Today there was a pretty good discussion over at EvilAvatar, discussing the so-called NGJ (New Games Journalism) where the formulaic review is eschewed in favor of the more colloquial and personal review.
I won’t duplicate the links here, you can follow them from EA. I did want to elaborate a little more on what I mentioned in a comment there (I go by i_aint_yer_pa). I really think gaming blogs are going to fill the void produced by reviews of games that lack emotion. They won’t be reviews per-se, they will be more like impressions and experiences that people have with a particular game. I mentioned my experience with The Legend of Zelda: Wind Waker. As I was playing through WW, I stopped playing more than once to take in the environment and admire its artistry and beauty. The under-water palace is one of the more sublime experiences I’ve had playing video games. It has been a long time since I felt a part of a video game, but in that instant, after I had vanquished all my foes and I was alone in the great hall, I just looked around in awe. When I descended the stairs and saw the marvelous stained glass windows, I was absolutely immersed. I try to convey in words what I felt but they still feel inadequate. Nevertheless, people who have played the game understand what I mean and hopefully people who haven’t played the game will consider giving it a try, if nothing else because they want to have a similar experience.
That’s the kind of thing I want to read about when I read snippets and reviews about games. I’ve already sworn off previews, I want to read about how people have been affected by a game. This isn’t going to happen all the time, but when it does, I want to read about it. I want to have similar experiences. That’s why I think gaming blogs will become more of a source of gaming trends and become more influential in gaming purchase decisions.
As a small example, I point to GTA:SA as a hint of what could happenin. The “main-stream” review sites are giving it high marks. But then I read things from bloggers complaining about certain aspects of the game, I have two sides to weigh. But it’s nice to know that there’s more than just the unending praise that some of the bigger sites (and print magazines) give to games. I wish I could have read a review similar to what I wrote about Fable before I plunked my fifty hard earned dollars down for that stinker. I probably would have still purchased Fable, but at least I would have a better idea of someone elses experience. Not whether it pushes 30 fps or sounds fantastic in surround sound but if it was fun and as immersive as was promised. That would have been a start.
Well see how these things develop. It will be interesting.