The Philosophy, Art, and Social Influence of games
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dtrack
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Re: 40 Games critics should play

by dtrack Mon May 20, 2013 9:14 am

Great links in there but are centered around game studies (i also have known them since my thesis dealt with similar topic). But yeah i wasn't too exact. what i am looking for are basically reviews like the ones on Gamespot and such and the gamer magazines of the 90s but the reviews could give more credit to historical and other contexts with more references may even from outside the gaming world. i say "even" because when comes to game studies and such i tend towards ludological approach.
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Re: 40 Games critics should play

by Erik_Twice Tue May 21, 2013 4:46 am

You confuse me, dsheinem. Obviously that Kotaku tries to be the videogame equivalent of the National Enquierer doesn't make give their terrible reviews a pass. Poor, sloppy criticism and click bait is still poor, sloppy criticism and click bait, no matter how much they intended it to be.

dtrack wrote:What i am looking for are basically reviews like the ones on Gamespot and such and the gamer magazines of the 90s but the reviews could give more credit to historical and other contexts with more references may even from outside the gaming world.

There are very few critics whose opinion I respect but two that I really admire are Michael Barness and Matt Thrower, founders of Fortress:Ameritrash and No High Scores. They are both very intelligent guys and their knowledge of general culture, from comics to movies or classic books really shows in their writing. Barnes in particular loves direct comparisons to other works of art:

Barnes
http://www.nohighscores.com/2012/02/15/ ... stic-soul/
http://www.nohighscores.com/2013/01/09/ ... ss-murder/

Thrower
http://www.nohighscores.com/2012/04/05/ ... criticism/
http://www.nohighscores.com/2013/02/08/ ... t-stories/


ejamer wrote:Interesting post, although I have a hard time agreeing with some of the chioces/omissions. No NES-era games or platformers/side-scrollers, and yet you don't consider Metal Gear Solid, Counter-Strike or Starcraft to be worth omitting as "obvious choices"?

They are obvious choices, you are right on that. Though I'm saddened CS, which is a timeless design, is increasingly taken for granted.

dtrack wrote:The point is playing 40 games won't turn a blogger into a critic.

Tss, you didn't read my article and I'm gonna shun you for it.

SHUUUNNNN :lol:
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dsheinem
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Re: 40 Games critics should play

by dsheinem Tue May 21, 2013 8:16 am

General_Norris wrote:You confuse me, dsheinem. Obviously that Kotaku tries to be the videogame equivalent of the National Enquierer doesn't make give their terrible reviews a pass. Poor, sloppy criticism and click bait is still poor, sloppy criticism and click bait, no matter how much they intended it to be.


Ok, since you keep bringing it up I will point out the other elephant in the room: you are wrong about the quality of reviews on Kotaku...and you are also judging sites like IGN, Gamespot, etc. by their worst reviews. You still haven't trotted out examples of authors regularly disavowing knowledge of a genre or writing unthoughtful reviews. Are they great pieces of game criticism? No. Nor is that their function. Are they generally decent reviews? Yes.

See, that's the distinction you keep collapsing: a game review vs. a piece of criticism. If I wanted heady and intellectually provoking film criticism I wouldn't read weekly columns by Roger Ebert or Peter Travers (two well respected film critics), I would read film studies scholarship or long form pieces intended for offering greater analysis. I read the former for reviews (they watch almost everything and offer well thought out but brief articles that help me decide on resource allocation). Likewise, if I wanted good games criticism, I wouldn't read the one or two page write ups sites like IGN give to almost every game that comes out, I'd seek out Game Studies scholarship or longer form pieces on sites that offered them.

As a long term reader of Kotaku, I think they actually do a very nice job with reviews. Here, for example, are the three most recent reviews on their site.

Say No Suta - The Song of Saya
Metro: Last Light
Super Mario World (retro review)

I'd be curious what you think is wrong with any of these. Each of them references some context, alludes to other media forms, and in the case of the last review offers a thoughtful take on the game. Kotaku and the like are always going to be focused on reviews instead of criticism, but these are good review pieces that mimic the best elements from popular reviews of film, music, etc.
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Re: 40 Games critics should play

by dsheinem Tue May 21, 2013 8:32 am

General_Norris wrote:There are very few critics whose opinion I respect but two that I really admire are Michael Barness and Matt Thrower, founders of Fortress:Ameritrash and No High Scores. They are both very intelligent guys and their knowledge of general culture, from comics to movies or classic books really shows in their writing. Barnes in particular loves direct comparisons to other works of art:


I'll add that only one of the links you posted is a review of a game (Kingdoms of Amular). Using another form of media (a Bowie song) as a vehicle to critique another (a video game) is a pretty obvious and uninteresting choice :roll: I learned very little about the game from that piece. In fact, the author hadn't even finished it. This is a good review? The other pieces are fine for what they are, but each left me wanting more.

You know what site has decent long form thoughtful pieces? Kotaku :mrgreen:
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Re: 40 Games critics should play

by Erik_Twice Tue May 21, 2013 11:13 am

dsheinem wrote:See, that's the distinction you keep collapsing: a game review vs. a piece of criticism.

A review is a piece of criticism by definition:

re·view
[ri-vyoo] Show IPA
noun
1.
a critical article or report, as in a periodical, on a book, play, recital, or the like; critique; evaluation.



I don't want this thread to get into tangents so let's focus on the main issue: The average reviewer, critic or gaming site is not qualified to write about the medium, for lack the wide experience array neccesary to make meaningful claims. There are certain games I feel no valuable critic can miss and hence I made my list.

