Do you have a favorite video game critic?

Strangely, it's a question that even avid gamers can't readily answer. They may recall a few names that have gained public traction over the years, but very rarely do I come across someone who says, "Oh, I always love the reviews from 'insert critic name here.'"

In other industries, the names of the top critics are widely recognized. There are plenty of film critics who the majority of film buffs know and trust. I have a few book-loving friends who consistently trust so-and-so's book reviews. In the music biz, publications like Rolling Stone have employed some of the best, and music fanatics over the years can name many of those critics. While gaming is a relatively new industry, I believe the next step must include identifiable, passionate critics with great personalities. And above all, the sites and publications for which they work should promote those names.

I realize this may sound like shameless personal promotion in the business place, and that one could make the argument that we should focus on the journalism aspect. After all, while gaming has made significant strides, it's unfortunately true that game journalists are essentially second-class citizens in the eyes of other journalists. It's critical that we continue to employ professionals in this field, especially for the sake of industry legitimacy. Some may say that's irrelevant; that it doesn't matter what the mainstream media thinks, that we should just be happy in our own little world.

In some ways, I agree. But in reality, gaming must progress in the world and fortunately or unfortunately, that world includes certain compromising realities. This is why we need personalities – professional personalities – who produce highly polished work and at the same time, generate many readers and fans. It is possible to create refined, intelligent work and have it be popular in the digital space. I know "intelligent" and "Internet popularity" are often like oil and water but done correctly, with proper talent and personality, smart, engaging work is feasible.

And let's face it: So much of journalism in this industry hinges on product reviews. More so than any other industry, I believe. So, within the next decade, I want to see at least a couple of our critics who are known to all core gamers. Even more importantly, I want that person to be a proper ambassador for video games. Is it too much to hope for…? I hope not.

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Anonymous
Anonymous
7 years ago

The word personality has no meaning these days. And no we can't think of any names because we don't remember these things.

The best critics are those who can step back and critique themselves too. In that respect, most people have a long way to go.

Let's face it, most people who hardcore gamers are socially awkward in one way or another. Don't try and back away from that and say that's not me. Come on, how many of you have more than 100 PS3 games? 60%? And most of the rest own more than 60 games. A small minority of us own 20 or less.

Whether you agree or not isn't the point. The point is that the real world is not the gaming world. The reason why I'm saying all this is because if any one of you wants to become a personable critic, you need to take a step back and breathe.

As for notable names in gaming, there are plenty at GameTrailers and IGN including Naomi Kyle, Greg Miller and Geoff Keighley all with awesome "personalities"

Ben Dutka PSXE
Ben Dutka PSXE
7 years ago

Critics critiquing themselves? How is that even relevant? Since when does a good critic go, "gee, maybe I'm wrong but I'm going to say this, anyway."

And you're listing the stereotypes that don't hold sway any longer. If all critics are hardcore gamers, it means they don't have any personality because they're all socially awkward.

That's sickeningly outdated thinking. The "real world" is full of games. A bigger industry profit-wise than just about any other entertainment industry. Sounds to me like you should maybe grow up and join us in the 21st century.


Last edited by Ben Dutka PSXE on 8/30/2013 11:52:02 PM

Sol
Sol
7 years ago

Hey Ben I'm hardcore and I'm not socially awkward! I'm just awkward, lolz.

Andivarious
Andivarious
7 years ago

I would consider myself a hardcore gamer, and I certainly don't consider myself socially awkward. I've done customer service related work for almost 10 years and have always received very good evaluations from those over me. I have no problems dealing with people, even angry people, that many of my non-gaming co-workers have seriously struggled with. I can also handle just about any social situation I find myself in. And all this despite the fact that I was a home-school student from the 6th grade forward (yet another area full of absurd and outdated stereotypes).

Personally, I think saying that being a gamer has anything to do with being socially awkward is pretty ridiculous. Being socially awkward has way more to do with your personality and the way you were raised than what your hobby is.

Also, with a definition of social awkwardness broad enough to include a statement like "in one way or another" you could easily include most people in general, not just gamers. Almost everyone has at least one little way or some specific situation in which they are socially awkward.

