“Time is the thing we have the least of… I don’t want people to waste their time on something they’re not going to enjoy.”
That’s what Arthur Gies, the reviews editor for Polygon says at the outset of the publication’s latest episode of its navel-gazing web series, Press Reset. The episode, the series’ seventh, is titled “FunFactor™,” which I assume is a nod to the jargon and useless lingo game critics have invented to articulate to readers whether a game is good or bad. At the end of the day, that’s all we really care about, right? Traditionally, games are supposed to be fun, and they either are or aren’t.
I doubt anyone will disagree with me there.
But the problem I have as a game critic, a member of the media, and as a regular human being is the implication that Game Critics somehow know more than the people for whom games are made: players. Regular Joes. Whatever you want to call them. There are far more of them than folks who will bemoan shouldering the thankless task of reviewing a video game.
Look, what’s fun for me may not be what’s fun for you. That doesn’t mean that either of us are right or wrong. It’s just a fact that life is subjective. When we look at the same banana, we aren’t registering the same shade of yellow in our eyes. One of us might be color blind. One of us might be allergic to bananas. One of us might not be able to see at all. But just because I have a louder megaphone and have “studied” bananas, does that mean I’m somehow more right than you are?
No. Of course not.
And yet, this mentality remains.
There’s a literal divide that exists, of course, on every article online. My name will be at the very top of this piece. Your name will be at the bottom. That’s just the way these things are laid out. And either my piece (review, preview, whatever) will be used to spark a conversation or you’ll ignore it and move on. That’s fine. It’s just my opinion.
There’s nothing wrong with reviewers. As a consumer, I think they do a thankless task. As a critic myself, I feel we are largely unnecessary and peripheral. I am grateful to get the work and feel I bring a different take to the stuff I write about than some folks out there shaking down money doing the exact same stuff.
But I would never get the audacity to claim that I know best for how you should be spending your time. Games critics are not curing cancer. In a thousand years we will be forgotten and dead. And I don’t know about you, but I would much rather be spending the limited time I have on earth living my life and pursuing my goals — not strong-arming others with my opinions on video games. It’s my opinion. It doesn’t have to be yours.
Because ultimately, we are just older (and not necessarily more mature) versions of this kid: