The Philosophy, Art, and Social Influence of games
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Key-Glyph
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Re: Is there value in novice gamer reviews? Or are we elite

by Key-Glyph Mon Oct 22, 2012 2:31 am

isiolia wrote:I think the larger difference is the mentality of the reviewer towards video gaming as a whole.
Yes. Although I think novice reviews are very interesting, there is the huge issue of finding a non-gamer who has a neutral, or even positive, attitude toward gaming.

I think it's bizarre that the author of the first article specifically considers her appointment to a video game panel as the chance she needs to connect with her children on the subject (she couldn't just decide to make the connection on her own?), and also that she assumes novices are incapable of making conversation with the knowledgeable. You can have a meaningful interest and appreciation for anyone's hobbies, let's say piano lessons and basketball games, regardless of whether or not you know the first thing about music or sports. Should video games be any different? I don't think so. But why are they? Maybe because the skills involved in gaming are not valued in application to their medium, nor are the joys invoked by the medium taken particularly seriously. Playing a piece well on the piano has an accepted positive cultural value, but getting a great score in Beatmania does not, even if the dexterity, rhythm, and feelings of accomplishment involved in both cases happen to be equal. I think eliminating this idea that the author puts forth and buys into -- that games are fundamentally unknowable to non-gamers -- would be a huge step toward dismantling that bias.

The second article... I don't know. Where do you draw the line for defining a knowledgeable "gaming connoisseur?" The author seems to think experiencing a lot of games of a genre is what matters, so far as understanding and "appreciating" a game. But what about understanding the underlying programming? If he's so keen on ascribing an "elite," couldn't it be argued that one can't understand and appreciate what he calls the "active process [which gives] the meaning" to the game if one doesn't understand the feats of the processors and codes that allow you to have that experience in the first place? And how deep are we willing to go with that? Basically, in my opinion, the lines he's drawing are immaterial, and he's just as unhelpful as the first article was with the bigger issue: taking apart the "video games are too special/weird for the normals" argument. He should have just said, "It's up to you to choose whose opinions to listen to, and for which reasons," or even, "An award's judgement panel should be staffed by players with sufficient experience," which I thought would have been the focus of his writing to begin with.
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Re: Is there value in novice gamer reviews? Or are we elite

by Key-Glyph Mon Oct 22, 2012 3:39 am

Sorry for a second post on the heels of the first, but I just thought of something. Maybe non-gamers believe they "don't get" video games because they're not having continuous fun while playing.

I was taking my comparison of video games to piano playing and thinking, "Maybe piano playing is fundamentally valued because it's a lot of work to learn a piece; it's not just a fun experience 100% of the time." Of course that's no different from what playing a video game is like, with each game engaging the player in a learning process that is often complex, difficult, and frustrating. But then I thought, "Maybe novices don't know this!"

What if novices assume certain people are wired to love every second of every gameplay experience and believe that's what makes a gamer? I'd bet they'd think they were doing it wrong if they felt any hint of aggravation or defeat. I'd bet they'd believe that if they aren't immediately gifted from the get-go they weren't one of the chosen few, or something. And I think, at the very least, that this is exactly where the author of the first article is coming from.

If this is true, it explains a lot of these articles' obsession with drawing lines in the sand, as well as lot of the negative feelings toward gaming. If it's presumed that a kid can't pry themselves away from their console simply because they're having too much fun, I can see how that could be insulting to the friends and family who want their attention. If it were better understood that gaming isn't necessarily a brainless, leisurely pursuit for the regulars -- that it actually requires a good amount of work and training and passion -- it might improve people's feelings about it. But you can also take the "work and training" idea too far and end up with the second article's author, who's basically a wine snob of gaming.

This might not be news for anybody, but it was a big realization for me. Anyway, moving on. I completely understand if people see this second post and skip it.
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Re: Is there value in novice gamer reviews? Or are we elite

by Erik_Twice Mon Oct 22, 2012 4:39 am

Let me sum up the first article:

WAAAA, I'M SO UGLY THAT VIDEOGAMES ARE MORE INTERESTING TO MEN THAN ME. DAMN YOU VIDEOGAMEZZZ!

