Social Dynamics of Negativity on Starcraft Forums

As we know, the Starcraft community on forum has a reputation of being negative toward the game, even though that seems to have improved recently (hope I don’t jinx it). I realise this phenomenon is actually consistent with the recent academic findings.

Intuitively, marketing researchers are interested in how people share information about products and services (e.g., a game like Starcraft), and how people post reviews online has been a popular topic in recent years (sound like an introductory line of a paper lol). There are some papers that specifically look into how social dynamics affect whether, what and how people share or post online. I will just highlight some key findings which are relevant to the Starcraft community, as I doubt you are interested in academia stuff. Most are intuitive, but they are obviously backed up by robust examination.

  1. At the core, the opinions are shared by people of heterogeneous preferences. That means, it is often not about right or wrong, and the shared opinions are just the product of different preferences.
  2. Positive environment encourages posting, while negative environment discourages posting.
  3. Infrequent posters are more positive and more likely to exhibit “bandwagon” effect (align one’s opinion with others’). In contrast, frequent posters are more negative and more prone to post in dissentious environments (places where people have wide range of opinions).
  4. When people are polarised (either extreme positive or extreme negative), posted opinions are more negative and negative opinions will tend to overshadow positive ones accordingly.
  5. Posters will strategically lower their evaluations after they have read negative reviews (even if they might be positive about it), because negative opinions tend to appear intelligent.
  6. Reviews tend to be positive at the start, but they will become more negative as time goes by.
  7. People can have multiple motivations at the same time in sharing, for example, both altruism and self-enhancement reasons.

In short, people with negative things to say will post more, and posted opinions will affect subsequent postings.

While the findings above are taken from top A* marketing journals (e.g., Journal of Marketing Research, Journal of Consumer Research, and Marketing Science), it is never a good idea to assume they are absolute and perfect. With that being said, I think it is actually a good news if you apply these to the Starcraft community. That is, it is normal that people tend to post negative reviews (especially when the game is getting older), and the observed reviews may not be a good representative of the “objective” evaluations of the community. Therefore, let’s not get discouraged by the negativity on the surface, as probably majority of us rate the game highly.

I <3 Starcraft.

Oh, I love you, Blizzard. Do you love me too?

Ok, may be not as much as I love you, but still we can work it out with a good start.

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