What does it mean to be a "gamer" in the 21st century? Our guest contributor Ryan "Bingo" Milliard, who you may remember from his review of the story-driven kart racer Redline 4 back in May, has managed to find my contact information again after several mistaken phone numbers and addresses. Here below you will find his remarkable capacity in drawing out the deeply (deeply) hidden romanticism of the "true gamer".
(Look: I publish his work because he pays me per-word. It's a rough business out here... we all gotta get by somehow. Apologies in advance to Todd Terje...)
I'm not a big fan of Kill Screen. I think I've made that pretty clear here. They've done several pieces which I enjoyed quite a deal, but they mostly came early in their run, and often from non-regular contributors or interviews carried on the strength of their subjects. As a bit of a confession, my big 2012 In Review joke was, in great majority, pull-quotes from Kill Screen; I'm talking well over half with a couple of repeat appearances. And to think I once bought a T-shirt off them as a starry-eyed dreamer. So I'm bored and spinning my wheels, so why not fling a little more mud in their eyes? Everyone loves a scrappy underdog, right? Better than adding another voice to the din surrounding that torso fiasco, anyway. Thankfully I had the Kill Screen vision statement re-tweeted into my timeline today, so I got a good chuckle from the short form. But I felt that wasn't just being snide, but unfairly cheap. So why not really take a fine toothed comb to where their mission falls apart at the seams? I can even give it a score on a 10-point decimal scale like their estranged mother, Pitchfork! So, have I wrongly misaligned our critical community's Kid A or been overly charitable to our Travistan? Let's find out... together.
Not even a year into my illustrious career and already we're digging things up from the vault. Less for the best-selling hardcover collections, but I think I'll manage.
But first, a foreword. I got into a number of decent discussions over the piece from people who bothered to read it instead of jumping onto the dog pile, which thankfully prevented this thing from being a complete wash. While I stand by the critiques of Dys4ia and Lim I make here, I wholly realize these games are important works by sheer virtue of their existence; I even had the privilege of watching their well-deserved lionization in real-time with the announcement of the IGF finalists.
But I'm not interested in all-or-nothing criticism and analysis; merit can be found in failures, and flaws can be found with success. I felt that these games were important steps into the future, but not the attainment of that future. Anna Anthropy disagrees with me; if she thought something was wrong, she would have made her game a different way. We come from wholly opposite viewpoints on the nature of games and what their strengths as a medium are, and that's where dialog happens. All writers inherently forward an agenda, and I felt like blanket approval didn't serve mine. Busting chops and being all edgy isn't my thing, and most people who make it a habit are hacks, but there still needs to be room for measured praise.
Okay that was all boring but this is my blog damn it I DID IT FOR ME. Okay here it is.