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Worth Reading: 10/18/2013

Maybe we can find the perfect college party buried in these links.

Man, I miss college.

There's a part of me that misses the late night antics with my friends. That uncanny ability to drown 40z and shots without consequence, and the haphazard way we went about planning our evenings. "Is there a party somewhere?" "We'll find one."

More than that, it's realizing the cliche you'd heard from older friends and family: the idea that college, like youth, is wasted on its participants. I've always called myself a "B-" student. Just good enough to stop myself from being embarrassed with the grades assigned to most of my school work, but not enough to stop myself from enjoying spending the vast majority of my time being an idiot.

(Fun fact: Seth Killian was teaching at my school, and left just before I was a freshman.)

If there was a way to plop 28-year-old Patrick into the same situation as 19-year-old Patrick, I'd do so in a heartbeat. The opportunity to have basically zero real-life responsibilities (for me, anyway--I was lucky enough to have much of college taken care of due to amazing parents) and an opportunity to learn from smart, talented people? In some ways, that's why I find my current work so satisfying. In some small way, every interview that I conduct is trying to make up for all the time I wasted being, well, wasted.

This latest nostalgic trip comes to mind as my wife and I drive to the University of Michigan-Dearborn so I can finally give the TEDx talk that I'll finally stop talking about after this week. (Sorry, I'm talkative when I'm nervous.) I feel this way every time I step onto a college campus, and I struggle acknowledging the aforementioned cliche because it's also disingenuous. I don't regret any of that time, not for a second. That time was formative. The happy-go-lucky years of college teach people different things.

If nothing else, that's where I started dating my wife. Not a bad way to spend four years.

Hey, You Should Play This

You've probably read Tevis Thompson's latest, a scathing critique of modern game reviews as it relates to the abstract but related concept of criticism. If you haven't, do! You might not agree with everything Thompson has to say, but his underlining premise, the idea that we see little diversity of opinion when it comes to gaming's biggest releases, is absolutely true. What he supposes are the solutions to that problem--reviewers being more honest about their personal politics, writers not giving games points for trying, employing more critics with more varied social and economic backgrounds--proves some of the most thought provoking material. Thompson is too aggressive in his approach, especially some of his language ("these boys"), but I look at what he's saying and think "I could be doing better." Can't we always?

"But some of these scores no doubt look ridiculous to anyone familiar with most reviews. The very outlandishness of my numbers points to how ingrained our pitiful review scale remains. It speaks to how easily we submit to the tyranny of the perceived majority. It’s the same kind of thinking that leads to the many ridiculous sacrosanct positions held by the gaming community. To say you consider Ocarina of Time not a great Zelda or find Half-Life 2 overrated or prefer Metroid to Super Metroid, as I do, demands an explanation. It invites skepticism of not only your opinions but of your very motives. What’s your deal? You’re just trolling for clicks. And why should I listen to you anyway? You didn’t design the game. You don’t represent the average gamer. You’re just some vocal minority."

Game writers, you have discovered my new cat nip: Chicago. Fortunately, this piece by Charlie Hall would be worth highlighting anyway. When people ask me what I'd like to see more from in games journalism, it's this. This feature, a deep dive into the surveillance state emerging in the windy city, doesn't have much to do with whether Watch Dogs will or won't be a good game, but it's a fascinating god damn story. It should be interesting to anyone who finds Watch Dogs interesting, and especially if you find its premise implausible. It's also made me way more paranoid about my impending move downtown...

"Many cities in the world have done the same, but what makes Chicago unique is the integration of public and private cameras. Iconic buildings like the Willis Tower (formerly the Sears Tower) and the Hancock Building have voluntarily connected their surveillance systems to the OEMC, as did more than one thousand Chicago businesses like Boeing. Even individuals were encouraged to connect their personal cameras to the city's Operation Virtual Shield.

Polygon has found estimates that suggest as many as 24,000 cameras are now connected to the OEMC Operations Center at 1411 West Madison on Chicago's Near West Side, the same facility bought and paid for by Homeland Security in 2007. If there is a real ctOS in Chicago, then it lives in the "OC." That single room has become a vital part of the day-to-day management of the city of Chicago."

