Diablo 3 Nerdrage


A rather long and uncannily accurate article has popped up giving voice and perspective on the rampant Diablo 3 nerdrage seen in recent weeks. The author nails the heart of it, starting with the definition of the term and how it relates to each individual gripe. The tone is possibly the most objective I’ve read as of late, so if you’re looking for a piece of relatively unbiased material on the matter of D3 nerdrage, this piece is the one for you.

The following is a small excerpt:

nerd: someone who cares deeply and irrationally about something in a way that is very hard for someone who doesn’t care about that thing to understand.

nerdrage: the overwhelming feeling of anger engendered when a nerd is disappointed by that thing he or she cares so deeply and irrationally about—an anger that non-nerds, or different species of nerd, find very hard to take seriously or not scoff at, because of that whole opaque-to-outsiders thing.



The Diablo 3 nerdrage started pretty much immediately with the game’s release, as Blizzard’s servers, crushed by the onslaught of nerds hoping for their first taste of sweet sweet demon blood, instead served up an error message. Once fans got in and had some time to poke around, a lot of them quickly began to feel that Blizzard had not delivered on its decade-plus promise (for one thing, Diablo 3 has many streamlined, console-like elements to it—the ultimate insult as far as PC gamers are concerned—sanding down the nerdiest strategic edges of its predecessors).

Now, it’s difficult to take a strict measure of how this instance of gaming nerdrage compares to prior manifestations, except to observe that Diablo is at least no Daikatana. It’s not as though the game was poorly reviewed or is being abandoned en masse. But still, this is certainly one of the most notable outbreaks of nerdrage in recent history.

Agree or disagree with the core of his perspective, the author does well in capturing the the community’s pulse as he delves deeper into the specific issues and the origin for their complaints.

You can go to the original article, or read some of the choice quotes past the fold.


So there’s a lot of anger, most of it orbiting around a few standard gripes:

• The Inferno difficulty mode (which Blizzard promised would be really, really hard) is really, really hard.

• Cool, powerful items don’t pop out of the bad guys with nearly enough frequency—conspiracy theorists see this as a ploy on Blizzard’s part to push people into using the Real Money Auction House, which lets people buy or sell in-game items for real-world cash. If players can’t find great items, some detractors insist insist, they’ll be forced to buy them in the auction house, from which Blizzard takes a cut of each purchase. (There is also an auction house using gold, the in-game money.) (Also, yes: Real-life human beings spend real-life money on not-real-life swords and armor and stuff.)

• The story and voice acting are unspeakable horrors, much like the game’s final boss, the Lord of Terror himself.

• There is far less customizability than in previous games—every new skill you acquire is acquired at a preset point, and unlike the previous two games in the series, you’re not forced to make any big, permanent choices about your character and where his or her strengths and weaknesses will lie.

I think we can all point to the myriad posts that fall into these four main categories on the official and incgamer’s forums alike.

But I contend that gamer nerdrage is a bit more focused and intense. It’s a speculative argument, of course, until scientists come up with a way to reduce subjective emotional states down to cold objective numbers (and seriously, scientists—get on that!). But if it’s true, it’s true for three main reasons:

1. The long development cycle. Now that gaming is on equal footing with Hollywood in terms of funding and fandom and news coverage, there’s arguably no form of entertainment that gets as heavily draped in hype and anticipation and controversy as the development of a new video game. A space of almost twelve years separated the release of Diablo 2 and that of the frequently delayed Diablo 3. That’s a lot of screenshots, developer interviews, and hyperbolic presentations at gaming conventions in the meanwhile, and a lot of time for fans to develop sky-high expectations, to internalize every rumor and scrap of journalism that gets squeezed out of the protracted development cycle, to come up with things to be disappointed about once reality arrives and can’t live up to a million nerdy fever-dreams.

Diablo 3 (and every major release) elicited significant nerdrage because a perfect version of it already existed in the heads of gamers years before it was released. Then the actual game had to come along and ruin everything.

2. The unparalleled intimacy between gamer and game. There are only so many hours of sports on a week, and most people don’t follow more than two or three teams closely anyway. Loveless is a discrete, bounded thing. You can play it over and over but it’s still just 48 minutes and 36 seconds long.

