Re: Games: A New Critical Approach
...well imagine that. I saw this thread a few days ago and thought, "When I register, I'm gonna post in that." Didn't expect someone to beat me to the punch. :b
Anyway, I'd say on the whole, the article is good. Anyone who finds a use for literary theory in game criticism is awesome in my book.
On the other hand, even though the New Critics were cool dudes, I don't care for the four criteria they established. That's a personal bias I have, and a problem I have with them, not you. However, you should keep in mind that a lot of people consider New Criticism an old way of thinking.
That's just the premise of the article. As for the article itself--
Your discussions of tension, paradox, and irony are good introductions to each issue. I get a clear sense of how these cool aspects of literature are also what I like in video games. You also don't dwell on each point for too long--with this piece, we only want to get the general gist of the thing. You don't want to get too deep, or else we'd be here all day. The examples you have are well chosen and do a good deal of the arguing for you.
I'm also not sure what you mean in the ambiguity part. I'm guessing your point is that the task is ambiguous to the gameplay. For instance: I know I'm supposed to move a reticule around and hit a fire button, but the task could be "blow up dragons" or "create cool music." In that case, your argument seems to be that gameplay and atmosphere are two distinct entities, and that distinction creates ambiguity. (To be specific, "move a reticule" would be gameplay while "blow up dragons" would be atmosphere.)
However, if gameplay and atmosphere are two naturally distinct entities, how can we say one game is more ambiguous than another? All games have tasks which are ambiguous to their gameplay. With a sprite change, I could make Super Mario Bros a game about a cow that jumps on ants and rescues a calf every fourth stage. This isn't a guideline for valuing one video game over another--this is a guideline for appreciating all video games equally.
That's assuming I understood your argument, though.
Also, I think Pedro's suggestions are well put. Progression in particular strikes a chord with me. Video games are constantly teaching you things so that you can perform more difficult things later. Tutorials and difficulty curves are local to video games, and they're both crucial to a game's progression.
Last edited by Golem; 12-29-2010 at 04:12 AM.