Happy Anniversary

In response to “Kieron Gillen Post Manifesto” from The Escapist Forum: In 2004 Kieron Gillen was writing for PC Gamer UK, which around that time was the best magazine I’ve ever read. Even when my PC became too out-of-spec to run new games I carried on buying the magazine for two years and read it cover to cover every month. They were critically engaged with the medium, with journalistic integrity and a desire to invoke game design principals and elements of cultural theory, but they were also hilariously funny and surreal.

New Games Journalism felt like the beginning of the end of that, for me. PCG UK seemed to embrace it and ran a lot of NGJ-style articles. Their editorial policy changed, as did their editor, and they began praising a lot of games which I personally didn’t think were very good. It seemed like a good game was now a game that you could write New Games Journalism about.

NGJ was a cool idea. Gillen and PC Gamer convinced me that journalism could be something entertaining and artistic in its own right, and I often had more fun reading their magazine than I did playing the games, and NGJ was an expansion of that idea of games journalism into a more creative cultural attachment to the games themselves. But it didn’t really work, and many of the criticisms that it was far too self indulgent were valid.



In response to “In Twitter We Trust” from The Escapist Forum: Chuck, I don’t think that’s a cop-out answer. I think it’s worth examining more closely, though, and I’m eager to get that discussion going here where it seems pretty relevant. How does trust differ from camaraderie of opinion, for example? Does Twitter grow trust or does it provide a tool for following and monitoring those you already trust, from outside of Twitter? Etc. etc. I think there’s something there.

For me, quality criticism (which is, as you say, something separate from a quality review) builds trust. With great criticism, you can see a mind at work, and that builds trust for me. Twitter provides context for a mind at work, and can also build some trust that way, too. But Twitter so often reduces criticism from a cocktail to a shot. Either will get you drunk, I suppose, but I find a cocktail is a better representation of a bartender’s abilities.

But I digress.



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In response to “1984 Out of 10” from The Escapist Forum: I do agree that score inflation is quite rampant among most mainstream magazines/sites like PC Gamer, EGM, Gamespot, and the like, but I’d really like to touch on the last point: that score inflation is partially due to publishers imposing their wills upon game critics.

I personally think that it is the job of every game company to do everything possible to put their games in the hands of consumers. If they write an e-mail requesting their game be given a positive score and list the merits, that’s perfectly fine. What they’re doing is making an argument towards one conclusion and being an advocate for their product. What is wrong is when game critics rely on the publisher’s views instead of giving their own opinion. For instance, there’s nothing wrong with saying, “Oblivion has a vast, open world that literally takes hours to explore,” even though that might be right on the box, it’s a truth and it’s my opinion as well as that of the game publishers.

When advertising dollars get involved, it becomes a matter of the critic’s integrity versus cashflow. The big example that you cited was the Gamespot Kane and Lynch scenario which does illustrate something very wrong with the way Gamespot does business. No reviewer should ever be fired because he did his job. His job is to criticize the game, separate the good from bad, and give an overall impression to the consumer. As long as he remains consistent in his feedback, there is no reason he should lose his job, regardless of what developers or fanboys might say.



In response to “Reviewing Blood, Sex and Magic” from The Escapist Forum:

albino boo:
It always amuses me that the fringe Christan groups that are so anti magic, always forget that the Bible has a description of necromancy in it. So if they get there way they will have to ban the Bible. However the anti censorship mob are just blind and full of unreasoned prejudice.

The difference is in the way that magic is treated. In the Bible it is universally condemned. None of the positive role models in Scripture use what I’ll call “real” magic, or if they do it is made clear that God does not approve of their use of witchcraft or magic.

I personally have no problem with fictional depictions of magic. I’m a pretty conservative Christian, but I love to read fantasy novels. For me the biggest thing is that fiction is fiction. My love of fantasy literature has never once led me to being interested in pursuing “real” magic.

And for those of you who think that sites like ccgr.org are “censoring” video games, maybe you should actually read some of the reviews. The reviewer isn’t saying that “These games should be banned,” or even “Christians shouldn’t play this game,” but rather sets out the various potential appropriateness or morality issues in a game. It’s a review for the sake of information from a specifically Christian perspective. But that would be too nuanced for those people who simply think, “Christians don’t like magic so any review criticizing its use must be an attempt at moral censorship.”


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