29 Jun Haters Gonna Hate
Haters gonna hate.
It’s not exactly great English, but that phrase has been strangely comforting on occasion for me over the past couple of years as I developed Infected Zombie RPG. As an Indie game designer, you have to get yourself out there into the public view, and let’s face it – how many of us started off wanting to be promoting ourselves? Most of us just like gaming (and while that does make you good at making funny voices and cool accents, it doesn’t necessarily make you great at standing up and pushing your product).
Of course, I have found that it’s best not to stand up spruiking yourself like some door-to-door salesman. It’s evidently better to be humble, helpful to others, and constructive. That’s my personal view. Even if I see a project out there that offends my sensibilities, I also at the same time realise that it’s someone else’s baby. It’s their dream, their passion and their blood, sweat and tears. So if I mention anything it would be to say what’s good about it, and maybe try to help with a glaring out point. But only in a constructive way.
This sort of attitude tends to make you acquire friends, and no real enemies, which I think is a plus point. That doesn’t mean you can’t stand up for what you believe in, but personally I don’t think anything comes from having a slag-fest with other people on the net. Do you ever really change their point of view that way? Of course not. You’re far more likely to end up feeling really mad all day. In fact, your day might just be ruined.
And that brings me to my point. As an Indie Developer, you are it. You’re likely the one-man-band, or at best you have a very small team. So your personal thoughtspace is important. Your harmony (in the book Shogun they called it your wa), your wa, is absolutely vital. If you let someone’s negative comment impact on you, then you could end up losing your momentum, or even doing something silly, like giving up.
The thing is that when you first start escaping from anonymity, when you first start to pop your head up and get noticed by people, you will inevitably cop some criticism. I think it’s like a cycle. You break through a barrier, and you take a bit of negativity on the chin. Don’t despair though! If you carry on through it, keep on getting out there, keep improving your product and your delivery of your message, then that negativity will melt away!
The thing to watch out for is that you don’t want to get your thoughts too clouded by the negativity. When someone says something to put down your project (even just a little, almost innocuous sentence), it’s upsetting. This is your baby! It’s like someone insulting you directly.
1. Distance Yourself
So first up, distance yourself from the criticism. Don’t take it personally. And remember, you don’t have to agree with it, even if you discuss it with someone or let them know you heard them.
2. Play This Song
Okay, it’s ridiculous… but I just sing to myself, Haters Gonna Hate! for a little while, until I feel better. Just telling yourself that can give you perspective. People can be critical. Doesn’t mean what you’re doing is all bad! Just shake it off!
3. Investigate the Criticism
I have learnt some valuable things from criticism, so it’s not all bad. But that being said, often it’s said in broad generalities. You need specifics if you’re going to fix a problem. If someone says that, “Your setting is too cliche,” you need to know what part of it is too cliche. Why do they think that? Is it your delivery of the setting (i.e. you’re not giving them enough information to show what it’s really about), or is it actually that your setting has some cliche elements?
Get other people to investigate it as well. And it doesn’t hurt if you can objectively look through your work. Imagine you’re a new reader, and go through the book. Some people lock their manuscripts away for a month then read them after that – I think that’s a bit extreme, but hey, do what works.
4. Keep Going
Just because you got some negative feedback, doesn’t mean you’re doing wrong. Actually, it means you’re on the way upwards! No one got to the top without getting criticised a whole heap. Persevere and it will miraculously change, and you’ll start getting noticed for all the right reasons.
And remember – genuinely try to help others and you’ll never go wrong!
~Oliver R. Shead