Gamers are often characterized as wanting the medium to be taken seriously as art. But what happens when critics look at games less as consumer products and more like movies or books? In the case of G4's review of Metroid: Other M
, anger and confusion reigned.
Though reviewers often address the artistic attributes of mainstream games, the focus usually remains on less subjective measures of quality. Critic Abbie Heppe, however, slammed the game despite
the title's high technical standards, identifying problems that had nothing to do with gameplay. Among other things, Heppe was appalled at how it infantilized the series' heroine, Samus Aran
, depicted in earlier outings as a tough female marine veteran. Gaming's answer to Ellen Ripley and Sarah Connor, Aran first did battle in her desexualized military armor in 1986. Come 2010, however, and much has changed.
"You're asked to forget that Samus has spent the last 10-15 years on solitary missions ridding the galaxy of Space Pirates, saving the universe and surviving on her own as a bounty hunter," Heppe wrote. "Instead, Other M expects you to accept her as a submissive, child-like and self-doubting little girl that cannot possibly wield the amount of power she possesses unless directed to by a man."
And on goes Heppe's write-up. Though she also covered gameplay issues in her review, responses from G4's readers were often negative. Of the hundreds of comments published, many attacked the author directly. Amid the predictable misogyny and hostility, a pattern emerges: it's just a game
. Some even claimed that it was unprofessional
to talk about such matters in a game review.
Michael Abbott of The Brainy Gamer
sees this as a backlash against the idea of games as art
: "All too often, the greatest resistance to thinking critically about games comes not from academics, luddites, or old-school critics like Roger Ebert. The most vocal resistance comes from gamers."
True! But as far as we accept the angry constituency as representative at all, we should also admit that some gamers only cared about 'art' because acceptance as such amounted to a form of validation. To see a backlash
here assumes a level of engagement that was never actually in evidence. Critical assessments of games -- at least mainstream ones -- remain a hard sell to most of the people buying them.
See more photos at Wink Fun. It’s exciting to get a new game in its pristine box, wrapped in cellophane, begging to be opened. Inside you find the game board, colorful game pieces, cards, and, of course, instructions. Instructions are the worst part of a new game. Reading and rereading the sheet of rules, digesting […]
The design perfectly transmutes the cheap minimalist beauty of the classic ZX Spectrum home computer into a unique handheld game console. But does the ZX Vega capture the experience of the early 80’s machine? Indie Retro News reviews it and finds it well-worth your £99, so long as you know what you’re getting: a weird […]
Dennis Fechter is the creator of the Rock-afire Explosion, the animatronic band that made greasy memories at Showbiz Pizza throughout the 1980s. He also insists he’s the inventor of Whac-A-Mole, based on a similar Japanese game that he saw in 1976, although the company that popularized it call bullshit on that claim. Now, Fechter has […]
Plastic is so 2013. You don’t want to buy something only to throw it away or lose it and barely care. You like nice things and want to hang onto them. The Plazmatic lighter here is a high quality, high tech alternative to the typical cheap, plastic lighter you get at the old gas station. […]
Real engineers build things. Super cool engineers build things with their hands and fingers, like our engineering forefathers did. No idea where to even begin to do that? This step by step Arduino course is now 92% off and is going to get you up and running, from zero to hero, in no time. So […]
How do Google and YouTube really work? It turns out, Python kind of runs things around those parts. And with this bootcamp, you’ll get whipped into shape and ready to start programming yourself. Whether you’re a Python pro and just want to sharpen your skills, or a total tech newbie with little or no coding […]