enough to be able to respond appropriately, or if there’s something you’ve not considered.

      The Nintendo draft has finally been started. I’m not sure when it will end up getting published, but I’m counting this as a good start. 😀

      Liked by 1 person

  3. Kudos to Frosti! Much deserved praise for the writer, artist, and Fantasy Strike legend.

    Taking the publisher element out of it, I try my best to follow a particular rule of thumb when it comes to being critical of something, such as a video game. Commenting on the video game is fair play, whether I like it or hate it. However, I don’t attack the people who made that game, nor do I attack those who like the game.

    Everyone is free to have an opinion, even if it’s different from my own. I respect that. There’s no right or wrong in the world of opinion, and it ultimately makes no difference to me if we don’t agree on the same things.

    I also think it’s unfair to make personal attacks at developers who made something I don’t like. It simply might not be my cup of tea, or there were factors beyond their control that shaped the game into something that I don’t like. I’ll focus my criticisms on the end product and not on those who made it.

    As for relationships with publishers, that can absolutely be a source of tension. I don’t want any part of that in my life, which is why I avoid that whole scenario entirely. That said, I have written for other publishers in the past where codes have been provided and I’m grateful that no one has ever given me grief for my opinions in fears that it will damage relationships with publishers. Everyone has to find their balance, but I hope that one’s integrity is maintained along the way.

    Liked by 2 people

    • I think the point you made about not attacking the people behind a game is a really important one. We all have different tastes when it comes to genres, stories and mechanics, so each creator is going to have a different take on how those things should be done according to their own likes and experience. Over the years I’ve found myself giving an overview of the developer in my reviews less and less; I’m just not sure that information is important any longer, and the focus should be on the end product.

      As we’ve discussed before, you’ve got to do what you feel is best for you and your content. And if you can hold your head up knowing you’ve been honest and maintained your integrity, then you’re doing something right. 🙂

      Liked by 1 person

  4. Honesty is super-valuable, and I think it’s important to feel comfortable talking about things in your own terms. My whole site is built on the principle that I’m covering stuff I personally find interesting, so I make a point of not having negative reviews on there. As you say, if you didn’t enjoy something, you probably won’t enjoy writing about it.

    I also think a lot of people get too hung up on the idea of a “review” as a buyer’s guide. I’d personally prefer to see people move away from rigidly defining every piece of writing about a game as a “review” and instead feel comfortable just… talking about a game. Again, this is what I do; I’m not writing anything on MoeGamer as buying advice, I’m simply saying the things I personally found interesting or noteworthy about the game, and from that people can make up their own mind about whether or not it’s something they want to explore further. If they decide they don’t, then they at least have my writeups to feel like they’re at least aware of it and have an understanding of what it’s going for.

    The word “review” gets clicks, of course, which is why I doubt it will ever go away. But independent bloggers in particular shouldn’t feel constrained to the “The graphics are good, the sounds are OK, the gameplay is OK, the story is boring” format and should instead feel comfortable writing about whatever they find the most interesting. I’d much rather read someone’s in-depth analysis of how the menu system in a specific game is inspired by 1920s postcards (as I did just before reading this post!) than whether or not said game is “good” by an arbitrarily defined set of “marking” criteria.


    • This is definitely something I’ve learnt over the years. Reviews had a set format and scoring structure when I first started blogging and eventually I realised I simply didn’t enjoy writing like that any longer, so things changed.

      I wouldn’t even call the pieces I write now ‘reviews’. They tend to be posts which more focus on a particular aspect of a game which has caught my attention – the absence of violence in RPG Eastshade or the use of videos as flashbacks in Resident Evil 7 for example – and then kind of evolve organically from there. I’d much rather read about someone’s personal experience with a release and how it made them feel, than what they think must be covered in a review.

      We’ve all learnt and lot from you and your blog, Pete, and creating posts you actually enjoy writing is one of those lessons. 😀

      Liked by 1 person

  5. Pingback: Month in Review – August – Frostilyte Writes

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