June 24, 2006
The State of Videogame Criticism

John Scalzi has a very cogent post on why video games don't have their own Lester Bangs or Pauline Kael yet up on Whatever, his blog. The six reasons he gives for this state of affairs are:

* Video games are too immature (undeveloped as a field) for valid criticism
* To criticize video games, you actually have to be able to play them
* The current generation of video game reviewers are primarily reviewers, not critics
* Many current video game reviewers suck and will likely never stop sucking
* Video games lack a human story (i.e. the reasons behind design choices are often opaque to non-gamers)
* Criticism is a reaction as well as an explanation (if game criticism emerges, it will come as a reaction to the status quo)

Scalzi also proposes that the creators of Penny Arcade are the closest thing that the gaming industry has to a Bangs or a Kael at the present moment. That sounds about right to me.