Thursday, 4 May 2017

Why non-constructive criticism is stupid

Criticism can be one of the most powerful forces in the artistic world. When it's being used without giving the opportunity for the creator to improve, it can prevent beginners from developing their rookie skills for fear of being needlessly put down.

I can safely say that there is not a single person in the world who has been able to create anything perfectly on their first try. The best painters need to create a lot of awful paintings just as the best musicians need to create a lot of awful songs. This holds for all creative endeavours, including developing video games.

I also safely assume that at some point in your life, you have created something that you are proud of- even if you understand that it's not that great. Even if you cringe in retrospect, you cringe because you've improved since then.

If you've ever been 8 years old and uploaded a shitty Flash game to Kongregate after it got blammed on Newgrounds, you know that it hurts to have people ruthlessly rip apart your work. Even as a dumb 8 year old, I knew that "Catch-a-button" wasn't a good game. However, that isn't to say I wasn't a little bit surprised by the zeal at which the commenters insulted both me and my game.

Luckily, I didn't stop making games. I'm not saying luckily because I believe that the industry would be significantly worse off had I stopped, but because making games is fun. If I wasn't making games right now, I'd be pretty lost. However, receiving hate-mail is not fun, and this brings me to the point of this post.

If you criticize someone's work, explain why it's bad. You should not get physically angry just because someone made something you didn't like and then proceed to leave a comment that mindlessly rips on the product.

Before you leave a comment on DeviantArt or Youtube or Itch.io, consider why you're leaving the comment. If you're leaving a comment solely to make the artist feel bad, I can safely say that you are a blight on the artistic world. Nothing would be lost if you don't leave that comment. If you do leave a comment, you run the risk of removing an artist who genuinely cares about his work from their respective industry. Worse still, you run the risk of separating an artist from their passion.

Since I don't like to only tell you what you should not do, I'll tell you what you should do. You should identify what is giving you the urge to comment. If it's because the piece misrepresented something that you care about, explain that. If it's because you want to tell the artist that their art is bad, tell them what about the art is bad. It takes about 5 minutes at maximum to write a 40 word paragraph on why you thought what they made isn't good.

If everyone in the world did this, every creative industry would be a hundred times better and a hundred times healthier.

Thanks for reading, and don't be a cunt.

EDIT: Changed "cynicism" to "non-constructive criticism". 

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