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GameCritics.com changes with the times

Chi Kong Lui's picture

It's finally here (removes shrink-wrap from website). Drum roll please... I'm proud to unveil the new redesign of GameCritics.com. For those who have been keeping track, this is actually the third version of the site since it debuted seven years ago in July of 1999. I didn't really appreciate just how long ago that was until I came across some old articles while I was prepping the new site for launch that reminded of how different a time it was.

It's strange to recall a time when the mainstream press rarely covered the games industry and the very idea of approaching videogames in a more culturally serious and mature perspective was practically unheard of outside of the defunct Next-Generation magazine (R.I.P.). Gamers were universally thought of as geeks and the love of Super Mario wasn't something you proudly brandished on a first date (especially if you were hoping for a second one).

Today, StarCraft is Korea's national past-time; couples meet and get married while playing MMORPGs like EverQuest; and the title of professional gamer is actually a career path for many. The mammoth popularity of franchises like Madden, The Sims, GTA and Halo made the PS2 and Xbox cool must-have toys of Hollywood A-listers and ensuing controversies had politicians talking about "violence" and "hot coffee" on CNN. Academic studies dedicated to videogames gave birth to ludology and the advent of the blog created a platform for writers of something that may or may not actually exist: new games journalism (the jury is apparently still out on that one). While videogames still isn't widely considered high art (or any other form of art for that matter), people regularly debate the topic and no longer snicker at the notion even if Nintendo's latest game console is called the Wii.

GameCritics.com used to be considered unique for being a "serious" gaming site, but that's far form the case today. Countless blogs, columns and websites sprung up to create a new world order that seemingly outpaced us in relevancy, but what determines relevancy is a funny thing. It's not that our ideas and views weren't smart enough or passé. Many of our critics successfully tackled and addressed in their writing much of the so-called deficiencies in writing about videogames long before the arrival of the blog. But in today's overcrowded and overloaded information superhighway, it seems like you need to be associated with the right people or identify with some bandwagon or fancy buzz word like ludology or new games journalism to be considered relevant. In this day and age, simply being good is not good enough.

The goal of the first redesign in 2002 was to establish a strong visual identity/brand that stood out from the crowd and properly represented who we were and what we wanted to do. The update that you now see in 2007 is about relevancy. By providing our staff and community with current tools and technology, I hope we can address the two issues that I believe has prevented the site from reaching its full potential: timing and productivity. We need to produce content that is relatively timely to current events and do it more often. Only once these two issues have been resolved will we find out if the GameCritics.com brand of accessibility, usefulness, intelligence and diversity is truly relevant and of value to the world.

I invite you to join us on this journey of discovery.

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Mainstream Press

I think the mainstream press's main interest in video games is A) the amount of customer time and money games soak up, especially if it takes away from Hollywood, and B) the rise of professional players and televised competitive games. I'm afraid that topic C), Games as Art, isn't on their agenda. Chi, you once mentioned that Michael Jordan's best plays on the court were an artform, but how much did the press write about that, compared to money, statistics, or off-court shenanigans?

I'm looking forward to Japanese game developers becoming movie makers, as their rendered CG look has more mainstream potential than typical anime, but Gamecritics didn't review FF7 Advent Children. How about Machinima? Do you want to write about that?

Hmmmm

Ugh, hate the new look. So generic and cluttered.

Agreed. Maybe it will take

Agreed. Maybe it will take time, but I really liked the old setup. And is it just me or are are the reviews lacking scores?

Glad to see I'm not alone in

Glad to see I'm not alone in this, but I also don't like the new look. It's commendable how this website wants to be for "serious gamers", but a home page with nothing but text and advertisements is not the way to grab an internet surfer's attention. I also miss the scores for the games.
Like I say, if it ain't broke, don't fix it.

I don't see any scores

I don't see any scores either with these new reviews. Some of them have been re-reviewed with no scores such as DQVIII, Bully, Yakuza. Banana Blitz is the only 'real" new review and it has no score either.

I hope this isn't going to be the new trend!

Review Scores

I found the scores. Let's see if anybody else can now!

I don't believe you. And

I don't believe you. And honestly, if there ARE scores, why hide them?

I just think it odd. Has the whole "game ratings" idea get so out of hand that GC feels that it diminishes the review if you are forced to assign a numerical value to it? Please tell me that there are scores and GC hasn't totally flipped out on us.

Reviews/consumer guides

Having separate links on the main page for a review and a consumer guide to the same game looks glitchy and seems like a pretty inefficient use of primetime space. Isn't there a way to consolidate them into one link?

For reviews....

Highlight right under the last sentence and you will see it. I think it is a dumb move to hide them but at least they are there.

Too much text hurts the

Too much text hurts the eyes.

The basic rule of website layout: it has to look good. Otherwise people won't stay to read. More pictures would fix this.

Also, consider a delineation between reviews and news, perhaps by using tinted boxes.

review vs. consumer information

I agree with what one of the above posters said regarding having the review separate from the consumer advice. It would be nice if there could be a way to condense the two together in terms of how it appears on the front page while still keeping the content separate. Like maybe the links to the review and the consumer advice could appear side-by-side instead of one on top of the other.
Hmm, (goes to look back at the front page) actually I think maybe the issue is just the title of the game itself appearing twice. So maybe the title of the game could just appear once, and then the review and consumer advice subheadings could be under it without having the title appear twice as a main heading.
Other than that, I think it looks pretty good.

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