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Paul Tamburro Shields Arrows Flying Towards His Integrity
Posted on Friday, February 21 2014 @ 02:58:38 Eastern

Hello.

Have you read my review of Probably Archery yet? More importantly, have you read the comments section of said review? If not, then I suggest you do so now, and then return to this blog post where I will greet you with a warm embrace after you've been left suitably outraged by the inappropriate and frankly abhorrent comments left by 'SEGMatt', one of the developers of the game who didn't take too kindly to my negative review of it. 

Are you back? Good. Were you suitably outraged? Good. Initially, I was sympathetic towards SEGMatt (who I now know as Matt Carr, thanks to him engaging me in "conversation" on my personal Twitter account) as I can only imagine the stress that would be caused by creating a video game that was slammed by critics (or, in this case, a singular critic, as GameRevolution was the only Metacritic-approved site to review the game, thus bringing its Metascore down to a measly 20/100). However, upon learning that he had contacted GR's Managing Editor Anthony Severino regarding the matter, and that his criticisms of my review in the comments section had deeper, much more shameful connotations, my sympathy for him swifty subsided. 

You see, SEGMatt (or Matt, as I shall call him from here on out, as that is his name) decided to strongly defend his game in the comments section of my Probably Archery review. He challenged my negative opinions of the game, and I have no problem with that. If a consumer can take to the comments section of a negative review of a game they enjoy and defend it, why shouldn't a developer be able to? Sure, their opinion will be a biased one, but it's an opinion nonetheless, and if I wore a hat (I do not wear hats as I have particularly big hair, thus making any form of headwear I attempt to wrap around my skull take the appearance of a condom being forced over the top of a pine tree) I would have tipped it to him for being so passionate about this thing that he had created that he challenged every negative perception I had of it. Yes, the game he was defending was sh*t ("subjectively" sh*t, of course), but he didn't think so, which is fine. Each to his own, quite literally in this case.

However, Matt didn't just challenge my review of the game in the comments section. As previously mentioned, he emailed Mr. Severino about it, too. I'm not going to include excerpts of that email in this blog post as I believe that would be in poor taste (as would pitching this blog as a feature for GR's front page and getting paid for doing so, which is why I'm posting it here), but to summarise his email exchange with Anthony, he was (understandably) panicking about the negative review of Probably Archery, and as such he questioned my integrity as a reviewer and the integrity of GR for housing a review that criticised a game that "many" have enjoyed (I did a Google search of 'Probably Archery Review' and the two reviews I could find rated it 2/5 and 3/5 respectively).

He stated in his email exchange that he wasn't requesting that GR change the score/review, before going on to then basically request that the review be taken down, or be put in the hands of another reviewer other than me as, according to him, I'm a "casual reviewer" who had "half played" the game. He said that as I had deemed the game irrelevant, it was probably best that GR had not reviewed the game at all. He said that in the hands of another reviewer, Probably Archery would've gotten a better score.

Matt, if you're reading this, which I can only assume you are given your dogging of me on Twitter where I will be linking to this blog post, do you have any idea how often the credibility and integrity of games journalism is brought into question? Often wrongly, sometimes rightly, people working in games media find themselves being brought under the microscope for perceived dodgy dealings, favouritism among developers/publishers and advertising deals. You're a small-time indie developer, so in no way does your opinion reflect the attitudes of the video game industry in this instance, but come on, mate. What did you think would be the outcome of you emailing Anthony about this situation and delivering a lengthy, stubborn response to my criticisms of your "subjectively" sh*t game in the comments section of the review? Did you believe that Anthony would immediately drop all his self-respect and integrity, pull the review, give it to another member of the GR Staff who would swiftly fall in love with it and promptly award it a 4/5? If you didn't think this, then why bother emailing Anthony in the first place?

Obviously Matt is only a small fish in a huge pond and this is the very first time I have ever been at the centre of such a baffling controversy, but for any indie developers out there, I think this is a very important example of how you shouldn't deal with potential criticisms of your games. I know you've worked hard on it, put in your fair share of sleepless nights and hate to see your vision being trashed, but a review doesn't take into account your hard work and effort, but rather the game that is produced from it. If that game isn't up to scratch, then you should put more hard work and effort into your next game, not burn bridges with the people who were more than willing to give your little game a shot.

Thanks for reading,

- Paul Tamburro
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