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December 28, 2008


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Glad to see you're getting caught up after a well-deserved rest. The volume of really useful game criticism in the blogosphere these days is honestly pretty overwhelming, in a good way.

I really have to disagree with the Versus Clu Clu land post you linked to though. I left a comment on it just now, but in summary I don't see any reason to dilute a very precise and specific critical term. Ludonarrative dissonance is perfectly descriptive of the phenomenon it applies to; other fields of criticism are filled with jargon which arose for just the same reasons-- to describe a concept very specific to that form, for which no other word existed. So one might have to look up a word now and then to get the full meaning of a piece of deep analysis. Are people's memories of college really that distant?

But Steve, isn't it important to Wii-ify game criticism?! :)

I think Iroquois is brilliant, but I'm with Steve in that game criticism, and the industry in general, would well served by more specific terminology (call it jargon if you want, but it serves a purpose).

I think part of the challenge is that the vast majority writing about games until quite recently has been in the form of reviews, which are intended for very lay audience. We may finally be reaching a point where there are enough interested readers to justifying a type writing about games that, frankly, a lot more technical and inaccessible to the average gamer.

(As an aside, I was looking forward to your talk at the Vancouver Game Design Expo, but it looks like the tickets are sold out. I'm talking to local folks about extras, but I'm not sure if that will pan out. Any leads on where another developer interested in a lot of things you've been talking about might find a ticket?)

I don't like the term "ludonarrative dissonance". Tacking 'ludo' on to the beginning seems redundant. Then again, I've never understood why anyone would consider critiquing the story of a game after excluding the gameplay.

Clint, I know you liked my analysis of The Cost of Life back in 2006, I've since highly adapted my lenses and taken it wide on Play This Thing, which I started with Greg Costikyan. If you haven't, please make a sweep on it.

Hi clint!

I know I'm super-late to the party here, but I wanted to chime in. Though I gave you some grief for the elaborately latinate buzzword you coined, in all honesty I have no business chiding anyone for too-florid vocabulary given the sort of verbiage I throw around in my own work. Seriously.

And I should reiterate that the Bioshock piece is one of my top two-or-three favorite pieces of game criticism. It's great. It's had a pretty significant impact on how I think about the nature of games as an art form.

Anywhoo, I'm glad that you're cheered by the progress of game crit over the last few years, and I hope I've done some to contribute to that progress. Cheers!

Nels: Tacking ludo on the beginning is necessary to point out that the dissonance isn't some kind of bad design in the story itself but an imbalance between what the gameplay elements and the purely narrative ones says to the player; how they relate to each-other and in this case, do not.

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