If You Click It, It Will Play

Like it or Not, Crowdfunding Isn't Going Away

  • CastAR, the augmented reality project that Valve scuttled, is getting a new life on Kickstarter.
  • SCALE asks: what if the size of your world and everything in it was in your control?
  • I don't know what Dinosaur Battlegrounds is about, but it's called Dinosaur Battlegrounds.

Tweets That Make You Go "Hmmmmmm"

Oh, And This Other Stuff

Patrick Klepek on Google+
100 Comments
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Posted by Leonshade

What did Seth Killian teach?

Edited by Brodehouse

I think you're seeing two different arguments regarding game reviews.

One side wants classical criticism, a discussion around a game. The playwright George Bernard Shaw wrote criticism of then-modern theater, and used the discussion to develop his own plays. Sometimes directly in response to the discussion.

Another side wants product reviews for the average person, or specific people, to help them decide how to spend their money and time. I'm going out to see a movie tonight; hey Roger Ebert, what films do you give the thumbs up to this week? I'm relying on you to give me a recommendation.

I think both are completely valid, and I think the Review Wars are entirely based on a difference of terminology.

Edited by mrfluke

" What he supposes are the solutions to that problem--reviewers being more honest about their personal politics"

@patrickklepek i agree to an extent that this should happen, but then at what point do videogame reviews that get paid for their reviews, are no different than user reviews that do this for free?. thing is, there is still a professional authoritative label associated to people that do this for a living, reviews have to have some sort of professional objectivity to them i think.

cause if reviews going forward are going to be fully slanted with personal views...

( using this a theoretical example, jaded reviewer X is bored by the AAA games and is going to go on a long tangent ragging on said games, vs knowing when a game is just not for them anymore cause it still sells in the millions and there's other games for them that they can play that satisfy their interests on wanting something different )

(and another theoretical example, is every japanese "sexy" female character in any future game going to produce a big long sexist/objectification rant by american culture, or will they be able to step back and realize the cultural differences and realize that i dunno, there's actual sensible females outside the US that dont take offense to these type of characters and actually like them, as you said, going beyond ones worldview is good right? i have and a lot of the types of things that produce long sexism/objectification types of stories here in the US, people outside of the US could not just care less. )

.....people that dont like it, are going to wise up eventually and just follow a youtube personality where there is a much more relaxed positive tone. and if we're looking at it from a long term view, having people slowly but surely leave your site and your content, could be very dangerous for one's career.

its either that or more sites and communities of said sites will have to adopt Giantbomb's model where on GB we can look at the review and the score, and decide for ourselves if we agree with his judgement and take their personal slants and tastes for account

(like for example i can look at patricks gone home review and not be surprised at all that he adores it, and i can look at his comments on bombin on how he wasnt too hot on gta 5 and not be surprised by that fact.)

interesting times ahead, feels like everything in videogames and games journalism could blow up in the next few years (which could be interesting), or we'ill all be fine for the next few years (which could be fine as well)

Edited by joshwent

Of course I knew it would be here, but I'm still extremely disappointed that Tevis' rant is so prominently featured and further still... lauded.

It's not scathing, it's blathering.

And I find it intensely hypocritical that Patrick of all people urges us to dismiss his incessant racism and gender bigotry to see the "deeper point". Impassioned hatred directed at straight white males might be acceptable by some, but it surely at least makes him unreliable.

If we want to have adult conversations about games and game writing, this kind of desperate hyperbole must be summarily cast away.

Posted by Sergio

I think you're seeing two different arguments regarding game reviews.

One side wants classical criticism, a discussion around a game. The playwright George Bernard Shaw wrote criticism of then-modern theater, and used the discussion to develop his own plays. Sometimes directly in response to the discussion.

Another side wants product reviews for the average person, or specific people, to help them decide how to spend their money and time. I'm going out to see a movie tonight; hey Roger Ebert, what films do you give the thumbs up to this week? I'm relying on you to give me a recommendation.