Games like Diablo 3, where so many of the levels and items and encounters are randomized, are different. You can play Diablo 3 forever, basically. This leads people to become very, very attached to it. They play it constantly, and when they’re not playing it they’re reading about it or complaining about it or, in the direst cases, writing torrid fan-fiction about it. The stakes seem higher, the slights more visceral, when you’re so tightly entwined with the object of your nerdlove—and it’s a thin line between nerdlove and nerdrage.

3. The endlessly seductive hope that Maybe Things Will Get Better. Most forms of nerdrage are starved of the oxygen they would need to burn for very long because what’s done is done. Wes Welker dropped that ball so he dropped that ball so he dropped that ball. That’s it and there’s no way to reverse it. George Lucas isn’t going to unmake the crappy new “Star Wars” trilogy he made; that trilogy is a thing that, barring a heroic time-traveler, exists now and will exist forever.

And my personal favorite:

[…] Blizzard obviously has their reasons for making this or that design decision, and because, given the nastiness of the nerdrage that has been unleashed so far, to fix the game to the nerds’ liking at this point would entail its developers saying, “You know, I think the 15-year old who just sent me a photoshopped picture of my head on Hitler’s body makes some really good points. And boy, do I admire him for not being shy with those punctuation marks! I’m going to give him what he asks for.”

Whether you’re a “fanboy” or “hater,” how does this article relate to your position on the current state of Diablo III? Is this somewhat of a breath of fresh air, giving a relatively unbiased account of the current mood, or is it a bad reflection of what issues are truly at hand and the source of nerdrage?

Comments

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  1. An article about why gamers are pissed about aspects of Diablo III is like writing an article saying that when the sun is out, it’s warmer outside.

    • I’m not sure I see the correlation.

      This is clearly a perspective piece. Are you saying that people are encouraged and want to read more clearly-one-sided arguments that fit their beliefs rather than taking objectivity?

      • He’s evidently saying it’s like stating the obvious..

      • Um. Yes? Have you ever been to a gaming forum? :p

        Here’s the argument: I hate it and I know why. Counter-argument: I love it and I know why.

        I do not see the purpose of the article, although I understand why it was posted. Which audience, exactly, is this piece tailored for? People who already have concrete opinions on the matter, and it just points out the obvious.

        • I guess I agree to disagree on the point of this piece. I didn’t read this as a “this is why it’s good/bad and I know why piece.” I saw it as a “here’s all the facts and what looks to be the problem, so lets look at this constructively” piece.

          It’s a bit tongue-in-cheek in places, but it doesn’t really seem to take a side, which is why I think it doesn’t apply to “stating the obvious.”

          (By the way, my original comment was not to be taken seriously, because of course I already knew the answer :P)

          • I think on reading it, it is obvious that it comes down on the side of the D3 fan. While it tries to be more objective than other fan post, it wear its allegiance on its sleeve as you can see in some of the comments and interpretation of the “facts”. Still, be as it may, at least it is not a totally dismissively post about some of the more valid complaints, although it does skip some of them.

  2. It was an interesting as well entertaining piece to read.

    Thanks for posting.

  3. “The Inferno difficulty mode (which Blizzard promised would be really, really hard) is really, really hard.”

    Inferno isn’t that hard, it’s been a month and a half, i have 101 hours (had approximatly 60 hours when i hit inferno) on my monk, i didn’t equipped my monk using any auction house and i have act II in farm mode (not able to pass my way through most champ pack in act III though).
    40 hours since inferno started and i am half_way to the end, drop rates will be increase so i’ll need to farm less. They really should have done it harder (maybe starting by not nerfing it) since it’s suppose to be the end game.

  4. It was entertaining and well written. I love this part “But still, this is certainly one of the most notable outbreaks of nerdrage in recent history. ”

    I thought nothing would ever top Hellgate London’s nerdrage outbreak.

  5. And the pulitzer goes to….Captain Obvious!

    I admit to nerdraging both for and against stuff in D3. What quadruples my nerdrage is that Blizzard feeds into this BS drama. Nerdrage is just something we do on forums to pass the time. Sure there may be a kernel of truth here and there but Blizz seems to be making a career of tending to this flock. I don’t know that it will ultimately end up making for a better game.

  6. I’ve thought along the same lined for awhile now. People are obsessing far, far, too much over this. The game is fun and entertaining, not the supposed second coming of Jesus.

