In his article “The Lester Bangs of Video Games,” Chuck Klosterman argues that there are no true video game critics: “I realize that many people write video-game reviews and that there are entire magazines and myriad Web sites devoted to this subject. But what these people are writing is not really criticism. Almost without exception, it’s consumer advice; it tells you what old game a new game resembles, and what the playing experience entails, and whether the game will be commercially successful. It’s expository information.”
He goes on to explain how there no criticism that talk about what the games feel like or mean.
“When someone reviews Moby Dick or Kramer vs. Kramer, they don’t spend most of their time explaining the details of the plot (or at least they don’t if they’re interesting). The meaning of most art is usually found within abstractions.”
I haven’t been too interested in video games in years. Other than Guitar Hero and Grand Theft Auto, not since high school. But reading this, all I could think about was comics. All I could think was that he was right. There are a lot of places to read what he calls “consumer advice.” And there are some great places doing true, quality criticism. But not enough. I’m guilty of giving advice. What the art looks like, who’s fighting whom. But I’m more interested in what these stories mean. The messages that they’re sending, intentional or accidental. At the same time, I’ve gotten sick of reviewing the same 15 books month after month. I’m sure I’ll want to talk about how exciting Kieron Gillen’s Uncanny X-Men has been (I caught up yesterday and it’s already better than anything Fraction did), but I want to make something more. Say something more. It may take a little but, but I’ll be back. Hopefully with something more to say.