[This is an IM conversation between me and my buddy Greg, regarding Arthur Gies’ non-review of Star Fox Zero over at Polygon.]
G: in other news, arthur gies continues to be
a bit of a pretentious tool (by refusing to review star fox
J:is that good/bad, re star fox?
from everything else i’ve read, it’s a bit of a shitshow
G: it’s essentially a bad review that has no score
and claims not to be a review.
i.e. it’s such a mess i can’t even be bothered to
finish it to review it (even though that’s
my job and the game is maybe 5 hours long)
the idea of playing more fills me with the kind of
deep, existential dread I can’t really justify.”
to write about playing a janky video game
to complete a work assignment.
and for it to be a terrible game – well, one can make
the argument that keeping the piece as is
is a good way to get page views and get nerds all angry
his existential dread, push through the
last two hours of the game and put a number on it.
the metacritic average of a game that advertises on their site.
but then why go through this whole charade about
refusing to review it on some kind of purportedly
principled basis of how it is offensive to his immortal soul
that nintendo might have expected him to finish the game?
sucked it up instead of making an arbitrary stand here.
and podcast musings in the past, but he occasionally
lets his brash egotism show too much, and i think
this may be the flagship instance of that.
for another, if a flagship title is going to suck that badly,
why not stick to your guns? there is nothing that will be gained
by his finishing a piece of shit. the idea that
his opinion can only be “complete”
once he puts a number next to it bothers me.
certain standards and procedures – including putting
numbers on games which, while admittedly sometimes
arbitrary and always reductive – as part of
the core content they provide to their readers.
you don’t often hear movie reviewers walk out of a film,
a food critic walk out of a meal,
a music critic walk out of a concert / turn off an album.
and written a review, i’d also have preferred if he
put a number on it without having finished it,
which i think in instances like this is totally fair.
the score would reflect that the game is so bad that
the first couple of hours extinguish any desire to
finish the rest, i.e. even if the last two hours
was ingenious the game would be a 2.
where you’re the reviews editor at a site that does it,
then it seems very prima donna to be all
“ugh, finishing this 4 hour game that
has an invincibility mode is beneath me”
i can think of where *not* finishing a thing is par for the course.
most of the actual consumers also don’t finish.
because i simply don’t give a shit about Nintendo right now.
i can’t even update my 3DS system software, which is
the only Nintendo product I still own –
i’d been thinking about getting Bravely Second,
but I’m not sure I can even buy it if I can’t update the firmware.
so am not really bent out of shape about it…
but the story has pushed me over into
the “arthur gies is a douchebag” camp.
corridor battles and then opened up?
for its over sexualized character design.
as long as the objections to the game are spelled out in the text.
in his non-review, why are you giving him
a hard time this time? because he didn’t finish it?
poor me, i’m not going to follow our site’s standard policy
because i have existential dread about… playing this video game.
he is the reviews editor. their readers have
certain reasonable expectations, and i see
very little reason other than self-indulgence
that he needed to write it up this way.
that’s one thing. if he (and the rest of the staff) feels
that his statement speaks well enough to not
need a rebuttal, that’s another thing.
their numbers were so completely arbitrary, and
reviewers would purposefully be hyperbolic
if only because that’s what the readers expected.
obtuse and pretentious – reviews written as one-act plays,
dialogues between people, etc.
for taking a stand here. maybe he has a
particular fondness for Star Fox from his childhood
and this game was making him so miserable
and unhappy that he decided it wasn’t worth it to continue.
under the guise of some grand offense to his integrity
as a gamer having been committed by this game.
leaving it as-is. I have little-to-no time these days,
and if I’m playing a game that sucks, I feel little-to-no
obligation to finish it. Granted, if I write about it,
I’m writing for an audience of maybe 20 people
and I’m not getting paid, nor are my opinions affecting
people’s salaries and bonuses because I affected a Metacritic average.
a professional game reviewer – much less the head
game reviewer at a leading gaming site –
makes that much, much more excusable.
to a full, scored review, but NO one could suggest any of
your readers has a right to expect certain specific content from you.
polygon does, gies decided, OKAY, I’M GOING TO MAKE A “STATEMENT”!
