Tuesday, May 06, 2014

Games and Writers

I'm always amused by the video-game articles that appear in the so-called mainstream media. The writers attempt to help those who don't play video-games (i.e., parents) understand both the appeal and the effect of the games on the players. But they are far from helpful. They generalize and simplify and show that they don't really 'get' either the specific game they are discussing, video games in general, or the people who play them.

Fortunately, there are a few that do get it.

Erik Kain, for example, writes about video games (and TV) for Forbes magazine. His writing is honest and straightforward and he understands games because he actually plays them. That is to say, video games for him are a pastime, not just something he has to review to get a paycheque.

Then there is Tom Bissell, who writes for sports and entertainment magazine Grantland. Bissell is a great deal more analytical and insightful than Kain because he sees video games as a larger cultural phenomenon than as a simple pastime. Check out his wonderful article on first-person shooters, Thirteen Ways of Looking at a Shooter: Spec Ops: The Line and why we play violent shooter games. It's my favourite analysis of the FPS genre, and it uses Spec Ops: The Line, my favourite shooter, as it's starting point.

Tom Chick, who often writes for Quarter to Three, and who is never afraid to say negative things about popular games

And every now and then there is an article that doesn't pretend to get it, but presents a well-structured, facts-based, straightforward argument. Take this Guardian article on Call of Duty: Advanced Warfare. It's written for people who don't 'understand' Call of Duty; it's informative, balanced, and actually quite helpful. It's not judgmental, simple, vague, or overbearing. The Guardian is one of my favourite sites for news, information, football, etc. I'm glad to see it taking an intelligent view of something I enjoy so much.

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