    • Honestly? I think that for something this highly anticipated, people were bound to be disappointed by anything SHORT of the second coming.

      Ah, who am I kidding? If D3 had been the second coming, people would be complaining that their eternity in paradise was an insufficiently exciting endgame. 🙂

  7. I don’t think the target audience was “us”, I think it was written more for people who know that computer games exist and might have played Farmville and are wondering why their geekier friends are turning red when talking about Neph Valor stacks or some other silliness.

    • Or perhaps for people that have a better time in general playing the game than the passionate ragers and are looking to understand their perspective from a calm, non-inflammatory lens.

  8. The game HAS been poorly reviewed—by the fans, not by the paid professional reviewers. Go look at the user ratings on Metacritic, Flux.

    Yes, Blizzard game developers have their reasons for making a lot of the moronic decisions they made. The reason was to try to drive people to the real money auction house. That and to try to attract the Wowboys and dumb down the game for casual game players.

    It should be noted that the developers have constantly criticized Diablo 2. They really are not D2 fans and they certainly strayed far, far, oh yes, ever so very far away from many of the things that make D2 the finest action role playing game ever produced.

    There are so very, very few skills that are viable in inferno. Contrast that to Blizzard’s promise of a plethora of viable builds. Bleh. There are plenty of rational reasons that fans rage about what Blizzard has done. It is quite obvious the game was rushed out the door without proper playtesting. PvP, the Mystic, the Talisman, and other features were cut from the game to get it out the door “now.” The problem is the game was not technically or developmentally ready for release. No doubt the decision to release it was a managerial decision, not one the development team made.

    • 1) I’m not flux, but I know most assume it’s him writing. =/

      2) If you’re referring to the grossly nerdrage-filled troll reviews, I think we’ll keep that as a constant for objectivity. (the main reason I discredit user-made reviews on metacritic is that a vast majority of them focus on the online-only aspect that has nothing to do with the game – not all, but most)

      3) I didn’t write the original article, so I’m not entirely sure how this input will affect the author’s overall conclusion, which I think is spot-on.

      [EDIT] Ah, you edited your post. =/. I think the point of objectivity is to look at the whole, which they did. That being said, I actually agree with the majority of your points.

      • 1)Ah, sorry, I missed the caption identifying you as the author of the post.

        2) There are likely as many fanbois voting Diablo 3 a perfect 10 as there are “grossly inaccurate troll reviews,” to use your words.

        I don’t think my details are “inconsequential” to the article. As I said, people have many reasons to rage about Diablo 3. They are NOT “haters.”

      • Mm I must ask .. why do you think that the online aspect has nothing to do with the game? In fact, I would say that if the online aspect is so poorly supported by Blizzard, then it makes the game totally unplayable for the unfortunate players who can only play during peak period and is thus the Main aspect of the game.

        • Because it’s not true. At least in Europe, the game is perfectly playable in peak hours. Now, there have been problems with connections in the first two weeks, this much is true, but currently those reviews are inaccurate.
          Anyway, I think that looking at the Metacritic is a bad idea overall. It’s a medium that is:
          a) Used by corporations to influence public perception
          b) Easy to manipulate by people with too much time on their hands
          Also, the procedure it uses to calculate the “metascore” is terrible. I would therefore advise anyone to stay away from that piece of crap.

    • You know what I love? Whenever bad behavior is called out on the internet, there is always someone who hurriedly dashes in with a scathing rebuttal designed to unquestionably prove that those critics have no idea what they are talking about at all whatsoever… by doing those exact same things he or she was called out for.

      Grumpy Old Wizard, you post displays the exact kind of nerdrage the article talks about. Kudos.

      • And may I say that your post carried the taint of the common fanboism so frequently witnessed in people who love the game? And most of all, I believe each side have their own valid point, so the truth is probably somewhere in between. Although if you pay attention to what blizzard says and denies … well, I will just say that people tend to come to very different conclusions.

