In the latest issue of Edge, #231 p. 34, Leigh Alexander (video game critic, blogger, and analyst) has written an interesting article about video game critics. She claims that video game critics are largely writing reviews and critic for themselves and other critics, and although this might be true (more on that later), her article also shows that video games as media and culture have come closer to other media.
If you ever read reviews of books or movies in newspapers or magazines (on online) you are probably familiar that the more professional reviewers and critics tend to analyze deeply and use a refined language when describing their findings and how they feel about the book or movie. Literature critics are usually the ones with the “deepest” texts and they tend to put in references sometimes so far-fetched for the average reader that you sometimes need a degree in literature or a whole day in the library to fully comprehend. So what has this to do with video game critics and Leigh Alexander’s article? My point is that her article shows, without saying so, that the criticizing, analyzing and reviewing of video games have matured, grown a few years. Video game reviewers are closing in on the critics of other media, and that is both good and bad.
The good part is that it is more likely now than, say 10 to 15 years ago, to find reviews of video games among movie and book reviews in newspapers and other review magazines. The deeper analysis of video games that is apparent also shows that video games as a culture is broader than ever, including highs and lows. The less good part is that some critics tend to lean for the too-deep-analysis and only write for themselves, especially the communities online (see Leigh’s article). There must be a place for reviews, comments and analysis for all levels of dedication and insight, no matter what kind of player you are.
I am anyway sure that this is the right way for the video game culture to go, and to grow. Imagine if and when video games will have the same width and selection as the literature scene; maybe we are not so far “behind”. I am hoping for a more diverse selection of games, both shallower and deeper analysis AND more people being attracted to games!