I think both are completely valid, and I think the Review Wars are entirely based on a difference of terminology.

I tend to agree with this, since I personally differentiate between critiques and reviews. Once you slap a score on something, and ignored delving into any narrative the game may have because you don't want to spoil something, then it's become a review and a bit of a buyer's guide. I'll read a review before I play a game, read a book, or watch a movie; I'll read a critique after I've finished playing, reading, or watching.

Posted by lylebot

That's funny, I always thought of myself as a B/B- student too. And now I'm a professor!

What I really learned in college was time management and prioritization: how to do the least possible amount of work and still get by. That turns out to be an incredibly useful skill for a professor to have. I imagine it's useful in a lot of careers.

Posted by Lightningproof

@joshwent said:

And I find it intensely hypocritical that Patrick of all people urges us to dismiss his incessant racism and gender bigotry to see the "deeper point". Impassioned hatred directed at straight white males might be acceptable by some, but it surely at least makes him unreliable.

Lol.

Enjoyed the article, PatScoops Esq. Go kill a Tedx talk.

Online
Posted by shinboy630

@joshwent: I tend to agree with your first point about Tevis' rant. I read it up to the point where he stated "You have to wonder if some reviewers know any women." then decided I could no longer take anything he had to say seriously. Sure his intentions of taking a look at how we critique things (and getting more types of people involved with criticism) may be the right idea, but in my opinion he is going about it in the most wrong way he can.

Posted by Sergio

@mrfluke said:

" What he supposes are the solutions to that problem--reviewers being more honest about their personal politics"

i agree to an extent that this should happen, but then at what point do videogame reviews that get paid for their reviews, are no different than user reviews that do this for free?

I would say that at no point are people who get paid for reviews any different from a user who does it for free when it comes to determine if they are better at reviewing a game. They just happen to be fortunate enough to get paid for their review. They may or may not be better at grammar and syntax in expressing their opinion. Their reviews shouldn't be held in higher regard than a user who has an opinion that you value - not on the specific game but in general.

What a paid reviewer is good for is to determine some kind baseline of how much you value their opinion in making a decision to buy/rent a game. If you know this reviewer isn't a fan of a particular genre or if you often disagree with their opinions, you should value their reviews less. I like Jeff as a personality, but I think he often has terrible tastes in games and dislikes some great games, so I tend to ignore his opinion on whether I should play a game or not.

Edited by MrMazz

O goody the THomspon Essay and video with the image of Keep Your Polotics of out of MY Video Games and an Ian Bogost video. I love all 3 of these things but I'm sure there will be an annoying group of GB users who will insiesntly bitch about it.

Good luck at your TEDx talk Scoops hopefully it's recorded.

Edited by Budwyzer

Games are fun.

Edited by Milkman

@mrfluke: That's exactly what should happen. People should go to the reviewers and personalities that they enjoy. The point is that these different reviewers should exist. The point of the article is that more diversity is needed.

I've already said what I wanted to say about the Tevis Thompson thing in other places on the site but I'll reiterate. The overall point of the article is a good one but the tone is insufferable, condescending and does nothing but undermine the rest of the piece. If you want people to listen to you, talking down to them is a sure fire to make sure that they do not.

Posted by prettyunsmart

@leonshade: From the wiki:

[Killian] holds a PhD in philosophy, and used to teach it at the University of Illinois in Champaign-Urbana.

So, philosophy, I would assume.

Edited by Ax23000

@joshwent: I tend to agree with your first point about Tevis' rant. I read it up to the point where he stated "You have to wonder if some reviewers know any women." then decided I could no longer take anything he had to say seriously. Sure his intentions of taking a look at how we critique things (and getting more types of people involved with criticism) may be the right idea, but in my opinion he is going about it in the most wrong way he can.

To be fair, there's context to that statement (I know, I know...context doesn't exist on the internet). He's talking about all the reviewers who lauded Elizabeth as being a fully-formed character, when in fact for most of the game she is just a device serving the plot. I actually think this is a pretty valid point.

