Discussion in 'Drama Llama Holding Pen' started by sebmojo, Apr 9, 2012.
If it helps, the sockpuppetting here is part of the metajoke. At no point was the identity in doubt.
It helps when metajokes - like jokes - are funny. You get a lot of leeway when you're being funny. In this case, alas...
In this case, as in basically any case in which Matt goes after Tom, it's just sad all around.
You know the way you feel when brett posts something? And how it feels like you're taking crazy pills when other people question your judgment on it? And how sometimes they're right, and sometimes you're right, but that doesn't change the core problem of letting things lie vs making things uncomfortable?
If you're reminding me that I should be aware of how many times I've crossed the line, then yeah... guilty.
That's actually not my point. My point is simply that it's a shifting line depending how close you remain to Original Wrongs and how much that means to you. It's sometimes really hard to express why something needs to be opposed without sounding like a maniac when it's simply a matter of principle or, sometimes just as important, a time when Fuck Yous need to be distributed. It gets shiftier as we all inject different levels of guilt and accountability to our own actions over time. And I don't have a good answer for it, one way or another.
Shit just got deep.
Finally, this forum gets a motto.
nah fuck all y'all
lulz. Lulz is a good start.
One thing that I find interesting is that the last episode of Shoot Club has this epilogue:
This was 5 years ago, and while, of course, it's just writing a column, I've got to wonder if this isn't just a sign of Tom's boredom with gaming and longing for the next phase of his life.
Wait, Tom Chick is Elyscape's father? I mean, it's not surprising since he does look like he's five years old, but I didn't know Tom was Jewish. Harvard Divinity School was a weird choice. Tom must have gotten divorced, maybe that's why he became such a jerk.
Tom being Elyscape's father would be the biggest mind fuck I've ever experienced.
You know, one thing that stands out for me in this whole torso kerfluffle, is that Tom, beyond the typical contrariness and casual misogyny, really is showing a remarkable lack of intelligence in addressing the counterarguments offered to his shitty opinion. Maybe I shouldn't be surprised by that, but I am.
But you're right, you shouldn't be.
I think it's to his credit that at least part of his mind rejects the possibility that people could suppress their rationality like that. It's good to be outraged by outrageous behaviour!
What I find telling is that five years ago, Tom assumed that he would he would have moved on already. He would be married and on his way to having kids, and he would have physically moved. Instead, he hasn't really changed at all. Sure, maybe he's bored of videogames, but he still writes about them for a living, he still runs a gaming website and forum, and I have to think it's because he just doesn't know how to move to the next phase. And a tone-deaf defense of a dismembered woman as a collector's item is probably a clue.
More than a couple of journalists moved on to being developers and creators I think. Off the top of my head, Jeff Green, Steve Bauman, Kieron Gillen, Tom Francis. Even a few internet gaming celebrities ended making their own games to varying degrees of success, most notably Ben Croshaw. I always wonder why Tom Chick, with his skill at writing and obvious care for narratives never tried being a writer for stories, or creating something.
Don't forget Whitta. I haven't had a chance to play it, but all I hear are good things about his Walking Dead episodic game series.
Idle Thumbs guys Jake Rodkin and Sean Vahnaman are the main creators of the Walking Dead games.
Whitta wrote one episode and served as a consultant.
Sorry, didn't mean to imply that he had more to do with it beyond writing in some capacity.
He was making games before Zero Punctuation.
He wrote an episode of that, but the bigger news is that he's writing screenplays for big Hollywood films. Definitely a good example of a game journalist that switched careers to do creative work.
Tru.dat. I figured everyone probably knew about Eli and AE but may not have heard about the videogame.
I take some umbrage that a critic must always move into a different creative field. There's nothing wrong with wanting to be a game critic, nor do I think the creativity needed to be a good critic is a transferable skill necessarily into a different creative field. Nobody's expecting Roger Ebert to write a movie*, right?
Which is not to say I don't have problems with how T.C. has evolved as a critic. Tom gets labelled with "contrarian" a lot, but that's not really accurate. Rather, I get the sense that he works backwards - i.e., he decides that he likes/dislikes something, and then works back from there to come up with reasons as to why he likes or dislikes it. Now, that's fine and all, but the problem comes from his use of an authoritative voice to try and cover up reasons that are, essentially, arbitrary. That might give him some value as a reviewer, because holding strong opinions is what makes for reviews that are fun to read, but it also makes him pretty useless as a critic. A critic is a person who is able to to contextualize a specific text (like, for example, a game) into a wider critical theory or framework, a person who is able to verbalize the things in a text that we have only half-glimpsed or half-understood, a person who can point to things in a text and say "This is valuable."
