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If you’re a big enough weirdo, people assume that you’re getting paid to be such a big weirdo.
July 5, 2011 8:42 PM   Subscribe

Beloved gaming website Insert Credit is back, and has kicked off its relaunch with an eight page manifesto about game journalism. During its hiatus fans hungry for intelligent videogame commentary migrated to the forums at Select Button and Tim Rogers' site Action Button (Tim uses the IC manifesto to discuss leaving game journalism). Over at Kotaku, Mike Serrels asks whether something is wrong with video game reviews. Via Gamefilter
posted by Lovecraft In Brooklyn (31 comments total) 33 users marked this as a favorite

 
I respect what Insert Credit did/is doing, and I'm glad they're back, but for my money Kill Screen is eating their lunch.
posted by danb at 8:44 PM on July 5, 2011 [3 favorites]


(Tim uses the IC manifesto to discuss leaving game journalism).

I don't need any context for this statement. It makes the world of English-language text a better place regardless of all else.
posted by DoctorFedora at 8:47 PM on July 5, 2011 [1 favorite]


(Which is not to take anything away from this post! I recommend Leigh Alexander's chunk of the manifesto in particular, and "The PlayStation 3 is hitting all kinds of strides" is the funniest game-related thing I've read in months.)
posted by danb at 8:47 PM on July 5, 2011


I'll always love Action Button for their review of God Hand:
Sometimes, however, God Hand is like a phone call from a hallucinating Mike Tyson moments before you’re supposed to kiss the bride.
I also just happened to read Kieron Gillen's Eurogamer review of Earth Defence Force 2017 earlier today, which is now my second favourite game review ever. Now to the links!
posted by A Thousand Baited Hooks at 9:01 PM on July 5, 2011 [1 favorite]


I really like Tim Rogers' writing. He taught me to focus on mechanics and the games he's recommended - from God Hand to Spartan to God of War - have all been great.
Select Button is a fun community.
posted by Lovecraft In Brooklyn at 9:03 PM on July 5, 2011


Er, Gears of War. Not God of War.
posted by Lovecraft In Brooklyn at 9:04 PM on July 5, 2011


Is Tim Rogers the guy who used to post 10,000 word rambles on living in Japan to Kotaku?
posted by yellowbinder at 9:06 PM on July 5, 2011 [3 favorites]


Why, yes he is!
posted by yellowbinder at 9:08 PM on July 5, 2011 [1 favorite]


I didn't like Tim Rogers, until I met him at the GDC. Dude is out there for sure, but interesting and engaging.

The FPP title definitively sums Tim up, after our talk I actually went up to someone nearby and asked "did that just happen?" I wish we could talk more, but I had to talk to someone at the Blizzard booth.
posted by hellojed at 9:11 PM on July 5, 2011


I also just happened to read Kieron Gillen's Eurogamer review of Earth Defence Force 2017 earlier today, which is now my second favourite game review ever.

Kieron is gone, and Quinns just left. I wish there was an RPS for console games.

So much game journalism is utterly dire that at least IC/SB/AB offer something new. I'm not sure if I'm just saying that because I'm so immersed in their worldview though.
posted by Lovecraft In Brooklyn at 9:13 PM on July 5, 2011


Yeah. As mentioned before, he's also the guy who likes to do really in-depth writing about games like EarthBou MOTHER 2 and talk at length about various bits of minutiae in the game, which would make him seem really brilliantly analytical about the creator's intentions, but he actually managed to go a step beyond the Death of the Author ("author's intent doesn't matter; it's what can be found within the work") to the Death of the Work ("whether it actually existed within the work doesn't matter; it's what can be made to make Tim Rogers sound important for living in Japan").

He also liked to make things up about the game Takeshi's Challenge, too.

