|Video games need more of this ...|
Video games have gotten big faster than they've gotten good. We have fantastic tools at our disposal, but, apart from a few remarkable works (The Last of Us, for example), they aren't being used at anywhere near their potential. I think this is why video games need more and better critics.
Not reviewers. Reviewers are necessary, but we don't need more people to say, "Yeah, Grand Theft Auto V is deeply flawed, but it has lots of polygons and it doesn't crap itself and I don't want to get death threats. 9/10." We have plenty of that.
I was recently in a discussion with some indies where someone commented that too much discussion of the game business was about business, not about the craft of making better games. I agree with this totally. If you want to write games, anything that helps you to make a better game is better for your business.
We need people who take the time to think about these games, break them down, understand what works, what doesn't, and why. They then bring their opinions back to the masses, and we can agree or disagree and have a conversation about it and then, if we're lucky, we might get better games.
|... and less of this ...|
Grand Theft Auto V is a huge, ambitious, high-profile title, and it deserves to have a lot written about it. (And, for what it's worth, I plan to.) But who would that writing be for?
Well, first off, it wouldn't be for Rockstar. Sure, they wrote the game, but that really is the end of their part of the conversation. They made a thing. They made a ton of money. They'll make another one. Maybe they'll read what people write about it. Maybe it'll even make a difference, though I doubt it. It doesn't matter.
They wrote the game, but the discussion about it isn't for them. The discussion is for two sorts of people.
First, us developers. People who make games. We should always be playing and picking apart new work, mercilessly deciding what works and what doesn't. This is how we get better.
Second, criticism is for gamers. In particular, it's for gamers who want to enjoy games in a more thoughtful, engaged way. You don't need to understand how editing and cinematography work to enjoy a movie. However, better understanding of the craft can help you to enjoy movies on more than one level, and thus to enjoy them more.
It is possible to play a game and have a part of it really engage and excite you (or disappoint and frustrate you), and not really understand why. Good criticism can help you see exactly why the game worked (or let you down).
I know, some people don't care. They don't want more understanding of what they watch/read/play. I really don't understand this, but it's there. If you don't care, I can't make you care. But if you do care, these discussions are how you learn.
|... but I would settle for this.|
I have a lot to say about Grand Theft Auto V and the new Tomb Raider reboot, both hugely ambitious, partially successful titles. Discussion about what they do right and wrong are merited.
I don't know if anyone will care. But writing is what I do, so let's go.
In the Meantime
There is some thoughtful game criticism out there. For starters, take a look at the YouTube channel Errant Signal. In particular, the videos on Bioshock: Infinite and The Last of Us.
I think the Bioshock: Infinite video is a terrific analysis of a game that, despite its good qualities, was embraced with an excessive and insufficiently considered enthusiasm. And I think their The Last of Us video is poorly considered. It's blind to the real appeal to the game and holds it to an unfair standard not applied to other titles.
But that's the great thing about criticism. It's not about agreement. It's about conversation and, yes, argument. That's where the fun is.
If you care about movies and storytelling, Film Crit Hulk can't be recommended highly enough.