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    Friday, September 15, 2006

    Losing Neverland

    We’re in danger of losing something very special. It’s movie quote time again, this time taken from a conversation between J.M. Barrie and Charles Frohman after Barrie’s latest play had just been over-analysed to death:

    Barrie: “It was never meant to be taken seriously.”

    Frohman: “You know what happened, James? They changed it.”

    Barrie: “They changed what?”

    Frohman: “The critics. They made it important. Hmm? What’s it called? What’s it called?”

    Barrie: “Play.”

    Frohman: “Play.”


    We play games. “Games”. An amusement or pastime, and a recreational activity according to Google (and who are we to argue). Pieces of software put together so we can enjoy ourselves.

    Games like chess. Noughts and crosses. Tennis. Badminton. Battleships. Connect 4. They’re invented, and people play them. For fun.

    But “they” are trying to change this. “They” think games are art. “They” think games are there to be analysed, attached to everyday real life or the human psyche. “They” are trying to make games important.

    Games are only important in being an excellent way to have fun by yourself, with friends, or with paedophiles you meet on Xbox Live. Games don’t need to be analysed, just reviewed so the folks at home know what to pay for or spend time downloading on Bit Torrent.

    But “they” aren’t happy with reviewing games. “They” have to make themselves feel important, and pretend their degrees in art & sociology weren’t a waste of their time and money. “They” think their personal experiences of a game are more important to mankind than the game itself.

    This kind of shit has no place in games journalism. The critics are there to keep the makers in line. When something’s shit, we’ll say it’s shit. When something’s great, we’ll say it’s great. But who the fuck is interested in some random guy’s views about the time he was playing a game released 5 years ago when he was so bored by the game itself, he had to start deconstructing the level design or the plot or the characters or the colour of the fucking logo?

    Games are great because they’re fun, because they offer a Neverland for us to escape into. Us. Not “them”. We don’t give a fuck about “them”. If “they” keep over-analysing and essay-writing and deconstructing and talking bollocks about games, the Neverland will disappear, and all the decent games journalists will become the lost boys.

    If the Captain Hooks amongst you want to wank over yourselves wanking over games, or compare OGJ versus NGJ to Peter Pan versus the real world (sorry), keep it restricted to your personal blogs. Stop wasting the pages in magazines. Stop trying to compete with what’s great about gaming. Stop trying to make out it’s all so life-changing and important. Stop fighting the lost boys and destroying the magic.

    For fuck’s sake – nobody ever saw the need to write an essay about the motivations of the Hungry Hippos…

    28 comments:

    1. Inflatable Moron3:55 pm

      Nobody is applying artistic criticism and celebration to bloody Spyro. The games praised for exploring philosophy and art and politics through play are talked about so much because it is rare to find them and, crucially because they deserve it. Deus Ex, Ico, Vampire, Planscape: Torment, Fallout..These may have been talked about to death...But there is substantial reason for that..Im not getting into another tedious discussion of What Is Art? But in these games designers wanted to provide more thoughtful and interesting ideas than the usual boring Ultra Marine DeathQuest plotline..And Crucially they have been some of the most amazing examples of "magic" in gaming. There is place for discussion of Games as an Artform, as well as Games as a Sport and Games as Fun..The Greatness of our medium is how it defies pigeonholing..How it Can be so many different enjoyable things. Saying that gaming magazines shouldn't explore this for worthy titles is inane and reactionary.(and lets face it Edge have been doing it for years and to a lesser extent Pc Gamer have too)

      ReplyDelete
    2. James Lyon11:37 pm

      You're saying we can either have one or the other, not both. Shurely that's an option? There's room for both Sight and Sound and Empire in the world, and you don't hear anyone complaining about that.

      And the answer to the fourth paragraph is me, but not as much as you'd think.

      ReplyDelete
    3. Stupid people hate it when clever people say clever things about clever things. They get all cross and start shouting, because they hate the idea that they're missing out on something that they're too stupid to understand.