Anyway, I'm not really gonna miss the long-winded ramblings of a guy with no sense of humor who thinks he's a treasure for having found a way to make a living in Japan, the Internet's Promised Land. Especially because he doesn't seem too concerned with, y'know, actual factual accuracy on basic, trivial things.
posted by DoctorFedora at 9:14 PM on July 5, 2011 [2 favorites]


Anyway, I'm not really gonna miss the long-winded ramblings of a guy with no sense of humor who thinks he's a treasure for having found a way to make a living in Japan, the Internet's Promised Land. Especially because he doesn't seem too concerned with, y'know, actual factual accuracy on basic, trivial things.

Have you read his reviews of Gears of War or Spartan or Final Fantasy XIII? He goes into more depth about the actual MECHANICS -what you do in the game - than any other reviewer. He captures the FEEL of playing the game and the ideas of crunch and rhythm that are essential to the enjoyment. When I'm playing Gears of War I don't care about the COG or the Locusts. I care about the SNAP of an active reload.

If anyone thinks they can do better, submit a review to AB. Or apply to work at RPS.

(And I"m resisting making bad You Am I jokes here...)
posted by Lovecraft In Brooklyn at 9:19 PM on July 5, 2011 [1 favorite]


Tim Rogers is always a frustrating read, but at the same time, I always, always, finish his essays. I don't know why.
posted by empath at 9:24 PM on July 5, 2011 [1 favorite]


My absolute favorite feature on Insert Credit was Project FF Dog. For the uninitiated, Project FF Dog was Tim Rogers and company attempting to play through as much of a Final Fantasy game as they could over the span of like, nine hours (from late night to early morning), and video-taping the game and themselves in the process. This was about five years before the first Let's Play, so at the time, it was (to me) really entertaining. Most of the clips were about two minutes long, so it isn't as time-consuming (or as boring) as you would think watching people play an RPG would be.

Anyway, these seem to be absent from the current site. I'm hoping they'll re-add them at some point. Regardless, it's nice to see Insert Credit is back.
posted by Redfield at 9:31 PM on July 5, 2011


Lovecraft, I'll grant that he may be very good at that part. I simply can't get past my frustration with his self-absorption and, frankly, have been trained to believe he can't be trusted on factual matters.
posted by DoctorFedora at 9:32 PM on July 5, 2011


Agreed on his self-absorption. However he was the guy who first make Katamari Damacy sound like a game worth playing, and what do you know, it absolutely was. He tends to spill a lot of unnecessary verbiage, and he's certainly written bad things before, but one Katamari Damacy makes up for a lot of things.
posted by JHarris at 9:45 PM on July 5, 2011 [1 favorite]


Time for a rant.

A very, very long time ago I created the Internet's very first videogame email newsletter* - "Game Master Journal." (Warning: bad formatting.) It was 1992, to be exact, which is nearly forever ago. I was 17, barely, when it first went out over BBSes and then was forwarded along onto the Net.

A few years later, GMJ morphed into the first commercial videogame website*, "Intelligent Gamer Online." IG Online was on Prodigy, America Online, and the web. All of this in 1994 and 1995. We were edgy, and Edge-y, and we wrote honest reviews and stood by them. We had a bunch of young, hungry, talented writers and we wanted to improve the quality of games industry news reporting and game reviews.

Back in the mid-90s there were several print magazines that covered the industry. If I recall correctly, the largest were GamePro, Video Games and Computer Entertainment, Computer Games Magazine, and Electronic Gaming Monthly. (There were several others.) Those magazines ran the gamut from solid to trash. The two larger mags, GamePro and EGM, never gave a game a negative review. Well, not from any major company, anyways. If there was a bad game that was released from a major -- the game wasn't reviewed at all. Or, if it was reviewed, it was only a small capsule review briefly touching on quality and mostly sticking to a description of the game setting and genre. We were selling advertisements on our website. (Nearly unheard-of, then.)

In the late summer of 1995, we had grabbed the attention of the publishers of EGM... and they took our scoop of the Nintendo 64 controller -- a staff artist's render based on original reporting -- and published it verbatim. Including our original render. I called them the next day; pointed out that copyright does extend to the Internet, and what were they interested in doing about this?

