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Critical News Rundown

Andrew Fletcher's picture
A final few choice cuts from GDC this week, including a round table discussion about game addiction (something that's afflicted all of us at some point), Warren Spector on the wasted potential of videogames, and Suda 51 emphasizing the "punk" spirit necessary to produce games like Killer 7 and No More Heroes (I guess that title is a Stranglers reference then).
  • Suda 51 and the Punk Spirit
    Although I question the suitability of the term, if by "punk spirit" we are referring to that wonderful feeling of playing something that challenges us in an unexpected or daring way—from Killer 7's one-button movement system to Warioware's 4-second games—then I absolutely empathise with Suda 51's plea for more rebelliousness in games development. But the free creative spirit that inspires such experimentation is simply not shared by the majority of (particularly Western) publishers who have coffers to worry about, and one has to wonder if it is destined to establish permanent residence in the non-commercial indie scene. But as the sagely Eric Zimmerman pointed out at GDC, today's indie experiments, however ugly and half-cut, might just sow the seeds of something more polished and mainstream down the line. Just like punk, I suppose.

  • Playing Responsibly: Game Addiction
    All good points raised in this round table discussion, even if both the definitions of game addiction and possible solutions to it remain vague. Personally, I've always thought there were two types of game addiction. The just-one-more-go compulsion born of arcade games is relatively harmless as long as players don't constantly submit themselves to such games (surely a signifier of addictive personality rather than gameplay). Then there are games which ingratiate themselves into people's everyday lives and become considered a daily necessity, which are best exemplified by MMO's, of course. A fair point was made by the behavioural expert who suggests shorter MMO quest times could help ration their addictive immersion, but it kind of worried me to hear their description of the benefits of such a design scheme: "When a person gets to the end of a two-hour quest, in theory, he or she would have the option to end the session and feed the kids...". Oh man! So just how many kids are going hungry thanks to The Burning Crusade?

  • All For Games: An Interview with Warren Spector
    It's always nice to see that industry legends like Warren Spector, Will Wright and Peter Molyneux remain restlessly enthusiastic about the medium as the years go by. One of the most depressing things Spector mentions here is that it has been 10 years since he started work on Deus Ex, and yet so few advances have been made in immersing the player into a world where their actions have real consequences. Also of note is Spector's dream of creating an RPG based in just a single city block, yet all the games he names as making evolutionary strides in the industry are played out on such vast canvases: Grand Theft Auto, Oblivion, Spore. One has to wonder if and when the industry's obsession with scale (or their belief in our obsession with it) will give way to a more considered and detailed approach to smaller game worlds.

  • Q’s Utsumi Wants To Continue To Rock
    It's nice to see that Q Entertainment's CEO spouts just as many hazy and crazy metaphors as their founder Tetsuya Mizuguchi. They ought to run courses so other company presidents can learn how take their management speak to the next level. Forget "sharing the pie", Q are talking black holes and big bang theory.

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