This topic has already been covered fairly well (see: The Problems with Game Criticism, and The Problem with Game Reviews Part 1 & 2), but until we're in a better state, it's always a positive thing, yeah?

Anyhow, Variety's Ben Fritz offers his take on the situation (as a response to Variety critic Leigh Alexander's recent blog), saying we nitpick too much and actively look for things to criticize in games instead of really valuing what needs to be valued and not letting the little stuff (like game mechanics) matter so much. Care to read?

What I think (and this is of course my interpretation; I'm not trying to put words in Leigh's mouth) is that in the case of games that are different in some way (like a new IP, or a sequel from a new developer as in the case of "Silent Hill: Homecoming"), a lot of videogame critics obsess about the small stuff because they don't like the big picture. Here's my best example: "The Simpsons Game." Yes, it had some camera problems and yes the gameplay wasn't too fresh. But it was a parody of videogame and gamer culture and it was (at least as far as most videogames go) flat out hilarious. The gameplay wasn't supposed to original since it was, of course, a satire. People were meant to buy that game to laugh, not to enjoy the innovative controls. And what happened? By and large, critics faulted the game heavily for its camera problems and unoriginal gameplay and didn't give much credit to the humor, the rare attempt to use a videogame to satirize other videogames, or the even rarer successful infusion of the spirit of a popular Hollywood property into its videogame adaptation.
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  • 2
    Koloth Oct 18, 08
    It is an interesting view on the industry.

    The amusing thing is he says we should be championing innovation. And we should and many of us do. I think by in large everyone wants to see things grow and improve. The thing is when developers do go to that edge and leap off into the unknown we let them fall rather than raising them up. So developers are by in large afraid to jump because it is a long way down that cliff and it costs way to much to fail. It is far easier and safer to stick with whats known and gareenteed to succeed.

    It is for this same reason that we only rarely see something new and innovative only to be imitated and beaten to death if it is successful. You have one game which is willinging to take the leap like Resident Evil, Metal Gear Solid, or Guitar Hero. And when everyone sees it grow wings and fly they have to try and copy its success. Other wise developers always stick with what is a safe bet.
  • 1
    Darknet Oct 20, 08
    This article hits the nail right on the head. It's true that critics take all the good and all the bad and critic it on that, while not weighing the values. Sometimes the bad points in a game may not matter to you as much. Great article and great find.

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