In November 1995 IG Online was purchased by Sendai New Media, the publishers of EGM. They were then purchased by ZiffDavis a few months later. (Tangent: The amount we were paid was tiny in comparison to the amount they purchased gamespot.com for just one year later -- despite our legacy and larger userbase. The perils of being a CEO at age 20, I suppose.)

We were excited. My editor-in-chief took on the same role in the new print version of our magazine -- "Intelligent Gamer's FUSION" later simply "Intelligent Gamer" -- and I became an Editor-at-Large out of Los Angeles and ran the website. We were told that our voice would be respected. That our editorial tone and style would not be changed.

Ahem. That lasted about nine months. IG died and ZiffDavis purchased gamespot.com (a site whose tone didn't need to change all that much), and the rest is history.**

The way things are in the industry is exactly the way they have been for nearly two decades. Pay-to-play. Magazines (websites) make money from eyeballs. Eyeballs are grabbed through exclusiveds. Exclusives are not given to those that speak ill of a company. It is never obvious (well, it isn't usually obvious) ... it is just the way things work.

I have first-hand knowledge of many, many people whose jobs would end if the game they were working on didn't get a Metacritic score of a certain amount. The metric becomes more important than the art, so the art becomes gaming the metric.

As was, as is. As will be? I hope not.

I wanted to be a games industry journalist, not a PR hack with a different title. I have been out of that side of the industry ever since. I hope beyond-words that this relaunch of Insert Credit works, and that it matters, and that the way people discuss games changes for the better.

/rant

(* There is some dispute as to who launched first in each of these instances. I can't prove that we were first, but we were. If I was in court, I'd say "one of the first, and I believe the very first but I can't prove it."

** There is, of course, much more to this. But that is a rough outline of how things went. /disclaimer.)
posted by andreaazure at 9:49 PM on July 5, 2011 [54 favorites]


Let me know when Old Man Murray and Seanbaby are back
posted by crayz at 10:51 PM on July 5, 2011 [3 favorites]


Seanbaby writes for Cracked, and I think Old Man Murray works for Valve.
posted by Lovecraft In Brooklyn at 10:55 PM on July 5, 2011 [1 favorite]


For the fifth installment in the series, we're really taken back to basics. Gameplay has been refined, and the AI seems to be on par with other games in the genre, although there are still a few surprises thrown at you later on (hint: see if you can find the precise moment where the AI decides that it's really, really out to make your life a living hell). The achievement system seems to have been ramped up from the last iteration, and while there aren't any earth-shattering revelations, if you play the game long enough you'll be rewarded with a litany of accomplishments to show off to your friends on the network. (It should be noted, the developer was originally going to allow you to tweet these achievements to your followers, but time and budget constraints put that on the back burner. Maybe we'll see it in some downloadable update?)

Graphics-wise, the platform isn't overly burdened, but there are some moments where there's just the slightest hint of framerate slowdown. We're guessing that it's because of either the drawing distance, or the amount of textures. This edition promises more detail, and higher resolution textures than ever before-- real gameplay shows you just how far the artwork has come since the original screenshots and teaser videos, which seem like they were released so long ago. Every so often, the lighting effects create a subtle nuance that really give that immersive experience you'd expect from the genre, and even the pre-rendered cutscenes look like they could be straight from a Hollywood blockbuster.

The soundtrack is moody, but still has that driving, hard-hitting feel that keeps you on the edge of your seat. It compliments the tense moments when success or failure rides on the press of a few buttons, and you'll be wishing that you could download the soundtrack album from iTunes. Never fear-- it'll be coming soon. There are times when the voice actors are a little muffled, which can be a bit annoying, but just crank up your volume and you're all good.

There was a bit of controversial press recently when the development team confided to us that they mentioned the extra pieces of downloadable content coming soon (tentatively based on budgets, of course). Some gamers in the community felt that this content should have been bundled into the release copy of the game, but our understanding is that there simply wasn't enough space available to fit everything that the developers wanted within a reasonable amount of space.