I agree his use of hyperbole doesn't do his arguments many favors. I actually stopped reading the first time well before this point because of just how angry he sounds. However, I found that I kept thinking about some of the points I'd read and came back to it with a more level head and realized that I'd let my knee jerk reaction cloud the actual points he was making.

Do I agree with most of it? No, honestly I don't, but I do think it merits consideration and discussion.

Edited by Deathpooky

I found Tevis' rant terribly uninteresting. It was a way-too-long call for game criticism over game reviewing. Which is fine, but not exactly any sort of scathing indictment. And then there were issues of diversity hamfistedly worked in. Most gamers would rather read reviews rather than critiques, especially when a game first comes out. And most gamers would rather a review tend to be more objective and holistic rather than personal and hyper-focused on the reviewer's concerns.

And given that he acknowledges that he's in possession of some extreme minority opinions, I don't know what he wants reviewers to do. He hates games that most everyone else loved, and judges games more harshly than others. If he wants to start a site that supports his idiosyncratic view of games and reviews, then go ahead and do so. Being mad because there wasn't a reviewer out there that didn't give Bioshock a 2/10 seems a strange starting point for your argument.

There are issues - most sites weighting to heavily towards to the top end of the scale, reviewers being in a different place than players, hyped mainstream games treated differently than unhyped niche games, reviewing games as product versus games as experience, fanboy reaction to games and reviews, and metacritic corrupting the whole operation - but those have been explored better and less antagonistically by other people.

Edited by mrsmiley

wow thanks for the smash documentary! amazing so far.

Posted by StingingVelvet

The issue with reviews is not corruption or intentional misdirection, it's simply that reviewers are humans too and get caught in the same hype/excitement/predisposition train as everyone else. "This is Bioshock, this is a Levine game, these visuals are amazing, of course this game is brilliant." Then months later the reviewer, like everyone else, realizes how much of a zeitgeist judgment that all was. Some people are immune from the beginning on some games, but no one is truly immune.

It's a big reason to remove ratings from reviews. That way flaws and excitement can march hand and hand even on day one without the reviewer feeling a need to justify a score he feels emotionally, if that makes any sense. I get why Jeff and some others like scores, and I do think they have uses, but stuff like Brad's 5 out of 5 for Diablo 3 shows that in the moment, in that excitable moment, you feel like you have to give the game a high score and then the review reflects that by minimizing problems and exaggerating benefits.

Edited by joshwent

@ax23000 said:

I agree his use of hyperbole doesn't do his arguments many favors. I actually stopped reading the first time well before this point because of just how angry he sounds. However, I found that I kept thinking about some of the points I'd read and came back to it with a more level head and realized that I'd let my knee jerk reaction cloud the actual points he was making.

Do I agree with most of it? No, honestly I don't, but I do think it merits consideration and discussion.

With disgustingly bigoted statements like...

The straight, white male gamer could in fact find no better home for his high-minded non-politics than BioShock Infinite.

Objectivity is very convenient for the straight white middle class male gamer.

The straight white male gamers so untroubled by BioShock Infinite, whose ideology and privilege are in fact perfectly reflected in it, are just not up to the task of reviewing on their own.

I wouldn't say it's the reader's "knee jerk reaction" that's the problem. There might be some pearls of wisdom in Tevis' rant, but hey, some of the assholes that screamed horrible things at Carolyn Petit about her GTA V review might have made some good points too. But exploring those would validate their hate, just like exploring this "article" does.

Promoting any ideas, no matter how valid, which are still imbued with this kind of divisive bigotry is killing any positive "conversation" that could be derived from it, and only serves to strongly reinforce the false us vs. them mentality that is the root cause of so many of these problems.

Posted by Brodehouse

@joshwent: Fuck, man. I was kind of ignoring it because you get so used to hearing it, but when they're laid out like that...

Posted by mrfluke

@sergio said:

@mrfluke said:

" What he supposes are the solutions to that problem--reviewers being more honest about their personal politics"

i agree to an extent that this should happen, but then at what point do videogame reviews that get paid for their reviews, are no different than user reviews that do this for free?

