Thursday, May 13, 2004

Game Tards

First, some maintenance. Some of you may have noticed that the site has an RSS subscription feed now. Being less than completely enamored with the whole Slashdot/blogosphere phenomenon, I don't use it, but I'm told it's very hip and trendy amongst the kind of people who read Slashdot and say "blogosphere". If you're one of those people, then the link on the left will mean something to you, and you should know how to make it work. Go to town.
As an extension of this, it appears as if the RSS feed has also been made available to LiveJournal users who, if they want, can call You Are Dumb Dot Net their friend. I am.... permitting this. I am permitting this as an act that shows my benevolent, merciful side, a side that is not traditionally expressed on this site. Because I am gracious and kind, You Are Dumb Dot Net can be like the vibration attachment for your rubber vagina, making your day that much more interesting.
And now, our main event. Memo to Salon's Game Boys: YOU ARE DUMB.
Here's your backgrounder. Salon is a webmagazine. A big, lefty, webmagazine full of news and commentary and columns and arts and entertainment and such. I like Salon. But the Game Boys suck. The Game Boys are Jeff Alexander and Tom Bissell. They are, to use the common vernacular of this column, not that goddamned bright, frankly.
Which is a shame, because I want to support the idea that video game journalism should be something more than 29-year-old nerds who've beaten all the Final Fantasy games twice ranking games on Graphics, Sound, Gameplay, and Fun Factor. We need more than that. The game industry desperately needs a Pauline Kael (or, for the locals, a Dara Moskowitz). Something better. Something different.
But when Salon tried to give us something different, what we got were Jeff and Tom, two guys who play mostly licensed-property games, spend 80% of their article fucking around like two minor characters in a Kevin Smith movie, finally get around to glossing over the main points of the game they're talking about, then sign off with some borderline non-sequitur.
Is is that hard to find people who actually love the medium? And not love it like a fat stalker in a Trek uniform loves Denise Crosby. Just loves it in a reasonably normal manner. The Game Boys wrote two frickin' pages about Atari's new Transformers game, and amidst the page-and-a-half of sub-par, nostalgic, I-could-have-written-Mallrats-dammit rambling about the flaws of the basic "Transformers" premise, happen to mention that "I'm told it's reminiscent of 'Halo', which I haven't played."
Ignoring the fact that whoever told him that should probably not be trusted to button their own shirts, this guy, who's getting paid by a major, respected Internet magazine to write about video games, has NEVER PLAYED HALO. This isn't some elitist snob qualification I'm talking about here. I wouldn't demand that a game reviewer own four copies of "Ico" and done a doctoral thesis on "Rez". But how do you escape HALO?
At least it explains why they have to waste our time telling us that robots from outer space shouldn't transform into boom boxes. Thanks for the insight, Captain Fucking Obvious of the Fucking Obvious Patrol. You should review a Star Wars game, so that you can enthrall us all with your stirring conversation about how Chewbacca didn't get a medal.
And when they do finally talk about the game, they're wildly inconsistent. Consider these four quotes, all from Jeff.
"Frankly, I'm not so into the whole robots-in-combat thing, a genre whose pleasures seem to me pretty demographically specific."
"Ten-year-olds, and perhaps those weirdos who build robots for that absolutely bizarre robot-demolition-derby show...
"It's really disappointing that you can only be three Autobots."
"Plus, when you're running around as a robot, you leave big robot footprints."
So Jeff, who is (judging from his derision), neither ten years old nor a robot builder, and is therefore not into the whole robots in combat thing, wishes he could be MORE robots in combat and loves leaving big robot footprints in the ground. This is all within the span of SIX PARAGRAPHS. It's like Sybil got a job at GamePro.
Still, it could be worse. They could decide to do the same thing with movies, and clone Harry Knowles, and have the two clones talk to each other about movies. OK, that doesn't really follow, but I didn't want the rubber vagina thing to be the single worst mental image of today's article. TWO HARRY KNOWLESES TALKING ABOUT MOVIES! RUN!