Why Write About a Book?

An Editorial About Book Reviews

Editorial - One Year

In fact, if there’s anything I regret from my tenure as review editor, it’s not going far enough to promote different perspectives. I wish I had dedicated more time to pursuing a wider diversity of reviewers, and, especially in the early days of FPS, I regret pushing reviewers to hit that formal, authoritative tone instead of pursuing their own voice and position. It’s to that end, in fact, that I’ve been very grateful for the review model pioneered by Elise Vist, as I think it really draws out the multitude of approaches that can be brought to bear on long-form criticism, asking what a given work meant to the reviewer’s research, to the field, the classroom, and to the reviewer personally. These are questions worth asking. Most of all, though, I regret not stepping further out of the academic field in terms of the books themselves. I’m proud of how multidisciplinary the reviews are—we’ve got reviews about ethnography and sociology, genre and gender, games for health and game culture. There’s some edging towards criticism outside of academia, but not enough. Further, I would have liked more reviews on things that blur the line of engagements with games entirely: gamebooks, game art books, longform criticism like Leigh Alexander’s Lo-Fi Let’s Plays. Chris will have his own vision of where the Book Reviews will go, but these are my own roads not traveled. Continue Reading

Looking Back & Looking Ahead

An Editorial from the Essays Editor

Editorial - One Year

I have no idea where the field is going, but I can say where I’d like it to go in general terms. I hope to see a further focus on two concepts in particular, subjectivity and complexity. Subjectivity is important for the obvious reason that videogames are played by humans. A critical methodology that ignores subjectivity is, in my view, missing an important piece of the puzzle. As Stephanie Jennings puts it, “the critic’s subjectivity, experiences of playing a game, and even personal identity are… part of the game text under analysis.” The idea that objectivity is desirable or even remotely possible in criticism is, in my view, absurd. Sure, we can discuss the formal characteristics of a thing, but the characteristics we choose to examine and how we interpret them is going to depend on the person. Luckily, I think we’re at the point where the push for objectivity is disappearing and more or less confined to the comments sections for AAA game reviews. Still, the examination of subjectivities is something I’d like to keep seeing. Continue Reading

One Year

My 365 Days Playing FPS

Editorial - One Year

Previous editorials at First Person Scholar have correctly discussed the important position held by middle-state publishing. I’m inclined, however, to talk a bit more personally about my relationship with FPS. The benefits I’ve had from my involvement are likely also felt by some other scholars involved in similar (and awesomely dissimilar) projects, but at heart this writing is in no way aimed at objective claims that can be assigned to every middle-state-publisher – this is just about the one I think of as partially mine. Continue Reading

Meta-Commentary

The Last of Us & the State of Games Criticism

Editorial - Commentaries

[The following article contains spoilers regarding The Last of Us involving a conversation between the two main characters. It is unrelated to the main plot but may be considered a crucial moment of character building.] This is the moment I’ve been waiting for in videogames, for so many reasons. This subtle withdrawal of the dialogue is a tasteful moment of maturation for the format. Films such as Sophia Coppola’s Lost in Translation and Jean-Luc Godard’s Contempt feature similar moments and, while not suggesting that games need emulate film, the inclusion of this moment in The Last of Us effectively raises the bar for storytelling techniques in game production. (And we’re all waiting for that landmark game to come about. Where is our Citizen Kane? Continue Reading