Agoners Game Reviews

 
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When I started writing this site, one of my strongest visions was what it should not be – and that was a review site. There are already a mass of places you can get game reviews on the internet and I was much more interested in writing the kind of in-depth discussions about games that I really enjoy reading myself but I rarely find. However in the discussion that followed on from Navan’s detailed post about potential videogame classifications, I got quite interested in this avenue as a way of discussing the merits of a game and actually attempting to review games for the first time against a sensible criteria. In some ways I feel this is the evolution of a lot of the thoughts written here at Agoners over the past few years. As I pointed out in the comments on The Beautiful Game, and previously before that, the way all traditional game reviews work is a complete mess. Quite apart from the duplicitous nature of the games “journalism” industry, there’s the problem I hit upon there –

“It’s like asking the same person to comparatively review chess, soccer, F1 race driving, and monopoly all on the same scale. As well as at the same time also reviewing lego bricks, rubiks cubes, an office job (similar experience to many MMOs) and an action man toy against them also.”

User reviews and even really ‘hardcore’ websites & forums with fantastic reviews by real gaming critics still don’t make the distinction of what criteria they are reviewing against – and I’ve been guilty of this too in the past. So I’ve come to believe that a clearly defined way of reviewing I think will prove extremely valuable, and can actually help enable the kind of thinking and writing about games that I enjoy. Make no mistake though, even within my definitions every review is and can only be a personal viewpoint on a title, a large part of any critique is simply a question of taste, however I will always attempt to explain my personal opinions and bias as well, and explain the distinction between a title that’s fundamentally flawed in a particular category, or one that’s simply not to my taste. To understand why we review games the way we do, you’re almost certainly going to be an Agoner of some description. Also the closer you are in taste to me, you are likely to get even more value out of these reviews. If you have played a lot of entertainment software then one great way to compare your taste is with the Brainhex test and compare to my results, where I scored highly on Conqueror, Mastermind, and Socialiser.

  13 Responses to “Agoners Game Reviews”

  1. Another great deconstruction of the mainstream gaming press is offered by CGN here, with a very specific example 😉

    http://critical-gaming.squarespace.com/blog/2010/11/20/why-game-writers-need-to-be-specific.html

  2. Interesting discussions about the concept of the word “game” and what it means at these links:
    http://www.gamasutra.com/view/feature/167418/what_makes_a_game.php
    http://www.raphkoster.com/2012/03/13/x-isnt-a-game/
    http://blog.ihobo.com/2012/03/beyond-definitions-of-game.html
    http://blog.ihobo.com/2012/05/implicit-game-aesthetics.html
    http://www.fantasystrike.com/forums/index.php?threads/definition-of-the-word-game.6387/

    As I commented on the last link:
    “I’ve come around to accepting there’s a whole bunch of stuff that people refer to as games, that I barely consider should be games, and they certainly don’t make very good games by my objective criteria. However there are many other kinds of objective criteria & definitions out there!

    The bigger issue as I see it, is people not defining what criteria they are judging things against. So when a review states in some way that Diablo is a ‘great game’ – what they actually mean by that is incredibly blurred. That’s a bigger problem to me than someone claiming it is or isn’t a game. To get around this when I’m writing about games, I’ve stated my current definitions and criteria for ways to review games here”

  3. Great piece about why stories and “player characters” in games are pretty much destined to fail when compared to other forms of storytelling –
    http://www.gamasutra.com/view/feature/173819/on_player_characters_and_self_.php

    Also fun that he mentions Left 4 Dead as a great example of storysense, as I did in the definition of Interactive Stories that actually add to the gameplay as a challenge.

  4. More about the farce of review scores and metacritic here:
    http://www.gamasutra.com/view/news/173879/Metacritic_is_here_to_stay_but_can_we_fix_it.php

    (You’ll note we link Metacritic under News, not Views for this reason)

  5. This epic Cracked piece also ends with some amazing commentary about the business models and very definition of games.
    http://www.cracked.com/blog/the-6-most-ominous-trends-in-video-games/

    “Now ask yourself why those Modern Warfare games essentially have two utterly different games on the same disc — one is a five-hour-long action movie (the single player campaign), the other is a competitive electronic sport (the multiplayer).

    In both cases, it’s because we’re combining a bunch of completely different experiences and art forms and calling them all “video games.”

    and this also sounded like my idea of a single Street Fighter title to play

    “Then we’ll have competitive multiplayer games as their own thing — those will probably be a subscription model, with no $60 game up front”

  6. More thoughts about gaping flaws in gaming ‘journalism’ & media have been published here, and from some surprising sources:

    http://www.eurogamer.net/articles/2012-10-24-lost-humanity-18-a-table-of-doritos
    http://www.edge-online.com/features/videogame-journalisms-decline/
    http://www.gamasutra.com/view/news/180134/It_takes_all_kinds_Video_game_cultures_weird_identity_crisis.php

    It all reminds me why I long ago decided a career in this kind of industry just wasn’t for me, as I’d never be close to the popular opinions that people expect & the industry essentially demands.

  7. Do we need any more?

    http://www.guardian.co.uk/technology/gamesblog/2012/oct/30/video-game-journalism?CMP=twt_fd
    http://wosland.podgamer.com/the-wainwright-profile/

    Probably the best response I’ve seen is here:

    http://www.vg247.com/2012/10/31/doritosgate-after-the-storm-lets-clean-ourselves-up/

    And an excellent summary take on the present and future of this by Total Biscuit on youtube:

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?feature=player_embedded&v=S2keHyS_Ooo#!

    But it’s a ridiculous farce any of this ever even happened as we’ve said long ago on Agoners. And this is why our reviews are so different to anyone else’s!

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