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Community Discussion: Blog by CaimDark | Can Game Critics Enjoy Games Like "Normal" Gamers?Destructoid
Can Game Critics Enjoy Games Like "Normal" Gamers? - Destructoid

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I am a Brazilian student in Norway. I also happen to really, really like games! I'm a huge RPG fan, especially JRPGs and party-based WRPGs, but I also enjoy nearly every genre, from Mario Kart to Limbo to Bulletstorm.

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Fatal Frame 2
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Anarchy Reigns
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X-com Bureau Declassified
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Metal Gear Revengeance
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Pikmin 3
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Currently playing (as of 12/06/2014): Metal Gear Solid HD Collection, Mario Kart 8, Chronicles of Mystara

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This is something I have sometimes wondered, but the question has been coming up more and more often. Long ago, in a galaxy far, far away, game writing, such as reviews, were mostly limited to the games themselves. Fun factor, gameplay mechanics, etc, but those days are long gone. Now, even "simple" game reviews tend to include philosophical, social or cultural commentary, for better or worse. Mind you, I'm not lamenting the death of the "good old days" (which are rarely as good as we remember them) or anything, I'm just stating how things are.

I've always felt a certain disconnect from game critics, but now that feeling is stronger than ever. When I read an article or game review, I'm often amazed by just how much difference there is between my experience and the writer's. I don't mean different opinions, that's to be expected, I'm referring to all the "deep" stuff writers see that I completely miss. They'll throw around big words like "Ludonarrative dissonance", say stuff like "the game is self-aware", "takes itself too seriously", "developer X attempted to do this and that", and make grand political, cultural, social or philosophical analyses (these days, some reviewers, who are keenly aware of the power of Metacritic no matter how much they stick their heads in the sand and scream OPINION, are even punishing games that don't respect their particular cultural mandates), and I'm like "duuude/dudeeeette... I loved/hated the game, but I totally didn't see most of that". 

Take Leigh Alexander and her famous GTA V articles, some of which are quite good (yes, I don't really respect her or what she's trying to do. Yes, I think she's exclusionary and vindictive, and she constantly and proudly reinforces that. No, that doesn't mean I have to hate her or everything she does. Imagine that!). A recurring theme is how GTA used to be transgressive, liberating, bold, a "deft protest against moral panic", and now it's trapped in the status quo, kinda like its creators, old white men desperately trying (and failing) to be cool again.

Now, I don't know about you, but when I was robbing banks and driving around in San Andreas or GTA IV (the only ones I've played so far), "moral panic" or "status quo" were the very last things that came to my mind, I was merely enjoying the show. Again, I'm not attacking her thoughts on GTA, some of which are rather interesting to read, I'm just expressing how disconnected I feel from them.

This is just one example of many, and I see them all the time. As I should. Game critics are paid to overthink videogames. That's their job, and something enough of us demand, or there wouldn't be any. But does that have an adverse effect on their enjoyment of videogames? Can they have the same simple, unencumbered fun us regular games have if they are always overthinking, criticizing, analyzing and deconstructing? And if not, can they truly relate to us?

I think... maybe, I'm not sure. What I do know is that the feeling of disconnect I have, like there's "us" and then there's "them", is more common than ever. Do you guys feel the same? What are your thoughts on this, if any?



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