This Week in Video Game Criticism: The Citizen Flappy Bird of Games
This week, our partnership with game criticism site Critical Distance brings us picks from Kris Ligman on topics including more of the Flappy Bird controversy and whether the game industry itself is a Citizen Kane.
It is forever the failing of the medium that Decisions must be made with a capital-D, structured for presentation of both sides, as if both sides are equally opportune, fuelling the fairy tales we tell ourselves about concepts of free will [...] It is my experience that the only choices that can have meaning are the choice that agonizes, and no choice at all, for in the latter I can point back to afterwards and see a ghost of myself living in it.
Then there are games - even successful ones - that get pushed out the door unready. Games that still carry the scars from the industry's policy to release now and patch later. It's a strategy that amounts to throwing the devs over the cliff and ordering them to build a parachute on the way down, so of course games ship broken. Take Battlefield 4, for instance, which still has systemic problems three months after launch. By all accounts it's a well-made and financially successful game, but rushing it to market marred what could've been a successful launch.
Except according to EA leadership, the launch was successful, and don't tell them otherwise. Like Kane, they're sitting in their opera box, doggedly clapping to drown out the lukewarm applause.
Capitalism is informing what creations are considered good and of value, and what are bad form and derivative. Gamers and others see quality in games that show high production value, and defame games that seem to be a waste of money in this model, EVEN IF THEY ARE FREE GAMES.
Stephen Beirne turns back up again to expound upon Brice's remarks adding that there is an important colonialist/'in-crowd' layer being overlooked in this discussion -- particularly with respect to the reactive Flappy Jam.
Where Candy Jam was activism against corporate greed, with a very clear line drawn between something King.com wanted to stamp down on and a clear expression of resistance through celebration of that thing, it's unclear how Flappy Jam offers moral support by opposing criticism of derivativeness and difficulty [...] Perhaps the idea is to show how it's actually acceptable to make a derivative game if it's made by the right people, to highlight the double-standard of the gaming press and community against 'outsider' developers.
It's a lowbrow/highbrow false divide not dissimilar to the one that tries to privilege 'literature' over genre fiction. Innovation is only important if a game is trying to be innovative. I am far more interested in how well a game does what it is trying to do [...] Flappy Bird realizes what it set out to accomplish. It is not the greatest game ever made, and it should go without saying that you don't have to like it. But it is a good game, and its popularity is a testament to its quality.