Being a personable critic has nothing to do with not being heavily involved in gaming. Being a good personable critic has to do with creating critiques in a way that is entertaining, unique, and professional. For a gaming critic, part of being professional would include having a hefty knowledge base to draw from. Developing said knowledge would require some sort of serious time commitment to gaming in some form.

The word personality has lots of meaning. The dictionary definition that Ben is referring to specifically in this instance is, I believe, "a set of distinctive traits and characteristics" (Marion-Webster internet dictionary definition 3b for those who care). A critic with personality would generate critiques that could easily be identified as theirs because of their distinctive style.

Lastly, I'm not sure that the raw number of games you own is a great metric for whether or not you are a hard core gamer, at least not by itself. I am sure that it is a really bad metric for social awkwardness.

Sorry for the novel, but I felt like it had to be said.


Last edited by Andivarious on 8/31/2013 3:35:32 AM

Anonymous
Anonymous
7 years ago

Sorry for being so harsh but you guys needed the wake up call.

Seeing that you guys can't even take my exaggerated critique, I've made my point. Of course critics need to be able to step back and look at themselves. Otherwise they get carried away and can even turn into conspiracy theorists.

We need people who are patient, kind and brave. You guys are brave but impatient and lack the ability to admit anything.
You then went on to say I should grow up. What kind of professional says that without consequences?

There are no stereotypes here. Being socially awkward isn't a bad thing. And you may think that Grand Theft Auto has no effect on our brains but it does. No it doesn't create violent people but it certainly makes us feel more violent. Some people can control it whereas other people can't. The point is that hardcore gaming is a single-player, secluded task. I used to game all the time and still hang out with friends but I know that it affected me.

Gaming is awesome and certainly being a hardcore gamer is definitely cool but you can just see how deeply it affects people.

For example, why does it matter if people think that RPGs or PS3s or FF10 or MGS aren't great? It's their opinion. You even ask for it in your polls and editorials. Not everyone has to be like you.

I think you do great work here Ben, but you and other people on this site could be even greater if you watch what you say. That's all I was saying.

Anonymous
Anonymous
7 years ago

You've even admitted several times in the past to using violence to solve your personal issues, you blink a lot in your videos and stutter from time to time. This is by no means proof or a means to insult you but is hopefully an eye opener for you.

I'm telling you that it is absolutely important to be careful in your words and opinions in order to be more effective.

WorldEndsWithMe
WorldEndsWithMe
7 years ago

Dude, something's not quite right in your head. I'm not trying to being a jerk or anything but you might want to consider some help, your thought process isn't working and in an alarming way.

Ben Dutka PSXE
Ben Dutka PSXE
7 years ago

Yeah, forget it. I didn't realize you actually had something wrong with you.

You're basically saying that anyone who plays video games can't have any personality because they've been "affected."

Well, you were "affected" all right. As for the rest of us, we'll continue living our normal lives, thank you.


Last edited by Ben Dutka PSXE on 9/1/2013 1:41:09 PM

Underdog15
Underdog15
7 years ago

Hey Ben… any chance we can get emoticons in the comments section?

I hadn't thought about it until now… when an emoticon is really the only thing I can use to respond…

0.o


Last edited by Underdog15 on 8/31/2013 1:45:24 PM

Andivarious
Andivarious
7 years ago

The feedback that you got, Lockwind, had nothing to do with you being harsh. It had everything to do with you being completely illogical and in some cases flat out incorrect.

Your first comment was full of stereotypes. Stating that being a hard core gamer makes you socially awkward is a stereotype. If you don't see that, maybe you need to look up what the word means.

Ben was certainly right about you being way behind the times. Being a hardcore gamer has not necessarily meant single-player for a long time. It's probably a pretty safe bet to call just about any of the pro gamers hardcore, and most of those games are anything but single-player.

You seem to be confused about what the term hardcore gamer means. Based on your paragraph about RPGs, PS3s, FFX, and MGS, the word you are actually looking for is intolerant. This is another thing that has nothing to do with being a gamer. I know an awful lot of people who have no acceptance for others opinions if they don't match their own, most of them are not gamers at all. You need to get off your reformed-gamer high horse and join us in modern reality.