I would say that at no point are people who get paid for reviews any different from a user who does it for free when it comes to determine if they are better at reviewing a game. They just happen to be fortunate enough to get paid for their review. They may or may not be better at grammar and syntax in expressing their opinion. Their reviews shouldn't be held in higher regard than a user who has an opinion that you value - not on the specific game but in general.

What a paid reviewer is good for is to determine some kind baseline of how much you value their opinion in making a decision to buy/rent a game. If you know this reviewer isn't a fan of a particular genre or if you often disagree with their opinions, you should value their reviews less. I like Jeff as a personality, but I think he often has terrible tastes in games and dislikes some great games, so I tend to ignore his opinion on whether I should play a game or not.

i personally agree (the stuff about how we can use giantbomb i wrote below alludes to that fact), im just looking at the situation overall on what creates tension between reviewers and users. i think its cause reviewers are held to a high degree due to their professional label, that putting slants on reviews causes trouble (look at gamespots gta 5 review for example) the majority view game reviewers as the professional be all end all on whether or not to buy a game.

Edited by ArbitraryWater

The amount of condescension going on in that Tevis blog is something else. I don't even disagree with some of his points (hey, Bioshock isn't infallible and reviewers should use more than the 7-10 scale), but the Ivory Tower self-righteousness he has going on through that entire article is insufferable.

But, in the end, I find this entire discussion about what game criticism should and shouldn't be to be one giant circlejerk for people to try to justify their profession as something meaningful. It's actually quite simple: read reviews from people you like and can understand and ignore the rest. Whether that be more meat and potatoes purchasing advice or some kind of high minded critique really doesn't matter, because there's probably someone out there you can find to suit your tastes.

Posted by jiggajoe14

Chocolate covered broccoli? What kind of sick bastard does this?

Posted by nophilip

I think the core problem with Mr. Thompson's piece is that he is calling out people for thinking too similarly about games, while simultaneously saying "more people should think about games the same way I do".

Posted by tourgen

hey, someone on the internet named Tevis is an insufferable asshole. Not worth reading. Really, it wasn't worth it.

Edited by AngriGhandi

Games are both mechanical and artistic. More so than any other medium, by far.

So a review has to be mechanics-focused to some extent; in proportion to how much of the experience of playing the game is mechanics-focused. Because reviews are purchasing advice.

But reviews aren't the only way to talk about a game!

If you want to talk about a game without worrying about any of those pragmatic responsibilities, just don't call it a review! And don't put a number on it!! It's purely thought, essay, and criticism at that point, and that's totally fine.

But don't get angry at your audience if you write a crappy review because you wish you were writing a critique. Just write a critique in the first place, and stop being so insecure about the fact that fewer people will read it than would read a review. And don't put a number on it, for god's sake.

Because it's not a review.

Problem solved!

Posted by jimmyfenix

Oh man Dying every time in Dark Souls II will make you lose your overall health!! I cannot wait for that game #Rysefacts.

Posted by csl316

Man, we had a different college experience.

Mine was mostly getting up at 7am, getting home at 10pm, then doing homework. Saturday morning classes prevented Friday stuff, then exhaustion on Saturday night prevented any madness there.

Edited by TheMasterDS

I think Tevis Thompson has a shit opinion and whines about the world not sharing it. What a cunt.

Posted by yeliwofthecorn

While I think Tevis' post has some interesting points, shit like this is tiring.

Objectivity is very convenient for the straight white middle class male gamer.

For what it's worth, my non-straight, black, lower-class female non-gamer significant other got about halfway through that article (wanted her perspective, since she quite liked Infinite) before sending me a single text simply saying "Fucking white people." To be fair, she worked at a college for a few years, where she was constantly exposed to white dudes who loved to try to speak for other people and acted as if doing so made them superior to other white dudes.

I'm not about to try to speak for her, but I can understand how one could be tired of self-righteous white people claiming to be offended on your behalf.

Posted by DrBroel

That "Errant Signal" video intellectually dishonest in how he insulates his views of specific games in a broader argument of games should be taken seriously as art. It's just condescending.

