I’ve been reading a lot of criticism lately, both literary and consumer, and there’s a lot to be desired. This was prompted by the release of a certain AAA title, and my having a viewpoint widely orthogonal to the populace at large. There’s a self-imposed embargo to prevent my leaking any “Thpoilerths” onto the Internet, and any safe public spaces are full of frothy zealotry where any measured and well-reasoned questioning is met with a flurry of downvote flavored censorship.
“Thpoilerths” aside, outside my island sanctuary, it’s been an isolating experience – with the two negative reviews I’ve seen either being right, but not going far enough, or having chunks of insight surrounded by bile. I understand why negative criticism is so readily discounted when it’s half-hearted or overtly bitter. Too much of the criticism I’ve read seems to stem from people wanting to be pithy, to be one of the cool kids, or just lavish meaningless adjectives. So while it’s been enriching learning about imperialist and feminist literary criticism as well as the meaning of the word “menarche,” it’s a whole lot of people straining their thoughts through other people’s words, and winding up with not much of anything.
That and other events raised the question for me: what exactly is the role of criticism? Is it curatorial? Is it analytical? Is it consumer focused, giving insight as to where people should spend their money and time? Is it entertainment?
I think the internet drives people to consume for consumption’s sake. Rather than a private, thought-provoking experience, everything becomes more grist for the mill. My doing a “Let’s Play” of the 100+ hour RPG I just finished wouldn’t have been a great time, ( just checked… it’s been done – 62 parts). Another fantastic game I recently finished took a good deal of effort to stretch out to 4 hours – which while better for a weekly review structure, is limiting in both thematic scope and financial feasibility. I guess it’s a question of whether I’m doing something I enjoy, why I want to discuss it with others, and how my relationship with those others is defined.
Since I started writing this post, is that there’s a little bit of a quiet minority, who I can only hope were held up by PAX and GDC being back to back this year are acknowledging that “yes ma’am, that is indeed an ugly baby”, the mass fugue state is ending, and in fact the emperor is not wearing any clothes. Though a lot of the early advocates are even more entrenched and defensive now. If you’ve played the game in question, you should already know what I’m talking about. If you don’t care about my coloring your view of the game: Rot13(Ovbfubpx Vasvavgr)