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Posted by patrickklepek (4540 posts) -

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

Tweets That Make You Go "Hmmmmmm"

Oh, And This Other Stuff

Staff
#1 Edited by TJUK (98 posts) -

Patrick, you are a worthy addition to the GB team if ever I saw one. hearts and kisses

#2 Edited by Itwastuesday (963 posts) -

I am so glad scoops found the Magnasanti vid, it is one of my favorite things on the internet and just a weird cross-section of the things I like all coming together.

There's an interview with the Magnasanti guy that VICE(TM) did:

http://www.vice.com/read/the-totalitarian-buddhist-who-beat-sim-city

which I'm linking to even though I don't like VICE(TM).

#3 Posted by BeachThunder (11927 posts) -
#4 Edited by Carryboy (676 posts) -

Yeah Andrew WK! In case anybody hasn't seen it everyone should watch when he played mario party with gameinformer.

#5 Posted by Interfect (980 posts) -

Extra Credits are awesome and do really cool videos.

#6 Posted by UberExplodey (941 posts) -

Party.

#7 Posted by Reisz (1491 posts) -

This Andrew WK fellow is a looker.

#8 Posted by EuanDewar (4908 posts) -

Andrew W.K. regularly gives self-help and motivational talks at universities and also writes a whole hell of a lot too. Even outside of his fun tunes the dude is incredibly likeable.

Online
#9 Posted by Corvak (1069 posts) -

Another great week, scoops.

I have to admit, I was pretty shocked at how far the end of Ground Zeroes went. I have to admit it made me pretty uncomfortable - but by no means was it 'too far', especially for M rated content. Theres some pretty brutal torture stuff that goes on in films that fall into the R rating, for example. That said, discussions covering game content, especially when it involves sex and violence is a good talk to have. I don't think we should be demanding that content be changed after the fact - thats what criticism is for, to let us see the opinions of our peers or those we trust, and make our purchasing decisions from a more educated position.

I was never big on Andrew W.K. or his music back in the 90s, but his attitude online is nothing but great. When people think of his music, they picture an angry screaming rocker, more than someone who honestly embraces the power of positive thinking and common decency when it comes to online interaction. By far one of the best celebrity role models on social media these days.

Finally, that @chrisremo tweet at the end is important. The pitfall of being publicly traded in today's world is that everyone demands that a company be outperforming itself - being profitable alone isn't enough anymore. Growth may be necessary for the giants of the tech world, so they can dump all that cash into R&D, but in games, it seems like being in the black month after month while growing enough to keep up with new platforms and development tools should be an acceptable goal.

#10 Posted by Gaff (1746 posts) -

It wouldn't be a Patrick Klepek article without someone pointing out some mistakes:

"You often make the mistake of assuming that you're interpretation" (though I assume it was copy-pasted from Tumblr)

"WK.. nails a critical part of the discussion"

I would add something less pedantic, but those Nathan Grayson and Anonymous stories just gutpunched me.

#11 Edited by Asmo917 (411 posts) -

The first tweet I ever Favorited was Andrew W.K. saying "Party fact: Certain dogs are SO soft!" and I feel like that was the high water mark of the internet.

#12 Posted by cooljammer00 (1718 posts) -

Yeah, I've been reading AWK's Village Voice column pretty regularly. He's not super great at it all the time though, as he often goes off on diatribes about how everything is awesome all the time, even when things are shitty. This often leads to him not really answering the question that has been asked, which is the point of the column.

#13 Edited by keklolbur (13 posts) -

Andrew is boss. You should try to get him to appear on UPF:)

#14 Posted by Video_Game_King (36272 posts) -

That's the key to transforming bad things into good things -- just like a wizard using alchemy to transform lead into gold.

Are you sure you want to compare making the Internet a more welcoming place to something that's physically impossible? (Andrew W.K., I mean. Damn misattribution.)

#15 Edited by mtfikhan (101 posts) -

Scoop on Scoops. I really enjoyed AWK's piece.

#16 Edited by Daneian (1229 posts) -

@patrickklepek said:

That's the key to transforming bad things into good things -- just like a wizard using alchemy to transform lead into gold.

