Blah blah blah, and thanks for the backhander, Google.
No, this isn't another Stadia-just-works polemic, but that does factor into it. This is more about why it's really important to believe, above all others, your own, first-hand, experience. And even then... take what you think you believe with a pinch of salt.
You see, I'm really enjoying Rage 2. I'd liked the first one quite a bit, though I associate it with an odd time in my life, when I had just come out the other end of a long marriage that hadn't exactly worked, and I appreciated the chance to lose myself in its wasteland.
I bought Rage 2 upon release, with a view to reviewing it on here, but the other reviews I read put me off. I was busy earlier this year, and fitting a big open world-game that was barely just sort of okay, into my free time wasn't something I found particularly appealing. So I left it in the shrink-wrap, until last week.
And while I'm glad that the game has gone beyond my (admittedly very low) expectations, thanks to that lowering of this expectations due to others, I'm annoyed I ever allowed opinions to influence me.
See, opinions are weird things. We have opinions for all sorts of reasons, and sometimes those reasons can be hidden from even ourselves.
Opinions cannot always be trusted - even if those opinions are our own. Opinions are not the same as a fact. They're a subjective viewpoint, and cannot be viewed as a conclusive statement. They're built from our own subjective prejudices and psychological make-up, many of which are nebulous and buried somewhere deep in our psyche.
They can even be affected by the mood you're in at any given moment, your past experiences, social influences... In short, they're not, cast-in-iron, indisputable, facts.
An opinion, through all those influences, can even reach a critical mass and become a consensus; that's what sites like Metacritic and Rotten Tomatoes do, and why they are - in my opinion - not to be trusted. At the moment, the Rage 2 "consensus" on Metacritic is 67% - which, even though that should be considered above average, usually would put me off most games.
I think that's why I find it so weary that many are trying to push the consensus on Stadia towards it being a flop that doesn't work. I've got first-hand experience of Stadia working - aside from whether there are issues with the business model. I know the technology works for me; that's not an opinion. That's a fact drawn from first-hand experience. It works. For me.
And talking of first-hand experience, I once wrote a movie for young children, about a talking dog, which was subject to the consensus that it was terrible - a consensus that very clearly affected the reviews it received, because everyone was influenced by it. Opinions had been formed long before it was even made. Consequently, it never really got the chance it deserved, because people bought into that group-think, mass opinion, rather than trying to form an opinion based upon their subjective experience.
But then why would they? It was a film for kids anyway. Let's just shit on it from a great height to look cool, and be part of the hive mind...! It's like standing outside a primary school, shouting "Wankers!" through the gates.
Even so, by the point Pudsey The Dog The Movie was released, the critical mass of opinion was such that, even if people did bother to watch it, removing themselves from the mob might've proved scarier than just going along with the consensus. God forbid you're the one who dares to admit that it's just a harmless, bog-standard, children's film, rather than an affront to society and the art of cinema.
Unfortunately, as demonstrated by my experience with Rage 2, our opinions - even mine - are all too easily affected by the opinions of others.
I mean, you see it going on at the moment with the General Election; all the parties are trying to affect our opinion with their own opinions. Within different social bubbles, there tends to be a consensus about the opposing side, and I'm not sure how much whingeing about Boris Johnson actually puts people off voting for him, if they already have the opinion that he's the best person to lead the country.
That's why elections are decided by those who haven't yet formed an opinion; the proverbial voting floaters. I don't think I've ever faced an election where the choice is so difficult (not because the Tories stand any chance of getting my vote, but because I don't know if I can bring myself to vote for Jeremy Corbyn a second time; it has become, for me, a decision as to whether I waste my vote on one of the smaller parties... and even there I don't see much to get inspired about).
I'm trying hard to see beyond the consensus, the opinions, and focus on truth... but it's very hard when everyone has a personal agenda, and it's all buried beneath trying to smear the other side.
Opinions, are as flawed as people are flawed. Of course, opinions can be based upon experience too - providing our prejudice and preconceptions aren't so strong that they warp our perception of our first-hand experience - but we do rely, perhaps too much, on the opinions of others.
It's why reviews exist; in reviews we're looking for some sort of assurance, or guaranteed, but all you're ever going to get - unless it's one of those reviews which rather dryly just lists, say, the features of the game, and recounts the story beat-by-beat - is one person's subjective opinion.
I'll be honest here, and admit that it took me a long time to realise that reviews are sort of semi-pointless; even my own. Can you imagine?! I think I always knew at the back of my head that my tastes in games were quite specific, and that just because I've no interest in, I dunno, DOTA 2 - whatever that is - it doesn't mean that everyone who enjoys it is fundamentally wrong.
I really don't enjoy turn-based RPGs, but lots of people do. It doesn't mean I've messed up, and it doesn't mean they're stupid (though they might be). It just means, y'know, we've got different opinions.
In fact, these days... I tend to watch YouTube gameplay videos before buying a game, rather than reading reviews, because then I can at least try to form my own opinion, based upon what I'm seeing, rather than risking fifty quid of my hard-earned on the flawed critique of an idiot like me, who thinks their opinion is worth something.
My tastes are not the same as yours. My opinions are not the same as yours. Arguing with someone about their opinion, especially when that opinion is regarding a video game thing, is pointless and stupid. By all means challenge factual inaccuracies, but likes and dislikes are not facts, so don't dress up your opinion as if it was one.
Stadia, Rage 2... so many other games... if I'd listened to opinions I'd have cut myself off from being able to form my own. We don't always have the luxury of being able to afford to first-hand experience, but if you don't have any, be it of a product, a work of art, or even a person... maybe just keep your mouth shut, yeah?