Tuesday, April 28, 2009

Game Reviews

When I ventured out and started this online journal, game reviews were not something I wished to ramble on and on about. I started writing just out the need for a release. To come clean with some of my interests and air them out a bit and see if they were even my interests at all. Up to this point my discoveries haven't led to any sort of conclusion. This is a good thing and writing is still a good darn release from work.

One interest I've discovered liking is reading about writer's views on reviewing games. Modern reviews of games, it seems, are bad. At least in the eyes of most of the more educated writers. They take firm stances about scores and workman like reviews. On any given day you can visit The Escapist for well written columns on this very topic. While you are there, head over to Zero Punctuation to watch the best reviews on the web. He certainly doesn't give scores and he gives good reason for it.

I realize that I've given out scores for games and also realize that doing so puts me on a blacklist... or would if anyone read my reviews. If I was to put myself out there as a reviewer of games or professional of some sort I may be more sensitive to the idea of giving scores to games. Taking a little step back and and looking at why I attach a score to a game raises a good bit of questions. Not just about why I would take the time to do it (there has to be more to it then just a release from work, right?). But why others feel the need to do it.

Of course most of it has to do with readership. Put a score on a game and it immediately becomes something you can measure against something else. Like a sport. Halo 3 is better then Fallout 3 because Metacritic says so, kind of thing. In that sense, I don't mind scores I guess. Back before Gamerankings.com changed it was fun. Love it, hate it, or indifferent from it; scores give you a general idea if the game is good or not.

But what of personal tastes. What about immersion? What about art direction or story? Developers know more about this then the reviewer, just like a director knows more then the movie reviewer. It is an issue as old as writing. There is no, nor will there ever be, a standard.

What movies, books, theater, have over video games right now is educated writing. I read somewhere recently that I would be considered a 1st generation gamer. Meaning I was born in the 1970's when computer and console gaming came about. Something about this idea gets me excited. Computer Games, as a medium or form of artistic entertainment, is still a very new thing. There aren't hundreds of years of history of the genre to pull from. Just a couple decades or so.

Where am I going with this? I'm not entirely sure. Something I've thought about often over my lifetime is the overwhelming burden of thousands of years of creative works. Every person that has painted feels this burden if they are striving for something original, something that stands out. What is exciting about video games though is that there isn't that much of a burden. Every thing is new. Even if someone were to make the argument that WWII first person shooters are over done I'd say that it is a falsity if looked at from a longer view.

Whats inherently exciting to me about video games is that it is a new outlet for creativity. Great masters have yet to be completely defined, most of the best creators are still living and still creating. Games are in a place that may be best likened to the pre-Renaissance period of painting. When craftsmen and women rediscovered that they where creating something more then just a historical recollection or family portrait.

The Jan van Eyck "Arnolfini Portrait" moment, when a painting was purposely meant to be more and rediscovery of the purpose of art is a ways off for games I think. Perhaps, it will never come. Maybe there are not enough Escapists out there to push the medium forward. What I am sure of is, like the move from tempera paint to oil, that the medium of video games is pressing forward all the time similar to any art medium.

So, hold on a second... where does the leave me with attaching a score to games? The quick answer? It matters as much as a critic of Giotto's "Lamentation Over the Dead Christ". So what I have to say (to nobody) is that if you attach an arbitrary score to a game that you played for a job then you stink. If you are pretentious enough to say that you aren't going to attach a score to a game? Then, well gee, thanks for letting me know. If you are honest and enjoy playing a discussing games? Then, uh, cool. If you don't know what you are and can't come to any conclusion... then I'll read what you have to say.


I'd give this post a 7.2

It's good. Kind of like some other posts that you haven't read and has some gramatical errors. But overall a good post. (score not an average).

PS. Go to Zero Punctuation already. sheesh.

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