(b) recognized that his non-review was as much
a review as any numbered piece on their site.
instead, i saw this as him preening.
back in high school, and they were reviewing
Billy Ray Cyrus’ “Some Gave All”, and the entirety of
the one-star review was “Some don’t give a shit.”
as a critic to say “fuck this”… if he weren’t
the reviews editor at a major site that has
certain requirements about reviews.
a freelancer who came back to him and said
“sorry dude, i can’t finish this cuz existential dread.”
and that’s part of their schtick.
polygon tends to take itself more seriously,
which is fine and even generally laudable.
i just don’t see how this was necessary or fits into their content model.
interesting and, e.g., appreciated the issues he raised
about the design of the bayonetta character in his B2 review.
however arbitrary they may be, then be
consistent enough to stick with them.
a reviewer must have finished a game or
made a good faith effort to do so in order to review it.
such impenetrable difficulty spikes that this
represented a real “good faith effort” to finish it.
but in that case, they should have published his piece as a “review”.
from the standards he helped create and oversees.
i.e., what is it that we, as gamers and readers
of critical opinions, expect out of the reviews we read?
they have to put a number next to what they write at all.
based on polygon’s policies were (a) acknowledge
that you made a good faith effort but found the game
so offensive that you couldn’t finish it, and
review it on that basis, (b) push through the
additional TWO HOURS and then review it,
(c) if there was some personal issue that made you
decide you couldn’t finish/review the game,
assign it to someone else, or
(d) shut up about journalistic standards in general.
BUT POLYGON HAS CHOSEN TO DO SO.
from SFTC, i expect to get whatever it is you feel
compelled to write, in whatever form, on whatever topic, etc.
for polygon, a site that links to its ethics policy
on every review and has a fair amount to say
on the topic of gaming journalism as a profession,
i expect them not to toss their policies and standards
over their shoulders to indulge their reviews editor’s
egotistical need to whine about the existential dread
a short, bad game caused him to feel.
like it’s OK for him to have abandoned those principles
in this specific case. I might be chalking that up to
my own feelings about Nintendo, of course;
if he wrote this about something that I
actually cared about, I might feel differently.
at all when you see a specific name attached to an article.
“fuck it, i’m out” at Polygon, that might be something
to consider. but then i’d expect them to
address it a bit more formally.
it would have made far more sense for FF13,
e.g. but this is a 4-5 hour game with an invincibility mode.
“however wonderful this game may get after 15 hours,
it is unreasonable to expect gamers to slog through
that much mediocre content to get to
the rewarding stuff. i gave up before i got there. 6/10″
you do it in a vacuum; you wouldn’t necessarily know
about the game opening up after 15 hours if you gave up at 14:59.
i’ve given up after 5 minutes.
however much the control scheme may have
been a failed experiment, it’s not “broken”.
throw his hands up on a game he’s been assigned
to review for work and instead write a piece about existential dread.
as i know you do. i don’t see how that comes from
a couple of hours of playing a bad game.
i couldn’t draft this contract any more because
it was filling me with existential dread”, i would
expect either to be fired or sent on
short term disability leave on the spot.
because in the piece he is very specific about
what he hates, and what makes him miserable, and
why he refuses to finish it, and why his refusal
to finish it constitutes his personal opinion about it.
writing up a legal contract is not a matter of
expressing one’s personal opinion. the inability to
finish a shitty game because the game is so shitty…
that kinda speaks for itself.
to finish the game and why isn’t the piece a review?
a professional writer to give up on an assignment,
and then hand that assignment in anyway.
for writing a review, then wrote a review anyway.
this kind of thing from a major games site before.
even Alex Navarro’s infamous “Big Rigs” review – he did try.
he might’ve filed it in the “reviews” section for it
to be properly located, but he says it’s not a review,
and acknowledges that he can’t give it an actual score.
the review-writer does not choose the number score.
agrees on a number.
for them to have done that in this case.
to have done that in this case.
having no wii u and having never played a single
minute of any star fox game that preceded this one.)
i’ve never played Star Fox, never owned a WiiU,
have no Nintendo feelings whatsoever.
they’re currently in hibernation.
if their mario games weren’t fucking stellar.
i am hoping the NX delivers because when
nintendo is on their game no one can touch them.
anybody had any strong feelings about this
particular title leading up to its release.
i don’t recall reading any super-exciting preview coverage of it.
i’m not sure how big its following is, but
i’d bet that there’s a very passionate core of star foxers.
a deal as it might seem, even if he’s shitting
on a first-party Nintendo game.