He finishes by saying "Either you believe games are art and worthy of this kind of criticism (i.e. agree with my taste) or you think they shouldn't be taken seriously". That's just a Straw Man argument. The third option is thinking games should be taken seriously as political objects but having critics less patronizing than this guy.

Posted by DrBroel

@nophilip said:

I think the core problem with Mr. Thompson's piece is that he is calling out people for thinking too similarly about games, while simultaneously saying "more people should think about games the same way I do".

Yes, exactly!

Very well put.

Posted by Zojirushi

Jeez, I'd probably have a way easier time getting what this guy's actual point is, if it weren't for his incredibly pretentious "Hey look at me not liking all these AAA games like Half Life 2 and Ocarina of Time, I'm so fucking edgy, ain't I?" attitude.

Because I think he's got a pretty solid argument right there. Next time maybe try being more constructive and less desperate getting people's attention with insulting condescension?

Edited by ThunderSlash

Tevis seems to be way into assigning numbers to videogames.

Posted by Roadshell

That Tevis Thompson piece is a pretty good example of just how gratingly angry and pretentious gaming "intellectuals" have gotten in the last year or so.

I was particularly struck by this little "gem":

So BioShock Infinite is not a compelling first-person shooter. Then again, few first-person shooters are. Once I admit this ‘bias’ – that I think the FPS is one of the most limited, least interesting genres – I’ve marked myself as someone unqualified to give a fair review.

Uhh, yeah. A review of a first person shooter by someone who's predisposed to hate first person shooters is kind of useless. I also wouldn't want to read a review of Madden by someone who hates football. Personally I find racing games to be wildly boring, but you're not going to see my writing reviews of them either, because no one is going to give a shit about what I have to say about Forza.

In short, the guy writing this is someone who hates games that most people love, and while he's entitled to his opinions, they're not going to be useful opinions for normal people who need to know which of the games they're excited for actually delivers on their promise.

Edited by mrfluke

to add some actual positivity to the mix :P.

i love that surveillance article, and would love to see journalists do articles like this where they write about something thats a real life aspect of life but its also relative to an aspect in a game

Edited by SgtSphynx

That Watch_Dogs article is excellent.

Edited by ferrhis

Just read through the article Tevis Thompson wrote, and I have a pretty big issue with how he approached his thesis. He seems to have a problem defining his terms.

Clearly he is a game critic at heart and doesn't understand why reviewers don't take the same critical approach he does. In games journalism, the term critic and reviewer are not synonymous. They are very different tasks pursued for very different purposes. Sometimes reviewers incorporate thematic critique into their reviews, but that isn't the point of a review. Bringing in too much overt opinion risks diluting a review with pretention and prejudice. Thompson even concedes this point himself. But that doesn't stop him from arguing directly against it.

"I expect to see more actual criticism in the videogame review community"

Why? As they exist now, game reviews serve a very legitimate purpose. They are opinionated, decisive and very different from pinpoint critical analysis. That's what makes them great. Reviews inform, advise and help people develop their own opinions. Dan Amrich wrote an excellent book called "Critical Path" in which he emphasized, among other things, removing personal prejudice from the game review process. Focusing on your intended audience and writing for their benefit leads to a more comprehensive and inclusive final opinion of a game. Critical analysis is primarily concerned with none of that, as Thompson makes clear in the remainder of his drawn out argument. But he continues to constantly confuse critique with review. Muddling these two tasks, and accusing reviewers of being something they are not, undermines almost all of Thompson's argument.

In reality people don't read a review of Infinite looking for a moral critique on the portrayal of the Vox Populi. That would go against the core of what a review is. People who read a review just want to know if a game is fun. If it works, for the most part. They can figure out the philosophical and moral quibbles on their own. Or perhaps they could read critiques of the game later on.

This is not to say I found the article worthless. I do share many of Thompson's hopes. I hope that game criticism will become more prevalent and impactful as the medium diversifies and game culture expands. But I don't agree that current game reviews need to disappear or even change dramatically for that to occur.

