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gladiator_x Empty Abyss of the Internet, Hear Me Roar!

Title:
Posted: September 06, 2006 (09:27 PM)
Here's a meta-writing mind ripper. I'm going to start and article with a link that goes to another article that starts with a link. Go:
http://weblogs.swarthmore.edu/burke/?p=209

He (Burke, I assume) is talking about the absolute void of real game criticism, and he's right about that. There is a real lack of criticism of games in mainstream press. He (and I) isn't (aren't) just talking about the newspaper, or Entertainment weekly. Game magazines don't offer any real criticism. As Burke says: "In a game 'review', it pretty much amounts to a repetition of the press kit or prerelease hype and a few remarks on technical problems or issues, in a straightfoward consumerist mode (e.g., buy or no buy). More like a report on refrigerators than a cultural commentary."
Oh so sad and true. Games are a big business, but as Burke makes passing reference to, one that makes its money by targeting hard a small segment of the population. Hardcore gamers represent some ludicrous percentage of every dollar profitted from games, 30-60 or something to that effect. Consequently, the hardcore have evolved their own mechanism for dealing with the high pressure marketing situation, the printed gaming press. Hopefully, these guys will play through all the games out there and tell you all about it in a 250-word pill. And almost every word of that review is dedicated to describing the technical bits of game and if it is a smooth play. There is no room for such non-concrete elements such as interpretation or aesthetics, if indeed the game should include any. And why should a game include those elements if there is nobody who appreciates anything besides the bump-mapping, the collision detection, and the hoozawhatzits?

However, Burke puts his money where his mouth is and writes four short game reviews that ought to belong in EGM or any other magazine claiming to be interested in video gaming. He will tell you something significant about the sandbox style of San Andreas; he makes a startling and worthy comparison to a game belonging to the legion of forgotten games, Shenmue. Perhaps here is our champion of games long past? He mentions how Planescape: Torment not only offers the branching storyline and dialogue trees that are commonly crudely inserted into action-games desiring a veneer of depth, but remarks on how the plot is shaped to absorb a character who can be cruel to one NPC and kind to another. He describes the beauty of simply existing in the space that Shadow of the Colossus creates, the feeling of melancholy. He has the sensitivity the hardcore gaming press lacks and theorizes on the reasoning behind its setting: a "morally-evacuated land." And finally manages to describe Katamari Damacy as something other than "quirky" and notes that the game is not just a good video game, but transcends the genre to become a good game that is only possible in a "video space."

This is the kind of criticism that is needed from online gaming press. (I'm looking at you Honestgamers.) If I wanted to know how pretty the game looked I would have bought a magazine.

A toast to smart people who play games, may they someday get published.
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Recent Contributions

Users with accounts on the HonestGamers site are able to contribute reviews and occasionally other types of content. Below, you'll find excerpts from as many as 20 of the most recent articles posted by gladiator_x. Be sure to leave some feedback if you find anything interesting!

Type: Review
Game: God of War (PlayStation 2)
Posted: July 06, 2006 (11:23 AM)
There are two things that are good about this game. Sadly, they are the two things that are good about every ďgoodĒ game. Usually, these two things make up the bulk a review but I didnít write this review intending to tell you that this is a fun game and is looks good, blah, blah, woof, woof. In the grander scheme of video-game things, God of War is a big failure. It makes all the same mistakes concerning content that every other high-ranked game does. Itís offensive, itís hyper-masculine, it m...
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