Understanding why we read reviews (of books, games, whatever)

booksAn interesting argument has surfaced in the game industry about why we bother to read reviews. Is it to judge a product based on a “mechanistic set of values,” or is it to understand what kind of deeper, emotional impact they can have on us — a focus on culture rather than consumerism?

This debate can be stretched to books, too — or movies or most any form of media, really. Why do we care about one person’s thoughts? Or are we more interested in the collective, the big picture that emerges after we’ve sorted through the individual bits of opinions?

(You can take a look at the Twitter conversation between the reviews editor of game site Polygon and one game designer to grasp the scope of this argument.)

Continue reading “Understanding why we read reviews (of books, games, whatever)”

My first piece for The Escapist

The Escapist

I’ve got some cool news to share! I’m now a published writer on The Escapist, a big video games site that I’ve been dreaming of submitting to for years.

For my first contributed piece for them, I interviewed Jenova Chen, the creative director of the hit game Journey, and Trent Oster, the director of business development at Beamdog (which is distributing the Baldur’s Gate: Enhanced Edition for PC, Mac, and mobile this November).

JourneyIn the article, I try to answer whether the length of a game matters and whether trends are leaning toward more short or long games in the future.

I’ve read great responses to the article in the site’s forums so far. You’re more than welcome to join the discussion if you’re a big gaming nerd like me. :) Or just let me know what you think!

Torchlight IIIn case you’re wondering, yes, I’ve played Journey (great little game on the PlayStation Network), and yes, I’m excited for Baldur’s Gate: Enhanced Edition. I’ve never played the originals. I’m hoping to get an iPad mini for this … even though it’s $329 when I was hoping for $250.

Deadly PremonitionI seem to have a bad habit of dooming myself when it comes to playing role-playing games, though — I never have enough time for them. Getting to review Torchlight II last month was a welcome opportunity because when I play games for review, I finish them — and in a hundredth of the time it takes me to play anything else. :D Anyway, I fully intend to give the first Torchlight a shot sometime, too; either that, or replay the second with my boyfriend if he ever gets around to paying $20 for a copy.

In the meantime, I’m splitting my time between Deadly Premonition (a campy cult favorite among survival-horror fans), Paladin’s Quest (a Super Nintendo game that I wanted after learning that it was made by some of the people who worked on Legend of Legaia, my favorite RPG), and Dragon Quest IX: Sentinels of the Starry Skies … which, OK, I haven’t gotten back to in a while.

And reading books. Brave Story is next on my list of books to review here on the blog.

Paladin's Quest