In slightly less tongue-in-cheek happenings, Jim Rossignol, one quarter of Rock, Paper, Shotgun, noted that “Locked Door” was close to the biggest article ever published on RPS. It’s certainly well worth a read, and a great example of the fact that good games crit doesn’t have to be the straight-forward essayist type. RPS continued its standard of excellence this week with some fantastic coverage of upcoming game Mafia 2, and a nice little op-ed on Left 4 Dead’s new survival mode.
Dan Kline wrote about a theory he has that “having a programmer in charge of your company [makes] such a big difference” to game development. I’m a little sceptical about the breadth of his argument, but colour me interested. He does say, however, that “having a programmer in charge means there’s no black box. Video games are software first, game second.” Which is a sentiment I can definitely get behind.
This week, L.B. Jeffries suffered GDC denial and went to GDX [editor note 2017: dead link] (game developers exchange) and wrote about his experience. It’s a pretty insider-focused conference, but L.B. still managed to get quite a lot out of it. And he met Ian Bogost. In his own words – “suspicions confirmed. He’s a total badass.”.
Matthew Wasteland wrote about an anecdote from crunch time in ‘Front Lines, pt. II: A Thousand-Dollar Effort’. It has to be read to be believed.
Iroquois Pliskin of Versus Clu Clu Land turns a review of Gears of War 2 into something like a defence of the Roman Coliseum aesthetic in the game. “The Takeaway”, he says, “Are you not entertained?” The argument against trying to critique a game for something it’s not trying to be, is one that I don’t feel has really been played out yet. I am reminded of Mike Schiller, former editor of the moving pixels blog, and his defence of the story in GoW2. Also from Pliskin is his not to be missed post “Against My Better Judgement, I Discuss Citizen Kane and Maybe Art” which is absolutely chock-full of great ideas on games-as-art and the use of cinematic comparisons. Also, some badass dude called Ian Bogost turns up in the comments.
Tom Chick reluctantly finished his great series on the new game Demigod this week, with his ‘Final Word‘. The discussion surrounding whether reviewers should evaluate the quality at launch versus what it will be once issues are resolved is discussed and handled in a most excellent way, I felt.
Michael Abbott at the Brainy Gamer this week commented on the change to the ending of Fallout 3 that Bethesda’s Pete Hines outlined would happen with the last piece of DLC for the game. Abbott was sad that the lesson learned from player feedback on Fallout 3 seemed to be that endings were bad intrinsically, however I felt that the take-away was more that Fallout 3‘s ending was bad. Go read it for yourself.
Finally, we come to what I feel is this weeks absolute must read – and it comes to us via Critical Distance contributor’ Christopher Hyde’s tumblr blog. He links to a piece of writing from a film criticism website that, when it comes down to it, is lamenting the lack of any serious games criticism.
In the post “The Alligators Have Good Graphics: Beginning Game Criticism, Pt 1“, author Logan Crowell, who comes from a film criticism background, valiantly outlines the issues surrounding game criticism and says about games criticism that,
Ultimately, though, we need to begin. We need to stop asking why there isn’t game criticism and start writing some. Maybe it will fail to distinguish itself. Maybe few games are ready for serious critics. We still need to try. If we don’t, then someone, sometime down the road, is once again going to ask why there isn’t any real game criticism.
It seems to me that Crowell just hasn’t found it all yet, and if he had he’d be singing a much merrier tune. Not to put too fine a point on it, but the post seems to justify the existence of a site like Critical Distance. Where is the entry point to games criticism? So far it’s only regularly happened by the discovery on of any of the many networked blogs and communities, often via The Brainy Gamer and others.
Either way, Logan, some of us have been ‘beginning’ for quite a while. You’re welcome to join* the conversation*. Beware, though, it’s deeper than it looks. Actually, a* lot deeper. So deep I have run out of words. [editor note 2017: dead links marked with *]
And that’s as close as we’ll get to an aggregator website!
Till next week.