Hence, videogames are for losers.

Really, what a selfcentered woman! If you have never played a single game in your life you could perhaps should be humble enough not to write off the medium and call every single game ever vampid and shallow! When you go out of your way to take jabs at Harry Potter it tells me more about you than about anything else you had to say. She looks butthurt and that's pretty sad. :lol:


Anyways, it seems to me that the reason many people praise newcomer commentary is because they feel that seasoned critics have lost their touch with the public, that someone who has studied the medium for years can't communicate with an inexperienced person, a silly thought to have, if you were to ask me.

Because it's not true in practise, it's a cultural meme. For every movie critic that only cares about Eraserhead and Baraka there's someone who explains everything to the layman and when it comes to gaming, what is hard to find are honest reviews, not accesible ones.

In fact, everyone in gaming seems to be paranoid about not being accesible, specially boardgaming, where a game that lasts two hours is seen as being on the hardest side of the spectrum.

Key-Glyph wrote:I'd bet they'd believe that if they aren't immediately gifted from the get-go they weren't one of the chosen few, or something.

In other words, they struggle because they are used to passive mediums and don't realize that you need to give something to the game so it gives you back.

This is a big one, IMHO.
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Re: Is there value in novice gamer reviews? Or are we elite

by Zodd Mon Oct 22, 2012 8:47 am

Key-Glyph wrote:What if novices assume certain people are wired to love every second of every gameplay experience and believe that's what makes a gamer? I'd bet they'd think they were doing it wrong if they felt any hint of aggravation or defeat. I'd bet they'd believe that if they aren't immediately gifted from the get-go they weren't one of the chosen few, or something. And I think, at the very least, that this is exactly where the author of the first article is coming from.



Its not a "what if" but that is the reality. Experienced Video Game players also experience this dilemma as well. If you play mostly RPGs and FPS.....you will feel completely baffled by 2d or 3d fighting games and get completely wrecked online. If you mostly play fighting games...you will not get RPGs and try to avoid it because you will feel unprepared when playing them.

If you play Madden and Call of Duty......any RTS game will look like a foreign concept

Too many video games players assume a novice player should accept EVERY style of games, yet, the majority of experienced players minimize their own exposure to genres they are not good at. Hypocrisy if you ask me.



General_Norris wrote:Let me sum up the first article:

WAAAA, I'M SO UGLY THAT VIDEOGAMES ARE MORE INTERESTING TO MEN THAN ME. DAMN YOU VIDEOGAMEZZZ!

Hence, videogames are for losers.

Really, what a selfcentered woman! If you have never played a single game in your life you could perhaps should be humble enough not to write off the medium and call every single game ever vampid and shallow! When you go out of your way to take jabs at Harry Potter it tells me more about you than about anything else you had to say. She looks butthurt and that's pretty sad. :lol:



The post above is the EXACT reason why any mature look at video games in general will never be acknowledged. No matter how much philosophical or sociological takes on video games......deep down the adolescent nature of players will always breakthrough and destroy any credibility video games have created for itself over the years.
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Re: Is there value in novice gamer reviews? Or are we elite

by J T Mon Oct 22, 2012 1:11 pm

Key-Glyph wrote:Sorry for a second post on the heels of the first, but I just thought of something. Maybe non-gamers believe they "don't get" video games because they're not having continuous fun while playing.

I was taking my comparison of video games to piano playing and thinking, "Maybe piano playing is fundamentally valued because it's a lot of work to learn a piece; it's not just a fun experience 100% of the time." Of course that's no different from what playing a video game is like, with each game engaging the player in a learning process that is often complex, difficult, and frustrating. But then I thought, "Maybe novices don't know this!"