Overall, this iteration of the series, with its simplified control scheme, updated achievements, and refined graphics and sound makes us think that we're going to be seeing lots of good things from this IP for quite some time. While other franchises tend to get stale around the fifth or sixth installment, we think that you'll be playing this one long after you unwrap it on Christmas day (depending on the gold master approval).

8.5/10
posted by mark242 at 11:14 PM on July 5, 2011 [6 favorites]


Is Action Button actively trying to hurt my eyes?
posted by kmz at 11:20 PM on July 5, 2011


Bulletstorm is so manly, we had to change our website’s background color to purple, and change our fist icon to a unicorn just so we could post this review.
posted by Lovecraft In Brooklyn at 11:36 PM on July 5, 2011


Also they had redesigned it to make it better but apparently they stole the design from the designer. Drama in a teacup.
posted by Lovecraft In Brooklyn at 11:40 PM on July 5, 2011


The first rule of Tim Rogers club is you ALWAYS TALK ABOUT LIVING IN JAPAN.

Doesn't it get tiring? Do you think he has a macro where he pushes a key (say, the spacebar) and his computer types out "I lived in Japan" automatically? Could you imagine if all 127 million people that live in Japan would do this?
posted by Threeway Handshake at 7:41 AM on July 6, 2011 [1 favorite]


I'm annoyed that it is apparently a requirement that all 'alt' videogame writers bite the distinct writing voice of Seanbaby.
posted by fuq at 7:49 AM on July 6, 2011


I just read that review of Final Fantasy XIII, and what? I mean, he talks a lot about the mechanics, but then he's talking about Skies of Arcadia and all of those other Final Fantasies and Mother 2 and took a second to bash people who play First Person Shooters before going back to the point he was starting to make maybe 5,000 words ago. I mean, there's interesting things in there, but they're covered up with so much detrius that I can't even remember what they were.

That didn't read so much like a review as much as someone's drunken 2am ramblings the night after having played the game. For thirty pages.
posted by dinty_moore at 7:53 AM on July 6, 2011 [1 favorite]


I'm only halfway through the third writeup but the impression I'm getting is that maybe there just are not enough good games being published to warrant good writers to write all that much about games.

Maybe one ought to consider writing mostly about other interesting stuff for a magazine that is mostly about other interesting stuff and writing about games when something worth writing about games comes up?
posted by Anything at 8:11 AM on July 6, 2011 [2 favorites]


And besides the Japan thing, his writing just makes him come across as an arrogant asshole, not that he is brilliant or important which is what it seems he's trying to get at.

He really just seems like the type to hit your dog with his car, and then knock on your door asking for you to pay for his headlight that was broken.
posted by Threeway Handshake at 9:31 AM on July 6, 2011


Leigh Alexander: Why does anybody not accept a videogame? Nobody does not accept a movie.
posted by duomo at 1:57 PM on July 6, 2011


Objectivity is a fallacy, but good, emotive writing and personality is real.

I haven't read everything yet, and the last game I played was Angry Birds*, but that sentence made me trust the author more than most journos.

* And that was a bit too hardcore...
posted by Wrinkled Stumpskin at 2:18 PM on July 6, 2011


I just read that review of Final Fantasy XIII, and what? I mean, he talks a lot about the mechanics, but then he's talking about Skies of Arcadia and all of those other Final Fantasies and Mother 2 and took a second to bash people who play First Person Shooters before going back to the point he was starting to make maybe 5,000 words ago. I mean, there's interesting things in there, but they're covered up with so much detrius that I can't even remember what they were.

That didn't read so much like a review as much as someone's drunken 2am ramblings the night after having played the game. For thirty pages.


I'm not likely to play any other FF game. This told me in detail what was wrong with the design, but also gave me a picture of the game if I wanted to play it. Music writing has plenty of space for "2am drunken ramblings". Game journalism does not need to be consumer reports.

I'm only halfway through the third writeup but the impression I'm getting is that maybe there just are not enough good games being published to warrant good writers to write all that much about games.

Huh? Besides all the mainstream games there are millions of XBA, PSN, and app store titles.
posted by Lovecraft In Brooklyn at 4:16 PM on July 6, 2011


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