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Make Better Criticism: A Mature Form of Cultural Analysis
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Make Better Criticism: A Mature Form of Cultural Analysis,
2647

IGDA, Lecture

Matteo Bittanti
Game Researcher/Journalist, European Institute of Design, Milan
"If a tree falls in a forest and nobody hears it, does the tree make a noise? Does it even exist?"

What does this classic philosophical dilemma have to do with video games? Nothing. Something. Everything.

In this lecture, Matteo Bittanti argues that what the game industry really needs today is not (only) better games, but rather, better criticism. Whereas the production of games has made staggering advances in the last thirty years, the so-called professional game analysis has not really evolved. Rather, it regressed. Even today, the vast majority of video game magazines are simply "magalogs", consumer guides that talk about games in terms of their technical aspects, often relying on unintelligible, esoteric and self-referential argot. The professional game criticism does not really explain why games work, how games work and what effect they have on people. Will game criticism ever become a mature form of cultural analysis? Will it develop concise, systematic yet accessible concepts that apply to games, or will it remain a form of juvenile pastime? More importantly, can it become interesting for people who play games and for people who donít play (but always wanted to)?

The GDC categorical imperative is "make better games". Time for an update: "make better criticism". Why? Because if you canít explain if, why, how and when the tree fell in the forest, nobody is going to care about the tree. This lecture will provide some hints and tips on becoming better park rangers. Or something like that...

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