I think you are right that people who don't have a history of games are easily frustrated by them and this is a big barrier to their enjoyment. The difference from piano lessons though, is that devoting time to learning to play a video game doesn't lead to something many would consider "productive". If you learn to play piano, you may eventually be able to perform for others or even create your own music. If you play videogames, you just get better at them and probably ignore the people around you more.

Gaming requires a fair amount of investment. Not only do games cost money, but they also take time to learn and time to finish. They exist in an in-between space that isn't completely passive like watching a blockbuster movie, but isn't completely active like playing a sport or building something. Being in the in-between, it either requires too much effort or too little effort for many people.

When games actually are "productive" and lead to a creative product, like when people build things in Minecraft, that is often seen as even worse than a game that requires minimal effort and creativity because people think that devoting that much "work" towards a product that only exists in the game is pointless. Yet, when a game is just about mindlessly shooting a bunch of people, that also gets labeled as a nonproductive waste of time. This obsession with productivity is what prevents a lot of people from enjoying games. When they are not producing, they feel they are wasting time, and if they are wasting time, they want it to be with something that helps them relax and videogames just seem like too much trouble to bother with.

Games are really for the type of person that enjoys thinking through puzzles, learning and mastering a skill such as gameplay control, playing an active part in their storytelling. They are for people that relax from a hard day at work, by working more in an imaginary space where the consequences don't matter to real life. That kind of play just isn't everyone's cup of tea.
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isiolia
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Re: Is there value in novice gamer reviews? Or are we elite

by isiolia Mon Oct 22, 2012 1:58 pm

Key-Glyph wrote:The second article... I don't know. Where do you draw the line for defining a knowledgeable "gaming connoisseur?" The author seems to think experiencing a lot of games of a genre is what matters, so far as understanding and "appreciating" a game. But what about understanding the underlying programming? If he's so keen on ascribing an "elite," couldn't it be argued that one can't understand and appreciate what he calls the "active process [which gives] the meaning" to the game if one doesn't understand the feats of the processors and codes that allow you to have that experience in the first place?


Most of that is largely unnecessary.

What he's getting at a lot more is that same learning curve that has been brought up in this thread. Just less on a game-to-game basis, and more based on genre. Someone who has already put in the time to get even moderately proficient at fighting games is better equipped to discover and discuss the nuances of a particular title than a novice still struggling to remember how to "make his guy throw that fireball thingy". For a lot of modern titles, having at least a solid grasp on fundamental gameplay mechanics is necessary to even see the "real" game.
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Re: Is there value in novice gamer reviews? Or are we elite

by Gunstar Green Mon Oct 22, 2012 4:20 pm

Movies, literature and other forms of art are judged by people with a deep understanding of their respective media. Many award winning works and masterpieces aren't prized by the general public or have much of an appeal to wide general audiences, but yet they are acclaimed because the experts who have a background and deeper understanding of them and who know what makes those works extraordinary.

Video games are still at a point where the generation that grew with them and understands them the most are not in command of the zeitgeist. It's the same reason why most video game movies are terrible, because the filmmakers don't respect or understand the material since they're not from the "video game" generation. It's only recently that comic book movies have started to have some quality to their adaptations because the kids who grew up reading those comic books are now the adults making the movies.

I think as the "gamer" generation gets older the perception of video games is going to change. We're already seeing it with displays like the Smithsonian's Art of Video Games exhibit, with awards that take the medium and its creators more seriously and with independent works made specifically for art's sake.

While I think the opinion of the "novice" or outsider is important and we can learn from it, I think as a judge of quality or artistic merit it's useless. You don't get someone who hates reading to judge literature or someone who's tone deaf to judge music and you don't get someone who's never picked up a controller in their life to judge a video game. Just like the people who judged the artistic integrity of comics to be worthless, these people will always judge video games to be worthless.
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Re: Is there value in novice gamer reviews? Or are we elite

by Ivo Mon Oct 22, 2012 4:51 pm

Gunstar Green wrote:Movies, literature and other forms of art are judged by people with a deep understanding of their respective media. Many award winning works and masterpieces aren't prized by the general public or have much of an appeal to wide general audiences, but yet they are acclaimed because the experts who have a background and deeper understanding of them and who know what makes those works extraordinary.


