I argued why over at Polygon.
This is my favourite gaming website, so it means a great deal to me. However, I doubt anyone will understand it unless they’ve played a recent Call of Duty.
This actually isn’t specifically about games. But this is the context.
A little while back, I wrote a review for a slo-mo, Nazi murder simulation called Sniper Elite 3: Afrika.
I found the game problematic in a number of areas, notably the lack of character (development) or meaningful plot, dull graphics, dull story, and homogenous character models. That is, the game features absolutely no one who isn’t white or male. I indicated that this is indicative of a wider problem in gaming; that, worryingly, it’s something that probably didn’t even cross the creators’ minds. For a game subtitled “Afrika”, you’d think maybe other people aside from white males would be included. [Read more…]
IGN Africa recently launched and I contributed a thinkery piece about misconceptions about games.
I examine common claims like it’s only for kids, it’s not art, etc. The claims are, of course, largely – if not totally – wrong.
It annoys me to no end that because a work is a video game it’s assumed to be unable to, for example, tell an incredible story, have amazing performances, or allow for moments of the numinous that are essential to all forms of creativity.
I made noises (wrote a Medium post) about maintaining a sense of integrity when reporting and criticising and writing on media that is popularly consumed: particularly tech ones.
It’s really an elongated reaction to the frequent, dirty habit of game and other tech journalists Tweeting pictures of amazing technology, that they didn’t themselves pay for (my follow-up post will argue “not paying” is not the same as “for free”).
I’m ignoring the boring accusations of how it means journalists have been bought by whatever company sent them such swag. I’m interested in what is more essential: that critics and writers and so forth ought not to emulate the base actions of fans.
It doesn’t matter how much they love something – be it an Apple product or the latest Call of Duty – what separates them from every commenter and gamer with a blog, is that they should have a higher (or special) degree of integrity, anchored by their responsibility to us: their readers. When they fail that, they’ve failed their job. And we must learn to recognise it.
(You can probably tell how much I hate all those “unboxing” videos of the latest consoles.)
In my latest for Big Think, I argue that – in many cases – fandom runs counter to proper criticism.
This can be about films, comics, games, whatever. Passion for the thing can blind us to its flaws, making any form of negative criticism (or, indeed, adaptation) tantamount to an attack in passionate fans’ eyes.
Reasonable, justified criticism is essential to the creative process, which leads to the creation of better, beautiful things (it doesn’t need to be the case that today’s artists are better than the Leonardos of the craft, but it does mean today’s artists try to be and this can be aided by pointing out flaws in the Masters’ works).
Passion is great but can become poison. Sanctifying anything, it seems, is usually a bad move.
I wrote a long piece on villains – as they appear in video games, but it doesn’t necessarily apply solely to video games. I’ve had this villain stick that I’ve been beating my favourite creative medium with, for some time.
I’m considering turning this into an ebook for Press Select (a digital publisher aimed at critical video game writing) – but I’ll need to judge interest and other factors.
And it allowed me to convey what I keep trying to say in other ways.
This isn’t solely about games but the dismissal of those who are not what John Scalzi calls “the lowest difficulty setting” in life: the straight (white) dude.
The frustration can turn turn to apathy and giving up. I don’t want to do that, which is why I often try alternate ways of conveying my arguments.
As you might know, I write on pop culture things, like TV series, films, comics and video games. I recently penned a little article trying to articulate precisely why the Playstation 3 exclusive, The Last of Us, had such a profound impact.
If you’ve also finished it, let me know your thoughts at my infrequently updated gaming blog.
At the moment, I’m doing some research into a piece on sexism and video games, trying to find an effective way to undermine much of the horrible responses that my non-male friends receive who speak out against misogyny and sexism, and speak for more inclusiveness. Indeed, they don’t even need to be speak out: they just need to be non-male and be vaguely public.
I therefore am looking for anyone
1. who has worked with and created games, especially female led ones, and
2. has experienced (or even said) the hateful, horrible things that tend to come from male gamers.
I’ve gotten some great contacts and spoken to some creators already, thanks to my wonderful co-bloggers here at FtB. But I’m hoping some of you out there that can give me more insight and information on this serious topic.
I am really wanting to write this, since the latest batch of Anita Sarkeesian hatred hit the internet like a flood of shit from the mouth of an inter-dimensional rage monster.
I’m part of this industry, as a consumer and very amateur critic. And I don’t want to be part of an industry or group in which people feel marginalised, unable to express their creativity and brilliance, or feel targeted, merely because of their sex, race, sexual orientation, or whatever.
If you can offer any help – whether recommending people or you yourself – please use the Email Me button on my About.me page. Thank you.
I’ve received some excellent responses. Thank you all.
Apologies that some comments have landed up in the spam and pending folders. Not sure why. We are having some tech gremline battles here, apparently.
Speaking of, some comments appear to be off-topic and just plain strange. I speak more about it here.