Around the ‘Sphere: Critical Hits

After the NBI Workshop video I got some emails asking what game and game music was playing in the background. This is one of them. Enjoy the treat 🙂

Ladycroft over at Link Saves Zelda wrote a great piece titled Being a Critical Fan. It’s a light article on a hard topic, and a good reminder to us all that we can enjoy our games while also being critical of them. I spoke with a friend this weekend about game criticism and the discussions the community has on social issues, and he made the point that people get exhausted with the problems. That’s to be expected, I think and I think much of the time people aren’t as exhausted as they are exasperated, unsure of what they can do to help things. And I think this is part of the explanation of why it’s so difficult for many gamers to be critical fans. There’s a desire to just forget about the issues and simply enjoy the game, and that’s alright. But what happens when we take that mindset to far? When we refuse to even acknowledge that there’s a problem? There’s a time to let things go and a time to pay attention and act. It’s tough being a critical fan (I should know), but we don’t make it easier on one another by attacking, ignoring and slandering critics.

All the same, we can’t have better games without criticism. This is one of those things we have to learn to do if we want to continue to enjoy games.

My good buddies Izlain and J3w3l have released the latest episode of Couch Podtatoes. This week’s episode is diversity and they leave us with some great questions. J3w3l asks us: if we could change one of favorite characters what would we change about them?  She then describes how awesome Gambit would be if he were a woman. I have to agree: that would make for a helluva interesting Gambit.

If you’re not aware it’s a new podcast for gamers that focuses on what’s happening in the community. I think it’s off to a great start and I always find the conversations fun to listen in on. These two have great personalities and even though they’re new to podcasting, they do it like naturals. Have a listen to this show with your morning coffee or evening tea or your ride to pick up that pizza. It’s worthwhile.

Something not getting around the Blogosphere that was also brought up in Podtatoes is retirement of Rob Pardo from Blizzard. Perhaps we’re all still stunned, but no one seems to find this interesting I suppose. I do find the timing fascinating and I definitely believe it’s related to the recent topics surrounding diversity in video games. We may never know the true reasons for his departure, but a few things are for sure: It was unplanned, abrupt and not really on an upbeat. He has no plans and has no idea what he will do next. So this can’t be chalked up as an amicable split where he just moves on, because he hasn’t moved on to anything.

I hope a larger than life discussion about diversity at Blizzard exploded around the office when he made those comments. I hope they’re renegotiating their culture and  I hope they’re looking at their games and saying “you know what, our fans our correct – there’s a problem here we need to address”. Pardo didn’t believe there was a problem at all and his statements made clear that as Creative Director he had no intention of addressing diversity in Blizzard games. Difficult to be creative when you’re hell bent on changing nothing (creativity is the embodiment of change). I wis him well, truly. He’s helped deliver amazing games to us. But I think his departure is for the better. I look forward to the work we see coming out at Blizzard in the near future and I’ve even put Warlords of Draenor back on my watchlist. We shall see how this goes.


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