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Submitted by Dougstyles 905d ago | opinion piece

Ideology masquerading as criticism is what's truly "problematic"

Jacob Ross at Save/Continue writes:

"When I read a video game review of any sort, be it professional or otherwise, I carry aboard certain expectations. I expect the critic to have a base level of gaming competence as to not compromise the review with irrelevant frustrations of their own creation. I expect the critic to have the writing ability to expound on their praises with clarity and levy criticism with incisiveness. I expect the critic to have finished the game, or to have experienced enough content to render sound judgement in the rare cases where just "beating" the game would be short of comprehensive.

Many reviews fail to meet even these most basic of standards." (Culture, Industry)

-Gespenst-  +   905d ago
This guy's just another one of those people who desperately want games to exist in a bubble safe from issues of politics and culture, and he's trying to force them into that bubble. They can't and never will be able to exist outside those things.

This isn't "ideology" we're dealing with here. We're dealing with humanism, sensitivity, decency, and responsibility. If it were ideology, there would be an underlying power motive- a grab for some manner of supremacy. Ideology is deployed as a "hypothetical universal"- a distorted form of reality taken as reality itself as a whole. This allows for exclusivity and exclusion, as well as elitism. These things enable the assertion of a kind of power over others. This is not what cultural critique is. Cultural critique aims to question preconceptions and complacencies we have, as well as to heighten people's consciousnesses about what is fundamentally the idea of living in a world with other people, and the responsibility, consideration, senstitivity, decency, inclusivity, and respect that this requires.
Godlovesgamers  +   905d ago
"They can't and never will be able to exist outside those things"

Actually they can/could and did for a long time, not that you're old enough to even know, or perhaps you just don't remember, being 36 years old. There was a time when a video game was just a game. You could play it and not feel disturbed by the choices it offered or the indecent and pornographic way it presented female characters. There was never a worry of a game offending someone's personal beliefs. I believe that Nintendo is a company that still envisions video games this way and there are still a few Dev's out there conscious of these issues as well. However as the ceiling of the gaming demographic heightened, dev's realized that in order to keep the older gamers playing they could no longer only design games meant for teens and children, and with that the segue into adult or "M" gaming became more prominent as well as the inclusion of so called "adult topics".

Decency doesn't need to be scientifically dissected in order to be understood. The fact that a game like Dragon's Crown is a blatant porngraphic portrail of woman doesn't need to be broken down to be seen and understood for what it is. We're talking about a game that has the Sorceress eating in one scene with honey or some liquid dripping out of her mouth and it running down her tits. You don't to be a rocket scientist to understand what that scene implies. It adds NOTHING to the game play and exists for no other reason than to be what it is; a pornographic representation of a woman and an eye-catcher to perverts.

Beneath your pseudo-intellectual rhetoric is an obvious desire to perpetuate an agenda of moral ambiguity in which culture is the standard by which decency is judged and not vice versa. It's sickening, apathetic, and pathetic and it's this subtle inching towards embracing a grey foundation of morality that is slowly yet surely devouring/corrupting the values and goodness of this World.

Do you even have children?
-Gespenst-  +   905d ago
"Beneath your pseudo-intellectual rhetoric is an obvious desire to perpetuate an agenda of moral ambiguity in which culture is the standard by which decency is judged and not vice versa. It's sickening, apathetic, and pathetic and it's this subtle inching towards embracing a grey foundation of morality that is slowly yet surely devouring/corrupting the values and goodness of this World."

I'm sorry, what? How on earth did you arrive at that conclusion? Sure a cultural understanding of human behaviour tends to undermine any absolustist notions of morality, but I'm not interested in that. That's a truism, it's obvious. There is nothing in everyday reality that is black and white, and we have no access to absolutes. However this doesn't mean we can't strive to create the best most inclusive culture and society we can, regardless of how provisional or contingent it may seem. We have to work with what we've got, and stupid ass games perpetuating juvenile understandings of the whole gamut of human experience are not at all conducive to the achievement of such a goal.

You say games once existed outside culture, and to an extent you're right, at least if you're talking about mass culture. Games still had, and influenced- a sub-culture of gamers in their early years. Gamers which may have gone on to become developmers and whatnot, who themselves would have built atop that cultural foundation. Today, games are much more prominant in mass culture, and are approaching ubiquity. They're less a niche market than ever before, and with cultural ubiquity comes enormous influence. People accept what they perceive to be popular, it makes them feel secure, they learn from and absorb those things. Like it or not, games cannot be put in a bubble anymore.