Are you sure you want to compare making the Internet a more welcoming place to something that's physically impossible? (Andrew W.K., I mean. Damn misattribution.)

Which part is physically impossible? Being a wizard, being an alchemist or being a wizard alchemist?

#17 Edited by indy_aka_rex (2 posts) -

Using the "Kojima is an artist!" defense is actually quite funny considering the man said the following:

"Art is the stuff you find in the museum, whether it be a painting or a statue. What I'm doing, what videogame creators are doing, is running the museum - how do we light up things, where do we place things, how do we sell tickets?

"For better or worse, what I do, Hideo Kojima, myself, is run the museum and also create the art that's displayed in the museum."

and

"To my knowledge, no one in or out of the field has ever been able to cite a game worthy of comparisonwith the great dramatists, poets, filmmakers, novelists and composers."

"I don't think they're art either, videogames."

"Art is something that radiates the artist," arguing that "If 100 people walk by and a single person is captivated by whatever that piece radiates, it's art.

"But videogames aren't trying to capture one person. A videogame should make sure that all 100 people that play that game should enjoy the service provided by that videogame. It's something of a service. It's not art. But I guess the way of providing service with that videogame is an artistic style, a form of art."

http://www.eurogamer.net/articles/news240106kojimaart

#18 Edited by Hailinel (24709 posts) -

@daneian: Alchemy is impossible. Lead can't be turned into gold.

#19 Posted by Video_Game_King (36272 posts) -

@hailinel:

I think he was joking. (I would have, too, and thought I did, but it didn't get through, apparently.)

#20 Posted by csl316 (8647 posts) -

Andrew W.K. always appears in the most random things. Like being the "guest DJ" before a Black Sabbath show.

Or playing Mario Party 9 with Game Informer because he's a party expert.

#21 Posted by Kjebka (48 posts) -

As a huge fan of both Vanquish and Speed Racer I really appreciated Saltsman's article.

#22 Posted by Sergio (2120 posts) -

Using the "Kojima is an artist!" defense is actually quite funny considering the man said the following:

"Art is the stuff you find in the museum, whether it be a painting or a statue. What I'm doing, what videogame creators are doing, is running the museum - how do we light up things, where do we place things, how do we sell tickets?

"For better or worse, what I do, Hideo Kojima, myself, is run the museum and also create the art that's displayed in the museum."

and

"To my knowledge, no one in or out of the field has ever been able to cite a game worthy of comparisonwith the great dramatists, poets, filmmakers, novelists and composers."

"I don't think they're art either, videogames."

"Art is something that radiates the artist," arguing that "If 100 people walk by and a single person is captivated by whatever that piece radiates, it's art.

"But videogames aren't trying to capture one person. A videogame should make sure that all 100 people that play that game should enjoy the service provided by that videogame. It's something of a service. It's not art. But I guess the way of providing service with that videogame is an artistic style, a form of art."

http://www.eurogamer.net/articles/news240106kojimaart

In both quotes, he kind of circles back and ends up making art, so he is an artist.

#23 Posted by Video_Game_King (36272 posts) -

Reading the Tevis Thompson article, and am liking it so far. Gone is the aggression and accusatory tone of the BioShock Infinite article. This one's more a model that, one some level, seeks to understand.

#24 Edited by shora_f (6 posts) -

I love these sections Patrick, and I usually don't tend to comment. But 2 things I'd like to talk about... and I don't want to cause any unnecessary arguments.

Also as a disclaimer, I work at Sledgehammer Games... and I have been involved with production of COD franchise for the past 3 years of my life.

Regarding your recent talks about online negativity, nothing has been as clear cut to me as just today's release of COD:AW trailer. I understand that there could be certain amount of skepticism or doubt whether this would be a good game or not (which shall be proven when the final product come out) but there's a certain amount of hate that I just don't understand why would someone feel that way.

