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Grievances

August 11, 2011 Leave a comment

Some gaming related buzzwords that annoy me:

“Leverage”: I see this term being tossed around a lot on industry-specific gaming sites like a beach ball at a concert. Something more annoying than seeing this word repeatedly rear its head in the comments section of articles on websites like Gamasutra is the niggling fact that I can’t quite put my finger on why it irks me whenever I see this term being used in a non-programming related statement. I put this word in the same sinking boat as “whilst”: whenever I see someone use this term, I feel like they’re going out of their way to come up with a synonym to what would most likely be, all things considered, a far more effective word in the first place. Basically, it’s a lot of bullshit that benefits no one. Stop leveraging this word to give your otherwise reiterative statement false weight.

“Skinner Box”: I think we can stop patting ourselves on the back for being able to draw similarities between (social) games and the Skinner Box. This term is now the Mother Teresa/Hitler of gaming arguments; bring up the Skinner Box comparison and POW– you lose.

“Poor/clunky/questionable/lazy + Design”: You see this shit a lot in game ┬áreviews, usually around the part where the reviewer or critic (“journalist”, perhaps?) launches into their “this, but that” diatribe about things that work versus things that don’t work in the game being reviewed. Lately, I’ve been seeing a disturbing amount of reviews call a game’s “poor design” into question. To me, this is the critical equivalent of the part in a daytime talk show where an overzealous audience member stands up and bellows something profound to the effect of, “you gotta take care of them kids” to rapturous applause from the rest of the people in attendance. Although I’m glad to see reviewers move away from the Greg Miller school of game criticism (ie. “I loooooooved/haaaaaated this part!!!!”), I’d much prefer seeing a sentence like “the enemy AI is really unresponsive” instead of an empty statement like “poor combat design”. To me, that’s poor/clunky/questionable/lazy criticism.

Some pop culture shit that annoys me:

There’s that one song by some pop star named Adele called “Rolling In the Deep”, which is the safest R&B song I’ve ever heard. It meanders. It never goes anywhere. And that’s not to say it’s a bad song. When held in the same beam of scrutiny as the latest Katy Perry airborne disease or any such related aural diarrhea, it’s revelatory. It’s problem really isn’t quality, but pacing. Shit’s anticlimactic. If you don’t know what I mean, listen to the chorus. Note how the first few bars start off with the illusion of some kind of crescendo, but immediately tapers off, scampering back into its hole as quickly as it began. Afterwards, listen to the first verse in comparison to the second verse. Listen to the chorus again. Then listen to the bridge. Play that chorus again. For a genre of music that has its roots in the free-form improvisational creativity of jazz and blues, there is nothing dynamic about this song. The first time I heard this song, I literally (and not in the figurative sense) squirmed uncomfortably. There was something almost grotesque about this half-written, half-heartedly performed song that disturbed something very fundamental in my bones.

It’s like watching a heroic boxer that’s taken some bribes to throw the championship fight. The fighter gets into the swing of things, and you think to yourself as you watch them, “there’s no way they can lose, lookit ‘im go.” That’s the first time you hear that first verse. But then, then the fighter catches the stern glimpse of the don, surrounded by his mafioso goons, and he immediately allows the next punch he catches in the cheek to floor him. That’s the chorus. Now he’s pouring all of his acting chops into pretending that, man, that punch knocked the wind out of him. That’s the bridge. Finally, there’s the audience booing the fighter, flipping a middle finger as they turn and walk towards the exit. That’s… just me, I guess. Apparently, Adele is filthy fucking rich off of that one song.