So this week (I nearly forgot to mention!) I traded emails with Kotaku Australia’s Mark Serrells. We talked about whether videogame reviews have any relevance in a post-Metacritic et al., world. My position was that, ehhhh, not really – most reviews now work as an exercise in getting to know your reviewer/critic personally, and that doesn’t have to be completely pejorative.
Nevertheless, I can’t envisage a future in which the videogame “reviewer” ever has the place of prominence, in magazines or online, that it has enjoyed in the past. That said, the critic as individual is only going to become more important, I think. To save me repeating myself, go have a read of the post and maybe leave a comment. Or not. You guys and gals know my policy on comments by now, right? I’m quite happy to take ‘em or leave em, and it’s been interesting clashing with some people who can’t seem to get their head around that. Hopefully I’ll share some more thoughts on the matter elsewhere, as there’s a Crit-Dist podcast planned on the subject. If not, I guess you’ll just have to trust me on it.
To return to the subject of reviews/criticism and the critic, I wanted to point towards the two articles I mentioned in the ‘Objection’ post – two must read “reviews” for any current or aspiring reviewer (and highly recommended for critics too). First: Kieron Gillen’s review of Boiling Point, in which he scores the game thrice. The second: Kieron Gillen’s last ever review (except for the odd-one at RPS anyway) for the MMO Darkfall Online. Deals with: the developer/journo relationship; the difficulty in reviewing MMO’s; aspects of online gaming communities; and is just generally an insightful read. These two pieces, just these, I would like to force-feed to everyone who writes reviews. I can’t stress enough how very readable they are (I’ve never played either game, yet still stick with me).
Finally, before I disappear into my PhD research-containing-spreadsheet again, I want to point to a piece that Kieron Gillen wrote in 2008 for Rock Paper Shotgun that says just about all there is to say about the subject of game reviewing and criticism. “Towards an Elitist Critic Future“.
One of the things about the internet that makes me almost weep for joy is that great pieces of thinking, writing and communication like this are preserved (or can be! they just as easily get lost) so long as you can find a link for them, spot a trace they leave somewhere, or just plain old remember them.
None of these pieces deserves to be forgotten.