When I don't like an entertainment product, 1st of all, since I have still invested some time on it, I'd try to see what positive thing it had (e.g. Just saw The Counseler --> not a good movie, but there are certain lines of dialog in it that I shall always remember) 2nd, I would not just consume that product if I think I'd not be interested. and 3rd, even though I did not enjoy the product, I don't go around and say "This person/production company should die in hell" nor justify me to go around in any place and wish ill-will to the creators of that product.

Funny thing I also keep seeing is that people think by the existence of all these AAA high-budget games, the production of all the indie games would be hindered (which in past years I think we see are completely false... as indie development is thriving like no other time). And to be honest, for each great indie game we get to play, there are multitude of them that are nothing but just rehash of 80's nostalgia pixel-art platformer. (again, nothing wrong with that as there are some great games with that aesthetic/design). But my point is for each and every single one of them you name, I could counter with another great AAA produced game that has pushed the industry forward as much! If for each indie there's 10 devs who put their heart and soul into creation of that game, there are 200 people who do as well in creation of a AAA game! Even if you call them as sellouts.

Another aspect is there are millions of consumers for any entertainment product, and no product could be made to satisfy every single person. Again, just because something is not exactly what I wished it would be, I'd still not go around and create more hate speech.

anyhow, my rant is a bit sporadic and might not be very cohesive (as English is not even my first language) but hopefully you will understand what I mean. and if you are one of those people reading this that loves to hate, I'd be happy to hear your response of "why"!

ps. one last thing that I forgot to mention, I personally think whatever AAA game that comes and sells more consoles, the better for all those beloved indies as they would have more exposure/larger platform!

#25 Posted by alwaysbebombing (1584 posts) -

Did y'all know that Andrew W.K. is like, a really big furry?

Don't ask me how I know.

#26 Posted by Hailinel (24709 posts) -

Andrew W.K. is master of the Party Fast Forward:

#27 Posted by RonGalaxy (3165 posts) -

You should be able to freely criticize anything, but there are some instances where people vocally call for something to be removed from a game, movie, etc. The best example I can think of is for lords of shadow 2. I forgot who it was, but they literally said they wanted the developer to take a specific scene out. That's not okay in my book. It's also not okay to tell journalists they shouldn't talk about a specific subject or criticize certain things. I feel that all sides of the equation should be allowed to say what they want, excluding pointless vitriol and calls for censorship or editing. Those things lead to shitty criticism that no one should take seriously.

#28 Edited by Butano (1738 posts) -

Andrew W.K. also recently did an episode with the Hot Pepper Gaming duders. He's a boss.

EDIT: Rats. @hailinel beat me. Still an awesome video.

#29 Posted by AndrewGPM (117 posts) -

Andrew W.K. is awesome.

#30 Posted by I_Stay_Puft (3362 posts) -

Glad to see some Postmodern Jukebox getting some love, been really enjoying their doo-wop covers of today's terrible pop songs.

#31 Posted by GreggD (4505 posts) -

I dare you to argue with the man who made this. Go ahead, try.

#32 Posted by Brillohead (23 posts) -

you're interpretation = you are interpretation. Call the mofo out so he can learn grammar.

#33 Posted by Video_Game_King (36272 posts) -

@brillohead:

"You are interpretation" is the point of Tevis Thompson's article.

#34 Edited by TruthTellah (9000 posts) -

@hailinel said:

@daneian: Alchemy is impossible. Lead can't be turned into gold.

Wait, but lead can be turned into gold. It has actually been done. Traditional, mystical alchemy as people understand it is indeed impossible, but the transmutation of one element into another is something that regularly occurs in the universe and has been achieved by human beings in recent times.

It usually serves little to no purpose, especially if someone is looking to make money from it, but through modern technology, it is possible to convert a lot of lead into a small fraction of gold.

#35 Edited by Video_Game_King (36272 posts) -

@truthtellah:

You mean by adding enough hydrogen atoms until you hit the number you need? In this case, subtracting atoms.

#36 Posted by TruthTellah (9000 posts) -

@truthtellah:

You mean by adding enough hydrogen atoms until you hit the number you need? In this case, subtracting atoms.

Yeah, through breaking it down using extreme nuclear reactions. Indeed. It has been done, but it is absurdly expensive with little return. Not impossible, but ridiculous to try.