      Fortunately, those who are clever are aware that they're getting far greater enjoyment from their far more sophisticated response to the wonderful Neverland, and continue to explore their enjoyment for other clever people to enjoy.

      Stupid people think the clever people are deluding themselves, and will dismiss their responses out of hand. That's because they're stupid, and it's too hard for them. But that's ok.

      You'd think it especially odd for someone to be upset enough to announce the end of the world when other people are getting huge amounts of enjoyment out of something about which they're not interested. But you know, those stupid people, eh?

      ReplyDelete
    4. Walker's response is fantastic, but for none of the reasons he thinks. The old "he who disagrees with me is stupid" is one of his favourite reponses - come on John, I know you can do better than that.

      It also sums up the attitude of the NGJ elitorati. "We're all cleverly talking about clever things which stupid people won't understand."

      ReplyDelete
    5. I'm worried it's unclear: I'm calling you stupid.

      I don't think you are, but I'm hoping to annoy you.

      ReplyDelete
    6. I got that loud and clear. The annoying thing is you got me to bash out a quick response which included a typo, which I NEVER do...

      ReplyDelete
    7. What John W misses in his smart reply is that most NG Journalists are, in fact, the ones who are stupid.

      The vast majority of them try to come off as smart by using words they don't understand, or by making references to works which have nothing to do with the subject at hand.

      If that's not a loud and clear sign of stupidity then I don't know what is.

      There are, of course, exceptions. And the writings of those people are sometimes enjoyable, as long as they keep their total NGJ output down to, say, one article/"review" a month. Any more than that and they start becoming obnoxious.

      ReplyDelete
    8. Anonymous11:06 am

      "Stupid people hate it when clever people say clever things about clever things. They get all cross and start shouting, because they hate the idea that they're missing out on something that they're too stupid to understand."

      One word: cock.
      Two words: superiority complex. And I don't think God would approve of that in his mortal subjects.

      ReplyDelete
    9. Anonymous11:33 am

      I can't believe this is still even an issue. I read a few magazines each month and I never see the sort of writing that Rammy is railing against. To be honest Ram Raider, you write a piece like this and you come off sounding like Richard fucking Littlejohn. The reactionary Daily Mail of gaming blogs.
      Can't you write a piece about how utterly shit Just Cause is?

      ReplyDelete
    10. Anonymous1:01 pm

      "I read a few magazines each month and I never see the sort of writing that Rammy is railing against."

      Edge and the PC mags are the worse, but there's a lot of silly writing on websites. If you just read PS2 mags, you'll only read the polar opposite (for better or for worse...).

      ReplyDelete
    11. Am I the only one who wishes people who actually comment on RamRaider signed names of some kind? It's not hard to make a blogger account, y'know.

      And it's slightly less cowardly, even if you use a pseudonym.

      KG

      ReplyDelete
    12. I have to agree with Gillen there. I'm obviously the last person to complain about anonymity, but picking a pseudonym and sticking with it would make following the comments of my Anonymous Knights less confusing.

      When I convert this thing to Blogger-Beta, I'll "make it so".

      ReplyDelete
    13. Anonymous5:00 pm

      Maybe Keiron is right, but I don't think I would bother posting at all if I had to log in with an account - there's too many vicious cynical journos on here and UK-R to have an identity of any kind.
      Surely Kieron is one to talk - I can't even leave comments on his blog, even though I'm often itching too. I'd love to how easy his shooting hobby is, as a mate of mine was forced to give it up after Dunblane - and was pelted with stuff and verbally abused as he used to leave his pistol range.

      ReplyDelete
    14. Slightly Anonymous6:20 pm

      Or you can just click the other button and type in a name.

      Like this. No account, no hassle.

      ReplyDelete
    15. There's a spam filter on my blog and I have to manually approve the first post of anyone, but it doesn't sound like it's that. Maybe it'll fix itself if I ever get around to upgrading to the new level of Worpress or something.

      KG

      ReplyDelete
    16. Anonymous1:38 pm

      The thing that always makes me snigger at this particular kind of Rammy post is that he's doing exactly what he's complaining about.