Posted by GrantHeaslip

I watched it a few days ago, and that Errant Signal video is notable for the sheer volume of straw men, red herrings, arbitrary goalposts, non sequiturs masquerading as proof, and other assorted logical fallacies and misrepresentations the creator managed to pack into a 10 minute span. I empathize with his larger point that gamer culture can be aggressively dismissive of and hostile toward criticism at times, but that video was painful to sit through. I really wish that people would apply a more critical eye toward stuff that's arguing a point they generally agree with. Some of this stuff is falling into the classic political trap where both sides go way overboard and play fast and loose with facts and logic, but each thinks it's only the others that are doing it, and each thinks they have such a moral high ground that questionable rhetoric doesn't need to be scrutinized.

Regarding Nintendo and iOS, how is it that everyone didn't see this coming? It was never in Nintendo's interest to dive into that race to the bottom when they're selling games for $40-$60 on their own terms. Even if paid apps had remained as viable as they were in the early heyday, it still would have been crazy for Nintendo to give up all of their platform-holder advantages like that. I feel like the "will Nintendo give up on the doomed 3DS and make iOS games?" buzz was fuelled by ignorant tech pundits applying their overarching "disruption!" narrative to a market they didn't understand in the slightest.

Posted by Hailinel

@mrfluke said:

" What he supposes are the solutions to that problem--reviewers being more honest about their personal politics"

@patrickklepek i agree to an extent that this should happen, but then at what point do videogame reviews that get paid for their reviews, are no different than user reviews that do this for free?. thing is, there is still a professional authoritative label associated to people that do this for a living, reviews have to have some sort of professional objectivity to them i think.


The answer to this is very simple; education and credentials. In effect, hiring people with a solid grasp of critical theory and thought in addition to what experience and perspective they bring. Speaking as someone that graduated with a Bachelor of Arts in Comparative Literature: Cinema Studies (i.e.: I studied and wrote about films to hone critical analysis skills and techniques), it's actually pretty embarrassing to see what a lot of publications and websites pass off as intelligent game reviews. I'm not say that I myself would personally make a good professional critic. But at some point, the games press needs to stop handing review reigns out to people that lack the proper education and practice that helps raise them above the peanut gallery of user reviews.

Posted by lawgiver
Edited by confideration

Have never played Smash but am loving this documentary!!!

Posted by believer258

God damn it, that Tevis bit is pretty terrible, for reasons that people smarter than me have already noted.

Is there any one that is level-headed, less bigoted, and halfway intelligent who wants to talk about Bioshock Infinite as a well-written exploration of a violent man's nature? Anyone who wants to discuss Elizabeth as a woman who starts out amazed by the world around her and then goes through some pretty rough emotions that shock what she once thought of the world as? Maybe there's some discussion to be had about the backdrop of Columbia, and how racism and classism can lead to a simmering hate that just threatens to break out into violence if given the right opportunity? Maybe how Booker, rather pointedly, isn't a mighty whitey here to free the black people from the evil overlord? Can anyone get past the fact that Bioshock Infinite isn't the Second Coming and just talk about it as a piece of interesting art that's worth your time and money?

No? We've gotta talk about how it's a first person shooter with magic powers and how it's not a sprawling world where you can walk into every store and interact with every thing?

Ah, well, maybe games don't quite deserve the label "art" yet, or maybe criticism just hasn't caught up with the medium yet and definitely hasn't caught up with this Tevis guy.

Edited by Lively

I thought Tevis Thompson's blog was pretty on point. If you want games to be respected as an art form, stop being such babies and wanting everyone to treat them with "objective" kid gloves. And he's absolutely right that the "both sides are bad" message from Bioshock Infinite was a colossal cop-out.

Posted by Party

@csl316: I feel you man, I'm in the same boat as you were. I love college as it gives me unprecedented freedom but at the same time the weight of so many responsibilities nearly crushes me. I'm already stressed out enough that my parents are paying so much for my education, I don't need the guilt of wasting all of my time with parties and nonsense that ultimately don't get me anywhere.

