Thursday, November 03, 2011

Modern Games Critisism

The Father of Modern Games Criticism
It used-to-be that you got one game and you were happy with it. As a kid, every game was a great game, because you had that one game. We all put on the rose-tinted goggles for one game or the other. Games were also more difficult and fewer. There was also a time where they were much more expensive than they are now. If the game could keep you entertained long enough, maybe another would come along that you could buy and then play. The value of being younger is that your time is almost infinite. The youth just want something to occupy your time. Once you get older, and many gamers have gotten older, your time is all but the most important thing to you.

Games criticism has been much-a-do-about-nothing for a while. While I didn't participate in the EGM days of lore, I have read many a four-to-five-page review on the likes of IGN. I hate those reviews. I honestly do, because they're the least informative and most formulaic reviews ever. It's like a list: Graphics: 9.25, Story: 7.68, Replayability: 4. The worst part was that the reviews were meant as comparisons to other current games and past games. The reviews weren't open contrast and compare, but the scores were. Games were only as good as they could get. A perfect game was one directly sampled perfectly from other works.

I've always hated scores. They're a misrepresentation of art. Did anyone ever give The Monalisa a 7/10 in graphics? No, that would be silly. Why can something like that be represented by a number? A number rating system is arbitrary and nonsensical at best. Joystiq does well to justify their star system, but the justification is often ignored by the readers.

I could prattle on about readers for a while. "Everyone wants to be a critic" isn't the right term here. It's more like "everyone is a critic's critic." Reviews aren't meant to be reviewed, but more often than not they are scrutinized for few reasons, and increasingly annoying reasons as well. It ties in with the ridiculousness of the rating system itself. There are many issues with reviews and past games criticism, but there are endless issues with readers.

And this is where I bring in Justin McElroy, the father of Modern Games Criticism. The former Reviews Editor, now Managing Editor, of is a revolutionary in the field of criticism. He is, in all honesty, my hero. However, I do know his work is heavily controversial, but not a bit because it is poorly written or because he's a huge troll, but because his words are endlessly true. I can masturbate to his image in a different post, so I'll move on.

The one criterion that McElroy often enforces is Time; is this game worth your Time? Could you spend your Time doing something better? Time is what the Joystiq rating system is based on and as I've gotten older something that is infinitely more important. When I first heard McElroy say this I was confused, I had nothing but time on my hands. I couldn't care less about his seemingly high-concept criticism. Video Games were how I wasted my time, a way to wait for something else. In recent years I've learned that I have no time. Days and weeks fly by without hesitation and I find that my time is increasingly sparse. Do I really want to waste my time playing Resistance 2 or Haze? More importantly, do I want to argue uselessly about how those games are good, despite not having played them?

Edit: I forgot to mention something Sir McElroy said a ways back. Shouldn't we critic games as if they could be better? Are we not doing ourselves a disservice otherwise?

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