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When the system works



Our new study shows the advantages of community reviews. It demonstrates how, when handled carefully and objectively, community feedback can go a long way towards helping a game develop. We made an educational game called The King’s Request for use in a medical and health sciences program. The aim was to crowdsource more feedback than we could get from students in our classes, so we released the game for free on Steam.


Of the 16,000 players, 150 provided written reviews. We analysed this feedback, which in many cases provided ideas and methods, to improve the game. The King’s Request: a game that has been enhanced for learning through community reviews. This is one example of where feedback from the gaming community, although opinionated in many cases, can genuinely help the development process, benefiting all stakeholders involved. This is particularly important as “serious” or educational games are a growing component of modern curriculums.


Censoring community reviews, even if the aim is to prevent misinformation, does make it harder for developers and educational designers to receive feedback, for viewers to receive quick information, and for paying customers to have their voice.


The trend has been to remove negative community ratings. YouTube CEO Susan Wojcicki defended the removal of dislike counts earlier this year, and Netflix appears to have no interest in bringing back its five-star rating system. However, not all outlets are following this trend. TikTok has been testing a dislike button for written contributions in a way that enables the community to filter out unhelpful posts.


TikTok argues that, once released, this will foster authentic engagement in the comment sections. And the Emperor123 Epic Games Store, a competitor of Steam, recently implemented a system of random user surveys to keep community feedback while avoiding review bombing. Google has also been trying new things, finding some success in tackling review bombing through artificial intelligence.

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