Games Criticism Is Flawed And/Or In A Golden Age.

Two views on the state of games criticism over at The New York Times. Here are excerpts:


Laura Parker's essay Game Theory: BioShock Infinite and Video Game Reviews

BioShock Infinite aimed to be a game that engaged its audience by posing questions about human nature. We know this because we were told as much. But how well did it express those ideas? How many people who played BioShock Infinite came away enlightened about religion, racism or American exceptionalism?

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Simply recognizing that a video game is a work of art does not mean the job is finished; like all art, games deserve close scrutiny and consideration. BioShock Infinite is art, but is it good art?

If we are to discuss video games as art, we need to talk about them as more than the sum of their parts. Creators want to be challenged; they want to know where they went wrong and what they can do better. So let's help them do just that.

Chris Suellentrop's Game Theory: A Golden Era for Criticism:

We do not live merely in a golden age of video games but also in a golden age of video game criticism. There has never been more, and better, writing about games and what they mean, how they work and how they fail.

We do not live merely in a golden age of video games but also in a golden age of video game criticism. There has never been more, and better, writing about games and what they mean, how they work and how they fail.

And no game was chewed over more than BioShock Infinite. The initial reviews were certainly laudatory (and rightly so), but they were not free of mention of niggling imperfections, as Laura Parker seems to suggest. A sampling: The anonymous critic in the British magazine Edge complained that"the story begins to unravel" in the third act. Tom Chick, who is something of a contrarian and a provocateur, wrote for the website Quarter to Three that BioShock Infinite contains "an ambitious and sometimes dazzling story far too big for the too familiar game that holds it." Sparky Clarkson at GameCritics.com objected that the game "sinks toward a deflated ending rather than rising towards a climax" and that the emotional wallop of the ending "has almost nothing to do with the game's actual play."

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There's more where that came from, much of it assembled for your perusal byCameron Kunzelman at the website This Cage Is Worms.

Setting aside the specifics of BioShock: Infinite aside, where do you stand? Is games criticism improving? In a golden age, in fact? Or still missing the mark for too often? Or all of the above?

To contact the author of this post, write to stephentotilo@kotaku.com or find him on Twitter @stephentotilo. Top image via Tumblr.