I guess some people may say the same about improving how people act on the Internet, but I'd like to think there's more hope than that.

#37 Edited by Neonie (438 posts) -

@alwaysbebombing said:

Did y'all know that Andrew W.K. is like, a really big furry?

Don't ask me how I know.

That would be more interesting if you could tell me why I or anyone else should ever care whether or not someones a furry. I'd be far more interested to know what sort of hateful implication I'm supposed to be drawing from that information.

@hailinel said:

@daneian: Alchemy is impossible. Lead can't be turned into gold.

I really hope you realize alchemy is just chemistry. It is quite literally just a shorter version of the word "alchemistry." (Ok not really, that word doesn't exist, but you see what I'm getting at yeah).

#38 Posted by Video_Game_King (36272 posts) -

I guess some people may say the same about improving how people act on the Internet

You mean that we can achieve it with extreme nuclear reactions?

#39 Posted by Sweetz (518 posts) -

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.

That's an odd statement to me, because when I read a game review, it seems very much to be exactly that. When critics talk about game, they will say things very much along the lines of "the game would have been better without this". That's a seemingly natural part of criticism and one would think that you critique works in the hopes that creators will react to it and make their next game is better - according to your opinion.

When a game is criticized for, say, sexism and, in some contexts, awarded a lower review score because of it, you are very much influencing the creator whether you want to or not. I mean isn't the goal of highlighting sexism and lack of character diversity in games to get less sexist and more diverse characters in games by influencing creators? If not, then why exactly does criticism exist, as it would seem like a pointless waste of words and time otherwise?

So please, stop with the fallacy that criticism doesn't have the intent of influencing artists - that's pretty much exactly the intent. You just need to own it. The offset is that anyone is free to write counter criticism as to why your opinion is "wrong" and why the game is fine as is. That said please realize that you do have a responsibility as a visible games critic to understand the impact that your individual opinion can have.

#40 Posted by Video_Game_King (36272 posts) -

@sweetz said:

So please, stop with the fallacy that criticism doesn't have the intent of influencing artists - that's pretty much exactly the intent.

Depends on what you mean by "criticism", because literary criticism is largely just there to note shit and play around with shit. I'm not sure that's intended to affect much.

#41 Posted by TruthTellah (9000 posts) -

@truthtellah said:

I guess some people may say the same about improving how people act on the Internet

You mean that we can achieve it with extreme nuclear reactions?

Yes. That's exactly what I mean. The nuclear option is our only hope for peace on the Internet.

#42 Posted by godlrod2 (8 posts) -

I've been getting that Duck Tales song stuck in my head all week, so damn good

#43 Posted by Hailinel (24709 posts) -

@butano: Beat you to it! :P

@hailinel said:

@daneian: Alchemy is impossible. Lead can't be turned into gold.

Wait, but lead can be turned into gold. It has actually been done. Traditional, mystical alchemy as people understand it is indeed impossible, but the transmutation of one element into another is something that regularly occurs in the universe and has been achieved by human beings in recent times.

It usually serves little to no purpose, especially if someone is looking to make money from it, but through modern technology, it is possible to convert a lot of lead into a small fraction of gold.

All right, let me rephrase.

Lead can't be turned into gold without some ridiculously expensive machinery that takes far more time and effort than its worth to split away enough hydrogen atoms to get the desired effect of turning a toxic metal used in bullets into a precious metal that is both valuable and shiny. It is also a process that differs from the traditional concept of alchemy involving men shrouded in mysticism and possibly lead poisoning-induced madness.

#44 Edited by Sweetz (518 posts) -

@video_game_king said:

@sweetz said:

So please, stop with the fallacy that criticism doesn't have the intent of influencing artists - that's pretty much exactly the intent.

Depends on what you mean by "criticism", because literary criticism is largely just there to note shit and play around with shit. I'm not sure that's intended to affect much.

Yup, understood. Most literary criticism revolves around interpreting meaning. The "criticism" that is the subject of this discussion (and most of what is written on games) is not about interpreting meaning, but rather complaints about the content of a work.

