Greetings to the AVSIM community, who have come out in force following my review on Microsoft Flight. Perhaps we need to set a few things straight.
Firstly, I’m somewhat astonished at the response. For those of you who don’t know, DisCONNECT is a small, privately operated blog, not a professional review outfit or anything like that. It’s entirely the opinion of one person: me. DisCONNECT usually gets a tiny 20 to 30 hits per day. Previously the most hits in a single day were in the order of about 200 or so, mostly for Evochron Mercenary when it was released on Steam. That pales in comparison to the 1,493 hits I’ve received today alone (and the day isn’t out yet), 1,193 of which are for the MS Flight review. The response is quite frankly scary, especially when DisCONNECT is fairly unimportant and largely invisible on Google.
Of course calling out a community like AVSIM is going to attract backlash, though I didn’t really expect to end up getting my own thread on the forum I referred to. When I woke up this morning I couldn’t believe the response. I still can’t, to be honest. I’m used to being absolutely unknown, and suddenly someone out there knows DisCONNECT exists. And of course with this response comes a sense of obligation to respond to what some of you are saying.
If you were hoping for me to retract my comments or issue an apology, you’re going to be bitterly disappointed. I won’t apologise for calling the community out on their behaviour regarding Microsoft Flight. All you need to look is look at the archive for proof of how the community acted. Those of you who are a part of the community are intent on rationalising your responses (mostly centering around “We’ve been betrayed!”) but it’s worth remembering that I’m an outsider looking in. I’m not part of your elite flight sim community, nor do I really want to be since some of you seem to be exceptionally proud of having a ridiculously high barrier of entry to the point where any sort of compromise is incomprehensible, perhaps even heretical. All I see as an outsider looking at that board (particularly during the beta period) is “I don’t like that this isn’t a hardcore sim so I’m going to rant and rave about it despite never having played it for more than a few minutes”. Now that in itself is pretty poor form (particularly with how staunch the opposition was) but it’s made worse by the attitude that Flight should be condemned and destroyed… an attitude that extended to its users, who I’ve seen described variously as idiots, children, console kiddies, and so on.
Before I go into that in more depth, I think it’s important to clarify that I don’t have anything against people not liking the game. That’s awesome if you don’t like it. It’s also perfectly fine to say that you don’t like it. Reading the comments on the current active AVSIM forum it’s blatantly obvious that many of you don’t care for it. It’s also fair to say that the AVSIM community as a whole is not necessarily a bad community as seen by an outsider… though the negativity definitely ramps up significantly regarding MS Flight.
What I see as the major flaw in the entire thing, and the reason why I define it as childish entitlement, is that some of you deliberately go out of your way to trash the game and anybody who might consider playing it. It’s a ridiculously elitist attitude which does look childish. The fact is Microsoft moved away from the hardcore market. Since it doesn’t cater to what you wanted, some of you have decided to label it as a childish arcade console experience where all you do is collect coins. That alone leads me to believe that the complainers never actually tried it out. The rage against Flight extends to people making comments connecting the interface with the Xbox 360, which I still can’t make sense of, and a general hatred directed at MS and its new target audience because they decided not to cater to the hardcore sim crowd.
You are not the only audience for flight sims. Plenty of other people are interested, but not everyone can be bothered to sit down and learn the procedures and detail that you guys learn. More power to you for doing it, but I don’t have the time nor the inclination to do so. At the same time, a straight arcade experience is not particularly rewarding, which is the gap Flight obviously intends to fill. I really can’t understand why this is such a bad thing, except if you apply the “entitlement” argument of “I’m a hardcore simmer, I bought FSX, therefore you should give me exactly what I demand.” Firstly, Microsoft don’t have to give you anything of the sort. Secondly, it seems some of you forget that FSX itself caters to newer users, offering interactive flight lessons and scripted missions, some of which involved flying through hoops or dropping flower bombs on a target. Do you automatically discount FSX because it includes those elements? No? Then why such a massive focus on that with Flight? I don’t care much for the coin collecting either, so I don’t play those missions. I’ve still got free flight mode to play through.
