Video Game Criticism
Timothy Burke makes a case for more sophisticated reviewing of video and computer games, and, in doing so, says virtually every interesting thing I’ve ever wanted to say about Planescape: Torment, one of the most innovative and striking computer role-playing games ever devised.
As Timothy notes, games are hard to write about when the only readily available discourse is that of the mainstream film review, simply because film reviewing is heavily invested in a specific conception of narrative film-making. Witness Roger Ebert’s attempts to review films based on video games—I’m specifically thinking of his review of DOOM, where the beautifully shot ‘first-person shooter’ sequence—a lengthy segment of the film that emulates the experience of actually playing the game—is singled out:
Toward the end of the movie, there is a lengthy point-of-view shot looking forward over the barrel of a large weapon as it tracks the corridors of the research station. Monsters jump out from behind things and are blasted to death, in a sequence that abandons all attempts at character and dialogue and uncannily resembles a video game.
In other words, it’s the one moment when it stops being a conventional bug-hunt action movie, and instead becomes authentically experimental.