It's hard to believe it's been 8 years since 9/11. I don't have any commentary, sincere or snarky, nor do I want to say anything about it in relation to video games. Not even, "Really puts it all in perspective!" Just a terrible anniversary to have to mark every year.
-I mentioned in my review of The Beatles: Rock Band that the future of the franchise lies with the Rock Band Network, and not tributes to past bands. Why do I think so? Because of things like this: local rockers the Bon Savants are beta testing the RBN, and video-blogging their efforts. Tell me this isn't going to be an incredible way to hear new music.
The Bon Savants, by the way, are very good and you should listen to them.
-I also really enjoyed Ian Bogost's trenchant, contrarian take on Beatles Rock Band. The comments show what can happen when you take aim at a sacred cow (though it should be said that most are thoughtful in their own right, which is what happens when you've got dudes like Iroquois Pliskin calling you out). I think a lot of people disagreed with the broad brush Ian used to paint the older generation, which is fair, but his point was sound: it is precisely this older generation that pivoted from peace and love to grabbing everything for themselves at the expense of others (giving us gems such as "Get your government hands off my Medicare!"). Is it everybody in that generation? Of course not. But who else is highjacking social progress in this country?
Okay, so the argument does pertain only slightly to the Beatles. Fair enough.
-Two last links about The Beatles: Rock Band. First, John Teti's perceptive takedown of Seth Schiesel's New York Times review. I am very happy to see game reviews getting column inches in the Times, but I am less happy when they are as silly as Seth's was. He means well, I know, but Teti correctly notes that the tack he took in this review was to denigrate the entire medium of video games in order to convince his readers that this one really is good.
Beyond which, whenever I find myself typing in a review that a game is "one of the most," "one of the best," or "important," I delete it and write something else. That way lies madness, not to mention looking like an idiot in retrospect. Sean Sands at Gamers with Jobs notes that, at the time, no one predicted the impact that Guitar Hero would have: "...in November of 2005... No one in our forums was even talking about this odd and expensive game full of cover bands and fairly simplistic gameplay. On the cusp of a cultural phenomenon, no one saw it coming."
And now that everybody knows how important and popular music games are, now we're going to anoint the 800th music game as the most important of all time? It's never that easy. This is selling low and buying high.
-Although she doesn't mention me, I'd like to think I had something to do with moving the gears that resulted in Meghan Watt weighing in on Game Informer's Metacritic article. For the record, although I didn't contact Meghan for comment when I wrote my piece, I did ask OXM editor-in-chief Francesca Reyes to respond. Though she agreed to get back to me, it never happened, and ultimately I felt I had to run the piece as it was, especially after Kevin Gifford's "Game Mag Weaseling" column remarked positively upon the same GI piece.
-In Crispy Gamer, Kyle Orland answers a question I've had for a long time: how PR companies decide what outlets get which games to review. It explains quite a lot about the difficulties we've had in the past getting some companies to respond. PR people from Boston, or with Boston ties, are almost always excited to get covered in the Phoenix. Others may need some convincing.
There does seem to be a quid pro quo involved, too. I understand not wanting to send a first-person shooter to a reviewer who's previously said he hates the genre, sure, but it's infuriating that PR companies may decide to punish reviewers who run negative reviews. I've said it before and I'll say it again: ultimately everybody is better served with honest and tough reviews. If an outlet has a reputation for being hard on games, then wouldn't a positive review from them mean that much more? Won't the median quality of games go up if critics and gamers are demanding more of them? It seems basic to me.
Of course, it takes just one influential publication to trade scores for early access to throw that out the window. And there's more than one.
Hey, that was the longest links post ever. Maybe I should start cutting these into individual posts.