Wednesday, October 7, 2009

Video Game Reviewing: The Purpose?

Video game reviewing was pioneered by such outlets as Electronic Gaming Monthly in 1989 throughout the United States, and Famitsu, a popular Japanese magazine, that unlike EGM, has been around since 1986 and exists to this day. What do video game reviews contribute to society? What do video game reviews solve or whom do they help?
Barely, if anyone and anything at all.

Video games are enjoyed by many. Some are savvy, devout know-it-alls and some are casual. Of course, there are exceptions, but for the most part, this remains true. A susbstantial number of those savvy gamers are active message board posters, and will stop at absolutely nothing to do everything in his or her power to further evangelize his or her supposed "ultimate video game".

Although I sadly do not have a credible metric that will support the number of vocal message board members, let me have you know there are quite a few that may be unquestionably categorized as Nintendo, Sony, or Microsoft fanboys; all the while, wearing their biases on their sleves during a rampant message board discussion.

Similar to those lifeless few who conduct the bulk of their political debating on YouTube, message board users will senselessly argue the merits of one video game or console over another to the point where you're convinced his religion is in the name of Sony or Microsoft. You would think people in this day and age would persue endeavors slightly more worthwhile, right? I suppose this is the way people perform business these days; in the most brash and hostile manner possible. I mean look at what our town hall meetings have degenerated into. This is a generation of dynamic "change", action, innovation, and versatility. Although most of this is achieved through long, arduous arguments that never may never seize for years on end. Only until then, will bills be passed, laws modernized, problems alleviated, roads fixed, and maybe even hardcore, skeptical, egotistical gamers annihilated.

The simple act of expressing thoughts or ideas can be both satisfying and rewarding. But with so many publishing outlets saturating the industry on the internet, it's becoming increasingly more difficult to stake out a claim to fame or credible following that reliably will visit the site each day or so. At the same time, it's easy to see why reviewing video games is such a sought-after job: playing video games and writing what you think of the experience the game provided is essentially all that's required of a video game reviewer.

With the wake of EGM in mind, shoddy imitators are inevitable. So gamers are tasked with answering the question: Which source do I trust? By most, such a question is met by a resounding "Metacritic!". Metacritic, most notably known for its aggregation of the review scores of many video game-centric outlets, is a widely trusted destination for the devout gamer.

Ultimately, games are not only used as a form of entertainment, but also a source of debate. Consider the verbal assaulting that has taken on the internet no different than a debate team. Same nerds, new generation.

Friday, October 2, 2009

Does anyone subscribe to Nintendo Power anymore?

This has been something that has been bothering me for some time now -- Nintendo Power, a magazine that I have grown up with isn't nearly as interesting as it once was...

I've been a subscriber of Nintendo Power for up to ten years now, and either my expectations have increased or the games the Nintendo Power staff cover have gone down the drain. I mean, compare the covers Nintendo Power has boasted in their earlier days. From Megaman, to Mario, to Metroid back in "the good 'ol days", now to Sonic and his shi### friends, Indiana Jones and the Staff of Whatever, and Generic Minigame Ripoff Party!.

Clearly, Nintendo Power is not to blame. The supply of hardcore games on Nintendo consoles have since slowed from the days of Goldeneye and Super Mario 64. So who is the target demographic for Nintendo Power? Children who use the Wii as a primary console, and idolize everything Sonic and Pokemon? I think that's safe to say. Here's a fairly reliable look at Nintendo Power's demographic, whether intended, or not.

Whether the Nintendo Power staff is to blame or not, for the past several years Nintendo Power has failed to jump out of the pages the way EGM did, both aesethetically and in terms of writing personality. Although the games covered aren't particularly interesting by any stretch of the imagination, the staff doesn't seem to be very interested themselves in selling, or convincing their audience that a particular game will be fun. (Maybe after all the movie-licensed cashins, it's slightly harder to be optimistic about games) It seems they approach each magazine as an arduous task, loftily critiquing games in order to avoid hate mail or controversy.

I've noticed since the redesign, Nintendo Power never seemed to step out of their boundaries. They always strictly covered games, with a minscule piece about video game art towards the end of the magazine. Now I'm not asking for a Maxim magazine that tries to appeal to all 17-30 year old males; converging women, [presumably] cars, and video games into one gigantic disaster. But much like The Official Xbox Magazine, and EGM, I would enjoy seeing some intellectual pieces that aren't inextricably cranked out each month -- with some thought, perspective, insight, and maybe even a little personality. (Kind of like Robert Ashley's articles featured in EGM)

I've come to the unbelievable conclusion that Nintendo Power is no longer for me. When Mario and Sonic at the Winter Olympics is featured as the cover, I must say goodbye, even as much as that hurts ten years down the line. Sorry Nintendo Power, but you are not what you once were.

So does anyone else either still subscribe to Nintendo Power, or consider ending your subscription?