You may be surprised to find this out, since I’ve posted so many reviews, but I fucking hate critics. Even the “good” ones. Not just with games, but with anything. There have been maybe 3 or 4 critics who have had any kind of positive effect on their industry. The unfortunate thing about the occupation is that it so often results in people who feel that, because someone has found their opinion good enough to publish and send out to several people, that their opinion is somehow more valid or informed than anyone else’s. Again, in some cases, this can be true, but most of the time, these are people who aren’t any more knowledgeable about the quality of the art in question, or usually even any better at informing others.
An example: Nat Tate, a famous expressionist painter, had a launch party for his posthumous biography on April 1, 1998. Some of his work was exhibited, and David Bowie read from the book. Gore Vidal, who had written an endorsement for the book, was also in attendance as a special guest. Many of the most famous people in the art world, collectors, historians, and especially critics, were there, many excited to finally see such an influential painter honored.
If you haven’t guessed, Nat Tate didn’t fucking exist. His name was a combination of two famous museums in England, the National Gallery and the Tate Gallery. The event was on fucking APRIL FOOLS DAY, for Christ’s sake. But no, these various critics were too pompous (and too blatantly fucking stupid) to admit they had never heard of him. They just went right along with the hoax (which, for the record, Gore Vidal and David Bowie were in on).
A second example: Wine critics were once served two wines. One, the more expensive of the two, they described as “balanced” and “full”. The other, cheaper wine was “unbalanced”, “weak”, “simple”. Imagine how they felt when they revealed that both bottles were of the same cheap wine.
Finally, a third example: Recently, Roger Ebert again argued, completely unsuccessfully, as to why he doesn’t think video games are art. This was a mistake. The internet has completely lost its shit. And rightfully so, though I may disagree with the way some people go about doing it. He has no right to decide what is and is not art any more than I do, and that’s what critics do that offends me so much. I’m not going to flame Mr. Ebert, even though he is completely mistaken about his opinion, because he’s one of the few critics who I generally like. Not because I think he’s got some kind of insight into film that I don’t have; only I know what I like to watch. I like him simply because he is a good writer, and the way he presents his arguments is entertaining. Honestly, the funny thing is that I could really care less about his actual opinions.
And that brings me to my overall point about myself: there’s no reason you should actively want to know my opinions for any reason other than entertainment. My opinion should not help you decide to purchase a game, or think a game is good or bad. I just want you to be entertained. The reason so many people are offended at Roger Ebert’s comments is because they think for some reason that his opinion on games affects them. It does not. And that’s the way it should be. The entire idea of a critic is completely asinine; what training can you have to be a good music critic? What do you compare an album to? Your own experiences and tastes. The same thing applies to video games; who give a fuck how somebody from Game Informer feels Splinter Cell: Conviction compares to the other games in the series? He’s just some guy in California, he has no training or insight that makes him know any better than a 13 year old who has played every game in the series. What makes him different is that he has some kind of education or experiences as a writer, and that’s what he should be taken as. Someone who can express his ideas in an entertaining way through words (or, in Game Informer’s case, express Gamestop’s ideas in an infotaining way through a catalog for Gamestop’s products). And that’s all I can do. Hopefully I can make you laugh, or be reminisce, or what the fuck ever. Just don’t think that my opinion on something should mean anything to you (except on World of Warcraft; my statements about that game are not opinions, they are stone cold facts). I don’t have time to feel like some pompous, self-important asshole.
Thomas Tippl, Activision CFO and COO: “”We treat our developers extremely well.”
Bobby Kotick, Activision CEO: “The goal that I had in bringing a lot of the packaged goods folks into Activision about 10 years ago was to take all the fun out of making video games.” … “company culture of skepticism, pessimism, and fear” … “We are very good at keeping people focused on the deep depression.”
Thank God games are turning away from Japanese developers, huh? American business operations have done so much for the industry.
Alienware’s PR people like to make asses of themselves. In that vein, they’ve announced this morning that they’re going to make an announcement that will “shake the gaming world to it’s foundation”. Of course, that won’t happen, because it’s just going to be another new computer. I know this because they always do this when they’re releasing a new fucking computer, and every time everybody just forgets that this is the same thing that happened last time. It’s akin to McDonalds announcing a “groundbreaking new hamburger that will stupify the quaking, unworthy masses we’re going to unleash it upon”, then revealing a hamburger with, get this, mayonnaise.
Aside from the extremely likely announcement of their new computer which is slightly faster: to the max, it’s possible they may be announcing something else of no concern, like a new content delivery system or a “gaming netbook” or something, but honestly, I doubt even something that mundane is what they’re referring to.
Additionally, as Joystiq reader rbtroj pointed out, the current page source on the Alienware website contains this:
“meta name=”description” content=”Official Dell Alienware site for new allpowerful gaming laptops and desktops . Sign up to be the first to view these new custom high performance gaming laptops and desktops.”"
Doesn’t necessarily confirm it, but I really wouldn’t be surprised if that was just a new brand name for their overpriced machines.
