The Game Designer behind God of War (haven't played it yet), David Jaffe, wrote a scathing editorial proclaiming that people who write about games are not true Journalists, not in the Game Industry, and that (according to stuff I made up) hate their mothers and kick puppy dogs.
Now, Game Journalist and Puppy Dog Kicker, Bob Colayco of GameSpot lets fly a rebuttal that claims, among other things, that he doesn't care what Game Designers have to say and it's all about the game.
So why am I weighing in on this debate? Mainly to get that stupid Paris Hilton post from being my lead story, because, quite frankly I'm embarrassed to have posted it. A couple of game news sites have picked it up and I can tell that Grand Jury Subpoenas are not far behind and I'm not one of those reporter that stands up for his rights and the so-called "First Amendment". Me, I'm rolling over like a Labrador Retriever looking for some Beggin' Strips(tm).
But, the debate does bring up some issues that are all tangled up in the "Are Games Art" argument (an argument that drives me crazy because once that argument starts, some moron brings up the "Art" in the game, completely missing the point that "Art" has nothing to do with "Art").
But back to kicking Paris Hilton off the main page: If you read the major gaming sites, they are mostly filled with reviews that give scores for "Graphics" and "Sound" and (let's be honest) come across like they are written by fanboys. They make what we do sound more like Toys than a rich emerging Art Form.
But maybe that blame lays more in our laps than the game reviewer's, after all, what are we giving them to review? Are we just mad because they don't see Shakespeare in our Transformers.
I just finished Call of Duty 2. Damn fine game. But when I was done, I was done. I didn't think about what war means, who I was or my lost friendship with any of my countless spawning squad members. I didn't wonder about the ravages of war. The Call of Duty 2 world is empty except for my squad and the clone army of Germans. What if it was filled with civilians caught in the fight, dying from my haplessly tossed grenade or Rambo charges into a house. What if the designers were trying to tell me something. Anything. War is fun. I don't care. But something that made wonder and feel.
Compare that to the first time I saw Saving Private Ryan. I really spent some time thinking about that film, especially the opening scene. That was the first time I saw a movie showing WWII like that and it made me think. Movies are good at doing that. Platoon or The Deer Hunter are other examples that questioned your assumptions about war.
I watched David Lynch's Mulholland Drive again last night and I am still thinking about that movie. It's complex and there are a lot of layers to mull over. It's twisted and days after you see it you find yourself saying "Oh, that's what that means".
Do games do that? Not to me. True Art is something that makes you think (and not in the puzzle-solving way) long after you're done with it. It's something that changes a little bit of who you are.
If we expect Game Journalists to be better, maybe we need to give them something better to be better at being better with.