Saturday, March 29, 2008

Finding a Voice

It's amazing how only a couple of months ago, we were complaining about the lack of video game criticism. Now, many have stepped up to the challenge of providing intellectual discourses or more subjective, and often crass, reviews. With so many entering the gaming blogosphere and many prominent figures already existing, I admit I find it hard for myself to forge a distinctive voice. So far, my medium of communication has been text, but I find myself getting lost among wordsmiths like N'Gai Croal, Stephen Totilo, Leigh Alexander, Mitch Krpata, Michael Abbott, and Jerry Holkins (all of whom are in my blogroll, by the way).

I think a good path for me to take is to expand to a new medium. After all, unlike most of the above mentioned names, I'm not a professional writer and thusly, text is not my greatest strength. Currently, I'm trying to set up a podcast with three other gaming personalities, which I think would compliment this blog nicely. Having four people with differing opinions brings an interesting dynamic to gaming discourse that you won't find in the blog, which is basically one man's soliloquy. Besides that, I'll continue to find new ways to make Theory Fighter more interesting.

While we're on the subject of game criticism using alternative media, why don't I point out other successes? Here are four that I really love and that you've probably already heard of. Nevertheless, they discuss games using non-textual media and all of them are very humorous.

1) 1UP Yours (Podcast) - I subscribe to Electronic Gaming Monthly magazine and visit the 1UP website every so often, but I don't particularly find anything special about them that I can't find with other enthusiast presses. The exception, however, is the 1UP Yours podcast. There must be over a hundred gaming podcasts on the internet and I've tried out a quarter of them, but 1UP Yours is definitely the best one. It's updated weekly, the cast is funny and informed, and they get game developers for guest spots every once in a while. Given their nature as a gaming magazine, they have the opportunity to cover a large range of games and to preview upcoming games. If you look past the immature jokes, you'll find that the cast has a lot of intelligent things to say about the games they play.

2) Penny Arcade (Webcomic) - There are a dozen or so gaming webcomics, but Penny Arcade is the first and still the best. Other webcomics put video game characters in funny situations and although it may bring out a chuckle or two, I find that they don't have much to say. Whereas Penny Arcade strips take a more critical approach, summing up everything they like or don't like about a game and presenting it in three panels. There is often a better game review in those three panels than many reviews you'll find in the enthusiast press.

3) Zero Punctuation (Video Reviews) - Ben "Yahtzee" Croshaw's reviews are hilarious and overly critical. His rapid-fire speech and his minimalistic cartoon style are so distinctive, he obviously had no problem distinguishing himself from the myriad of mediocre video reviews you'll find on Youtube.

4) Mushroom Singdom (Music Videos) - I'm not really sure what this is, but it's absolutely genius! GameJew summarizes and reviews new Virtual Console releases in the form of music. The music is great and the lyrics are hilarious. Go watch the reviews for Kirby and the Crystal Shards and Super Turrican if you don't believe me.

1 comment:

Manveer Heir said...

I had never heard of the Mushroom Singdom at GameJew, but that is some fantastic stuff.

I have the same issue in terms of finding a unique voice, since I also just launched my blog, Design Rampage.

What I've decided, is while I'll promote the site to get some hits and help people start engaging in conversation, just the act of writing alone helps me understand my own thoughts on game design so much more that it'd be worth it even if no one read.

I look forward to hearing your podcast!