    • Theres one fact of human nature, you over looked GOW, people are more likely to go out of there way to complain/rage than they are to do anything else. Due to this most user reviews ratings are junks, unless your willing to sift through them to find the valid ones. Case in point theres a review on for D3 on metacritic from a guy saying he sunk 350 hours in D3 at the time of his post and he only gives 2/10 <- Why 2/10 he dont give any real reason beyond he got bored of it. What other game can you get 14.5 days worth of play time out of in a month that right he been playing for ~50% of the time the game been out. His score dont make sense, so he either a troll or an idiot who burnt out from over play.

  9. (EDIT: Crap this turned out long XD. Sorry about that! For a summary, just skip to the bottom)

    I have been watching the development of Diablo 3 since literally days after its official announcement. Unfortunately, after playing 70 hours of diablo 3, I can honestly say that it was a bit of a let-down. Now, let me explain before I’m overwhelmed by the most powerful nerd-rage: forum-rage. /joke

    Okay, so, when Diablo 3 was announced, it had all the customization I could ever want in a videogame; stat and skill points, a unique gem system (looking a bit more like the system in WoW… not necessarily a bad thing. At least it gave Jewelers a purpose other than upgrading gems. It made each gem unique. If you’re curious as to what I’m talking about, a quick forum search here may enlighten you.), talismans. It had lots of micromanagement and I loved it. It truly was a sequel to the Diablo 2 I had grown to love.

    But, as the development cycle drew on, some poor design decisions were made. First it was stat points. Then, skill points were taken from the game. Even the Talisman, which I had been looking forward to being in the base game, was taken out. Being the avid fan I am, I tried to justify these design decisions until the game came out: “it will play better now,” or “Blizzard knows what it’s doing” were two phrases I told myself. I couldn’t have been further from the truth.

    At first, the design decisions made by Blizz made me believe they were taking the wizened dungeon-crawling genre and renovating it. They did just that; however, the product that was created was a shallow and frustrating experience. When I first played diablo 3 I had fun. It was great unlocking new skills or runes every level or so, all the way up to sixty. The six skill slots idea worked well. But somehow, something seemed… missing. The end game for diablo 3, while admittedly better than that of diablo 2, was still lacking. No matter what I did, I felt like a carbon copy of every other character of the same class, since so few skills were viable in the end game.

    I felt restricted because Blizzard took my individuality away from my character. As I played the game more and more, even items seemed less exciting to pick up because they all essentially did the same things. (+stat, more damage, more life, and maybe if it has that, we can get a fun stat on it) Unfortunately, this is just the tip of the ice berg when it comes to problems I have with Diablo 3 in its current state. There are fundamental design errors with the game that can’t be fixed in its full-release phase, such as Barbarians and Monks feeling underpowered (without proper equipment). Not to mention economy problems and whatnot.

    So, I think I’m going to chalk Diablo 3 as a disappointment in my book and as an over-hyped, under-developed shell of what it could have been. Here’s to Torchlight 2 being better.

    tl;dr: waah waah I don’t like Diablo 3 and I waited so long for it. Uniqueness of builds taken away, ranged classes OP. *insert nerd rage here*

  10. I do not think most people understand what unbiased means. Unbiased means merely reporting what happened as it actually happened.

    Starting your article off by defining nerds as “someone who cares deeply and irrationally about something in a way that is very hard for someone who doesn’t care about that thing to understand” isn’t helpful. First we would need to unpack what the author means by “irrational.” When somebody cares about something deeply and you do not understand why, does that mean the person is irrational? Perhaps you’re the one who is irrational.

    In any case, most do not care about philosophy or understanding other people. Does that mean those who do care about philosophy or understanding other people are nerds?

    Let’s say this definition of nerd is legitimate. What now? Why does it matter if some are nerds? How do you go from “you’re a nerd” to “you shouldn’t be a nerd” to “nerds are bad” to “nerd opinions are wrong.”

    This article is just dumb and trivial. Most people that I’ve listened to and have read, nerds or not, think Diablo 3 is mediocre or worse. Deal with it.

    • If I recall, I used the verbiage “relatively unbiased” and “most objective.” Based on common English, these statements imply that it is not 100% unbiased, and not 100% objective. Which it isn’t, and is duly accounted for in my exposition.

      What it is, is the MOST unbiased article written to date. And that is what I write. And all I can say to your closing words is this: birds of a feather flock together.

      • “If I recall, I used the verbiage ‘relatively unbiased’ and ‘most objective.'”

