The conference about games criticism aims to examine criticism in a safe space.
A number of critics weren’t able to get their talks into the 2014 Game Developers Conference in San Francisco. Rather than waiting until next year, games critics banded together to create Critical Proximity, a conference about analyzing games criticism, organized by Zoya Street and curatorial games criticism site Critical Distance.
“I wanted to hear the talks they would have given, because I felt like something that I really value was at risk of being lost,” Street told Polygon. “That’s not to slight GDC, because they’re very upfront about their priorities: they want talks that give developers actionable takeaways. Critical reflection is more often about posing interesting questions than offering tidy solutions, so I think it’s understandable if they feel that it doesn’t really align with their goals.”
Presenters will examine games criticism through four ways: outward, inward, upward, and forward. The ten-minute micro-talks will discuss how criticism interacts with the rest of the games field, how critics work with others and how to stay safe in online spaces, how critics can support games criticism outside of traditional publishing structures, and the craft of writing. Critical Proximity is taking submissions, which will be accepted or denied by Feb. 15. Critics, developers, and the public are welcome. Tickets to the conference are free but limited. Spots are no longer available, but those interested can be added to the waitlist.
Games criticism is still evolving, and writers always have room for improvement. Safe spaces for minority critics are also important, and more inclusive spaces can’t hurt. Street hopes after Critical Proximity the community will know more about diversity and critical games writing.