108: Fear and Loading in Game Journalism

Fear and Loading in Game Journalism

"For nearly five years we've been in a cycle of manifesto-building, where disgruntled writers theorize an end or a beginning to this or that. Every game conference, from E3 to GDC to the smaller indie events, has had some form of panel where three or four bemused writers sit and field angry questions from people who feel something rotten in the state of Denmark. So I'm here to tell you game journalism is fine."

Read Full Article

I found it refreshing to see someone finally attempt a more constructive look at video game journalism and reviewing. And while I appreciate that sentiment, it is unfortunate that your article cites some of the very same sources that tend to produce poor game writing themselves. Put differently - if you want a fair, thoughtful analysis of the quality of game journalism, why would you asking game journalists themselves? The people qualified to make judgments on the quality of game journalism certainly are not those most deeply financially invested in it. Chuck Klosterman demonstrates precisely why having professional writers is truly important: compare his article with any of the mass-media columns you offered at the beginning of the article - there can be no doubt that trained, professional critics are a necessity.

And finally, to answer your challenge, there is already a movement of writers attempting to make the very connections between human truth and games as an expressive medium! Not to sound punitive, but had you spent the time exploring other sources of game writing than the mass-media stuff that you presented, you would have found a treasure-trove of philosophers, scientists, artists, writers, psychologists, sociologists, and "ludologists" who have been trying to break through the superficial technofetishism of the mainstream media. These writers all serve a different kind of audience however - one that does not immediately translate to the kinds of audiences that buy advertisement-laden gaming mags, 'read' Kotaku, and rush out to buy the newest Halo game for their 360. In fact, most of these writers are writing about games published years ago! Most importantly - these folks are also writing their own informed analyses of just how the game industry can change through strong, ethical, lyrical, writing without the financial burdens that mainstream media faces.

A few examples:
Arthouse Games
Mentisworks
Only a Game
The Artful Gamer
The Cultural Gutter
Grant Text Auto

I'd love to see you write a follow-up article that 'makes good' on your constructive commitment to search out new writers, artists, and the likes. Otherwise, this article will likely find its place among the many complaints against mainstream game writing.

I'm going to have to check out some of those links. In return, I offer a link to Lost Garden.

Thanks for adding Lost Garden to the list. I've been following Danc's stuff for a few months now, and his indie project challenges are some of the best on the web. I highly recommend it too!

I always notice that questions of game journalism tend to overlap questions of games as art. I always thought it would be interesting to read game criticism that had more in common with, say, art criticism than movie reviews. That's basically what this article is suggesting, right?

Yeah, that's basically what the article is suggesting. I'd suggest reading some of those links for possible examples. The review of "Okami" over at Mentisworks is a good example of art criticism for games.

Bongo Bill:
I always notice that questions of game journalism tend to overlap questions of games as art. I always thought it would be interesting to read game criticism that had more in common with, say, art criticism than movie reviews. That's basically what this article is suggesting, right?

I dunno I believe games are art, however it reminds me of hollywood when they try and explain the art of X or Y being good or great when tis just barely mediocre at the end of the day, when it comes to reviews I side with caution to many times have "dripping" reviews not gave a damn about real issues of the game and sided on selling the game over getting down to the meat and bones of it.

Bongo Bill:
I always notice that questions of game journalism tend to overlap questions of games as art. I always thought it would be interesting to read game criticism that had more in common with, say, art criticism than movie reviews. That's basically what this article is suggesting, right?

There's a slippery slope there...I remember reading a recent Mass Effect review which essentially said "The cities in this world are utterly stunning. Every character is unforgettable, and has some very memorable lines. Graphics are the best of the engine, and the game is utter perfection. Oh, except, the....gameplay...kinda sucks. BUT IT'S STILL GREAT! A+!"

I like story too, but gameplay should go above graphics AND story. At least, in my opinion. Katamari Damacy's plot was a bit...on drugs...but that was still one heck of a game.

Katana314:

Bongo Bill:
I always notice that questions of game journalism tend to overlap questions of games as art. I always thought it would be interesting to read game criticism that had more in common with, say, art criticism than movie reviews. That's basically what this article is suggesting, right?

There's a slippery slope there...I remember reading a recent Mass Effect review which essentially said "The cities in this world are utterly stunning. Every character is unforgettable, and has some very memorable lines. Graphics are the best of the engine, and the game is utter perfection. Oh, except, the....gameplay...kinda sucks. BUT IT'S STILL GREAT! A+!"

I like story too, but gameplay should go above graphics AND story. At least, in my opinion. Katamari Damacy's plot was a bit...on drugs...but that was still one heck of a game.

It seems reviewers forget what gameplay is, and I kinda cling to it to point of instanity I base everything on gameplay
Halo 1-6
Halo 2-5
Halo 3-6
(add 2 points for PC version)

Quake 2-9
Quake 4-5

Doom 3-4

Dark messiah-7
Bioshock-7 (gettign to the point I want to call it a 6)

HL2-7 (includes eps)

Frist thing I notice about FPSs is level design and if they know WTF it is gun and run designs are auto fail unelss you set out to build a simple dumb shooter,2nd thing I notice is weapon design if they are fun and useful, realisticly weak designs belong in realistic shooters, foamy weapons belong in nerf games.....not to mention balance issues that come up when you make realistic foam based fictional weponary...

even normal games need to mix up gameplay a bit, I played DMC 2 with inf double jump on and it made the game so damn fun I tried to mostly use 3-4(and yes I kept to it 80% of the time), screw balances when it stifles fun I say and fun has become soemthign devs don't quite understand, sure neither do I but I do not understand alot of things :P

www.popmatters.com

 

Reply to Thread

Log in or Register to Comment
Have an account? Login below:
With Facebook:Login With Facebook
or
Username:  
Password:  
  
Not registered? To sign up for an account with The Escapist:
Register With Facebook
Register With Facebook
or
Register for a free account here