You blink a lot and stutter from time to time? What does that have to do with anything? Are you like a psychology major or something? You've taken a few classes and now you think that gives you the right to label an entire group with broad stereotypes and then proceed to interpret all our words and behaviors in a way that makes us fit into the definitions given to you by your text books? That's certainly what it seems like.

Underdog15
Underdog15
7 years ago

"You blink a lot and stutter from time to time? What does that have to do with anything? Are you like a psychology major or something?"

Probably not. lol And ironically, Ben is.

Andivarious
Andivarious
7 years ago

I knew that Ben was, which is pretty funny, but this guy acts like a lot of the stuck-up psych majors that I knew in school. Not trying to say all psych majors act like that by any means, just some of the socially awkward ones. The normal, well-adjusted ones were just fine.

Beamboom
Beamboom
7 years ago

Ben's got a MAJOR in psychology? Isn't that like a three year study?

LimitedVertigo
LimitedVertigo
7 years ago

I'm 31 and enjoy Ben's articles and his videos. The avg age of a gamer continues to increase as does the mature content. It's ridiculous to still think being a gamer means you're not an adult.

bigrailer19
bigrailer19
7 years ago

Beam, whats the relevance of how long the study is? Just curious.

Underdog15
Underdog15
7 years ago

Yeah, no Beam. lol.

Here's a link to the university in my city… After a 4 year major, you can go on to a masters in various areas including Sport Psychology, Counseling Psychology (what I'm doing P/T right now), and loads of other specializations including neuroscience or animal behavior and more. After that, there are countless Ph.D. options as well.

http://www.westerncalendar.uwo.ca/2013/pg850.html

I don't know about other countries, but you can't just walk away with a "major" unless you have at least a B.A. prior or to go along with it.


Last edited by Underdog15 on 8/31/2013 9:41:29 PM

CharlesD
CharlesD
7 years ago

Being socially awkward certainly isn't a good thing and as to the "feeling violent" every study to date discounts this concept. Personally, I feel quite a bit less violent after enjoying a bit of GTA, COD, Saints, or just about any other game really.

As for the blinking / stuttering thing lets sit you down in front of a camera or better yet a chromakey and have you intelligently discuss the gaming industry with lights and audio on you and see if you blink 🙂

Beamboom
Beamboom
7 years ago

@big; None at all, I just wondered. I thought Ben had studied journalism, that the psychology were a course he had chosen during the journalism studies.

Now I got that cleared out. 🙂


Last edited by Beamboom on 9/1/2013 8:00:46 AM

Ben Dutka PSXE
Ben Dutka PSXE
7 years ago

All- The deleted posts are due to a ban-dodging individual, which of course goes against PSXE policy. I should've known from the first post; apologies for the intrusion.


Last edited by Ben Dutka PSXE on 9/1/2013 3:25:30 PM

Ben Dutka PSXE
Ben Dutka PSXE
7 years ago

Underdog: I don't know about emoticons in the Comments but I'll see if I can find out.

xenris
xenris
7 years ago

What the heck did I just read. This lockwind character is crazy. I was about to come to bens defense but I don't even know what to say. I think my brain broke trying to understand what the [email protected]% lockwind was actually talking about. Maybe its just late…I'm going to bed.

WorldEndsWithMe
WorldEndsWithMe
7 years ago

An interesting observation, I like the idea. Right now I only worry about who I can trust, but I think some creative personality inside the reviews themselves could make for recognizable names.

I try to put a little of myself in my reviews, but there's such a strain to stay objective that it can be difficult at times. Another thing to experiment with I guess.

IGN has gotten really bad, feels like I'm reading a review by some amateur.

Andivarious
Andivarious
7 years ago

Jeez World, you sure seem to get a lot of thumbs down. Why do you have to make such absurd and offensive comments?

I agree with you that there is serious pressure to stay objective with reviews. I mostly agree that it is important, but at the same time, there has to be some room for some personal interpretation and taste. Video games are as much of an art as they are a science, so it's impossible for them to strike everyone the same way.

