I've gotten behind reading my usual gaming blogs. So, I spent yesterday reading the latest post(s) from the various bloggers on my blog roll. After reading, I wasn't sure if I should contact each blogger with my questions and comments or post something here at Critical-Gaming. After all, one of the original purposes of this blog was to look at how others were writing and talking about video games with a critical eye.
You probably guessed by now that I decided to post my impressions here. I'm not giving out any grades or scores on what I read. If anyone would like to continue the conversation about a particular post, blogger, or blog I welcome the effort.
- I enjoyed the brevity and the poetic quality of the "what I notice" entries especially in #1. It's almost like a beat poem or a bit of slam poetry. I dig observations. And even though what's noticed here isn't about video games, I welcome the change. As bloggers, we gotta do what we feel like.
- "The problem with the Watchmen" is a surprisingly thorough and well paced article.
- I also liked the angle on the Resident Evil 5 piece.
- Clever and snappy sort of mini posts on various topics. All very interesting as expected. I might just buy a Jesper bench.
- A quality look at OnLive that doesn't exclude or lump Nintendo in with "the rest of them."
- I enjoy the material here, I just wish there was a better/easier way to contact Sean (I hope that's his real name). The about page is of so few words, I can quote it here in its entirety "This is the News page for Malstrom’s Articles. It is glorious." And now I've said more in this bullet point than in Malstrom's about page.
- Consistent content. Releasing a free indie game every month or so isn't easy. Keep it up.
- The other prompts for the assignment were interesting as well.
- It would have really helped to have some pictures and/or diagrams to go along with each section.
- You can tell that the essay was written as a school assignment with a word minimum/limit. There's something about the way some of explanatory sentences were phrased that felt a tad like filler sentences. That or sentences that were unsure of the intended audience's experience (the professor?) and were thus designed to be thorough by playing it safe.
- Daniel had a daunting task ahead of him when he decided on his topic. I had discussed the project briefly with him previously, and I was curious as to how Daniel would attempt to narrow his focus. Clarifying words like "pleasurable" and "fun" can easily take up 2.5k words. By the end of the essay, a lot was said and a lot wasn't as evident by this quote; "which we haven’t even began to discuss!"
- I believe I understood what the essay had to say and where Daniel was coming from. Still, I'll have to talk to him about it in the future to hopefully dig deeper at a topic/issue that is much larger than 2.5k words. I'm also curious as to how his professor takes to it.
- I think it's important not to start a post or center a post around a large generalization. If you do, it's important to explain and narrow the scope that you refer too by possibly giving plenty of examples. The first line in the post "Voicing Concern" is... "Voice acting in games is abysmal. It's amateur hour. It's embarrassing. It's the blind leading the blind. And nobody seems to care."
- "We know most video game stories are weak. We know most of the characters are flimsy stereotypes." Statements like this don't do much for me. A statement like this tells me either the speaker means "a few games that I know of" when they say "most," or the speaker is going off the simple fact that most products in any medium aren't of a high quality. Along those lines, most movies/books/plays/video games are weak even if they're never published or see the light of day.
- I've noticed that a lot of games writers can't help but try to force games to be more like other mediums or at least they view video games from those other lenses. Function and interactivity are what video games do better than all other mediums. So why aren't we talking about how stories and voice acting fits in with the unique kind of communication that exists with functions? Function is more persuasive and more pervasive in a game space than certainly the audio. Perhaps we should be thinking and talking about how audio can support a game's function, and not how to make games more movie/radio like.
- At the end of the day, I can't help but think that the people who do great work of all kinds with video games are going to keep doing great things and there's little point in pointing out that the less capable developers will continue not doing so.
- Perhaps bad games mesh better when "bad" voice acting. Maybe our appreciation of the game determines our tolerance for the elements such as voice acting.
- I've heard many great things about this article series from much respected people like Ngai Croal. So I finally got around to reading it and I was underwhelmed and disappointed. Ignoring the hype that was built up around this entry, I have the following to say.
- Krpata mentions how this new taxonomy will help us communicate more accurately and sophisticatedly with gamers instead of putting labels on each other and failing to communicate to the personal gamers that we are. I don't know what kinds of gaming conversations Krpata has on a regular basis or who the "we" are that he refers to, but the kind of bitter, unthoughtful conversationalist that would need help considering others seem to be the less mature "internet people." With that said, there will always be those who are less thoughtful and more rude, and those who want to do things better.
- Clear communication seems to be the goal of the article series. Not video game critique. However, there are times when Krpata wants to talk about games at which point, his taxonomy fails to apply. Understanding the various kinds of gamer doesn't help one understand how individual elements of a game's design come together. Many, if not most, of the examples given in the series were large generalizations. Krpata didn't want to pigeon hole gamers into types yet he pigeon holed the games to fit these gamer categories.
- With any medium there are different people who look for and like different aspects and types of products in that medium. I'm not sure spending so much time discussing that people like different things for different reasons is particularly progressive in the games communication space. Coming form any other medium or walk of life, interacting with people who are different from us is the norm.
- Some of the categories seem a bit myopic. The "perfectionist" category sounds more like the "competitor" to me. Regardless of the name, statements like this seem entirely misguided: "In both cases, the appeal is in accomplishing something that only a select few ever will."
- I always approach different mediums from the same mindset. They're all different, and their definitive limitations do not limit the creative and expressive potential of the creator/designer. If I apply the taxonomy of gamers to piano players, the system as it is currently defined would fall apart. If I strive to play as song with fewer and fewer mistakes, that doesn't mean that I don't care about the "musical rules/forms." It also doesn't mean that I'm not satisfied with playing the song perfectly and that I must win in piano competitions. Playing a song through (playing every note) doesn't mean that I'm a completist. I could be simply "touring" a song and want to finish hearing what it is before moving on.
- Hardcore and casual have always been inadequate classifications the way many games writers use them. Though I largely stay away from the terms in my writing, the terms are useful for thinking about the types of gamers there are. In this post I wrote years ago, I used the common dictionary definitions to ground the meanings of casual, competitive, and hardcore Smasher. Out of the hundreds of replies I sorted through, the data shows that most people consider themselves to be many different types of gamer depending on their mood. Ultimately, who we are and how we interact/experience things differs from moment to moment. That's why I feel that it's more important to talk about design and then about how it affects different kind of gamers. Design first.
I intended on including comments on gamedesignadvance.com but their site when down when I was in the middle of reading through the 4 games criticism article. Again, if the bloggers above or anyone else wants to discuss video games or the design of anything, I'm all ears on skype. Just send me a message/email.