#46 Edited by TruthTellah (9000 posts) -
@sweetz said:

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.

That's an odd statement to me, because when I read a game review, it seems very much to be exactly that. When critics talk about game, they will say things very much along the lines of "the game would have been better without this". That's a seemingly natural part of criticism and one would think that you critique works in the hopes that creators will react to it and make their next game is better - according to your opinion.

When a game is criticized for, say, sexism and, in some contexts, awarded a lower review score because of it, you are very much influencing the creator whether you want to or not. I mean isn't the goal of highlighting sexism and lack of character diversity in games to get less sexist and more diverse characters in games by influencing creators? If not, then why exactly does criticism exist, as it would seem like a pointless waste of words and time otherwise?

So please, stop with the fallacy that criticism doesn't have the intent of influencing artists - that's pretty much exactly the intent. You just need to own it. The offset is that anyone is free to write counter criticism as to why your opinion is "wrong" and why the game is fine as is. That said please realize that you do have a responsibility as a visible games critic to understand the impact that your individual opinion can have.

I was debating how to best put it in response to what Patrick said, but since you already pointed this out, I just wanted to say that I actually agree with you on this particular perspective. I reject the modern misconception of some people that the audience cannot attempt in any way to influence artists.

Criticism absolutely has an impact on those who make art. Even the biggest and boldest artists in history have been influenced by the response of their audience. To deny the impact of the audience is to reject the entire point of art as communication. Those who suggest that people should put on kid gloves and not express themselves fully about games are mistaken, and those who believe that analysis and criticism of games doesn't have an impact on those who make games are mistaken, as well.

The whole reason that people push back against criticism is because it does matter. People intrinsically understand the power of the conversation between artist and audience. Yet, there are those who want it to be a one-way street or they deny that they are part of that conversation. When you criticize a game, a movie, a book, a painting, a sculpture, a song, etc, you are expressing your thoughts on it in a way which adds to the overall voice of the audience.

As an artist, I would mourn the day that people stopped expressing themselves openly about my work or the work of others. And in that open expression comes complaints, praise, and messages. People don't just have things to say; they mean things. So when someone complains about the controls in a game or the writing of a character, it means something. Usually, to either find a way to make it work or try something else. And praise often encourages a creator to stick to what they are doing or increase it further. You don't have to listen intently to every word or heed every action from the audience, but you certainly still hear the messages of those responding to your work. If none of the words from the audience were meant to influence or change the artist or those around them, then expressing anything about art would ultimately be meaningless. That is not the art I believe in or the gaming I enjoy.

Criticize, and be firm in the sincerity of your words. @patrickklepek, I like a lot of your gaming criticism, and there's plenty I disagree with, as well. Yet, no matter how much our views may differ, I fully encourage you to embrace your personal perspective and share it openly. Your words bear weight. You have an impact on many gamers, and you certainly do have an impact on game developers. That is not something to deny in the face of those who don't share your views. You may not be on a campaign to get specific developers to change, but your criticism can impact them whether it is your apparent intent or not.

Gamers and game critics should accept and understand that their words and actions potentially impact other gamers and developers. We are the audience, and it is our role to do just that. This is the natural selection within the medium we care so much about. Gaming has continued to change in large part thanks to its audience, and it is from that audience pool which all game creators come. From the lowliest commenter up to the biggest critic, the culture and opinions within the gaming community will influence current and future developers alike.

#47 Posted by TDot (303 posts) -

or in other words: Criticism != censorship.

#48 Posted by danielheard (44 posts) -

Andrew WK would know about internet hate energy. There was a strange conspiracy invented (I think) by a small group of trolls that he's an imposter. Not actually himself. We've all been called names, but there is a small movement that denies his existence. Dude.

#49 Posted by Mr_Creeper (889 posts) -

All games need more sex, violence and curse words. That is all.

#50 Posted by alishcra (65 posts) -

Maybe I am a naive person but why are we still having conversations about game criticism? I been into games since I was 9!and I'm 26 and we're still having the same issues. We all have opinions about art in any form therefore we all critics. So if someone has a different opinion respect it and move on. No wonder why so many people think that games are children.