        “Relatively ubiased” is bordering on becoming a contradiction. What does it mean to say that something is relatively unbiased? Are you saying that the article is objective compared to (A), where (A) stands for some undisclosed entity. Perhaps this undisclosed entity was objective, but your own bias interfered with your judgment of it, which lead you to the false conclusion that this article must be relatively unbiased since it differs from (A).

        And what does “most objective” mean? Are you saying that 75% of his article is an accurate description of how reality is? 85%? 95%? If somebody describes a series of events with 95% of it being true, with the remaining 5% being contingent upon belief or faith, then is this person being mostly objective? Or is objectivity a binary variable by which you’re either objective or you’re not? Finally, I must interate again, how are you determining what is objective or unbiased?

        “What it is, is the MOST unbiased article written to date.”

        Do you have any evidence of this claim? What is this based on, your opinion?

        “birds of a feather flock together.”

        Hardly. Most of my information comes from the Internet–which is a noncentralized international network.

        This “relatively unbiased” article starts off by REDEFINING the word nerd, lol. Yeah, real objective.

    • “This article is just dumb and trivial. Most people that I’ve listened to and have read, nerds or not, think Diablo 3 is mediocre or worse. Deal with it.”

      I hate to ask the obvious, but why are you reading a Diablo 3 news site?

  11. People feel ripped off by D3. That’s not nerd rage, that’s called buyer’s remorse.

    If it was free to play, would we see nearly the level of complaints? I think not. The game as it stands right now is worth $20 at best imo.

  12. 3. The endlessly seductive hope that Maybe Things Will Get Better. Most forms of nerdrage are starved of the oxygen they would need to burn for very long because what’s done is done. Wes Welker dropped that ball so he dropped that ball so he dropped that ball. That’s it and there’s no way to reverse it. George Lucas isn’t going to unmake the crappy new “Star Wars” trilogy he made; that trilogy is a thing that, barring a heroic time-traveler, exists now and will exist forever.

    How come we can accept that those star wars are shit, yet D3 rage is just NERD [email protected]@[email protected]?$!%I*[email protected]*%[email protected]$#[email protected]$ RAWR.

  13. I definitely don’t understand the rationality for writing this article in the first place. I can understand why some articles are written to stir the pot but this is more like a personal attack on players whom feel very disappointed with the state of Diablo 3 and Blizzard in general.

    The game has consumed a lot of peoples time while waiting for its release and now that its out heaps and heaps of people refuse to walk away all the while cursing blizzards very existence. Why is that an issue of rationality? People don’t like having their time wasted in such an insulting manner as what Diablo 3 represents to them (a stinking souless money grabbing POS).

    • Out of curiosity, did you actually read the whole article? I mean this as a serious question.

      • @ In the name of Zod

        I am also curious if you read the article. I don’t understand why you call it a “personal attack”. Though the author is not specifically supporting the “nerdrage-ers” cause, he is saying that people should be understanding of them.

        • SlowMoe, Nizaris, seriously?

          The article starts off by making the claim that anyone who is angry at or critical of Blizzard for what they have done to the Diablo series is a nerd, which by most people’s standards, is an insult. To make matters worse, the author of the article redefined nerd to mean something that is even more disparaging than the traditional definition. He even defined the kind of anger “nerds” feel in a disparaging manner.

  14. Being a disillusioned fan I was looking forward to playing D3 for years to come. However, after playing the Guild wars 2 beta a few times and now hearing the release date is 28 August, I’m done with D3. Forget the fact it’s an MMO, it’s just going to be a vastly superior game.

  15. Reading the article, this part caught my eye:

    “I’m actually not a Diablo 3 nerd. A fan, but not a nerd. I am a nerd, however, about certain things, including the New England Patriots and the Boston Celtics. I devote far too much of my time to reading about and watching these teams, and when they lose in a painful manner (which both have managed to do a lot of in the last few years) it sticks to my gut in a way that something so frivolous shouldn’t. I can’t help it. I am a nerd for these teams.”

    He goes on to give non-sports examples of things people care too much about, and reading them it occurs to me that I’ve never been that big of a fan of anything. Not in the nerdrage sort of way. I was actually talking to my mom the other day (while I’m visiting parents on vacation) about adults, grown men, who really care one way or another if a sporting team wins or loses. Not just watch because they enjoy the sport (as I do with NBA and NFL in the US) but actually have like, an emotional attachment. And I don’t understand that.

