It's finally here (removes shrink-wrap from website). Drum roll please... I'm proud to unveil the new redesign of GameCritics.com. For those who have been keeping track, this is actually the third version of the site since it debuted seven years ago in July of 1999. I didn't really appreciate just how long ago that was until I came across some old articles while I was prepping the new site for launch that reminded of how different a time it was.
It's strange to recall a time when the mainstream press rarely covered the games industry and the very idea of approaching videogames in a more culturally serious and mature perspective was practically unheard of outside of the defunct Next-Generation magazine (R.I.P.). Gamers were universally thought of as geeks and the love of Super Mario wasn't something you proudly brandished on a first date (especially if you were hoping for a second one).
Today, StarCraft is Korea's national past-time; couples meet and get married while playing MMORPGs like EverQuest; and the title of professional gamer is actually a career path for many. The mammoth popularity of franchises like Madden, The Sims, GTA and Halo made the PS2 and Xbox cool must-have toys of Hollywood A-listers and ensuing controversies had politicians talking about "violence" and "hot coffee" on CNN. Academic studies dedicated to videogames gave birth to ludology and the advent of the blog created a platform for writers of something that may or may not actually exist: new games journalism (the jury is apparently still out on that one). While videogames still isn't widely considered high art (or any other form of art for that matter), people regularly debate the topic and no longer snicker at the notion even if Nintendo's latest game console is called the Wii.
GameCritics.com used to be considered unique for being a "serious" gaming site, but that's far form the case today. Countless blogs, columns and websites sprung up to create a new world order that seemingly outpaced us in relevancy, but what determines relevancy is a funny thing. It's not that our ideas and views weren't smart enough or passé. Many of our critics successfully tackled and addressed in their writing much of the so-called deficiencies in writing about videogames long before the arrival of the blog. But in today's overcrowded and overloaded information superhighway, it seems like you need to be associated with the right people or identify with some bandwagon or fancy buzz word like ludology or new games journalism to be considered relevant. In this day and age, simply being good is not good enough.
The goal of the first redesign in 2002 was to establish a strong visual identity/brand that stood out from the crowd and properly represented who we were and what we wanted to do. The update that you now see in 2007 is about relevancy. By providing our staff and community with current tools and technology, I hope we can address the two issues that I believe has prevented the site from reaching its full potential: timing and productivity. We need to produce content that is relatively timely to current events and do it more often. Only once these two issues have been resolved will we find out if the GameCritics.com brand of accessibility, usefulness, intelligence and diversity is truly relevant and of value to the world.
I invite you to join us on this journey of discovery.