Also, my completely off-base theory I’m holding out hope for is that the wording of the announcement was literal, and Alienware is planning to cause the collapse of hundreds of offices for game design and publishing companies, perhaps via some sort of weather machine. I think the ridiculously high prices of the machines could be justified if it turned out that the excess funds were being used to fund mad science.
This is probably going to be the angriest thing I’ve ever written, and it will likely move into “derelict rant” territory.
Over the last couple of years, a new trend has begun in video games: the “art game”.
There’s nothing fundamentally wrong with art games as a concept. In some particularly inspired cases, it can result in some pretty creative results.
Take, for example, Braid. It isn’t based around any particularly creative gameplay mechanics, as the use of the control of time as a feature has been used many times before (for example, Prince of Persia: The Sands of Time or Blinx: The Time Sweeper), but its use of these gameplay mechanics resulted in some clever puzzles, and even though I think most of the narrative was overwrought and pretensious (although I loved the ambiguous ending, despite/because it wasn’t related to the story), I can’t deny that it was well-written, for what it was.
However, my issue with this entire “genre” is that it represents the basest form of art fuckery. Many of these games are made by the people who make me hate going inside of any business in the downtown part of my city. They’re the people who are talking to naive women about how they’re feeling so much “anguish” over everything that’s going on in their life, but totally aren’t just trying to get laid, because they’re sensitive guys, and own every album by Clap Your Hands Say Yeah. They’re the people talking about how their “art collective”, which is totally not just him and his bar buddies who constantly talk about their horrible ideas that they never have time to finish (even though they’re always just wandering around the city), and are totally not just trying to get laid. They’re the kind of guys who bring girls to coffee shops and talk about “a philosophical concept” they’ve been “trying to wrap their head around” or the “project” they’re “trying to get off the ground”, but totally aren’t just trying to get laid. Honestly, I’d rather spend the rest of my life with unwashed hicks who alternate between talking about fishing, NASCAR, and hating black people, because at least they aren’t full of fucking bullshit. I seriously can’t go to certain places downtown because this kind of blatant horseshit literally makes me physically ill.
Now, they’re moving onto ruining my hobby with psuedo-philosophical crap.
Take, for example, Passage, by Jason Rohrer. The “game” endeavors to tell the story of life within an early CGA-graphic style (think King’s Quest). There is no real storyline or narrative, so all you have is the game itself. The game is about walking right. You walk right, then you have a wife that walks right with you, then she dies, then you die. Don’t get me wrong, I understand the point, it’s a simple simulation of life shown in a video game. Artistic? Yes, much in the same way as when you’re in 8th grade and think you’ve come up with the totally original idea of image as metaphor. Fun? Of course not.
Therein lies the problem; why do the creators of these so-called “art games” not realize that art can actually is aesthetically pleasing? Creating “avant garde” or “nontraditional” art is nowadays overdone to the point of being more cliche than traditional art. It’s actually looped around to the point where it would be fresh and original if someone created a piece of visual art that was actually beautiful instead of “forcing you to take a skewed interpretation of reality” or something. I think the problem is that our society has made it too easy for people without talent to be praised as talented.
Talent doesn’t necessarily have to come in the form of traditional skill, of course; to relate this to video games (which I doubt I’ve done a very good job of so far), what I mean is that you don’t have to be able to create poly-rendered mipmap anti-aliased z-buffers in order to create something with meaning. It doesn’t matter if it looks like crap, or has a terrible soundtrack, or even if it’s buggy. It can still have meaning and be enjoyable. However, many arthouse “game” developers miss this point, and think as long as something has a philosophical theme, even if it’s an incredibly cliche and amateur theme, it’s automatically great art. Just because you use a lot of five-dollar words in the title and have quotes from Nietzsche doesn’t mean you’ve created art. The opposite is also true; a game doesn’t cease to be art or is devoid of deep meaning just because the game is fun or even simplistic. Look at Mega Man 9. Beyond just being fun, I think the game has deep meaning in that it is meant to inspire the same feeling of wonderment and fun the player would have had as a kid playing the original series, or even to inspire that same feeling in players who never got a chance to enjoy it when they were younger. By returning to the aesthetic values of such games intentionally, rather than by necessity, the designers have made a conscious artistic choice, thus making an entirely valid piece of art in the medium, possibly even more valid (depending on the definition being used) because they actually managed to create something that exists within the medium of video games, rather than just being a game-like creation.
I think the reason why this is so difficult to understand is that many of these artists misunderstand the medium. That’s completely understandable; most other popular forms of art are very simple. A painting is paint on anything. A movie is anything that is filmed. But a video game is not just anything on a computer that requires input. It’s possible to stretch the traditional definition of a painting or a movie because the technical definition allows it. The technical definition of a game is as follows:
“a competitive activity involving skill, chance, or endurance on the part of two or more persons who play according to a set of rules, usually for their own amusement or for that of spectators.”