I by no stretch of the imagination am a nihilist or a moral relativist. I love the world and everyone in it, and in fact, these "values" and the "goodness" of the world you so extol are perhaps not as great as you might think. Most of our consumer, capitalist values that seem so secure and lovely are in fact built atop historical violence, genocide, exploitation, and displacement, all in the name of a relativist materialism devoid of any spirituality or long-term moral concern- which is very much installed in the superficial global culture that's growing everyday. In fact our culture and our understanding of eachother and of the world has its roots in a lot of those foundational imperial values. Critique therefore ultimately aims at a post-imperial world, first by deconstructing the world as it currently is, and then implicitly suggesting a far more inclusive, trustful, honest, and less pathologically competitive world.
clearelite  +   905d ago
I don't really think he is saying that, after reading most of the article so far.

He even went as far as to say:

"Subjectivity within reason."

...which related to one of the main themes of the article, which is that reviews are supposed to be mostly objective, leaving out personal prejudices, bias, agenda, etc. (for the most part)

You are correct that games shouldn't exist in a bubble, but he mentioned that critics are free to address those issues as long as they don't ignore positive aspects of the game as well.

The author references a review of bladerunner where the author ignored positive aspects of movie because they personally(subjectively) were angry about certain aspects, therefore making them lose an unreasonable amount of objectivity.

I find that a lot of the overly sensitive sensationalist reviews are often pushing some agenda anyway, like trying to get people riled up, make a name for themselves, get hits or sales, exact some kind of fury upon something they don't like etc.

A responsible reviewer can voice their concerns and still give commentary on what other positive aspects the game may have to offer.
#2 (Edited 905d ago ) | Agree(2) | Disagree(0) | Report | Reply
Hicken  +   905d ago
Responding to either of those two above is a waste of time. They're so intent on promoting their own ideologies as the best path for gaming, and for people in general.
clearelite  +   905d ago
You may be right, but I hope we all learned something today, and I really enjoyed the conversation anyway.
Nothing wrong with a little bit of (somewhat) intelligent (relatively speaking of course) "debate".
Nice change of pace.
iceman06  +   905d ago
I agree. Maybe I missed something, but it seems like they have valid arguments about something that wasn't really brought up in the article. They are talking critiques (which are much more broad) and the author is talking about the nature of reviews and the need to check ideology at the door in pursuit of relative objectivity.
iceman06  +   905d ago
"A responsible reviewer can voice their concerns and still give commentary on what other positive aspects the game may have to offer."

This is, in fact, is their only JOB! It's the reason why reviews should be read. Not for a number. Not for some false sense of justification of a purchase. Simply to get a commentary from a industry veteran that reflects the merits, if any, of a game in relative comparison to what exists already.
Swiftfox  +   905d ago
I am speaking as an artist and one who wishes to see video games elevated into high art within the cultural eye.

Firstly; posting an article attempting to convince others to leave notions of fully critiquing art at the door in favor of formalistic review might be better served if the author didn't place pictures of sexualized women all over their piece. It comes off as immature, and gives me the idea you're simply defending your desire to see over sexualized women in the medium of games. Which you are.

There is a difference between a review and a critique. A review is an overview designed to benefit the consumer. A critique is an assessment of artistic concepts using many different viewing methods to explain the piece and it's meaning if any.

I am all for defending games as a medium of art. Games should be allowed to tackle mature, controversial topics as much as film or books can. However, defending the medium as an art to achieve a selfish agenda that does not benefit the medium as an art, is a fruitless and pathetic endeavor. The over sexualization, the pandering to people based on their gender, the conditioning of a product to sell as much as possible---is not art and does not lead to art. The inclusion of any of these should classify the game as poor. Gameplay can not and should not forgive sexist, racists, or other any other type of dehumanizing ideas. Holding up the “art” shield to defend your position when it suits and benefits you, not only damages the elevation of the medium of as art, but makes you look foolish.

On a final note: “Because despite your vile portrayal of us as oafish, adolescent boors who instinctively holler and drool at even the slightest glimpse of cleavage, we are not stupid.” --Quote from the article.

I find it interesting the author didn't refute the generalizations made against him and the group he represents, he simply clarified -as they stand- to be of satisfactory intelligence. Made me giggle.
#3 (Edited 905d ago ) | Agree(1) | Disagree(4) | Report | Reply
-Gespenst-  +   905d ago
Well said.

Particularly this: "There is a difference between a review and a critique. A review is an overview designed to benefit the consumer. A critique is an assessment of artistic concepts using many different viewing methods to explain the piece and it's meaning if any."
Dougstyles  +   905d ago
The pictures were not chosen out of some petty desire to offend readers and cackle at their expected disgust, but because each game represented has been subjected to undue levels of critical scorn for purely aesthetic reasons.