You could always come up with some kind of catch phrase or something that you could put into all your reviews. What kind of famous personality doesn't have a one-liner something that is unique to them?

As a side note, I think that it is Vertigo who is always giving you the thumbs down just to get a rise out of you. Admit it Vertigo, you know it's true!

Anonymous
Anonymous
7 years ago

Video games are art but not science. Please don't dig yourself into that hole.

Art is not science.

Art may have scientific elements or vice-versa, but they are opposite sides of the same coin.

WorldEndsWithMe
WorldEndsWithMe
7 years ago

Lockwind, I didn't say a single word about science. I'm a little worried about you and I don't even know you.

Andi I don't think LV would do that, I've got real haters hounding me that might though.

LimitedVertigo
LimitedVertigo
7 years ago

Never given him a thumbs down, I almost never use that feature. I wish it wasn't anonymous so people could stand behind their opinions a little more.

Andivarious
Andivarious
7 years ago

World and LV, I didn't really think that LV was the one down voting you, I was just joking… doesn't really come across as well in pure text with no tone of voice behind it, sorry. I agree with you LV. I think you should have to post a comment when you down or up vote. Mostly I was noticing that World gets a lot of down votes for no apparent reason.

Lockwind, you are crazy. There is lot's of science behind video games. If you had ever done extensive work with computers in any field you would know that. The massive amounts of programing, managing available resources, etc. are all very much a science. All of the pretty stuff that you see moving on the screen is absolutely the work of many talented artists. All the stuff that goes on behind the scenes to make the pretty stuff work the way it is supposed to is science.

A video game is nothing like a painting. A painting, a sculpture, or a piece of music is generally the work of a single person and is not a science. You are right about that. But a video game is a huge project with an incredibly diverse range of pieces that make up the whole. Many of the people who work on games are not very artistic at all, but they are still good at what they do.

Also, it's an expression Lockwind, and one that is very fitting in this case.

Underdog15
Underdog15
7 years ago

What I don't get is how World gets more downvotes than me most days. He's rarely abrasive, usually very tactful, and makes good points.

I, on the other hand, am often abrasive, care less about tact, and make excellent points.

See what I did there? By all rights, I should be getting more downvotes. But it doesn't always happen. World has haters… happens when you call out kids. They keep coming back to make sure you're downvoted… as if it even matters.

WorldEndsWithMe
WorldEndsWithMe
7 years ago

Yeah things tend to look more stark as text, we all know that, but it's easy to assume someone was trying to offend you when they weren't anyway.

Beamboom
Beamboom
7 years ago

… Or they simply downvoted you just because they don't agree with your statement that "IGN has gotten really bad, feels like I'm reading a review by some amateur".
That can happen too, you know. it's not *all* personal. 🙂

AcHiLLiA
AcHiLLiA
7 years ago

Yah the downthumbs are annoying, I rather see the pressure from these people who do take all their time thumbdown, to make leave comments for once.. but if it's personal I see why for the thumbdowns.


Last edited by AcHiLLiA on 8/31/2013 3:19:46 PM

LimitedVertigo
LimitedVertigo
7 years ago

Oh come on, I get more downvotes than anyone. There are legions of trolls that lurk around here hating anything I write.

WorldEndsWithMe
WorldEndsWithMe
7 years ago

Yeah but, just go read an IGN review, a lot of em only tell you what happens in the game.

Jed
Jed
7 years ago

Sorry LV. I just had to downvote that comment. Lol

JROD0823
JROD0823
7 years ago

@World,

IGN went to hell in a hand basket back in February when they merged with 1up.com and absorbed their editorial/review staff.

Having said that, I still think reviews from Daemon Hatfield, Greg Miller, Colin Moriarty, Brian Altano, Ryan McCaffrey, Mitch Dyer, Keza MacDonald, Andrew Goldfarb, Steve Butts, etc. can be trusted.

LimitedVertigo
LimitedVertigo
7 years ago

Give it time, it took film critics many years to be recognized and in the spotlight.