This is why I've never given any value to his movie criticism. A person who openly mocks people for watching older movies is not somebody who is capable of understanding the role of a critic. The other main issue is when a critic decides to judge something based on what he thinks a text should be instead of what it is. You can see that attitude really clearly in his responses to the Mass Effect series, where he likes ME3 the most because it's the game he can most easily ignore certain elements of in order to make it more of the game he wants to play, which apparently is a story-free sci-fi tactical shooter. That's not what ME3 actually is, and because he refuses to engage with it on its own terms (instead of an arbitrary set of criteria that only exists for Tom Chick) his criticism about the series is worthless.
* Especially not the ghost of Russ Meyer. Everybody knows that Ebert wrote the screenplay to Beyond The Valley Of The Dolls, right? (Along with another couple of scripts that never got made.) Russ Meyer once said of Roger Ebert that he was the only person he had ever met that moved to Hollywood and STILL couldn't get laid.
As I recall he also wrote a script for Prey that wasn't used.
I don't know if this fits critic vs. reviewer, but look at his Playstation All-Stars Battle Royal review for what I think is one of his better recent reviews. IMO, Tom has a good eye for deconstructing gameplay. It's not always on display in every review though.
Quick question, aren't critical theories and frameworks more the realm of academia? Do video games even have them yet?*
*At least in the sense they can casually be referenced in an enthusiast setting rather than an academic one?
Enthusiast versus academic. Surely those domains use much the same frameworks, one from an amateur angle but the other from a professional one? Did you mean "layman" or similar instead of "enthusiast?" I'm thinking, car enthusiasts talk like engineers, film enthusiasts talk like professional critics, and so on.
I never want a mere legal enthusiast defending me in a trial.
They can be, but they don't have to be. I think of great past critics like Paulene Kael, who definitely operated from a critical framework, but was still able to write for a mass audience.
No, but we should. I think in the next ten years or so game criticism will get there. I think the direction's Giant Bomb's been going in is a great start - they've eliminated the idea of trying to cover everything and instead only cover the games they think will be interesting or noteworthy to talk about, and even more recently Jeff Gertsmann has been starting a Quixotic quest to capture video of every game ever made, so he's been combing through his extensive personal collection of games and doing personal quicklooks of them. Once gaming is willing to look critically at it's past in that way, we're getting closer to a Cahiers Du Cinema moment.
I really don't know. It depends on what you mean by professional critic. If you mean a professional critic like Roger Ebert--where most people think of his reviews--I think there is a difference in content and style between content written for an enthusiast audience and an academic one. There's a few different critical theories that can be used to deconstruct films, either historically, genre, psychoanalytically, realism, etc.
Film been around long enough that a critic like Ebert will be aware of these and might reference them in any given review, but he's doesn't seem to be building his reviews within these frameworks.
Edit: Do car enthusiasts talk like engineers? Some might, but do most just sound like engineers to people who aren't enthusiasts and aren't engineers?
But take all of this with a large grain of salt, which is why I asked and is only based on my very limited experience.
I definitely agree, but the sad truth is that it's become a very hard career path to follow, which is why so many of the writers and editors from the game journalism "golden age" of the 90s have moved on to other things. There are far fewer paying publications now, the ones that are still around don't pay much, and even if you are willing put up with those challenges, the majority of them also aren't very good. I have an enormous amount of respect for sites/magazines that are still doing high-quality writing on games, but I can count them on one hand, with fingers left over.
Speaking of which, whatever happened to Tim Chown? I always liked his reviews.
Well ok, but nobody really said that. We were just theorizing based on the epilogue to Shoot Club that Tom wanted to move on, but hadn't. And from there someone said that it's hard and other people gave examples of reviewers who had done it. But there was no "must."
Was his the one that named the main character Tommy Hawk? Because I wanted to make a Tommy Hawk/Cypher Raige joke a while ago but got scared.
I can definitely attest to this first hand. Even after being published on Gamasutra a few times and working on growing my new site. I'm having a hard time finding payable work writing about games. Most sites only offer a blog with no monetary gain. Or only pay in terms of press copies of games and what not. And the few that actually pay are always hammered by people wanting to write. The problem with magazines is that they rarely need new writers and given the economy, very few are hiring or still around.
I know that the escapist pays for articles, but apparently I somehow burned a bridge with them without knowing it and they aren't responding to any correspondence from me.
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