    I remember as a child really caring if a team won or lost, but I hardly remember which teams at this point, and it seems silly in retrospect. As has often been pointed out; you’re rooting for laundry. Especially in any pro league, where players change teams constantly, hold out, get traded, owners pinch pennies and lose on purpose to make more money from revenue sharing, etc.

    I’ve certainly never felt that way about a video game, though I guess D2 comes the closest since I played it so much and got to personally know the devs pretty well. But even then, I never felt the owed me a game, or that it was a personal affront if I didn’t like the changes in a patch.

    And now we’ve got D3, which I’m fairly fond of, and still enjoy playing when I have the time. There are a lot of things I like, and a lot of things I’m not so fond of, and I thought they were overly-emphasizing the “accessibility” way too much in a lot of their development decisions. But ultimately it’s just a game, one I play largely since I work on a website that covers that game, and I don’t feel any overwhelming rage or joy about anything in it. Though I’ve been known to scary Jinxie cursing when I screw up a Vault and get one-shotted by one of Belial’s goddamned poison meteors. (Mostly because I know I have to click through the fucking cinematic again, and then waste a minute killing his annoying invisible snake guards again, and then bullshit with him at human size again, before the real fight finally starts up again.)

    This article was useful in helping to remind me that some people rally do care, though. When I see the 0 scores for D3 on metacritic, or someone comments angrily when I make a joke about WoW or SC2, I naturally assume they’re just playing around. Joking, pretending to be angry, trolling, etc. And I think a lot of people are, but some people aren’t. Some people really do have an emotional attachment to consumer products, and really do get angry when a game or a movie isn’t what they hoped it would be. And just because I think that’s absurd and can’t imagine feeling that way myself, doesn’t mean it’s not real to them.

  16. I think this is just another example of the need of human species to irrationally lump people together in groups and start stereotyping them. I guess it’s for the lazy thinkers

    • I don’t think he’s using the term nerd in a derogatory way in the article, but more as a way to define someone wholly obsessed with something. It’s not like he goes out of his way to insult those who would love a video game, there’s plenty of other articles for that I’m sure. But you are right, humans love to categorize, but this article seems to be more interested in WHY people have become so incredibly upset about things, and I think he gives some good perspective.

      • Well the word “irrational” is all that is needed to devalue the opinion of a group of people. I’m sure there’s been irrational criticism but the article attempts make it the universal quality of it all which is the typical act of lumping people together irrationally. It’s completely useless

  17. Just read this great post on the US Battle.net forums:

    http://us.battle.net/d3/en/forum/topic/5149617219

    It quotes some forums posts about D2 from the days/weeks following release. I think a lot of people could do with reading them…deja vu?

  18. I’ve never really experienced nerd rage toward a game. If it’s not fun, I don’t play it. I see a lot of complaints as grasping at straws. For me, if the game is fun to play, then I’m happy. The issues people come up with and spend pages complaining about, never even bother me during my play time. It’s like people have such a precise idea of what this game should be, they can’t really the version that exists before them. Also, the guy has a point. A LOT of people love this game, about 6.8 million, you’re bound to have several who are raging-pissed off about something. SO it goes.

    • Yes. This. My estimation is that there are about 10,000 vocal nerdragers of the approx 6.3M in playerbase (or about 0.15% of the gaming population). Breakdown as follows:

      A) 200 people on bnet with legitimate concerns over poor Mac performance
      B) 12 people on bnet with actual constructive arguments/suggestions.
      C) 25 people on d.incgamers with actual constructive arguments/suggestions.
      D) 9,762 people equally split between bnet and d.incgamers who offer nothing but seething blind non-constructive “nerdrage” that think their opinion should flood 99% of forum posts and comment walls, constantly hitting F5 to get in the next witty dig or retort.
      E) 1 jerk/idiot named RyTEK

  19. The comments in this thread are exactly what the author was talking about.

    It is actually humorous to see people proving his point and not even seeing the proverbial forest for the trees! What a bunch of nerdragers!

  20. That D2 thread is hilarious, seriously you could copy and paste it to the general boards it fits right in. Rage is so amusing. I say to all of them: enjoy your mad.

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