Don't get me wrong, if there is anytime to be stupid and crazy in life, I think it's college. At the same time, I could never ever see myself settling into college as a "B- student". I have a very specific goal in mind and I understand that to reach that goal it will have to work harder than I ever thought was possible. (Ugh) I guess I just don't want to give people the wrong idea about leading an a academically focused life. You can still have fun, you can still do some really stupid stuff, you can still live life without having having to give up your academic responsibilities. That's why I love college.

Posted by csl316

@party said:

@csl316:

I feel you man, I'm in the same boat as you were. I love college as it gives me unprecedented freedom but at the same time the weight of so many responsibilities nearly crushes me. I'm already stressed out enough that my parents are paying so much for my education, I don't need the guilt of wasting all of my time with parties and nonsense that ultimately don't get me anywhere.

Don't get me wrong, if there is anytime to be stupid and crazy in life, I think it's college. At the same time, I could never ever see myself settling into college as a "B- student". I have a very specific goal in mind and I understand that to reach that goal it will have to work harder than I ever thought was possible. (Ugh) I guess I just don't want to give people the wrong idea about leading an a academically focused life. You can still have fun, you can still do some really stupid stuff, you can still live life without having having to give up your academic responsibilities. That's why I love college.

Yes, it really is up to you. I went for straight A's, but working full time made things difficult. Hell, I didn't even play video games again until Metal Gear Solid 3 convinced me that less sleep has its perks.

The tough college years are temporary, and knowledge of that kept me going. I figured 3 years of hard work (and 18 months for grad school) were worth it. You have your goal, just fucking go for it. There's time to have fun, for sure, but you can balance that with working hard and not settling for being a B- person. My post was more doom-and-gloom because of constantly doing something, but I still managed to have fun and meet cool people in school.

But to be honest, it all made me appreciate the adult life a lot more. I work five days a week, then I have complete freedom to live my life. Instead of pining for the good ol' "zero-responsibility" days, I appreciate everything that I've worked for and find plenty of time to have kick ass nights now.

And Patrick getting into a nice job in the field he wants where he works from home is NOT commonplace, so focusing on studies for a while seems like the best thing for most people.

Edited by Chuddy

Tevis seems to ignore the cultural revolution and its horrible equivalents in Asia, being blinded by "No, the Vox are just as cruel as the Founders because Irrational decided they would be." No Tevis, the vox are just as cruel because they're humans and that's what humans do.

Speaking as a first generation asian american, it's absurd and ridiculous; it's completely ironic that only the privileged are always the ones to talk about justice in this world, they set the terms and definitions.

I should note my biases: My immediate family going to my grandfather and grandmother escaped the North Korean purge and it's said that we might still have living relatives in NK.

Posted by TreuloseTomate

@drbroel: True. I usually like the Errant Signal videos but this is bull.

Edited by kid_gloves

I think it needs to be said that why sometimes games criticism (real criticism) is dismissed by the masses has to do with what it is they are are criticizing. No I don't mean things are immune or people don't have the right to go in depth on the meanings, politics, or assumptions of a video game, but when someone tries to seriously critique and dissect for example a COD game it seems very tone deaf and ends up being more about society than games in particular. For example an in depth serious critique of Predator seems very tone deaf for what it is, a stupid action flick with one liners and muscles. Serious criticism in other fields tends to gravitate towards content that invites serious criticism, and popcorn flicks or serial books get mostly product reviews because serious criticism of them is more an examination of society than film or writing given their mass target and low ambitions. People are free to critique them for sure, but it seems in other mediums critiques are more reserved for things that deserve them.

So yeah I think the problem is that the industry is going through a growing pain right now where people want to get more serious on the criticism like other art forms, but the actual number of games that invite serious discussion and critique isn't quite there or most people still want or expect product reviews (which is fine too).

Also the whole "keep politics out of my games" thing is just silly. It is a non argument on both sides. People who draw issue with a games politics do so because its against their personal politics, people who say "quit getting political about this game I like" are generally implying that they agree with its politics. It already works, people just need to realize that THEIR POLITICS AREN'T THE ONLY POLITICS.

Posted by TreuloseTomate

I find it ironic how Tevis criticizes the moral equivalence in Infinite but then goes on getting so condescending towards straight while male gamers.

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