Esquire recently published an article about the fact that serious criticism on videogames does not exist. No incisive essays, no erudite articles, just “dude, looks like Star Wars: Jedi Knight: Jedi Outcast II: Jedi Academy* is gonna be sweet” stuff. As someone with experience reviewing games, I feel I must state the following: videogames are not art. They just ain’t.
It takes a lot of artists to make one, and some of them can have truly brilliant imagery, but I have yet to see the game that’s art. Artistically presented maybe.
In my (albeit limited) experience, professional criticism often takes one of two forms:
A) The secret decoder ring. “Here’s what the artist/author/composer is trying to say, dimwit.”
B) The petri dish. “Here are all of the religiosociopoliticaeconoclimatic factors kicking around in the spacetime locale in which the artist/author/composer worked. Put it all together, and how could he not end up writing this? Hmmm, dimwit?”
These approaches require that the author actually be saying something, whether he means to or not. I’m just not seeing it. When I sit around and talk about games, relevance never comes up. This is due mainly to the fact that it’s not there.
I mean, come on. Let’s give it a try.
“The major statement made by Tony Hawk Pro Skater 3 comes to its zenith when the audience unlocks Darth Maul as a playable character. At that precise moment in the play experience, expect to turn to your fellow aficionados and reverently gasp the syllables “skateboarding is totally fucking awesome“. “
“In summary, after witnessing the stunning victory of Natalie Cook and Kerri Ann Pottharst at Sydney, Team Ninja’s 2001-02 Japan had begun to taste the beauty of the occidental sport of volleyball, which, in combination with the new Xbox’s hardware and man’s enduring fascination with breasts, made a perfect world in which to develop Dead or Alive: Extreme Beach Volleyball.“