I don't always bother with sports games, but I bought it assuming it'd be an arcade-y, retro-tinged, easy-to-play, old school, football game - precisely the sort of football game that somebody like me, who doesn't really enjoy the sportio of footballio, would like.
It was only once I started playing that it all came flooding back - a testament, perhaps, to how faithfully it recaptures the spirit of the the series. I'd forgotten how, almost 30 years ago, I'd played Kick Off, and not understood the fuss. In fact, I'd actively disliked it.
At the time, I blamed myself, obviously. I mean, I do that a lot. The fact that I didn't like a game, which had received so much acclaim, was probably my fault for not liking football.
And because I didn't like football, I didn't really follow everything that subsequently happened between Kick Off and Sensible Soccer - the full extent of which I only really learned over the past few days, when people started telling me to brace myself, because I'd given Kick Off a bad review...
In all honesty, not that much really happened. Dino Dini did read the review - I know this, because he said on Twitter: "Can anyone really take seriously a review that starts off by taking the piss of my name?"
His supporters chimed in:
"That immediately flags the reviewer as a moron."
"Any day-1 review of any game that is overly positive OR negative betrays an ulterior motive if you ask me."
I don't mind being called a moron or a troll. In fact, I slightly pride myself on being both, quite deliberately. When I do get irritated is when I get accused of something that isn't true. Of having an agenda or ulterior motive for giving a game a negative review.
My response to that was typically childish: yesterday's article entitled 'Queer Eye For The Dino Dini'. Which Dino Dini linked to on Twitter: "Hey People, take a look at this amazing piece of journalism".
Well. It wasn't journalism. It was just some stupid shitpost, that was actually aimed at Dino's rabid fans, rather than the man himself. It was designed to wind them up by being silly and disrespectful, and it made me laugh until I cried. Like the thing I wrote about Notch's hat, or Noel Edmonds' memories, or a day with Palmer Luckey.
Inevitably, there was quite the sense of humour failure on the part of Dino's fans. This sort of thing happened:
"Digitizer have always been cringe. They come across as a poor man's Charlie Brooker. Painful to read."
"Some people (Dino Dini) create timeless ART!! Some others (you)....timeless SHIT and try to ridicule other's work!! ;) You know who's going to be remembered in the end... ;) *Tip* No one likes shit....even the ones who laugh now! ;)"
Admittedly, valid criticisms of both myself and "Digitizer".
However, last night a couple of people took me to task on Twitter. They were both people who follow me, and may - or may not - be fans of Dino Dini. Regardless, what they said stayed with me.
One of them suggested that my pieces, and Twitter nonsense, read as personal. Another suggested that the last thing the country needs right now is more negativity. Which is true.
I get what it's like to feel as if everything is an attack. I've been in that place of hyperaware over-sensitivity.
But there was never more truer a word said than "We don't see things as they are - we see them as we are".
I want to reiterate to Dino and his fans that in not liking Kick Off Revival I had no personal axe to grind.
I had no real sense of Dino's history with the industry - beyond knowing his name, because it's a bit funny - and having a vague memory of playing Kick Off and not getting it. Indeed, in the review I even suggest that me not liking it may be my fault, rather than the fault of the game.
Plus that bit at the end of my review, where I say Dino Dini probably wouldn't read it... I was being serious. I didn't think he would. But that's my frame of reference coming through. If I'm doing something that I love, that I know is truthful to me, then the only review I need is my own. I'm only ever likely to be affected by a review if I've turned in work that I'm unsure about.
Still, in light of everything that then happened - and Dino's alleged history - I can see how it might read as sarcastic, or negative, if you're coming to it already feeling under siege. In that environment, I can see how it might feel like a personal attack. It was never intended to be any of those things. It was just me doing Digi as Digi has always been done...
I honestly didn't think Dino would bother reading my words - not least when outfits far bigger than Digitiser2000 had given it similarly poor feedback. But, well, he did. Just as people said he would.
Suffice to say, Kick Off Revival - sorry, Dino Dini's Kick Off Revival - has been given a wholesale kicking, and I feel I've inadvertently contributed to one of those feeding frenzies, which I observed - admittedly, with some detachment - when Pudsey The Dog: The Movie came out.
Having now looked at the reception the game has received - almost unanimous trashing, except from its fans - I do feel bad for contributing to that. Not least because Dino, having now read up on it, was evidently very badly bruised from his time in the games industry, and I wish that on nobody.
But what am I to do? I didn't like Dino Dini's Kick Off Revival. I have to say that. I can't soft-pedal in a review. When we make stuff for public consumption there's no way it's ever going to be universally loved, and we have to expect people to have opinions on it.
The best outcome - for me - is that my work polarises; I'd always rather a tight core of passionate love than a blanket "S'alright". Digitiser has always annoyed and alienated more people than it drew in. And I'm proud of that.
It's not for everyone, same as Kick Off Revival - sorry, Dino Dini's Kick Off Revival - is not for everyone. I don't for a second think the people who hate me and hate Digitiser are wrong. But I do know that the people who love it really love it. And that's enough. There's no point telling Digi "haters" that they're wrong, or morons. You can't make somebody love something, or change their opinion, by telling them they're stupid.
That's what got the country into the mess it's in right now.
The people who love Kick Off really love it. Dino Dini is a very lucky man, just as I am blessed that I have people who support my work on here today, and who have such affection for the work I did 20+ years ago.
Most of us don't get that privilege of being in a position where what we do for a living has such support from the public - and if we sometimes get a kicking for it... well, so be it.
That comes with the territory, and we can always go work in an office, or drive a bus, if it's too much for us, or we're too hypersensitive to be able to handle it.
So, that's that really. Just wanted to say to Dino and his fans that - no - there's no conspiracy here. I hadn't read any other reviews of Dino Dini's Kick Off Revival before I wrote my own. I didn't know the history of the series. I had no ulterior motive or agenda or axe to grind. I simply didn't like the game. And you all did, and that's great.
I can't speak for the rest of the industry. Certainly, there's a perception of Dino and Kick-Off fans as being a little reactive and touchy... and the prophecies I'd received regarding that turned out to be entirely accurate. I'm not certain it's the healthiest thing to have associated with the game - certainly, if you want to avoid a negative media and social media "narrative".
As a pointer though: I know it's hard when you feel passionate about something to bottle up your feelings, and not let them out - especially in this social media age - but it doesn't help you. It doesn't help the game for you to take people to task for not liking the thing that you love.
And it's only going to get backs up: be glad that my only response was to do some "journalism" which showed Dino getting a makeover from Gok Wan.
That said though... thanks for all the hits: yesterday was the best day on Digitiser since I last wrote about Gamergate.
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