The D.I.C.E. Summit began today to interesting results. Click after the jump to find a Hollywood and video game powerhouse joining forces, and one outspoken critic of how the gaming press operates.
The D.I.C.E. Summit (standing for Design, Innovate, Communicate, Entertain; not held by the Battlefield studio) began today in Las Vegas to a pleasant announcement: newly crowned director of Star Wars Episode 7 J.J. Abrams and Valve co-founder Gabe Newell gave the opening keynote speech, stating they have establishing a creative partnership. Abrams want to collaborate on a Valve game, and Newell wants either a Half-Life or Portal film. Check the “win” box in both columns.
While compelling, the moment that caught my eye was David Cage’s rather candid speech about the state of games today. The founder of Quantic Dream, a studio famous for its quick time-driven thrill ride Heavy Rain, berated attendees with a nine-point speech about how the industry is creatively, culturally and journalistically stagnant. I could only find brief clips from Vine, Twitter’s six-second video service, so instead I’ll post this list so graciously constructed by Gamasutra.
Cage threw a multitude a points out there: how games rely on the same concepts, how authors must write a game’s story instead of a marketing team, how the industry needs to build a better relationship with Hollywood (the Abrams-Newell partnership is a start), our attitudes toward censorship, and the importance of the audience.
But it’s his opinion on the press which I found most enticing. He believes the press is twofold: a crowd full of smart analysts, who could properly discuss and predict the future of games; and “people giving scores”. The latter referring to reviewers, of course.
He continues: “I don’t think this is press. Where is the analysis? Where’s the thinking about this? Can anyone give his opinion and be respected as a critic? Being a critic is a job. It requires skills, it requires thought.”
Game reviewing is a tricky business. In the business department, you have to appease advertisers or risk losing your job. From the readership, backlash from anonymous brand-humpers is inevitable. It’s a hostile environment, and that’s why current game reviewers discourage wannabe writers from entering the field. Distressing to say the least.
Unless he is saying all reviewers are brainless, I only see one causation. Reviewers can only judge what they themselves experience from a game, the package in front of them, and nothing more or less. Any discussion outside praise or criticism of that game is purposeless and should be omitted, least in the context of a review. So this “analysis” or background thinking should occur after a published review, when both writers and regular fans have spent significant time with a release. Which in the grander scheme of things isn’t a reviewer’s job.
Videogame press is far from perfect. Publisher influence, low professional standards, and horrible pay make for a strange work environment. That’s not to say it’s not the fault of game journalists, but to accuse hard-working people of being unskilled and thoughtless when this problem is industry-wide is despicable. Journalism needs severe reform, not industry leaders besmirching the entire industry.
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