Secondly, some accused me of being biased, to which I fully say “You’re right, I am biased.” This is a review. It’s not an objective, scientific assessment, because to try to do so when there’s clearly a subjective element to the review process is impossible. I can objectively say that something like a lack of ATC and AI traffic is a serious omission, which I did point out in the review (especially when radios are in and can be tuned, and the frequencies show up in the game itself). But if it’s biased to say “I actually like Flight, though it has work to be done” then every review is biased and we might as well not have reviews. You can’t claim something is biased simply because it doesn’t agree with your view. As for being biased against the AVSIM community: given the behaviour I’ve observed, I stand by my comments there. My article does spit venom in copious amounts but the same can be said of people from AVSIM in regards to Flight. I have an incredibly harsh way of putting it, but it doesn’t change anything that you guys are posting or have posted regarding Flight. I comment on what I see. If you don’t like it, that’s fine. Hell, you’re invited to comment on it if you like. But if my vitriol and apparent bias against the hardcore detractors of Flight bothers you, perhaps you could consider how your own rage looks to an observer outside of your community. The disrespectful outrage directed at the Flight target market started from the hardcore sim crowd. I make absolutely no apologies for firing back at such an elitist and entitled perspective.
That’s my biggest issue with the AVSIM’s community (or at least those in it who do this) response to Flight – the way they treat the “casual” simmers, where “casual” can be taken to mean “not hardcore”. I really can’t see the harm in extending the genre to make it more accessible to new people potentially interested in the game. My old man for example is very interested in flight sims but not so much as to take what amounts to flight lessons (by comparison to Flight’s approach). But that doesn’t suddenly mean that he’s a 9 year old xbox 360 kid who wants to collect sparkling coins and is too stupid to operate a Saitek x52. That’s the kind of attitude, which AVSIM members have expressed, which has resulted in my hatefilled review, which is part review of Flight, and part criticism of the response. I know some of you don’t like some of the wording in the review (such as [not] having big iron and VATSIM coming out of its arse) but quite frankly given how some of you have reacted to those who might play Flight, you seriously deserve it. I’m unapologetically pleased I’ve struck a nerve there. Maybe now you’ll take the time for self-reflection and apply it to your own statements.
Interestingly, some of the people in the linked thread clearly do understand my position on the AVSIM community, whether they agree with my presentation or not. I don’t need to do anything except point at the Archive to show where the community has come from (the AVSIM moderators seem to be a lot more intent on cracking down on pointless negativity devoid of constructive criticism, which I’m not 100% convinced is the right thing to do but it’s their jurisdiction). The same attitudes clearly persist. I also know that not everyone on AVSIM is spouting irrational nonsense, but it seems to me that at least until the crackdown positive or neutral views were in the minority, and where constantly attacked by people undertaking pointless speculation, going on about what MS “owed” them, or deliberately spreading incorrect information or misquoting statements. To those who are being rational, outsiders do take notice. The AVSIM forum shows up on page 1 of the Google results for “Microsoft Flight”, so you’re hardly an invisible community. Outsiders DO read your words.
Of course I’m not intending to change people’s perspectives or advocating some sort of witch hunt, because I’m not part of your community (and like I said, I don’t want to be after what I’ve read) and how your community runs is up to the users and the moderators/administrators, just as what happens here on DisCONNECT is my problem. But I think it was high time an outsider pointed out exactly how the community comes across, particularly to people who are interested in flight sims but are not of the hardcore inclination. The attitudes we are met with is that there should be no middle ground, no compromise, and if you’re not hardcore, you’re clearly a degenerate idiot who should trade in your KB+Mouse for an Xbox 360 and never think of flight again. Forget the possibility of a gateway game into your hobby that you love, forget about the potential expansion of the flight sim genre, forget about the potential for future support. Just keep on building that wall with the guns aimed outwards. You’ll keep getting your hardcore sims (X-Plane 10 looks somewhat promising, provided development is kept up over its presumably long lifespan) so I have no fear that you’ll be well looked after. But the weird hatred and hostility for everybody else is childish and largely unwarranted. You may have valid reasons (and some of you do), but they’re lost for the most part in the incredible outrage.
Comments are enabled, and if you really wish to respond, feel free so long as it’s kept relatively civil (or at least rational). Again I’m somewhat stunned at the reception this article has received, so I’d be interested to hear any other perspectives.
EDIT: Rest assured that I do read your comments and generally respond to them if I feel they have some substance. I don’t delete comments at random or because I don’t like what they say. If you comment doesn’t appear, it was most probably placed in the spam queue for some reason, and if it’s a valid comment (i.e. not advertising) I’ll ensure it’s posted. If I personally delete your comment it’s probably because you posted something illegal or ridiculously inflammatory. Unlike some people I don’t mind getting comments calling me an irrational dickhead with zero credibility or similar posts, so long as you’re happy to earn a response in return!