There is a very important difference in that even though SOME movies and literature and other forms of art require information to be enjoyed / appreciated, basically ALL games, with few exceptions, can only be appreciated by someone who is informed or puts some non-trivial effort to learn.

JT already expanded on this sort of middle ground where games fall. But that middle ground is not just for videogames, there are other things that get little appreciation. To some extent this is a bit arbitrary and depends on historical reasons - playing a musical instrument well, creating art, spectactor sports (team or not), or videogame speed runs are actually quite comparable in some sense. Already some subsection of people are interested in watching videogames being played competitively.
These examples are all "just" culture, none of that is really contributing that much to advancing society like agriculture, industry, service sector or research and technology are (I personally think all the "just culture" examples are very important, don't get me wrong).
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Re: Is there value in novice gamer reviews? Or are we elite

by Violent By Design Mon Oct 22, 2012 5:07 pm

I don't understand the "Are we elite" part to the question, and to a lesser extent I don't understand the point of the second article (the reply).



As for the first question, no...of course not. First off, to call the woman a "novice" is giving her far more credit than she deserves. She is an infant when it comes to gaming, she has been alive for over a half a century and she has never played a video game, and probably has never even read up on any.

Second, why would someone who knows nothing of a medium, be able to credibly critique it? Why would someone who actually knows about that said subject, take a person who by their own admission knows nothing of that subjects opinion seriously? I do not say this as a "gamer", but even in the professional world, how is this logical?

A person who was a HS drop out, who has no "intellectual" hobbies (ie, doesn't try to learn academics on his own), does nothing but smokes weed, lives in his moms basement, plays video games (heheeeee), and has no interest in learning - one day decides to review the latest article from some big shot Professor on biology. Why would the Professor or any of his peers, or even more common folk actually care about what this person has to say? I can't say why, because frankly, no one would care.

As a movie buff who actually studies film on a academic level, would I care about the opinion of someone who watches one movie every 2 years? Not really, at least it certainly wouldn't budge my opinion much. I don't think them claiming the Titanic is the greatest movie they've ever seen would really have much merit given their reputation.



Though, I have not even revealed the icing on the cake. To make things worst, not only does the woman not know anything about gaming (which is fine, first time for everything), she shows total lack of disinterest in games. It is very clear that she sees them as a waste of time, and at least based on the words she uses, she seems to go in with the opinion that most games are stupid. The fact that she gives up so quickly on them kind of derails any momentum she might have had.


Now, does this mean that it is not enjoyable to read a novice gamers review? Not at all. I personally found it fascinating to see someones very first gaming experience, though it was largely pessimistic I found. However, seeing as how the thread is asking about "value", I assume that this is some abstract way of asking if a non-gamer can tell me something about games that I am too blind to see - in which case I would confidently say no.
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Re: Is there value in novice gamer reviews? Or are we elite

by prfsnl_gmr Mon Oct 22, 2012 6:45 pm

J T wrote:Games are really for the type of person that enjoys thinking through puzzles, learning and mastering a skill such as gameplay control, playing an active part in their storytelling. They are for people that relax from a hard day at work, by working more in an imaginary space where the consequences don't matter to real life. That kind of play just isn't everyone's cup of tea.


This is a great thread, and this is a great point (and one that I have been trying to articulate for some time).

Personally, I think that there is some benefit to "novice" reviews because I think that they tend to focus on some fundamental questions that are often overlooked by more experienced critics. Experienced critics tend to focus on novel gameplay mechanics or the way that a game compares to other titles in the same genre. In contrast, a novice reviewer is more likely to ask "Is this fun?" and "Do I enjoy this?". Likewise, novice reviewers are more likely to consider a game in isolation.
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