We're going to try something a little different this week. I'm going to pluck a question from my Tumblr account, and crosspost the answer as the introduction to Worth Reading. Here's what I grabbed:
"You often make the mistake of assuming that you're interpretation of art is the correct one and that things should change to fit your views. You can dislike an artists work but asking that those things be changed or accusing an artist of handling a subject wrongly is too much, in my opinion." -- tonystarksdad
That seems to hamstring my words in the same way you seem to be saying that I'm hamstringing an artist's ability to create stories. Being a creator does not bar you from criticism. That applies to me, too.
Questions like this often comes up when we're talking about an unpopular opinion about a popular game. Criticism. The most recent example would be Metal Gear Solid: Ground Zeroes, and how Hideo Kojima's chose to write Paz and Chico. (No, we're not going to spoil the game, and please be mindful of that in the comments. Unmarked spoilers will quickly be deleted.)
Suggesting an artist--in this case, Kojima--could have handled a topic better isn't wagging your finger and asking the artist to change anything. Given Kojima's response to early criticisms of Quiet, he doesn't seem all that interested in what other people have to think, and that's perfectly fine. The role of the artist is to make art, the role of the critic is to analyze and interpret what the artist made. It's about expressing a reaction to the work in question, and isn't to be taken as a list of recommendations on what to "change" about it.
This revved up when Cara Ellison wrote about Hotline Miami 2, and the developers later came to acknowledge maybe the game needed to be tweaked. (Go back and read her piece, too. At no point does she suggest Hotline Miami 2 is "wrong"--she only had a reaction.) I suspect there would be similar outrage if Kojima revealed Metal Gear Solid V was going to change because of how people reacted to the game's ending. But criticizing what an artist has has made is not the same as demanding that it changed.
We should relish such debate on both sides. It strengthens arguments, underscores weaknesses.
Hey, You Should Play This
And You Should Read These, Too
Who knew rocker Andrew W.K. was a wordsmith? Though WK isn't speaking about games, he touches on a subject close to my heart. WK.. nails a critical part of the discussion when he points out how young Internet communication tools are, and points out how so many of us probably spent time trolling people in places like AOL chat rooms. Hell, I certainly did that when I was younger. I somehow doubt kids are dropping a/s/l into random chat rooms these days. Some of the toxicity will get better not because the people making the comments get older, but the technology itself starts to grow up.
"Remember that all feelings and behaviors and interactions count as energy. It could be good energy directed towards an object, a situation, or a person, or it could be bad energy. But either way, it's energy. You can harness and use negative vibes just as easily as positive vibes. That's the key to transforming bad things into good things -- just like a wizard using alchemy to transform lead into gold. The stronger your resolve, the more you can take all kinds of feelings and experiences and use them to further your own dreams and desires. This is why politicians try to get issues split into two sides, so that people can argue and generate even more energy and power towards the issue and the politician."
Paolo Pedercini is a critic, developer, and academic that I don't always agree with, but he constantly gives me pause. His talk at the recent Games For Change summit is no different, in which Pedercini more or less launches into a grand criticism of the very event he's been asked to speak at. In short, Pedercini believes the Games For Change movement is often unnecessarily obsessed with the idea of change that we can see, and argues that real change, meaningful change, happens in ways we cannot measure or quantify.
"If you can measure it then that’s not the change I want to see. It’s a provocation of course, I’m fine with games accomplishing very specific tasks. The problem is that by focusing on measurable goals we narrow our action. We favor individual change, versus systemic and long term change. We target burning calories without addressing food politics and food justice. We try to impose prepackaged behavior protocols rather than facilitating critical thought. If your game or technology really works (in this direct and reductionist way) it freaks me out. If you actually figure out methods to control people’s behavior. You can bet they will be adopted by governments and advertisers in no time. You are working for them."
If You Click It, It Will Play
These Crowdfunding Projects Look Pretty Cool
- The Old City is giving me some serious Dishonored vibes, except without all the killin'.
- Mark of the Old Ones is a creepy looking game with some serious Metroid-inspired elements
- The Chainsaw Incident is a goth-y fighting game that's probably asking for too much money.
Tweets That Make You Go "Hmmmmmm"
What do you call GameStop when it stops selling games? ... No, that's a legit question. Not the start of a brilliant joke.— Mike Mika (@MikeJMika) April 30, 2014
I'll probably end up buying Mario Golf just to vote w/ my dollars for more games starring transgendered birds who shoot eggs out they mouths— Bill Mudron (@mudron) May 1, 2014
It's maddening that the business world can't conceive of a hit game without implying an infinitely growing company https://t.co/gLsJhImyK9— Chris Remo (@chrisremo) April 30, 2014
Soon movies will star the video game versions of actors and nobody will be able to tell— Jason Schreier (@jasonschreier) May 2, 2014
Oh, And This Other Stuff
- Hayden Cacace shares why development on StarLicker was a total disaster.
- Nathan Grayson talks about how the Lost Levels event around GDC let him say goodbye.
- Laura Parker examines how Telltale Games is approaching developing Game of Thrones.
- Tom Chick speaks with Metacritic about its role in the video game industry.
- An anonymous writer explains how they used Skyrim as a means to escape a troubling time.
- Jonathan Mcintosh outlines what it means when people discuss "white male privilege."
- Cara Ellison profiles the couple behind Tale of Tales and their deeply personal games.
- Sara Clemens writes about a particularly memorable sound glitch in Ico.
- Adam Saltsman spends thousands of words explaining how much he loves Vanquish.
- Alex Wawro speaks with Square Enix about the development of Hitman GO.
- Tevis Thompson explains the role of the independent critic in the conversation about games.