As I mentioned in my Undertale review, the game’s fans can be a bit... insistent. “You can’t dislike it! That’s not possible!” That kind of thing. I get it. To an extent, I am one of those people. But, as these things often do, it’s resulted in some heated exchanges.
Undertale fans are dedicated. They adore the game—and with good reason. The RPG is equal parts charming, heartfelt, and hard-hitting, with hidden depths that turn the genre on its head. That dedication has resulted in varying degrees of controversy, however. You might remember that Undertale recently won GameFAQs’ notorious Best Game Ever poll, deluging the Internet in brackish bile and salty tears for days. Harmless as it all was, some people still got kinda mean on both sides of the “Does Undertale actually deserve to win this ultimately frivolous popularity poll?” debate.
That’s just one example. Basically, though, some people really love Undertale—to the point that they have trouble accepting that it just isn’t some people’s cup of sea tea—and others really dislike the game, those people, or both. Taking to Twitter, Undertale creator Toby Fox addressed the impassioned reaction to his unexpected smash hit of a game:
All of which strikes me as pretty darn reasonable. Like any game, Undertale—a great but ultimately imperfect work—is worthy of criticism. In fairness, I’ve seen plenty of excellent discussions about what Undertale does and doesn’t do well, but I’ve also seen a few shouting matches, some dogpiles on people who simply aren’t in love with the game. Those moments suck.
Fox is in kind of a crazy position in that—though he collaborated with a number of people—Undertale is primarily his work. Suddenly, almost overnight, his tiny pixel RPG is the talk of, well, everybody. He unknowingly purchased front row seats to the Internet at its most Internet-y: ebullient adoration, inevitable backlash, backlash to the backlash, a splash of ideologically-driven arguing, etc, etc, etc. All in the span of a few months.
To top it all off, Undertale fans seem to care more than fans of other things—to an extent that might seem unreasonable to outsiders. Undertale has resonated with many people—myself included—in intensely personal ways, so it makes sense that they’d have a hard time not taking critique or outright derision personally. Doesn’t mean it’s necessarily a reasonable response, but it does happen.
It’s good to see Fox reminding people that, hey, Undertale isn’t perfect. It’s fine that some people don’t dig it. Sometimes people lose perspective—especially in the screaming death argument cage match that is the Internet—and they need a wake-up call.
Still, some people are gonna argue. They might even get nasty about it. Fandom is a double-edged sword like that. It’s what happens when people love stuff—really love it. Ultimately, though, it’s stuff. Being jerks to other people over stuff? Not always the coolest idea. Let’s all resolve to do less of that.
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