To suggest that I only hide under the aegis of "art" when it suits my particular sensibilities is to completely miss the point of the piece, and also to make a widely inaccurate supposition based on pure conjecture. I would never dock a game points for the sole reasons that it featured content that made me ideologically uncomfortable. Ever. It's poor form, bluntly. Artistic merit is not wholly voided simply because someone, somewhere was offended or, likewise, because they were pandered to. It's a ridiculous notion, to be honest.

As for your parting snipe, I would suggest that it isn't my responsibility to refute gross generalizations, but rather the responsibility of those perpetuating them to stop with their nonsense.
clearelite  +   905d ago
I was also kind of puzzled by how many people took your article, made all kinds of assumptions about its meanings/motivations, went off on all kinds of tangents that didn't even seem to be based upon the article, etc.
I appreciate them wanting to elevate the perception of games, but censorship and art don't always work together. For people to say a game is not art because it is "such and such", that would be based upon their subjective definition of art. Therefore they are speaking objectively about something that may be defined largely subjectively, and this in itself may hurt their credibility. Also, before anyone says that art is already defined objectively, or by some other means like webster. It is also defined subjectively, just like many things.
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-Gespenst-  +   905d ago
Do you see the problem with what you're saying though? Your position is akin to the solipsistic Randian position of free-enterprise / free-speech. These are fundamentally based on the notion of the individual being the measure of all things- a value which just cannot function in a world which is fundamentally lived in by billions of other people. It's a terrible attitude to have- know me, know my ways. We have a responsibility to be good to other people. PARTICULARLY people who might be considered marginal in society. How do you think a gay person who is also a gamer feels when a game relentlessly drives home heteronormative notions of sexuality? How excluded do you think that makes them feel in the world and in their hobby? Expand this to numerous narratives, and you see that a lot of issues in the world are represented in really juvenile ways by videogames. You can't just turn a deaf ear to people who are suffering in the world. It's therefore important that we address the idiocy that's rampant in games, and even in gaming culture. A person has EVERY right to be offended by a game's portrayal of whatever it happens to be portraying. You seem to want to silence that- to suppress that- which is, well, borderline fascist.

You might say that art never broke new ground by being conservative. This however, is not a case of conservatism, this is actually a case of exploding what has become a conservative fixation- attacking stupid preconceptions and assumptions about the human experience that plague videogames and working as artists within a community. Incredible art is still possible within such a boundary, art that is fact potentially the most resonant in human history because of how considerate it is of the human experience. The view you espouse is actually a very hackneyed and old one, and actually rather neatly belongs to the imperial attitudes that plague games and get so challenged by critics.

The images we conjure up, the words we speak- these things aren't without significance. They define our experience and our perceptions and our history. We can't afford to ignore them and their impact upon culture, particularly when they're as stupid as they are.
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clearelite  +   905d ago
Just are reviewers are free to voice their opinions within their reviews, the author is free to give offer his opinion, and you are free to offer your critique of his article. Which of course, based largely on your opinions.
Coincidently, you didn't mention any of the points within the article that may have value, which is ironic considering what was mentioned in the article.
I appreciate your comment and I did learn some things from it. Actually I appreciate all of your comments, including the authors.
rainslacker  +   905d ago
"Gameplay can not and should not forgive sexist, racists, or other any other type of dehumanizing ideas"

I generally agree with most of your post. But I do take issue with this comment. Gameplay is part of the art of games. As such the art should be what it is, and not bow to what is socially acceptable because others may not consider it art, or because others will consider it a poor game.

Art in it's very essence is the creators interpretations of their view on society or culture. Sometimes abstract, sometimes quite clear. This presentation can be either critical or accepting of those themes, whether offensive or not, but all of it is considered art.

In that vein, a person critiquing the art, can indeed express their distaste or acceptance of what is portrayed based on who they are, or based on other data that they seem fit. It's not really the place of the artist, or others for that matter, to really say that the critique is wrong, only to discuss their own reasons why they believe differently. Basically art is subjective, and both the viewer(or criticizer) and the creator will see things differently, even if in the most minute of ways. Sometimes they will have similar views, and other times they will be different.

However, a reviewer is as you say. Someone who reviews should do so in the interest of the reader, not their own personal biases or agenda's.
#3.4 (Edited 905d ago ) | Agree(0) | Disagree(0) | Report | Reply
Sidology  +   905d ago
In total agreement. Reviews should at least strive for objectivity. Once you let your personal feelings seep into a piece, it loses credibility as a review.

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