Hardcore Review of Softcore Games

I'm not sure what's up with the porn terminology, but taking off on the recent talk about diverging groups of connoisseur game reviewers and the hoi polloi, Tale of Tales takes off on a rant about Eurogamer's review of Endless Ocean. Saying there's a desperate need for a 'non-hardcore games press,' there's plenty of criticism leveled at the rest of us. I'd agree that game reviewing could be improved in a number of areas, but I think this might be taking things a bit too far:

It seems to me that hardcore gamers are well aware of the futility of the games that they play. But they want the game's design to continuously distract them from this fact. It is the purest form of escapism: a game that absorbs you completely and doesn't allow your brain any time to reflect on what you're doing. Eurogamer literally complains about the fact that the designers of Endless Ocean are too gentle in this respect.

But what if you like being treated gently? What if you don't hate your life and you don't want to be knocked unconscious by your entertainment? What if you just want to relax in front of the television set, doing not much of anything, spending some time with your family, experiencing a story or looking at pretty moving pictures?

Does a game review prevent someone from enjoying a game? Does the fact that the New York Times film critics routinely pan huge summer blockbusters stop hordes of the movie going public from enjoying them? If you want to sit around with your family watching pretty pictures flit across the screen, there was this amazing technology of moving pictures invented in the 19th century. If you want to gently shake your Wiimote around while watching movie pictures, play Endless Ocean and ignore what Eurogamer has to say. I, too, enjoy a relaxing gaming experience - Harvest Moon is one of my beloved games for just chilling out - but to whine about the review structure for being focused on things like game play and design mechanics seems a little silly.

Clearly not all games are going to appeal to all people, and not all forms of the gaming press is going to be appropriate for everyone's needs; but there are plenty of sites catering to the more casual market, and even reviews of other types of media in more generalist publications tends to be more 'hardcore' than what the average audience member is after (how many panned-by-the-critics movies have gone on to be giant blockbusters? The answer: a lot).

Hardcore reviews of softcore games [Tale of Tales]


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