Thursday, June 11, 2015

Austin Walker On Video Game Critics & Influence

Description: The word JUDGE looms over a stick figure drawing
of a person frowning at a computer monitor, hands steepled.
Austin Walker has been a hot new hire for video game website Giant Bomb,and with his latest essay for the site, it's not hard to see why. In his latest editorial in the "Why We Write Series", he tackles the importance of critique, the reasons behind it and the influence of games criticism and games as entertainment.

First of all, he wants to dispel the notion of critics trying to "force changes" on unwary developers:
So, what if instead of thinking about all of this in terms of a binary relationship (either a critic forces someone to do something or they don’t), we thought about this on a spectrum. On one end of the spectrum is absolute disconnect from influence: A writer pens long form essays about how developers should always do whatever they want. On the other end of the spectrum is critical work demanding that devs actually be “forced” to do things. But most critique exists in between those two extremes. 
He also puts the boots to two other ideas behind pulling punches when it comes to criticism of games-- targeting and timing:

When we note that a game is filled with slurs and offensive caricatures, we’re told that we should be less offended because, hey, it's just satire. When we point out how a game leverages a history of racialized, coded imagery to elicit fear, people link us to wiki articles and explain the deep lore as justification. When a game made me spend a half hour of my real time every day just to keep my skin color on point, I was told that, no no, of course games have a problem with race, but why did I have to go after Animal Crossing...
Yes, writing about diversity and The Witcher 3 is especially complicated because of the perspectives involved. Polish history is filled with outsider groups minimizing, controlling, ignoring, and erasing the nation's unique ethnic and cultural character. At the same time, people of color in white-dominant spaces have struggled to develop the vocabularies of critical race studies and post-colonialism only to then be told to mind their tone. These things mix here in an especially volatile way. But this doesn't mean that we should shy away from addressing it, afraid of stepping on toes, afraid of what we don't know. It means we step forward in good faith, with sympathy for the other perspective, and with a willingness to incorporate the complexities of someone else's view.

He also covers ideas of American standards, media influencers, and the emotional core that drives him to write. A great read.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Austin Walker bores the hell out of me, self righteous SJW to his core. He's appointed himself the language cop in the beast cast. He sucks.

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