Obviously, many arthouse “games” do not fit under this definition. This being the technical definition, it’s not possible to expand it to include things that are not that, just how you can’t change the technical definition of banana to mean carburator. Believe me, I’ve tried. The repair cost $2800.
If you change the definition to mean “any art that requires user input”, that would include all kinds of art that obviously is not a game. Take, for example, Yoko Ono’s Ceiling Piece, well known as the work that intrigued John Lennon and led to their relationship. The piece is a ladder that reaches the ceiling, where a magnifying glass hangs. You are meant to climb the ladder and pick up the magnifying glass (already, this is far more interactivity than most arthouse games offer). Upon picking up the glass and holding it up to the ceiling, the word “yes” is found. Obviously this is not a video game. If you stretch the definition to include anything that requires user input on a computer, then I’m enjoying art right now, by using Internet Explorer on my shitty work computer.
Of course, maybe this is just splitting hairs. We don’t have to use a technical definition, because art cannot always be defined in technical terms. This is true, but the problem there is that “game” can be defined in technical terms. I can’t stand it when people talk about how they work in the medium of video games. Unless you’re actually making a game, you are not working in the medium of video games. You are creating interactive visual art. There’s a huge difference. This can be rectified! You can create an actual game to carry your message. Do you know how I know this? Because games have been doing it for over 20 years. What’s the difference between Rod Humble’s grossly pretentious Stars Over Half-Moon Bay: The Gentle Bite of the Ouroboros and, say, 187 Ride or Die? One is a game, and one is not, although they’re both at an equal level of fun. Also, one is stupid, while the other is retarded. There’s a panoply of differences. They both make artistic points, so just because one is pretensious and one is dumb doesn’t mean one is more artistically valid than the other. One does, however, succeed in existing in the medium it claims to exist in.
To wrap this aimless rant up, I guess what I’m trying to say is that, for the most part, the whole art games “movement” is utterly full of horseshit. Arthouse Games, a blog concerning the movement, sums up everything I hate about it. The tagline of the site is “Insisting that our medium can reach beyond entertainment”. That would be fine, if designers and gamers had been doing that (and doing a much better job at it, for that matter) for years, or even if they were at least actually using video games as a medium.
Ok, I feel better now. Back to dick jokes and 80s references.
Optimus Prime? More like OptPENIS Prime. lolol
Epic Games President Mike Capps stated in an interview at E3 that the reviews of the PC version of Gears of War are “bullshit”.
The game currently has an 87 on Metacritic.
Mr. Capps, I think you should really just calm down and look at the situation. Any other developer of a generic, mediocre third person shooters would be proud of an 87! Why do you feel like your game deserves any different? Your shitty game made it really far. You made all kinds of money and garnered critical and popular acclaim. You didn’t innovate at all, you had the same goddammed fucking space marine story every fucking game has had since Doom came out. Basically, you didn’t accomplish shit, and you already got a tremendous reward for it. You have no room to complain, especially considering the only reason for the lower score was how buggy the PC version was when it was released.
I almost feel bad about this post. I love CliffyB, I just think this particular game was incredibly uninspired. I feel like a parent who’s fighting in front of a kid. It’s not his fault. CliffyB, if you’re reading (which you aren’t), I don’t blame you, and Epic and I still love you very much. You wanna go get some ice cream, champ?
Well, it’s finally starting to happen. Dumbfuck white trash teenagers are seeing that dumbfuck old people who are afraid of technology will let them off the hook for anything if they say they they learned it from video games. Never mind that the game doesn’t teach you how to make firebombs in any way, nothing even close to it. Far be it for them to do any fucking research on anything before they complain about it.
You know what? I don’t think GTA is to blame here.
I blame the literary works of Herman Melville.
I’m really not familiar with any of them, but he wrote Moby Dick, and I assume there’s a part where Ishmael tells the reader how to build an explosive-tipped harpoon, and Ahab uses it to become popular in high school and get sex from all the hottest cheerleaders, and a free Ferrari. Then he gets wasted and yells “Whoo! Drinking and driving is the coolest thing a teenager can do!” Is this the kind of media we want raising our kids for us? I hope not, because God knows we’re not mentally capable of raising them ourselves!
Sony’s new subcription-based advertisement service, Qore, is now available. Qore (which is oh-so-delightfully close to being called “queer”) is only $25 for 13 1-to-2 hour advertising segments a year.
Order now and receive a free download of David Jaffe’s Calling All Cars!
David Jaffe on Calling All Cars reviews:
“Fuck you, guys. Go fuck yourselves. What other developer makes a fucking change to a game when a review (IGN’s in this case) has a good, valid point and is willing to open the fucking code up at the risk of more bugs to make the game better? Amazing.But hey, you guys are great, you guys rock. I hope Kotaku fucking puts your ass out of business, wanna be fucktards. And if you were actual journalists you would have read the motherfucking quote I posted on NEOGAF where I said because of the two bugs we needed to fix (not because I was afraid of the bargin bin) we had a window of opp. to fix the magnet problem. Assholes…total fucking assholes. ”