Mise en Scène Deserves a Review Too

Mise en Scène Deserves a Review Too

Some people care about a game's visual design. When will reviews do the same?

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Great article, and I can totally relate. When I write reviews for the hell of it, I focus more on a game's soundtrack more than most would care to read about. On the other hand, if I write a review I want people to read, I try to be as broad and general as I possibly can.

I care a lot about mise en Scene, I think the thing is that not many people know what that means....

Nice article, I have been bothered by the lack of a visual design-based discussion in video-games for some time. I don't think I would want purely design-based reviews, but atleast talk about it more prominently.
I do recall some reviews of SotC and Flower saying something along the lines of "pick this up just for the experience and visuals", but they hardly did the mise en scene any justice with their discussion.

This is probably one of the most refreshing articles I have read in a while. Film Theory really needs to be looked at in terms of video games. Great read. Can't give enough kudos.

I think if more reviewers start talking about these sorts of things one of the first things they're going to want to do is be careful about the term - there isn't a preset mise-en-scene (forgive the absence of the diacritic) in a game. Which isn't to say there isn't one, just that one can't talk about one that is a property of the game itself - as long as the player has control of character movement, and often camera movement, then the mise-en-scene is going to be generated separately by each play-through of the game, by the player in tandem with the makers of the game.

Ha, "Endo's Gamer."

I totally agree and have to say that a major reason why I enjoy reviews done by the AVGN is the fact that he knows a good deal about making movies. If you see his movie reviews it gets even more apparent, but he also does it with game reviews just by bringing his point of view.

What I would be interested to know is if his presentation altered your perception of games, Tom?
If I remember correctly, you really disliked Resistance 2. But with that information now, would you write it differently?

I wouldn't believe that it would change a personal opinion by 180°, but it would be nice to know if this kind of insight would bring a reviewer to write articles that try to address different points of view on the material.

One of the most interesting articles I've read recently.The visual designs needed to be looked to rather than just focusing on only the tiny bugs in the gameplay.You've got my vote...:)

Which is why Gamespot's review of Dreamfall: The Longest Journey sucked terribly.
They focused too much on the tacked-on combat and repetitive gameplay.
Listen, Gamespot: NOONE who bought Dreamfall bought it so they could kick some Dark People ass. People who bought Dreamfall bought it because the story is one of the best ever told accross not only games, but also movies, and to a smaller degree, they bought it for the visual design, which was indeed fantastic.

ChrisA9:
This is probably one of the most refreshing articles I have read in a while. Film Theory really needs to be looked at in terms of video games.

wrshamilton:
I think if more reviewers start talking about these sorts of things one of the first things they're going to want to do is be careful about the term - there isn't a preset mise-en-scene (forgive the absence of the diacritic) in a game. Which isn't to say there isn't one, just that one can't talk about one that is a property of the game itself - as long as the player has control of character movement, and often camera movement, then the mise-en-scene is going to be generated separately by each play-through of the game, by the player in tandem with the makers of the game.

I'm going to have to align myself with wrshamilton on this one. Importing terminology and critical frameworks straight from film would be, and is, a mistake. This is not to say that film-based perspectives are invalid; just that they aren't really applicable to an interactive medium like games without some significant tweaking. It will take time and, judging from the many articles I've seen in the last six months reflexively evaluating the role of the reviewer, I think things are moving along very nicely.

Remember that before film theory grew into its own, academically, people were using literary criticism to try and make sense of film... often with some hilariously misguided results.

I see this with movies, certainly. Coraline, for example, was a visually stunning film with a pretty basic plot and characterization. Worth seeing for the visuals, after that, shrug.

Books too, actually. Nobody read the DaVinci Code for it's incredible characters and powerful portrayals of good and evil. They read it because the plot ran at 500mph and it was kind of fun.

Videogames will be trickier than either of those two mediums because like movies the player is being shown something, and like books the player is active in the process, (in a book imagining the story, locations and characters, voices, etc. in a game actively triggering events and solving problems) but like both of those mediums videogames are a thing unto themselves.

So yeah I think those niche review sites will have a strong following too because they will want to talk about things particular to their genre or area that are done well, and care less that other parts of the game don't quite work.

 

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