      He's taken a movie, a meaningless form of casual entertainment and used his own particular experience of it to reinforce some kind of higher wanky ideal as if it should be obvious to everyone.

      Tortured a metaphor to death too, shame on you.

      Does it never strike you as ironic that he uses a first-person subjective journal to moan about first-person subjective journalism?

      Rammy's problem is that he IS what he hates.

      ReplyDelete
    17. Except...

      "If the Captain Hooks amongst you want to... compare OGJ versus NGJ to Peter Pan versus the real world (sorry), keep it restricted to your personal blogs."

      I'm not taking up eight pages of PC Gamer to do it.

      ReplyDelete
    18. Anonymous3:22 pm

      So you're coming across as bitter because you can't get magazine work.

      It's obvious that there are PC Gamer readers that enjoy that kind of writing, otherwise they wouldn't publish it, would they?

      Calling for a universal ban, less diversity to suit your own personal and subjective preference is even more self-obsessed and ego-saturated than anything I've ever read in a magazine.

      And there's nothing on this blog to lend any credibility to your arguments. There are no game reviews, no objective observations, you can't even be a proper whistleblower as you shy away from naming names when you bother to give us the 'inside track'.

      The best you can come up with is more subjective first-person drivel about freely available commercial figures and shameless sucking up to better writers than you are.

      You've no authority and you're no better than the people you're incessantly whining about.

      ReplyDelete
    19. You've obviously only read a couple of the posts on here, which explains why all of the points you made in your comment are so painfully wrong.

      ReplyDelete
    20. Anonymous4:28 pm

      I read as much as I could stay awake for.

      So link to the shining golden examples of exemplary games journalism you've written and maybe we'll see why you prefer to waste words moaning about people that get paid for it.

      ReplyDelete
    21. Here are some links to my paid work: http://www... whoah, you nearly had me there!

      I've got to get up early if I'm going to stay anonymous with the razor sharp likes of you on my back...

      ReplyDelete
    22. Anonymous4:48 pm

      But that's what I mean. While you're anonymous, all your pissing and moaning has no authority. And I mean 'anonymous' in the sense that there's no proof you're *what* you say you are, I don't actually care *who* you are.

      You can hand out awards to all the famous names you like, wheedle them to write acceptance speeches cos that's /almost/ like they write for your blog, right? But at the end of the day, none of their authority is going to come off onto you, no matter how hard you rub them.

      If you were serious about what you say, instead of say, hopelessly attention-seeking by proxy, you'd front up to it.

      You don't even have to give up your anonymity to gain a faint shred of credibility. You could actually write some proper games journalism here as Ram Raider.

      Write a review that doesn't send the reader into a coma and you'd stand a much better chance of making a point.

      Otherwise you're just a buzzing noise in the background.

      ReplyDelete
    23. A buzzing noise that's loud enough to have attracted your attention.

      As someone who's admitted to not reading the blog, you're the one lacking in authority to critique it or me. Ask anyone who's read it, whether or not they love me or hate my stinking guts, and they'll tell you that I've posted stuff that nobody outside of the industry could have known.

      I'd have been sued a long time ago if I was just making shit up.

      I wonder what I've said to upset you so much. You've questioned me, now maybe you'd like to tell us what you do for a living.

      ReplyDelete
    24. Anonymous5:51 pm

      I'm Russian cosmonaut on the International Space Station.

      We have a lot of spare time.

      ReplyDelete
    25. Rammy is is absolutely, totally, perfectly 99% right.

      The other 1% is fluff not worth debating over, in my opinion.

      Excellent work as always, Jonothan.

      ReplyDelete
    26. Oh shit! I gave you away, mr Spalding! :-/

      ReplyDelete
    27. Inflatable Moron7:54 am

      starke!He just makes contoversial points to pee off the internet. Its why i love him, but that doesn't mean he's right..He just fuels debate. And occasionally is very right. Occasionally...

      ReplyDelete
    28. Yeah, controversy doesn't make him right.

      His arguments and points make him right.

      ReplyDelete