Tuesday, July 18, 2006

Discussing the "Trickledown Theory" (a counterposition to the Vocal Minority Theory) Ryan Schwayder at The Nerfbat says:

Keeping the vocal minority happy should always be a concern if you want your game’s general populous to remain so. Should you bend to their will and implement exactly what they demand? Probably not, but you should take their opinions into consideration and act accordingly.

Thoughtful article. Dismissing the outspoken few as a 'vocal minority' and then deliberately ignoring their views, concerns, suggestions can lead to mistakingly assuming that the Silent Majority hold the opposite position.

Logically it's a potentially fallacious argument of the form "IF a THEN b. b THEREFORE a" known as Affirming the Consequent.

In this Vocal Minority instance that's often trotted out on games forums the argument runs thus:

"There are a number of posts from players expressing dissatisfaction with $foo feature. They do not represent a majority, therefore we can assume that the majority of players are happy as they are not complaining".

However, it is also possible that the vocal minority is just that. A small cluster of agrieved players who are venting their opinion and that the majority of players ARE happy. It then falls to the games developers to look at the arguments being presented to them and assess which case is the correct one.

In fact, it becomes an absolute necessity.

2 comments:

Ryan Shwayder said...
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Ryan Shwayder said...

"However, it is also possible that the vocal minority is just that. A small cluster of agrieved players who are venting their opinion and that the majority of players ARE happy."

Yep. The idea here is not that the majority is not currently happy, or at least content. In fact, the vocal minority often does not represent the general disposition of the community.

The theory is that if the vocal minority are also influential centerpieces to large social networks in the community, their opinions can become those of the voiceless majority.

The question, then, is how do we keep that vocal minority happy enough that they don't negatively influence the rest of the community? I didn't want to dare to answer that in a single post (because I don't know the answer yet). ;)

Also, you misspelled my last name!