More on the Reviewer-Innovation Conundrum

Last week, we mentioned Keith Stuart's meditation on whether or not reviewers really get innovation; since then, several people have picked up the discourse, with N'Gai Croal weighing in on the debate.

Taking a look at the Guardian piece, as well as Leigh Alexander's musings, an older piece responding to an earlier essay by Leigh, Croal argues that reviewers may not always get it right, but 'policing the discourse' won't do us any favors:

... We opine in order to point out that while our fellow critics Alexander, Fritz and Stuart are undoubtedly well-intentioned, we'd prefer that they simply make the case for the aspects of various titles they find worthy rather than attempt to police the discourse surrounding said games. Criticism isn't crucifixion. Championing is great—it's one of this generation's must-try titles; we urge anyone reading this to at least try the demo; and we suggest that EA at some point decouple the Time Trial demo from the exclusivity arrangements with various retailers—but praising the praiseworthy aspects and criticizing the failed ones is better. And Mirror's Edge isn't a masterpiece—it's laudable but profoundly flawed—nor would its equivalent be widely considered so in any other medium. Because for the discerning critic, regardless of the medium being critiqued, both execution and innovation matter. The fact that Mirror's Edge, by our lights, excels at innovation but falls short on execution does not and should not render it immune from the criticism it's received.

Everything is worth a read through, if you haven't gotten to it yet — part of me says that an attempt at 'policing the discourse' is just human nature, and is something that happens as formats get codified and standards crop up on 'how to do things.' Of course people aren't always going to agree, and while I think Leigh Alexander and others are the cat's meow, I can't really see them 'policing' the discourse so much as suggesting alternate avenues.

The Big Idea: Are Videogame Reviewers Missing the Forest for the Trees When It Comes to Assessing Important and Innovative Titles? [Level Up]