Criticism Not Cynicism

criticism

In the age of Twitter, YouTube, and blogs, it has become increasingly easier to express our opinions to others. I think this is great. It’s opened the door for people who may not have had the opportunity to land a job with a large publication previously. The more diverse voices we get commenting on video games the better. With more and more voices joining the discussion surrounding video games every day, the unfortunate truth is that some of those turn out to be angry yells by individuals plugging their ears against differing opinions. For many, their stance is more important than the games themselves. Now obviously, it’s not wrong to have a stance, but anyone who has a true love of the medium will be more interested in furthering the overall discussion of games rather than standing firm on one opinion. We don’t need more people talking about how bad a game is or how much worse one console is thananother. We need more people presenting well thought-out views, and listening to those of others. More critics and less cynics please.

You may be thinking that I’m advocating for less people talking about video games. That’s not the case at all. The only think I’m advocating is more critical thinking. I would gladly listen to someone praise a game I dislike or tear down one I do like as long as they make clearly thought-out points. Just saying “That game sucks!” isn’t good enough. The more thought you put into dissecting what it is about a game you didn’t like, the more you’ll understand what components of games you do like. You might even realize that there are portions of the game that are good. Games are complicated and large creations, assigning them a blanket description of bad just doesn’t do it justice.

MGS2

I would gladly explain why I can’t stand this game.

Don’t hear me saying that you can’t just call a game bad. I say that games are crappy or bad all the time. If someone asked me what I thought about Metal Gear Solid 2, I’d say it sucks. If they happened to like the game, and said that they thought it was pretty good, I wouldn’t call them stupid or just keep repeating that it sucks. This is where the difference lies. If someone is just asking for your quick opinion, give them a quick answer. If they want to know more or question that answer, be prepared to give good reasons. The circumstance in which a quick “It sucks” or brutal tear-down of a game is not acceptable is when you are, of your own accord, presenting your ideas for others.

The quick vitriolic comments I’m describing actually do come from a good place. People don’t get angry about things they’re not passionate about. That’s why I hate to see angry rants in videos or forums. There’s clearly a lot of emotion and passion for video games there, and it’s a shame that those people aren’t taking more time to think through their thoughts and present unique ideas. The internet allows more people than ever to present ideas, but it offers it so easily and quickly that many do not take the appropriate amount of time to build and develop those ideas. Every single person encounters art, music, literature, and games differently. They have unique emotions and thoughts connected to their individual experiences with a specific work. It’s a shame that these thoughts sometimes get boiled down to memes and hyperbolic statements.

I’m partly writing this to vent and partly writing this in the hope that it’ll hit home with at least one person. Even just one more critical thinking voice in video games discussions is a big win. I hope that more people enter this discussion with unique thoughts and ideas. I hope that video games start reflecting the diverse audience that is already a part of video game culture. I hope that you didn’t stop reading when I said I didn’t like Metal Gear Solid 2. If you’ve wanted to start a blog or video series, I’ll give you the best advice anyone ever gave me, just DO IT. More diverse voices will eventually result in more diverse games, and that’s great for everyone. Just make sure you’re a critic and not a cynic.

If you really want to know why I don’t like Metal Gear Solid 2, or if you would like to hear my opinion on another game, send me an e-mail at dweebjar@gmail.com.

You can follow me on Twitter @jakecrump

If you’d like, you can support my writing here

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