Interested In Writing About Games?

Interested In Writing About Games?

Interested in writing about games? Last week a bunch of game critics attended the first-ever Critical Proximity mini-conference in San Francisco. I gave a talk; my topic was “Writing games criticism for a mainstream audience.” You can read a text version here.

The conference ran last Sunday, March 16, in San Francisco. It was in the same building as the Game Developers Conference, though it wasn’t an official-official part of GDC. I wasn’t able to see every talk, but some other cool talks from the second half include:

  • This one by Darius Kazemi about why game critics should analyse source code.
  • This one from Alan Williamson about making a video game print magazine.
  • This one from Cara Ellison about her new project touring the world doing embedded journalism.
  • This one from Raph Koster about music criticism and games w/r/t/ formalism.
  • This one from Ian Bogost about what games criticism is even for.
  • This one from Alex Lifschitz about why game critics should allow for their biases and call out the things they don’t like in games. (With a pretty exciting finale!)

Really though, there were a lot that I didn’t see, so go browse through ’em all using the arrows under each post and see what strikes your fancy.


  • I don’t see any reason critics should read the source code, it’s not going to help much in critiquing the final product, requires the critic to be fluent with the language(s) used in the development, and requires them to have access to the source code in the first place.

    • I just read the whole transcript thinking there must be a great reason for why reviewers should read source code that I couldn’t think of. Nope, no actual reason actually provided, “What I am saying is that it’s ridiculous to not look at it if you are lucky enough to have it at your disposal.” was the closest provided, which isn’t really a reason at all.

      That said, if I was a game designer or coder I might appreciate a site dedicated to reviewing source code. Can’t see it having a place in a regular review though.

      • Keep in mind this comes from a guy who wrote a whole book deconstructing just one game. When he says critic, I don’t think he means standard game reviewers. He makes a really good point how he found an essay in a comment outlining the philosophy for the AI programming.

  • A whole mini-conference dedicated to criticism? Shame the building didn’t catch fire.

  • Luke, the title is kind of misleading. I clicked hoping to get a job at Kotaku. I also agree with @zombiejesus – You don’t need to have a Comp Sci degree to review games. In fact, that’s not even what that article implied so I have no idea what the relevance to this topic is.

    He wrote it in the context of the book he was writing – not game journalism in general.

    The rest of the articles are pretty cool though and well worth a read from first glance.

    • You don’t need to have a Comp Sci degree to review games. Given how many times I see people make the retort “Well, let’s see you do X” in response to someone critiquing something you would be forgiven for thinking they do. However, I agree. I don’t need to know how to build a house to know if I want to buy a particular one or not, nor do I need to have a Software Engineering degree to know if a game is good. (I do have one though) Besides, games aren’t just software, they’re design, story, art, music, user experience, UI, etc. as well.

    • Considering the quality of many “games critics”, all you need is a loud mouth and an axe to grind.

    • @fryiee1, @bangers, @germinalconsequence

      Are you guys thinking what I’m thinking? We should totally become game critics!

        • Lets call ourselves, game ummmm, embracers? What’s a good anonym for it? Praisers?

          • I like judges. Although it reminds me of Judge Dredd and hence still has some law implications with severe punishments involved. 😐

          • The title “Game Judges” while quick to the point, fails to hit the mark. Ill thought out, one could see just how little time was spent into creating this title. Not unlike Ea pushing for a launch release of Battlefield 4, The Game Judges will find themselves villians in the online community. 4.5/10 would not bang

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