I think it’s about time to take a step back and talk more about why I’m writing this. I mentioned in the last post that like any other gamer I do rage. I fanboy it up plenty too. It naturally raises the question, what makes me special that my opinion should matter about games? Even one of the revered duo at Penny Arcade asked it in – I believe – one of their podcasts. To paraphrase, ‘What makes [critics] special? I don’t believe they have some special gland that makes them good at judging games.’
It’s a really good question. Hearing it, I disagreed with the point, but couldn’t put my finger on a rational reason why it was wrong. As it turned out, that was exactly the answer. People like myself have a talent for being rational, and objective. It gives us the ability to analyze something and provide reasoned feedback that removes our own personal tastes from the equation.
It’s recognizing the difference between your favorite games, and the best games you’ve played. It’s being able to identify the good in a bad game, and the bad in a good one. It’s the difference between an opinion, and a perspective.
As to what drives me, it’s an appreciation for good game design. It really struck me watching the movie Heckler, a documentary following comedians, their hecklers, and critics. On both sides of stand up comedy the movie highlighted the animosity between artist and critic. It talked about being a critic as a power trip, slamming comics for attention and their own gratification. That’s exactly what I don’t want to be. I think the relationship between critic and artist can be a positive one. Really it’s not the critic’s place to take sides, but bridge the gap between player and designer.
For all the games I don’t like, and all that are objectively bad, there is something positive we can take away. I want to bring attention to that. I want to get discussion going so we can recognize where designers are succeeding, and point out opportunities for the industry to improve. At the end of the day I just want everyone to enjoy good games.