Bigredcoat

Videogames, politics, science, all the important things in life.

Dan Marshall is a fucking idiot and other stories

Posted by nfinit on October 13, 2009

So John Marshall of Zombie Crow (The Time Gentlemen, Please! guys, if that means anything to you) got liquored up and gave an interview at Gamasutra where it’s revealed thinks that all games journalists should be well versed in videogames– to the point of being forced to make a game themselves:
“As a developer I think you’re slightly more understanding of the process involved, but as a gamer you know whether or not you’re having a good time,” Marshall said. “I think all games journos should be forced to make a game somehow, see how they get on. It gives you a more rounded perspective.”

There may also be confessions of pederasty involved.  I dunno, I didn’t actually read the article.  There’s probably not any drinking either, I sort of just read the bit that Joystiq quoted.  Basically this entire paragraph is full of lies and slander.  Except for the part I just quoted, that’s real, swearsies.
You ever notice other industries don’t have to deal with this?  You never hear, say, Stephen Spielberg bitching about Indy 4 being slagged at over at AITC for being “The Indy 4 you were dreading to see”.  You know why?    Because people would tell him he’s acting like a whining child, that’s why.

I don’t need to know how to code to know that Need for Speed Shift is a buggy, unplayable mess.  I don’t need to know level design to know that the people responsible for Bionic Commando 360 don’t know anything anything about it either.  I don’t need to be a script writer to know that thus far Mass Effect 2 sounds like something out of the notebooks of  a 13-year-old Magic: The Gathering enthusiast.  I am qualified to talk about these things because I am a gamer, I know games and I know from shit.

But his idea of a game journalist being well-rounded has merit,  but not anywhere in the way Dan Marshall uses the term.  A games journalist doesn’t need to know how to code a game any more than a movie critic should know how to develop film, but a games journalist should have a solid background in simply playing videogames.  For instance, one of the criticisms N’Gai Croal has always faced was how he somehow landed the title of “senior statesman for games journalism” despite not showing an interest in the hobby until sometime after the Dreamcast launch.  On the other end of the spectrum you have Chris Kohler, a guy who lives and breathes games and is wildly overqualified in every concievable way to be a simple games journalist, and as a result his stuff is a joy to read is a credit to the industry.

Kohler in his natural habitat.  Hes the tall white dude radiating awesome

Kohler in his natural habitat. He's the tall white dude radiating awesome

(not that being well-rounded always helps, mind you– Dave Halverson has probably played more games than the combined viewership of this blog, yet that didn’t stop him from dry humping his copy of Bullet Witch.)

In honest truth, the last thing the videogame industry wants is actual journalism in their “games journalists”, and the games journalism industry has been happy to oblige that wish.  Game Informer, Game Pro, 1up and other mainstream news sources are little more than unpaid adjuncts of the industry’s Public Relation corps, filling vast swaths of paper and html with regurgitated talking points and softball developer interviews.  As a result developers are cloistered from any meaningful criticism from what they view as credible sources and become hurt and confused when met with the harsh reality of the enthusiast press.  It is only understandable that a game developer would love his creation and seek to shelter it from the slings and arrows of a hundred thousand neckbearded manchildren, but at the same time these developers need to understand that we are also emotionally involved.  We would not have slagged so much on Mirror’s Edge if we didn’t want it to be good.  We wouldn’t bitch incessantly about the end of Bioshock if we weren’t so utterly enraptured by the first 3/4ths of the game.  We wouldn’t have chased Marc Ecko from the gaming industry if we did’t want to play Jet Set Radio meets Prince of Persia so badly.
In wholly unrelated news, Konami just revealed a trailer for Rocket Knight HD that makes the tragic mistake of reminding people of the days when they used to do spritework for 2d games instead of cheap looking 3d models.  Basically it’s an advertisement for downloading  a Rocket Knight Adventure ROM.  This industry is fucking weird.
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