I may have stopped blogging about a year ago, but that doesn't mean that I stopped working. After 5 years of developing the Critical-Gaming Blog, I looked at the influence, reach, and community it created. It wasn't about the number of readers or twitter followers I had, but the quality of conversations. Overall there were key components that were missing. Many friends and fans connected to me through the blog, but they didn't have a way to connect with each other. I only have so much time to engage in rich discussions. And I'm only one person with one set of views and opinions too. It just makes more sense to expand the circle and build a better community. So last year, I felt that pursuing a new path would be the best way to achieve my goals of better games criticism, better game design, better conversations, and a better game industry for everyone.
The first major step in this new direction is live. In true Iwata fashion... if you are interested in the next-generation of games criticism or you are curious about the indie game Starseed Pilgrim, please take a look.
Launching this website has truly been a team effort that I'm incredibly proud of. If I could do something like this on my own, I would have certainly done so. But I couldn't. I await the opportunity and the space to really detail all the collaborative effort that went into this site. But for now, I want to talk about the philosophy that drove it all.
It sounds like another generic name for a games criticism group; "game critique." But it subtly implies a focus on gameplay "gameplay critique." Furthermore, the message is delivered in 3 parts ala "Eat. Pray. Love." "Eat. Sleep. Play" and "Play. Create. Share." Therefore the philosophy also reads like a set of instructions. First, the game itself. Start with one and understand what it is. As you do so, play; the most enjoyable style of learning. Play to learn the game and learn about yourself in the process. Take play seriously and have fun with it. Then there's step 3, critique, which essentially means have a good conversation about steps 1 and 2. The clearer your language, the more your audience can learn about the game and your play. The more we all learn, the better we understand the game which improves and diversifies how we play. And the cycle repeats.
Several years ago, Daniel Johnson and I brainstormed a kind of next-generation website that would embody the philosophy of game.play.critique. We've talked about community guidelines, website account structure, and a lot of other details that I won't get into here. One element of the website that I contributed to most is the structure and type of content.
I'm not the kind of person who spends much time at all dreaming or wishing about the future. I tend to set my long term goals quickly, and then set to work making the most of each day. By this idea, it's clear to me why ideas don't just spring up out of no where. Instead, each of us working our life's work day by day. I don't consider myself a game designer or a game critic because one day I hope to have a fully time job doing so. I consider myself these things because I write and design every day, and I have done so since childhood.
What you do day by day is a good indication of where your dreams are. For me, I noticed that I gravitate towards a certain style of analysis on this blog.
- All of the Critical-Cast Podcast episodes
- Kid Icarus Uprising
- Controller Design series
- Everything on Smash Brothers from Good Game to my playstyles analysis.
Each article or series analyzes the game in detail, features multimedia content, frames the discourse around the game, and imagines possibilities beyond.
I've also gravitated towards creating structures to help people communicate better.
- Trigon series 1
- Trigon series 2
- Trigon series 3
- Critical-Casts B-side open recording episodes.
- Linearity: Games vs Conversation
- My old "discourse" idea
Maybe the gaming industry will all of a sudden notice and value the work that I do. Maybe not. I tend not to worry about recognition. I hope you better understand the direction I'm heading in terms of games criticism. You're welcome to be a part of this effort. Just let me know. In the meantime, here's the press release.
Press Release: New Starseed Pilgrim website is an experiment in the next generation of games criticism
Collaborative games criticism group, Critical-Gaming, releases ambitious new website on Starseed Pilgrim.
Dallas, Texas – March 3 2014 - Critical-Gaming today announces the release of Starseed Observatory(http://starseedobservatory.com), a new games criticism website exploring the indie puzzle-platformer Starseed Pilgrim. The website is an example of quality games criticism, a tool to help players critically discuss video games, and a resource to display and connect visitors to the discourse on the game.
Starseed Observatory is a mixed-media presentation that contains articles, podcasts, music, videos, imagery, and gameplay demos all co-created by members of Critical-Gaming. The criticism ranges from analysis of the game’s design, music, and gameplay strategies to personal reactions and reflections.
Droqen, the creator of Starseed Pilgrim, has supported the project by creating playable snapshots of gameplay to accompany the articles. In the next few months, Droqen shall release a new update to Starseed Pilgrim, Starseed Dreamwalk. The modification contains a mix of new ideas and suggestions put forward by Critical-Gaming.
On Starseed Observatory, co-founder, Richard Terrell, says:
“Video games are complex works of art that utilize many different types of design and craft. All the work that is put into games makes them more interesting, engaging, and enjoyable experiences for players. One way we can share great experiences we have with games is by talking about them. Proper criticism gives us the language to understand and enjoy games better (even the games we don’t like!).”
Starseed Observatory is available right now at http://starseedobservatory.com.
Critical-Gaming are a diverse group of game analysts, designers, and writers. The team has met online every Sunday for almost a year to keep in touch and brainstorm ways to fix the current state of games criticism. The group was co-founded by Richard Terrell and Daniel Johnson.
About Richard Terrell
Richard Terrell writes the Critical-Gaming blog and co-developed BaraBariBall, an indie fighting-sports game hybrid that’s part of the Sportsfriends compilation on PC, PS3, and PS4.
About Daniel Johnson
Daniel Johnson is a former GameSetWatch columnist and the author of Game Design Companion: A Critical Analysis of Wario Land 4 and Adventures in Games Analysis.
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