Critiquing Critiques

Before venturing where the title suggests, I’d like to bring attention a reference in light of my last post. I mentioned the better values of mod/map making, one of them being surrounded with good resources and insight. My favorite of these is TF2Maps.net, and just last week they received a reply from Valve mapmaker Dario Casali. Mr. Casali offers great input into his process, and already I’m interested in trying out some of his ideas in the future.

chickenartcriticAt any rate, this post was inspired by some comments made on IGN’s latest Gamescoop podcast I listened to this evening. The discussion at hand was about their reviews system, misunderstandings of it, and how it differentiates between other scoring methods. For as often as critics shine their lasers of discernment and opinion, we see the less precise reflections on those numeric values in droves. I find those sorts of comments understandable, but often superficial. It’s an issue that particularly bothers me, because it happens at art school all the time – especially when it comes to game design.

Though, who hasn’t been caught mistaking choices for having-a-problem? It most often just derives from being overly righteous about taste, but having an opinion is still important. In fact, it’s the point.  There are far worse things in our world than disagreements. They’re a part of making an audience human, and sometimes strike on a mine of new perspective. Dynamite is bound to uncover some kernels of gold….right? Their existence doesn’t instantly de-legitimize them, but the often angsty nature is telling at the least. Last week, 1UP.com’s staff received a massive lay-off, and I wish the best of luck to both the talent lost and that which remained. I’m not only a fan because of their journalism, but because of the switch from numeric to scholastic grading of games.

rockwell_critic

One of the first, atleast for anyone I know, means of critique we’re introduced to is grades from school. It is the first time extensions of ourselves are judged, and has a huge huge impact on our disciplines with or without guidance. The 104th episode of Gamescoop spent a segment basically reassuring themselves why their method indeed works when questions brought up by fans, as well as comments seen after every sizable review, challenge it. Answering the question, “Does it work?”, is an important one conceptually and practically, challenging how informed every decision is made on a project. I have to say that a major reason I go to 1UP more than any other games outlet is because their scoring system resonates with me on a different level. Sure, it’s ultimately what’s in the bulk of text that really matters, and the stamp of approval or disapproval isn’t as black and white as some believe it to be. However, consider IGN’s goal, which was stated multiple times as to provide their audience with the best information to make investments on. Consider as well the primary audience of such games journalism outlets: an age-group in academia . I’m going to opt for sleeping on this, and leave it up for careful consideration – back to creating stuff, next post.

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