I considered saying something regarding the state of journalism, but I think the countless tweets from the last few days has more than taken care of that for me. There was something in the air this week, apparently.
Instead, let's grab this question from Tumblr that suddenly seems relevant.
"Do you take your own skill level at gaming into account when analyzing a game? Not just reviews, but any writing you do... do you weigh your own proficiency against other factors? I've been thinking about game difficulty and my own skills a lot ever since I passed 40 and realized story, setting, and accessibility have become more important than challenge to me. As someone who clearly enjoys games that have significant challenge, I was wondering if you think about this as well."
Generally speaking, the answer is no. Though I guess, truthfully, it's a little muddier than that. Giant Bomb doesn't have an official "rule" that we play every game on the "normal" difficulty, but that's usually what happens, since that's what we suspect most people will do (and what we play). This usually provides as close to a typical gameplay experience as possible, even if it's ultimately impossible to actually simulate that. I started thinking about this question, however, as I perused through the comments section on my Shovel Knight review.
I really enjoyed Shovel Knight and recommend playing it--yes, even if the thought of yet another retro platformer makes you want to gag. That said, towards the end, I mused about how the game wasn't very difficult. If there's any kind of game I consider myself pretty okay at, it's games like Shovel Knight. Shovel Knight didn't take much effort on my part to finish, which felt worth noting. I wouldn't say the game was knocked a star because of that (we don't score games with such an arbitrary system, it gets too weird too fast--scores are a gut feeling), but it was an honest reaction I had to the game. In that sense, my own skill played into how I felt about Shovel Knight.
So the real answer to this question yes and no, and hopefully we're able to articulate why it does or doesn't factor into a particular review when it seems relevant to our reaction to it.
Hey, You Should Play This
And You Should Read These, Too
It's hard to imagine a time when Electronic Arts might have considered cancelling The Sims, but Simon Parkin's story on how The Sims accidentally (and not accidentally) ended up with homosexual relationships paints Will Wright's groundbreaking game as one that almost never came out. This story comes not long after Nintendo's Tomodachi Life, a game that found the in a debate over what is and isn't a political statement regarding the inclusion of different sexualities. Though this story comes from 1999, it feels very relevant in 2014.
"On the first day of the show, the game’s producers, Kana Ryan and Chris Trottier, watched in disbelief as two of the female Sims attending the virtual wedding leaned in and began to passionately kiss. They had, during the live simulation, fallen in love. Moreover, they had chosen this moment to express their affection, in front of a live audience of assorted press. Following the kiss, talk of The Sims dominated E3. 'You might say that they stole the show,' Barrett said. 'I guess straight guys that make sports games loved the idea of controlling two lesbians.'"
It's easy to dislike PewDiePie. But Maddy Myers nails why he gets under our skin: he's popular and we don't understand why. There's a bit of old man syndrome at play here, a distaste for the trendy because it's not aimed at us. If we believe video games are truly the medium of our time, that means the audience for them is potentially limitless. It's hard to imagine they're all coming to places like Giant Bomb or IGN, though. Instead, they're going to PewDiePie, Tumblr, and other atypical sources. It may not be for us, but who cares? It's for them.
"As a result of all of this, Kjellberg appeals to The Tumblr Audience, particularly teen girls who probably see little “for” them from other Let’s Players, and I predict that’s the secret ingredient that’s made his pageviews max out over other YouTube gaming stars. Kjellberg may do little more than scream into a microphone, but it’s what he doesn’t do that counts. He doesn’t actively alienate female viewers; if anything, he’s done his best to keep them by toning down misogynistic humor. Girls are playing and enjoying videogames already. They’re just not going to “mainstream” gaming sites, because there’s nothing for them there. But, apparently,they are watching Kjellberg."
If You Click It, It Will Play
These Crowdfunding Projects Look Pretty Cool
- Together is a co-op experience designed for two players from the ground up.
- Jeremy Parish wants to keep archiving the history of games, and needs your help.
- Jenn Frank is one of gaming's best writers, so please consider supporting her.
Tweets That Make You Go "Hmmmmmm"
I remember writing about early Minecraft for PC Gamer and saying something like "this will probably be quite popular."— Mr Rossignol (@jimrossignol) June 25, 2014
The thing that annoys me about people dismissing Battlefield Hardline as "a mod" and therefore not worth anything is that mods are awesome.— Dan Stapleton (@DanStapleton) June 24, 2014
A Kinect football game in which you play tournaments as the Italian coach Cesare Prandelli exclusively via hand gestures.— Ian Bogost (@ibogost) June 24, 2014
they said a man dressed in full sonic costume could never win american ninja warrior. and they were right. I almost died out there..— lawblob (@lawblob) June 25, 2014
"Man I'm always getting hit by spiky blue shells." - Mario Kart humblebrag— Kumail Nanjiani (@kumailn) June 25, 2014
Oh, And This Other Stuff
- Nathan Grayson speaks with BioWare about the role of sex in Dragon Age: Inquisition.
- Richie Shoemaker (!!) speaks with a long forgotten creator of EVE Online.
- Krystian Majewski explores the line "it's worse in games because they are interactive."
- Daniel Robson looks into the past to learn how Katamary Damacy was made.
- Stephen Witty reflects on an interview with Mila Kunis that didn't go so well.
- Tim Rogers has reviewed the sport of soccer. Finally, the debate is over.
- Cameron Kunzelman and Austin Walker hold a postmortem for the premiere of IndiE3.
- Evan Lahti explores how Steam users were exploiting Valve's latest gamification tactic.
- Michael Abbott argues the problem with gaming violence is that it's becoming boring.
- Leigh Alexander returns to Final Fantasy X and finds herself exploring much deeper themes.
- Wesley Yin-Poole speaks with EA's new leader about lessons from Dungeon Keeper.
- Samantha Allen wishes game names would grow up (or at least become more creative).