The Confab

29 Dec

Do you enjoy listening to people talk about videogames? Are you interested in hearing me go on at (great) length about the year in gaming, games writing, internet commenting, games journalism and criticism in general?

You say you do? You are? Well then you, my friend, are in luck.

Last week I made a guest-appearance on Critical Distance’s year-end Critical Distance Confab podcast alongside esteemed guests Ben Abraham, Ian Miles Cheong, Denis Farr and host Eric Swain. We talked at length about a wide range of topics, and I had a really good time.

I’ve put links below, with a short summary of what we talked about in each part. Props to Eric for tackling the monster job of editing this mess into something that’s actually listenable.

Part One

Topics: The year in games writing, whether or not a game in alpha/beta is a finished game, Tom Bissell’s book Extra Lives, the importance of metaphor in games criticism, the games-as-art debate, Jesse Schell’s gamification talks, the Blizzard RealID controversy, Michael Abbott getting Portal onto the booklist at Wabash College, the rise of indie games, PAX and games conventions, and the demise of a few very good gaming blogs.

Part Two

Topics: Critiquing games journalism, AJ Glasser’s “No Cheering in the Press Box,” the danger of ascribing too much value to internet comments (go to the 8:00 mark for my mini-rant about this), the games of 2010, starting in January with Bayonetta and going up through Heavy Rain.

Part Three

Topics: The rest of the year in gaming: Splinter Cell: Conviction‘s hilariously awful enemy barks, How Alan Wake is more Koontz than King, Alpha Protocol, Prince of Persia: The Forgotten Sands,  Starcraft II, how Deathspank is similar to Arrested Development, Metroid: Other M, why I thought Halo: Reach was great, the dumbness of Medal of Honor, Fallout: New Vegas, and a bunch of other games until we finally ran out of gas.

Thanks for having me, guys.


2 Responses to “The Confab”

  1. Alex January 4, 2011 at 5:01 pm #

    I just listened to this today! And I have THOUGHTS!

    First, THANK YOU for the comments about EA Louse and the other industry QOL issues that came up this year. (And it was nice to see that everyone on the show was on the same page there, too.) I saw so many comments from people who should REALLY know better saying things like “Real talent won’t stand for that, they will quit”. That’s all well and good for lead designers, but I guess if you’re Random QA Tester #37 you’re shit out of luck and don’t deserve a good work environment. It’s a pretty privileged thing to say. The solution for these situations isn’t for people to quit jobs that they probably need to, you know, feed their families and whatnot, but to listen to and protect whistleblowers and ultimately change the companies’ policies. God damn.

    The second thing was that I completely agree with you about the commments issue. Nice rant. TWOP is a great example, I love reading their forum threads about Avatar and Doctor Who and stuff. At TBH we are not shy about moderating with an iron fist; as a result, we have pretty amazing comment threads. People who say moderation stifles free debate are COMPLETELY WRONG. Lack of moderation just causes a race to the bottom. Moderation is REQUIRED for any kind of decent conversation.

    And even if, for whatever reason, you really can’t moderate much or at all, you can still encourage civil discussion by POSTING in a civil way. I’ve written about this before, but blogs get the comments they attract. If all you do is snark and make cheap jokes, those are the comments you are going to get. Gamer Melodico is a good example here because everyone’s posts are thoughtful and nuanced, and that encourages people to respond in the same way.

    Anyway, sorry for getting all ranty in your comments. The show was nice, I enjoyed it!

    • Kirk January 7, 2011 at 3:45 pm #

      Thanks Alex. I appreciate your THOUGHTS! 🙂

      I agree on pretty much all points, obvs I guess. It is indeed weird how often people just kind of lump together huge groups of people and generalize about them simply because they can’t actually see them. There’s this general lack of empathy that can rear its head around internet-related stuff… comment sections, working in the videogame industry, etc. It’s so easy to say “this happened, and then everyone said this,” or “this entire company is evil” or “this studio sucks.” But it’s just so lazy, it’s beneath than we are capable of as, like, humans.

      Heh, that sounds epic. But you know what I mean? Obviously no one can handle all the nuance all the time; we’d overload. But at the same time, I hope we can try to at least consider a bit more nuance and ambiguity than we maybe have considered in the past. For my part, I try to push myself to do that every day. It can be exhausting, but it also makes just about every experience that much richer.

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