Thursday, November 24, 2011
I have an editorial up at Kotaku Australia which is a response to an editorial that Rock Paper Shotgun's John Walker wrote on Wednesday. In this editorial I might say one or two crazy things like "Modern Warfare 3 is my favourite game of 2011" and "You are playing it wrong!". So nothing too crazy.
I won't waste your time repeating what I say there here, but I felt I needed to write this as I am tired of a game's worth being measured in "freedom". I think there are plenty of valid criticisms to be leveled at Modern Warfare 3, but not being able to be a leader or to choose where you go isn't one of them. Talk about it's (arguable) glorifying of war or the complete lack of female characters or the implausibility of its plot if you wish. You can even talk about how it is or isn't well paced and how the set-pieces are or aren't well directed, but judging it simply for being a linear game is wrong, I feel.
And certainly, Walker's piece did make some of these valid criticisms, and that is cool! My disagreement should be seen as specifically towards those bits of his article that discuss the game is terms of choice or lack thereof. Such as his title.
Related, here is an old blog post I wrote last year when I played the first Modern Warfare and was utterly surprised at how much I enjoyed it despite my complete lack of agency.
UPDATE: Walker has now written a response to my response to his post on Rock Paper Shotgun. While moving away from a form of game criticism obsessed with player freedom and privilege is central to my interests and studies, I'm kind of over forwarding this very narrow debate centered on a single game. So instead of repeating my arguments in response to Walker's repetition of his own and continuing this ad infinitum, I'll just leave this as my closing remark and walk away:
If someone is reading a book you despise or watching a film you hate, you might tell them that it is a horrible book/film, but you wouldn't tell them that it isn't a book/film. Yet we seem to do this all the time with games. I hate this. If any videogame regardless of its quality does not fit within your definition of what a videogame is, the problem is with your definition, not the game.