After posting very little on this blog for the past nine months, I’ve decided to reorient the blog to focus around several key areas where I think writing about video games is seriously lacking. Therefore, I will stray away from the typical review and news angle of the majority of game blogs and website and focus on deeper analysis.
To this end, I’ve outlined three areas of focus:
Games Criticism-First, an important distinction should be made between a game review and game critique. A review is an evaluation of a game as a product and whether or not it is worthy of a consumer’s money. I have no interested in evaluating games from this angle. There are more than enough resources for the average gamer to make an informed choice about buying a game.
Criticism, on the other hand, is about understand the game on a deeper level, about applying analysis and ideology to the game systems and seeing how they hold up to certain standards and ideas. For instance, I examined Grand Theft Auto III as a reflection of a cyclical consumerist society. When inspiration strikes, I plan on doing this for other games.
Game Design-Here is where I plan on deconstructing a game and understanding how it works in relation to the player. This is about looking at how specific systems communicate and relate to the player. It’s about saying more than just “the shooting feels good.” It’s about breaking down the systems, understanding how slow momentum and grounded physics might suddenly restrict the player and immerse the player in the world, or how fast flow and smooth jumping angle give the player a greater emphasis on reflex and control.
An example of this would be my piece on Deus Ex where I talk about the freedom the game gives you and how the design makes the freedom meaningful and compelling. It’s going beyond saying “this game is great because it gives you freedom” but dissecting the ways in which it gives that freedom and yet how it also reflects focused design within the prospect of freedom.
Social Issues-Video games do not exist within a vacuum. While criticism and design can help us understand an individual game very well, it doesn’t help us understand video games in the broader context of our world. Issues of media violence, addiction and social development are all important issues to games that can be addressed in different ways.
While I haven’t touched on this too much in the past, I have written about the search for the Citizen Kane of games which I see as part of a social movement to legitimize the medium. Gamers want to be validated and taken seriously for how they spend their pastime and I think that’s a fascinating issue for games that I plan on addressing in the future.
While these are my three core areas of focus, these aren’t hard and fast guidelines. And I certainly do not believe these are three distinctly different focuses. I believe there will be plenty of overlap as I approach different games. I may eventually come up with a piece that falls outside the bounds of all three areas. But, for now, this will be the guiding force of the blog.