Kotaku hates games

This pile of garbage showed up today.

I had become one of those people who didn’t think music in video games was essential.


Not every part of a video game is essential. There is some debate about whether writers are necessary for the creation of a good video game. Game designers can just write their own scripts, some say. And while a game can have dialogue, it is still not required for a game to have voice-actors. The dialogue could be presented as text.

It’s not often I actually want to punch a game journalist. As in, seriously, reach out and punch him with the full force of my fist. I can break his neck, his sad pathetic neck, but I wouldn’t be cutting off the head would I? I wouldn’t be getting rid of the full spread, the full picture of Kotaku towers and the mockery the make of our industry. I hate you Kotaku, and it looks like you hate people like me.

The job of a video-game writer is to facilitate interaction, not produce it or allow it to uphold the audience’s interest. Otherwise there’s no point in it being in a video-game. The dialogue, the plot – a great writer can take an above average first-person shooter and elevate it to new heights. Case in point: Bioshock. Without its narrative, which wouldn’t be as grand without the writers behind, it would be nothing. Just a game with a verbose setting, as a lot are.

It’s impossible for game designers to write good scripts, unless they’re specialized in writing and design in which case yeah go ahead but a team of writers. A team of specialists, that can bring whole new ways of extending a video-game’s pallet of interaction, meaning and all sorts of other great things. Let’s zoom in on a specific sentence of that quote.

Not every part of a video game is essential.

It takes cogs, gears, clockmakers, carpenters and many others to create a beautiful grandfather clock. You take out narrative, you take out the heart of a game. You could argue there’s no narrative in a game such as Minecraft but I’d say the direct opposite. There’s emergent narrative; the designers of the game clearly want the player to tell his own story and create from his own imagination. It’s no coincidence it just so happens to be the greatest ‘Let’s Play’ material, it’s so open-ended in its storytelling ways that practically anything can be accomplished with it.

In fact it’s quite insulting to say you can remove parts of a video-game. It’s like saying you can remove pencils from designing a building, or removing a window; you won’t lose the full building but you’ll lose a part of it. Sometimes parts look ugly apart, but together they look beautiful.

How odd it is that gamers can decide that a signature component of the creations they play can be turned off. It does makes sense

You’re deluded, Totilo, you’re deluded that you a part of this experience can simply be ‘turned off’. That a part of the aesthetic experience can simply be switched away, that you can go deaf, that you can abuse the gift of biology. I don’t believe in a God (not in the literal way) but if he existed he’d be pissed. An aesthetic experience is when all of your senses are turned on, directed into what is currently performing. Touch, sight, hearing. To simply disregard these is to disregard the hard work behind them. Never mind irrationally covering up your judgement, nevermind the fact you’re meant to judge video-games as a whole and you turning off an integral part of the experience may indeed cloud your vision.

Sometimes, we control the camerawork. Often, we speed up or slow down our hero’s journey.

Except you’re an idiot. There, I said it, I insulted Stephen Totilo like many before him. I hate his writing style, I hate his language, I hate his irrational opinions but more importantly his lack of understanding of video-games. His blatant lack of what they offer, a big magic word. It’s in our culture and in our minds: interactivity. We are not men behind men behind narrative, we should be people directly linked with a world. All of our senses peaked and present, directed towards this experience. Things get in the way of this and I for one believe the biggest obstacle to be our very conduit. Not the controller, they’re perfectly fine, but the biggest design flaw of all time. The player character.

You’re letting this pass by like it’s no biggie, like it’s what we expect. We’re just puppeteers putting people through experiences and coming away with nothing to learn. Well, I for one am sick of this abuse. I for one are sick of this sentence cropping up throughout Kotaku and ignoring the bigger issues of game design, narrative design and all other elements that great essayists and designers have written about. Their material on a massive site like this would give people the opportunity to broaden their horizons. Not to think simply in terms of ‘story’ and ‘gameplay’, but an intertwined view, the grandfather clock view.

Extra Creditz came on to the Escapist Magazine, the site that premiers ‘Zero Punctuation’ too. They’re doing wonderfully, why can’t Kotaku do something like that? Get actually credit from game designers instead of the slobbering public that just nods along to it and keeps separating ‘story’ and ‘gameplay’. That’s probably the tragedy of it all, Kotaku isn’t alone in this, we’ve separate a medium down and distilled its content and how it delivers them. Yet we’re not encouraging a collective uniform of expression, we’re encouraging show and tell of different elements.

I like how Totilo also embeds this song into it above any other:

It was used to sell the game. The music in the radio of Grand Theft Auto was used to paint the period of when it was set. You muppet.

we confirm by our actions that we don’t believe video game music always matters.

I have one game to mention. Without its music it would be a great experience, but not excel. Its music promotes the gameplay which promotes the aesthetics which promotes the narrative which promotes the music. This is a grandfather clock at its finest, or to put it more bluntly, Danny Baranowsky put his heart and soul into crafting the chiptune perfect soundtrack of Super Meat Boy. You take the music out, you take the game out.

I am so glad sites like ‘Game Journos‘ exist, and people like Ben Paddon continue to do what they do. Without them, we’d just have slobbering people guffawing and reading and not considering how manipulative games journalism can be. Not all of it mind, a good chunk is of ‘not shit material’. Except the most viewed gaming blog in the world is probably the worst, it does nothing for us. It doesn’t add any game design thoughts, it doesn’t promote new thinking and it’s still asking ‘games are art’ and promoting design flaws. This industry is stagnating, a revolution is brewing somewhere, and games journalism is the only professional body of getting that message across.

It’s nice knowing I will never be as successful as Totilo or any other of the idiots. Yes, they’re idiots, ignorant to the medium they ‘write’ about. If it can even be called writing, blogging maybe. It’s nice knowing that games journalism is based around hits and not quality, but that I will always represent quality. I might never get paid for this, I might never get a truckload of hits, I might never have thousands of commenter defending my idiocy, but I will have one thing.


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