Tag Archives: Game Journalism

Evening the Score: A SimCity Story

Rule 34 this is not.

When SimCity launched a few days ago with one of the worst features in the width and breadth of modern gaming – the requirement that you remain connected to the internet 100% of the time, even to play single-player – I knew we were in for trouble. With SimCity, there’s supposedly a lot of online perks to the connectedness, but come on – we know it’s just DRM to keep out the pirates. We’ve seen this before. SporeDiablo III. Assassin’s Creed II. Not a single one has turned out well for either the end consumer or the developer’s public image.

In the days leading up to the game’s public debut, anticipation was high. The review scores (based on “final” review code, but also on empty servers) were terrific. People were excited! But then the day arrived, bringing with it multi-hour queues to play a single-player game. And that’s when you’re even able to connect. Continue reading

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Game Journalism, #1reasonwhy, and the Revenge of the Personal Essay

Fake gamer guys

This week has been a little bit different in the world of game journalism. I mean, there’s still the occasional tasteless PR stunt to remind us that most game companies are just… bad at so many things, but this was also the week of #1reasonwhy. The deluge of  personal writing that has spawned from seemingly out of nowhere this week has been tremendous. I cried once.

And much of this writing, in an industry that still feels incredibly unbalanced for many of the 1reasons put forth on Twitter this week, was from women. The fairer sex has in one week proven beyond the shadow of a doubt that full gender equality in the video game universe would be better for everyone (do some people still think misogyny is a good idea?), and I’m going to highlight a few of the things that you need to read. Continue reading

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Review: Halo 4…’s Reviews

Halo 4 – the long-awaited reboot of Bungie’s beloved Xbox-exclusive series by internal Microsoft studio 343 Industries – is coming out on November 6th. The review embargo broke this morning at 12:01 am PT. A lot of people were impressed. Shocking. “Game of the year!” “Thrilling!” “A worthy successor to the Halo legacy!” Back-of-box quotes abound. Did you know that 343 was created just to make Halo games? And that’s it! Hope the series doesn’t flop or everyone will be out of jobs.

But! Which website had the best Halo 4 review? Which online publication is most worthy to get free games weeks before they’re released to the common folk, in order to better serve the public by telling them how much they should buy the latest AAA blockbuster? I read a lot – a LOT – of Halo 4 reviews, and I’ve learned that… first of all, don’t do that. They all kind of say the same thing (“Buy Halo 4“). Second of all, there are lots of different flavors of sites – some are basically tabloid trash, and others are snooty snoot-fests like Edge where everyone discusses games while smoking fine Cuban cigars and sitting around a fireplace in their silk bathrobes, drinking aged brandy out of hollowed-out orphan skulls. You’re sure to find one somewhere that speaks to your level of maturity. And if not, go make your own site. Whiner.

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Game Journalism, Integrity, and Doritos

It’s been a fun few days in the world of game journalism, by which I mean everything went to crap at once, a lot of people got mad, and one guy no longer has a job. And there’s already been lots of words written about this, but these are mine, so they are the best. Full disclosure: they might not actually be the best.

First, the picture above started circling the interwebs (slightly edited to be even more accurate) of a dead-inside Geoff Keighley, surrounded by Mountain Dew Game Fuel and Doritos. He is one of the biggest names in game journalism, and this image is important and iconic not just because it shows how corporate we’ve all become, with our Halos and CoD-pieces filled with Gamer Fuel-soaked jerk socks, but because it shows exactly how the typical internet person views game journalism today. It’s rare to find an image that so completely embodies the glory of what game writing has become in the eyes of the typical 13-year-old Spike Video Game Awards viewer. (Well, maybe this one.) Sure, lots of games writers have fans, followers, readers, watchers… but one negative review of a game that other people loved and they’ll turn on you like *snaps fingers dramatically* that. And don’t forget how a good review means you were paid off by the publisher! Continue reading

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What Makes Us Stop Playing a Game?

