Analysis versus “Movie Reviews”

Posted: July 1, 2009 in Game Design, Games

The “Rules of Play” by Katie Salen & Eric Zimmerman has been my book of choice this week.  Getting through all six hundred pages by the end of the week may be a lot for me, but it’s been interesting so far.  I’m going to avoid my usual opinion at thirty thousand feet because they made an interesting point in the book which resonated with me.  They discussed actual analysis versus the typical “Movie Review” critiques of video games.  The game review culture has almost completely neutered the critical analysis of video games.

Even those in the industry resort to meta critic and the short hand discussion of media pieces that are incredibly rich and deep.  Maybe the culture I’ve been exposed to hasn’t been one of deeper analysis but of summary opinion.  Even those that pick out a detail and harp on it haven’t deconstructed something very deeply.

There are also those creators that say the way to understand is not to deconstruct but to create.  I agree with this yet I need something to start with, to help me understand the space.  Again, maybe it’s cowardice and fear of failure that keeps me from doing so, but analysis helps me organize my own thoughts and give me the ability to move forward.

But real analysis takes time and discipline, neither of which I have in large enough quantities.  For me to move forward, I need to do things that I don’t do well.   So I will not ‘review’ a game before I ‘analyze’ one.  I will document my analysis to help organize my thoughts and open it up to any criticism or condemnation that people might have.

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