January 21, 2008

Press

Sam Kennedy of 1UP wrote an editorial about the GameSpot/Gerstmann fiasco. It's a good piece that outlines the chain of events quite nicely and makes a convincing case for why it is a big deal. I hope I'm preaching to the choir but what I find discouraging is the amount of gamers who don't really care. I'm not chiding anyone for not taking to the streets but there's a reliable contingent who'll respond with "this is news why?" I find that game writing and game writers are subjected to so much hostility from their audience, unlike any other enthusiast press. It's amazing how many mainstream readers you seem to lose when you ditch scores or attempts at "objective" reviews. And I'm not sure that there are readers that particularly like the reviewing strategy of objectively quantifying entertainment. (This is a digression but didn't GameSpot have a 1-10 metric for "tilt", i.e. fun? You guys.) I think these are gamers who are so used to gaming being a relatively unpretentious hobby and simplifying reviews to bullet points and scores fits right in with that mindset. How many times have you heard that gaming is something you do to get away from reality, that it's supposed to be fun and not something you have to think about. Gaming should be some big fantasy land where nothing is important and that view apparently extends to the industry. When all you have is scores, you don't have to think.

I don't know why I'm so disappointed, when it seems very easy for others to ignore this perspective outright. But for all my pretensions I'm not and probably will never be part of gaming academia (as if you couldn't tell from the tone of this blog.) Nor am I ever going to make games, I'm going to write about them. The people I'm complaining about, fundamentally, I think I'm more like them. Except I care and they don't and whatever, that's okay. I just want to say to anyone who's ever rolled their eyes at the notion of "gaming journalism" or complained about a review score that you are part of the problem.

Addendum: I wanted to link to another editorial written by Steve Gaynor which defends Kane & Lynch. I don't mention it in the interests of "balance" since these aren't competing interests but I do think it's a shame that Io's game got lost in the shuffle. Actually, I take that back -- a million copies sold? I don't feel that bad for you. But I want to point out that even if Kane & Lynch is a good game (and Steve is more persuasive as to its merits than any other reviewer) it in no way justifies CNET's behaviour; as an excuse it's right in line with Gerstmann's firing being deserved because of his Twilight Princess 8.8. These are after-the-fact rationalisations created by scorned readers who think that when reviewers have "wrong" opinions they should be shown the door and the ends justify the means.

Did you really read all the way through this? Or did you scroll down to look at the picture of the sexy vampire? Either way, please check back tomorrow (or the day after) for a very important Hit Self-Destruct announcement.

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