- Oct 2, 2018
Seeing shit like this really rips my knitting.
Mike Bithell - "Games are art but don't critique them. They are for thoughtful , cool grownups but obviously contain no political or philosophical content. All the kudos, none of the responsibility. We are creating culturally important work but please treat it as utterly disposable."
Sarcastic tweets like this really get under my skin for some reason.
I feel like I see this attitude so often in the gaming sphere. Someone makes a critique of games or a game or a specific aspect of a game and then acts as though their critique itself is somehow above criticism.
NO. If your critique is a pile of fucking shite then people are well within their rights to point this out.
It doesn't mean that people don't think games should never be criticized. It means that they think your criticism is rubbish.
Just because someone can come up some professional or polished or plausible sounding critique of games doesn't mean that disagreement with that critique means that we think games are disposable. Maybe we just think that this specific critique is garbage?
I'm just not sure how this is supposed to work? If someone takes a game like Sonic the Hedgehog, let's say, and comes up with a somewhat intellectual essay about how the game is about environmentalism and has a lot to say about the state of the planet then that's fine. The essay itself is not above criticism though. Even if the criticism is "I think you are looking too much into this, the game is just a fun game".
The thing here is that so many people seem to just want criticism or critique to stop exactly when they say so. So and so said Mario is a sexist game and if you say "don't talk shite" then it's "bwahahaha the toxic gamers think games shouldn't be criticized".
You can critique a game and I can critique your views and you can come back at me and I can go back at you and that can go on and on forever. It's bullshit to say that because someone disagrees with your criticism that they are just an idiot who is treating the entire medium as disposable. Your criticism is not above criticism.
The main thing that stands out to me here is that when this conversation about games gets started people are actually mostly talking about story and narrative.
Even when gameplay mechanics come into the mix it's about how those mechanics play into narrative.
I would guess that developers like Mike Bithell maybe see games as more of an interactive storytelling whereas your average player who is into Fortnite or Call of Duty is looking for more of a visceral competitive gaming experience.
It always amazes me to see someone in the industry, who makes pretty good games actually, act like games are some kind of monolith and then also act like people who say "I think your critique might be totally wrong here" are just either really dumb or really out of touch.
When people say "keep your politics out of videogames" they generally tend to mean "don't insert annoyingly preachy political talking points where they don't fit".
At least this is my experience.
That makes a lot of sense when you think about it. A military shooter with a single player campaign that has a deep, character driven story, will of course need to deal with politics to some extent. The multiplayer mode however? That's a completely different aspect to gaming.
I don't need to read "Mike Bithell's Fart Huffing Thoughts On The Deeper Meaning Of Game X" to just enjoy sitting down with Game X and doing some online multiplayer for an hour. I can easily say "yeah this political BS doesn't appeal to me I'd just like to play the game for a while".
I think this is where people like Mike, when making these points, miss that mark. Games are not JUST storytelling, they are not JUST a vehicle for interesting political views or character driven insights into the human condition. They can ALSO just be a fun and mindless way to pass the time. For some people they can be only one or only the other. That's fine. It's allowed.
The hobby as a lot of room for one or the other both without people needing to act like they know better than the plebs who just want to have fun. They are just so much better than you.
You know, you might just be enjoying your game of Splatoon but here come the Videogame Intellectuals to tell you how the game is really a warning about climate change and that's exactly what we need in Trumps America. What's that? You just want to enjoy the colors and the fun gameplay and not be bothered with all that? What are you? Some kind of troglodyte who thinks games are just disposable nonsense?
Fuck those people.
It pisses me off that when people think of "games are art" they are more often than not ONLY talking about story. What about mechanics, what about visual choices, what about soundtracks and sound effects?
I think you even have to ask the question of where the "art" even is when it comes to gaming?
Is there "art" in a game when you strip away the story and the graphics and just leave the controls and gameplay behind?
I think these folks would argue that Tetris is "art" but at the same time a critique that tries to politicize the gameplay of Tetris (ie not the fucking political story about how the game was made, the actual content of the game) is going to sound like total pretentious nonsense.
Some people really need to get over themselves and stop thinking that the only "correct" way to think in this community is their way.
There is room for both. You can have games that spin wonderful and deep narratives and that's the art of those games. Then you can have mindless fun games where the "art" lies in crafting compelling and exciting gameplay. Shit, you can even have games that give you a bit of both.
There isn't just one way to do things and there is no need for any given game to do or not do ANYTHING.
If you've got some grand "critique" of a game then, brilliant, share it with the world.
Just try to refrain from acting like a disingenuous, pompous, asshole when someone doesn't agree that your "critique" isn't the most profound and insightful thing they've read this week.
Sometimes critique can be misguided, ignorant, bullshit and it should not be defended with "hurr durr gamers can't handle criticism of their beloved electronic toys".