Anthony Gallegos is a good example. He admits to never having played any JPRG, one of the most common and popular genres in videogames, yet he and his editor think he's fit to review one:
Arc Rise Fantasia review

To me that's like a movie critic saying he has never seen a love film or anything by Kurosawa. You can't teach if you don't know and that makes Mr Gallegos a terrible critic. You are free to disagree but articles like this one lower my trust on the site and a critic without trust has nothing.

That's my main issue here. But if you want we can talk about the Kotaku-bashing tangent in another thread. I'll even drop some links :lol:
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Re: 40 Games critics should play

by dsheinem Tue May 21, 2013 11:39 am

General_Norris wrote:
dsheinem wrote:See, that's the distinction you keep collapsing: a game review vs. a piece of criticism.

A review is a piece of criticism by definition:

re·view
[ri-vyoo] Show IPA
noun
1.
a critical article or report, as in a periodical, on a book, play, recital, or the like; critique; evaluation.



I don't want this thread to get into tangents so let's focus on the main issue: The average reviewer, critic or gaming site is not qualified to write about the medium, for lack the wide experience array neccesary to make meaningful claims. There are certain games I feel no valuable critic can miss and hence I made my list.

Anthony Gallegos is a good example. He admits to never having played any JPRG, one of the most common and popular genres in videogames, yet he and his editor think he's fit to review one:
Arc Rise Fantasia review

To me that's like a movie critic saying he has never seen a love film or anything by Kurosawa. You can't teach if you don't know and that makes Mr Gallegos a terrible critic. You are free to disagree but articles like this one lower my trust on the site and a critic without trust has nothing.

That's my main issue here. But if you want we can talk about the Kotaku-bashing tangent in another thread. I'll even drop some links :lol:


On definitions: there's a difference between something being "critical writing" or "writing that is critical" and writing that is defined as "criticism proper" which uses critical methodologies to develop an argument. I think most people can recognize the distinction fairly well.

Sorry, one example from one site from three years ago is not good evidence of a widespread problem. Stop looking to IGN for insightful criticism. Look to them for reviews to help guide purchase decisions. On that score, Gallegos' review (which is honest about its starting position) is fine.
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Re: 40 Games critics should play

by o.pwuaioc Tue May 21, 2013 12:25 pm

dsheinem wrote:Sorry, one example from one site from three years ago is not good evidence of a widespread problem. Stop looking to IGN for insightful criticism. Look to them for reviews to help guide purchase decisions. On that score, Gallegos' review (which is honest about its starting position) is fine.

Yeah, I don't get this. If you're a fan of RPGs, then don't read this review to get an opinion. If you've never played an RPG before, then wouldn't reading someone who hasn't either be desirable?
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Re: 40 Games critics should play

by Erik_Twice Fri May 24, 2013 9:49 am

I think we are not understanding each other Dsheinem. I'm just using that guy as an example to see if we agree or not not as proof of anything.
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Re: 40 Games critics should play

by dsheinem Fri May 24, 2013 11:50 am

General_Norris wrote:I think we are not understanding each other Dsheinem. I'm just using that guy as an example to see if we agree or not not as proof of anything.


I don't know what we agree about at all, at this point.

-----
*You think people who write for IGN, Kotaku, Gamespot, etc. are bad at their job/unqualified because they aren't steeped in gaming history and that there is a list of games they "should" play in order to review games well (in fact you said these critics "should have played all the games in this list and three hundred more.")

*I think they can be good at what they do - providing useful reviews to help people make choices about purchases - without knowing or referencing that history. By analogy, someone doesn't have to have seen Citizen Kane or Tsukamoto's Tetsuo: The Iron Man in order to review Iron Man 3 in a fair, informed, and useful way that will help me decide whether to see it or not.

-----
*You think that these writers are "very clearly the target of this list and many of the choices were made with IGN or Kotaku in mind. I'm just tired of so many empty comments that failed to even check Wikipedia or showed a complete lack of perspective. "

*I think that, actually, the vast majority of critics who write for these sites are well versed in both gaming today and (often) gaming historically...and in fact most of the reviews they produce are generally pretty useful (or at least not "bad" in any serious way). I provided the three most recent reviews from Kotaku as examples, you provided a three year old example from IGN that is actually a very well-stated review.
-----

I think that there's a general reactionary impulse to game review sites/individual reviewers by gamers who either seek to "defend" certain games by using positive reviews or to "attack" the sites/reviewers for not providing enough depth of analysis when they reject certain games. I think both impulses miss the point of what these reviews are intended to do, and I think an imposed list like the one you suggest would fail to address these impulses amongst gamers.

Certainly game reviews as a whole could be better, and knowing more history of gaming couldn't hurt to enable that. But what they do now is still pretty good and mirrors much of the popular criticism found in film/music/TV/etc. In other words, don't make claims about the sorry state of game reviews on major review websites without understanding A) what they are actually like B) what they are intended to do and C) how they compare to those in related entertainment industries.
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Re: 40 Games critics should play

by Gunstar Green Fri May 24, 2013 12:12 pm

On one hand I feel like the more you know, the better informed you'll be. I get that people want there to be some kind of official, higher, more intellectual form of game analysis that elevates video games to the same artistic level as film.

But at the same time that's not what review sites like the oft-mentioned IGN are about. They're not analyzing games in the historical context of what came before. They're presenting reviews for games to a general audience in the context of other modern games.

I think the elitist attitude towards video game journalism is unwarranted. There are a lot of brilliant articles about video games out there and a lot of talented critics who take a deeper approach to analyzing games. That kind of thing is part of the niche though, you can't expect it from mainstream sites. It's simply not their job to look at games in that context but rather from the perspective of the average modern consumer.

The point is a lot of mainstream review sources are as much marketing as they are journalism but the same goes for movies and just about anything else worthy of artistic review that's being sold as a product.
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