Temjin001
Temjin001
7 years ago

One difference I see between film and video games is the history that backs them. Theater, good storytelling and writing have a wealth of academic theory and centuries of history behind them. Critics of film I'd imagine aren't just those who like watching films but their expertise extends to a level of comprehension of those scholarly theories.

I see gaming very much in it's infancy. I pretty much feel most video game journalists are simply guys who like to play games but can also convey meaning in words. Sure, they intend to be objective, but the fundamentals that govern good game design seem far more arbitrary to me and also to the intents of the average end user. It seems half the time when I read a video game review I have to ask myself if this guy is evaluating on a set of standards I care about. Is the stuff that bugs him stuff that bugs me? And why is it that my absolute favorite games tend to score metacritic averages in the 80's?

WorldEndsWithMe
WorldEndsWithMe
7 years ago

It can be handy having an educational background in philosophy and numerous forms of art. You can track where games are versus other mediums in their history and evaluate which are executing their aims best. Literary theory reveals advances in storytelling while simply being a lifelong gamer gives the needed experience to apply the various disciplines.

Cabalavatar1
Cabalavatar1
7 years ago

I'm a bit of a literary theorist and an avid gamer. I was at one point going to write a blog article (essay format) about why each God of War is the perfect video game that bridges classic literature (the epic) with video game dynamics and innovation. I found plenty of research on video game narrative analysis, character design, gameplay mechanics, and the unique player interaction elements.

The research is out there. Just not enough people read it. Alas, I didn't write my article. Too busy with a Master's thesis at the time lol, then I forgot about it.

Anonymous
Anonymous
7 years ago

I know many people who would disagree and say that God of War is a great game but a total butchery of Greek mythology

WorldEndsWithMe
WorldEndsWithMe
7 years ago

I think you could write a Masters thesis on that alone. The study of mythology inevitably comes back to modern myths, and the way that the God of War games interacts with Greek mythology could say a lot about our own culture. One thing I find fascinating is how Kratos is a reinvention of Hercules, like an American 1990's Hercules.

Since myth is multiform and there is no set basis for how things work in it (the gods are variously born in different ways by different means in different traditions) there's no real argument against incorporating Kratos' version into the pantheon. You can't butcher something that is different in every story recorded.

Cabalavatar1
Cabalavatar1
7 years ago

But we should recognize something else that startles me. While critical reviews for movies, music, and books mean almost nothing with regard to sales, critical reviews are (aside from a few franchises) vital to video game sales–so much so that developers receive bonuses for high Metacritic reviews alone.

Sure, I know a few gamers who deliberately snub gaming critics (I call these people plebs), but most gamers I know and read about look up critical reviews before buying most of their games. Critics are already important enough IMO. I wouldn't mind seeing some video game critics become "celebrities" if they're actually good at what they do, though.

For the record, Ben (and I've said this elsewhere), if I'm on the edge about buying a game, I check here for your review first. I tell my friends the same thing.
People should find critics who share their tastes. And aside from GTA and FF Tactics, I generally share tastes for video game art with the reviews on this site.

Ben Dutka PSXE
Ben Dutka PSXE
7 years ago

I appreciate the nod.

And you're right, reviews are extraordinarily important in gaming, especially from a sales perspective. The reason some devs receive those bonuses is because it's almost guaranteed the game will perform better than anticipated with high reviews.

Cabalavatar1
Cabalavatar1
7 years ago

I went through plenty of other sites before I found PSXE. I used to read GameSpot (eh…) then IGN (not bad but inconsistent because different people reviewed different games). I tried to understand why GameCritics and Honest Gamers hated so many amazing games, then gave up on them. When I found Metacritic, I found lots of reviews and specifically PSXE's. Haven't moved on in years now. 😉

Have you ever noticed how often your reviews end up very close to the median score? To me, that's a sign of reliability. You're good at what you do (and better than your predecessor).

Temjin001
Temjin001
7 years ago

IGN's Mitch Dyer is quite possibly the worst professional reviewer ever.

Ben Dutka PSXE
Ben Dutka PSXE
7 years ago

Thanks. I try. 🙂

And I think that when there are enough reviews, the average score starts to become more and more reliable, especially after all the best sources have weighed in.

