Thursday, October 14, 2010

Critiquing the critic

As I have probably stated before at some point, I have never been a fan of media critics. They are useful in a broader sense in terms of gauging the general popularity of something, but when it comes down to it, a critics opinion is simply that: an opinion. Just because they brand themselves as and like to think themselves as a critic does not mean that their opinion of something is of greater value than someone else's. Sure, they may have a much more educated analysis of something than the average person, but that is to be expected. It's their job. A job which, as the name suggests, purposefully draws upon the negative aspects of something with greater weight than those of merit. What is a critic if they do not criticise, afterall?

There is also the fact that certain critics already will have a point of view prior to reviewing something anyway. As we are all human, favouring certain genres of film, music or games is something we cannot avoid. Do you expect that say ... a critical review of a fighting game to be of significant quality if the reviewer is not a fighting game fan? What if you did want a less experienced reviewer to give their opinions? Should their negative or positive experiences have any sway over your own thoughts and opinions? The answer should be no. As a free willed conscious entity, you have the right to make your own decisions about things. As you should do whenever possible.

Even the popular Zero Punctuation critical game reviews should not be taken seriously, if at all. Mr Croshaw's approach in his video reviews are meant to be for a particular purpose: entertainment. Without his witty, nihilistic approach to poking at what he perceives to be flaws in games and the gaming industry, I doubt anyone would find them particularly funny. While I do find the majority of them to be entertaining and may even agree with the fellow on various points, there are things that I do think he is wrong about. Which is fine. I have opinions about things, many of which I bring up in this blog. However I don't expect you to agree with me at all, nor would I care if you didn't.

I was originally going to steer this post towards the whole 'entertainment as art' side of things, especially how games are not seen to be, but I don't think I will anymore. The simple reason being is that, having thought about it, I don't really care. If games are not considered art, not even the individual components that make up a game (models, music, textures etc), then so what? It is not like it is a bump in the road the gaming community needs to convince of either fixing or of its general existence. Games are about fun, and if art does not equal fun than I couldn't care less about it. Whether it is someone's opinion whether they are or aren't shouldn't affect how or why you play them.

What originally did inspire me to make this post was having just watched the movie Centurion, a recent film that was not granted much attention. Without giving away the plot, everyone I had talked to who had seen it (not many) said it was average, and reviews on Rotten Tomatoes and IMDB would have you agree. While I won't admit it was the best film I have ever seen, it was definetly better than other films which scored higher on these websites (e.g. Robin Hood). In my opinion, anyway. While it had your stereotypical evil and betrayal dudes/dudettes and a very predictable storyline full of ... average dialogue, it wasn't the sort of film that took itself overly seriously. Some parts were even funny in a terrible sort of way. Plus, it had Imogen Poots in it for a few minutes. I've always had a thing for blondes, but after seeing her in 28 weeks later I have definitely been keeping this actress under my radar.


So I guess the idea of this post is that, generally speaking, you shouldn't blindly take anyone's advice on something. Particularly if it is something you already have a strong gut feeling about. You can't truly form an opinion about something until you try it for yourself and until then, your opinion is kind of void. However, even after having formed a solid opinion, your beliefs don't and shouldn't override someone elses. They are your ideas, and as long as you came upon them via your own means (and not someone elses) then you can voice them as strongly as any 'critic' should. They can't tell you what you do and don't enjoy.

But hey, don't take my word for it. Make up your own mind!

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