Monday, November 30, 2015

Talking About The Video Game Talk

Ian Bogost is at it again with another book about video games, with a less then iconic title: How to Talk About Videogames. At least you know what you'll be getting into before you start reading.

As The Geek Spot has been covering all forms of reviews on this blog, and how the face of the criticism world is changing, Bogost is throwing his hat in to show just how much this realm of gaming is evolving and it may not necessarily be for the better. What makes the review of Bogost's latest book interesting to talk about is how much history he focuses on. And through history of how Pac-Man and Ms. Pac-Man got their names actually helps us in discussing video games. In doing so, it opens up questions on if we should include video games in conversations about feminism, masculinity, religion, social issues, and the like. I mean, we have to if we expect for the medium to move forward, right?

And like any Bogost book, expect big words (bring out that thesaurus), unexpected game play (Gone Home is the focus of attention in one chapter), and no answers to the big questions. It's all for us to figure out how we talk about video games.

I would argue that the the long-form version of game reviews are not dead. It all depends on the writer. Kotaku, The New York Times, and Gamasutra have a staff of excellent writers. Whether you like them or complain about their work, they are some of the few that have developed a prose that resonates with readers. They give you the facts, the fluff, and personal opinions without devaluing your time as a reader. That last part is the trick to long posts. People don't want to feel like their time was wasted. And for a lot of game reviewers, time is money. Well...for everyone time is money. The point being that something quick and is able to churn out the same hits as a longer post is more efficient in the long run. Studies are continually showing that for the number of people who stick around and read your post, there are just as many tuning out. Why have an article that drudges on forever about video games when you can click to see a Call of Duty review in 140 characters or less.

We're in an odd time for game discussion. I think it would be wrong to dismiss the slap and dash reviews or sites like Metacritic, as they all hold a place in our gaming world. But they are not the end-all-be-all of gaming knowledge. Branch out and read the longer stories. Become more well informed. And maybe you'll see why talking about the origin of Pac-Man means something.

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