PoopsMcGee
PoopsMcGee
7 years ago

Yeah, I find MetaCritic and Gamerankings to be a pretty good indicator (after enough reviews have been tallied of course) of "who to trust" when it comes to game review sites. The scores here are ALWAYS close to the average it seems…

I've been coming to this site since very close to when it launched (I remember arguing on the message boards with others about the Iraq war when we were starting that conflict!!!) and have always found the reviews very helpful (not to mention the community!).

I also like how the site is dedicated to Playstation products but not blinded or biased. Being dedicated to one platform cuts through MOST of the console fanboy wars B.S. on the site overall.

I'll keep coming as long as you guys keep posting! Thanks!

Lawless SXE
Lawless SXE
7 years ago

I think that having highly respected and immediately recognisable critics in the gaming industry would be a good thing, but first there needs to be more instantly recognisable creators. Most core gamers, those that keep up with the news and that, will know of Hideo Kojima, Ken Levine, Michel Ancel, Goichi Suda, David Cage, David Jaffe, Peter Molyneux and the Houser Brothers. A smaller subset will likely be aware of people like Jenova Chen, Toshihiro Nagoshi, Hidetaka Miyazaki, Tetsuya Nomura and Tameem Antonaides. I'd say that a large portion of people who play games are aware, at least, of development studios, but how many are only aware of the series or franchise?

I would argue that, before the elevation of critics, there needs to be the elevation of creators. In film, people like Christopher Nolan, Quentin Tarantino, Clint Eastwood, Ridley Scott, Baz Luhrman and James Cameron transcend critique. The general populace are aware that these names are attached to certain films and will see just about any film made by them, regardless of what the critics say. It saddens me to say that the same is the case in the modern literary landscape, with authors such as J.K. Rowling, Stephanie Meyer and E.L. James able to get people buying on their names alone because of the popularity of previous works.

In my opinion gaming journalists cannot be more universally known than than the people who make the games. Of course, one will logically follow the other once true gaming hits the mainstream, rather than just shooters and Madden/FIFA. Having said all that, I think that you have a really good point, Ben.

Having certain journalists/critics/reviewers almost universally known would be a boon for the industry, provided they treat their job with the respect that it calls for. How many readers does IGN have, and yet, most of what they provide could safely be called "advertorial" content in that it does seem as though they have an agenda to promote games, regardless of merit. One of the sites that I frequent is Eurogamer because they seem to have a very strict stance on the quality, as well as the nature, of their content. The interviews are almost always extremely well conducted and written and the way that the reviews are written tends to put a certain focus on the game as a whole, rather than its disparate parts. But, if you want a sense of why I keep going back to them, you need only take a look at some of the Retrospectives. They treat the history of gaming with a literary respect that I haven't seen on any other site. That being said… I don't know know the names of any of the writers off the top of my head, though I consider their work to be amongst the best I've read in the gaming sector.

I think that that is what a great games critic needs to do: look at gaming from an artistic standpoint as much as a technical one. Not only does it prove their ability but having such critiques in the wild can only enhance the prestige of the gaming sector.

I know that I haven't really responded directly to the article, but it's a difficult thing to frame and I think that it should be a secondary consideration against exaltation of creators.

Ben Dutka PSXE
Ben Dutka PSXE
7 years ago

"I think that that is what a great games critic needs to do: look at gaming from an artistic standpoint as much as a technical one. Not only does it prove their ability but having such critiques in the wild can only enhance the prestige of the gaming sector."

That's very important. I also think critics shouldn't spend so much time talking about what happens, or specific segments of the game they played. That's just telling the consumer what's in the game; not only do most gamers not want to know, but it also doesn't have anything to do with the quality.

Referencing parts of the game makes perfect sense, of course, but I feel that too many critics spend too much time simply talking about the factoids of the game, rather than actually evaluating.

Gordo
Gordo
7 years ago

Sterling, Miller, Sessler and that bloke from Zero Punctuation. Is that enough personality for you?

Personally this site is my go to place for serious reviews. After that I like Eurogamer and then maybe IGN, Gamespot and Destructoid to see the differing opinions.

A good review is worth its weight in gold!