Talk of how we review games has been swirling about for quite some time now. Many people have commented on the lack of audience/reviewer gap, as we see in book, food, and movie reviews — but have also commented that the gap is becoming more obvious as casual players start making up a larger part of the gaming audience as a whole. Kieron Gillen has a great piece up on why we need an 'elitist' reviewing culture for the good of gaming. Drawing from music examples of year end charts, he points to rarified tastes as being good for exposing even a hardcore audience to more 'under the radar' titles:
But in games what you don't often get is the really fucking odd stuff in end of year charts. For even the equivalent of pop-records which show up have the maintream's level of production and accessibility - both in terms of being able to pick up and play and the fact they may have actually seen a copy. There are two problems in getting genuinely indie stuff hailed. Firstly, the problem in that not enough critics have actually experienced it. Secondly, the problem of expectation, with critics failing to understand their emotional response to the game is what counts, not some odd check-list of what a "great" game should be. On the 360, Earth Defence Force 2017 is a better game than Gears of War. Stepping more PC and indie, Desktop Tower Defence is a better game than Supreme Commander. Until critics are willing to actually fight for stuff they actually believe in, we're screwed.
I think both problems are well on the way to a solution.
It's an interesting piece on a problem that's been getting some attention. Looks like we have lots of reviewing schisms to look forward to in the coming years — a niche for everyone?
Steps Towards An Elitist Critic Future [Rock, Paper, Shotgun]