Earlier this week the talented and increasingly prolific games critic Brendan Keogh wrote a piece for the first ever issue of The Journal of Games Criticism. The essay identifies issues with academic games criticism, but since Keogh counts “a nascent scene of online critics and bloggers” as valid participants in the field of games criticism, I (a happily non-academic writer) feel comfortable commenting on what I see as serious issues with Keogh’s perspective.
Author’s Note: In looking at Keogh’s work I’m going to make some of my own potentially controversial arguments about what games criticism should and shouldn’t be. I will unwisely refer to work by feminist game reviewers to illustrate serious issues with the current system. I’ll take a dump on some popular websites and then quote Alan Moore to justify my dismissive attitude towards comic book nerds and self-described “gamers.” Many people will be offended, but that’s not the goal. The goal is to share some honest thoughts about games and games criticism.
Keogh’s main point in his new piece, titled “Across Worlds and Bodies: Criticism in the Age of Video Games,” is that critics often fail to examine and comment upon the full content of an interactive work. Keogh says that we should look at not only the ways that individual elements of games interact with each other, but also at how all the pieces of the game connect to the player. He laments that critics often focus on gameplay elements “while ‘non-play’ elements such as cut scenes, menus, and loadings screens remain conspicuously ignored.”