My favorite thing anyone ever said about Minecraft wasn’t from Notch. It wasn’t from some AAA developer or a big-time game journo. It was some random dude on the internet, who complained, “Minecraft isn’t even that immersive or lasting – I got bored after just two months!” My question to him: how long do you expect to play a game?! You can’t play the same one forever. That’s why they keep making more.

Another Everlasting Gobstopper was Skyrim. Despite November 2011 being one of the best months of new releases ever, Twitter was all atwitter with talk of Skyrim until the new year. “Did you do the drunk quest yet?” “I found a talking dog!” “Who’d you marry? … of course you did – she’s super easy.”

Eventually, we all saw the little tricks Bethesda used to keep us playing. The infinite procedural quest generation. The same-y combat. The sense that you weren’t actually playing your own role in this huge, immersive, dead world. But it wasn’t until we’d sunk 50, 100, in some cases 300 hours into this imaginary world that we were done with it. In general, it seemed like we were all enjoying our time with the game. But when it was over, it felt hollow… like we’d somehow been secretly robbed of our last two months of gaming time by sneaky, underhanded developer tricks that just made us want to keep playing the same game. Scandalous, I know! Yet when we only get five hours out of Asura’s Wrath – which also launched at $60 – we somehow feel incredibly cheated, despite the fact that it’s one of the most intense experiences of the current console generation.

It got me thinking, though: what makes us stop playing a particular game and put it on the shelf to collect dust forever? Continue reading

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Dissecting the Wall Street Journal Borderlands 2 Review

Borderlands 2 came out in North America on Tuesday, September 18. That same day, plenty of reviews for the game were published, but one stuck out more than the rest – this one, from Wall Street Journal‘s Adam Najberg. It didn’t stand out because Adam gave the game a score that was far removed from the MetaCritic average. On the contrary, there was no score attached to it at all. It stood out because, in a rare showcase of solidarity across the gaming public, nearly everyone on the entire internet agreed that it is one of the worst reviews ever seen in a professional publication.

This gives me hope for the future. It gives me hope because it shows that we gamers are actually (finally!) expecting more out of the people that write about games. Quality can only go up if we utterly destroy those who don’t live up to our lofty expectations. It’s time to watch the world burn. Continue reading

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The Leaked Screenplay for Polygon’s Documentary, “Press Reset”

red phone ringsBrian Crecente picks it up with urgency. eyes steely. sweat on his brow.

BRIAN CRECENTE: This is Brian.

VOICE ON PHONE: Brian! Chris Grant. I was just in a meeting with some very powerful people. You ever heard of The Verge?

CRECENTE: Oh yeah, that’s that… no. I haven’t.

CHRIS GRANT: Vox Media?

CRECENTE: Nope.

GRANT (unperturbed): They’re this multi-million dollar media empire. They want to give us a whoooooole lotta money to make the best video game site on the internet. I want you to run it with me. We can hire anyone we want, and it’ll launch in just a few months. Interested?

CRECENTE: Dude, I’ve been trying to find a way to get away from Ashcraft for months. Hold on a sec. (Covers phone with hand, yells over his shoulder to an off-screen Stephen Totilo.) Yo, Steve!

STEPHEN TOTILO (his head pops around a corner from the kitchen – he has cupcake frosting on his lips): Yeah?

CRECENTE: I’m moving to San Fran with Chris Grant to start a new game site. You good to take care of Kotaku?

TOTILO (a wicked smile spread across his face): Oh, I’m more than ready.

CRECENTE (nervously): O… kay. Great. It’s yours! Good luck! (back into the phone) Chris? Yeah, I’ll do it!

(in the background, we hear Totilo already talking into his Blackberry)

TOTILO (as the screen fades to black): Hey, B-A? Got any new ideas for that “What’s Japan’s Fetish This Week?” feature? I’m thinking we should bring it back…

INTRO MOVIE PLAYS — LOTS OF MEMES AND UNICORNS FLYING AROUND Continue reading

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