So, I have decided to write some articles for my blog here. They will not be about any specific game or system, but I will provide examples from games/systems I play.
Today I will be talking about misinformation.
What is it? Well Wikipedia says: “Misinformation is false or inaccurate information that is spread unintentionally. It is distinguished from disinformation by motive in that misinformation is simply erroneous, while disinformation, in contrast, is intended to mislead.” That pretty much sums it up. No matter what you are looking into, you need to be aware of this.
It is a lot more common than you think, every time you tell someone a thing, if you are wrong about said thing, then you are spreading misinformation. More importantly, every time you ask a question, there is a good chance you will get some bad answers. One big source of misinformation I really need to talk about is forums. They are the worst for this. I’m sure all of you have used a forum before, has this ever happened to you? You are just lurking around, getting to know the place, and you see a thread that looks relevant to your interests. In you go, and what do you see? Everyone is giving the original poster terrible, conflicting advice. Except maybe one or two people who know what they are talking about, but are drowned out by a mob of overly vocal under informed forumites. When is the loudest voice ever the wisest? How often do you want the advice of the masses? Are you not looking for an expert on the subject? I am not saying never to use forums, just that you need to be careful. Find someone who has set clearly knows what is what, and is respected by the community. Then ask them your questions. Then get a second opinion.
My first example for misinformation is Games Workshop and Warhammer 40k, and I don’t even really need another one. It’s so bad. Like many games, warhammer has a bad case of forumitis. But, there is more misinformation surrounding this hobby than any other game I have ever played, and the forums are actually just a symptom in this case. In warhammer, this weird anti-competitive movement has taken root, like some kind of crazy fungal infection. People won’t play with things because they are too good. Wait, what? Have you ever played a fighting game? Like Street Fighter? If you have, you remember someone (maybe you) yelling about how cheap something is right? But he is just mad because he is losing, and the better player will probably just keep doing it. And that is the right call. The newb will figure out how to stop it eventually, and become a better player for it. Not in warhammer! They just won’t play that guy anymore! Genius! The point here is, in ANY other game, you’re a scrub if you refuse to use the best tools available to you. The newb, or scrub part of your gaming life cycle is one you are supposed to grow out of, as fast as possible, so you can start being awesome. But they never grow up, they just stay squishy little larva. But they start to give advice to newer players at some point, because they have been around for a long time, they must be knowledgeable right? No one needs advice from some scrub.
But these guys are not the original source of the problem… you need to go back even farther. Misinformation in warhammer stems first and foremost, from GW itself. Not only do they encourage the silly non-competitive people above, but they will tell you things that are straight up wrong.
Yeah, lets talk about those.
They are called tankbustas, that’s orky for tank busters if you don’t know. “…Tankbustas silence any enemy tanks…” Ork codex, pg 82. But they don’t. I know right? Fail. When GW is actively advertising units incorrectly, how can new players be expected to make good choices?
I will stop picking on GW for a bit and give you a normal misinformation example.
When I played pokemon blue as a kid, I told my kadabra NOT to learn the move psychic. It is arguably the best move in the whole game. Clearly I am a moron. The moves description is something like “May lower opponent’s special”, so I said to myself, no I want more damage and not that utility stuff. Unfortunately it has the most power you can get for kadabra… but due to poor description writing I missed it. This is really common in RPGs, a short text description is all the info you have to make an important choice, and if it tells you the wrong stuff and you buy it, well, sucks for you.
The way I see it there is one all important counter to misinformation. Playtesting. After your tankbustas let you down for the 50th time you will reconsider them, and if I had just had kadabra learn psychic so that I could play around with it, I would have found it is crazy good. Just playtest, and you will win at everything forever =)