There’s going to be some changes around here….
It’s lucky I called this site ‘The Boiling Pot’ and not ‘Derek Reviews Games’. Not just because ‘Derek Reviews Games’ is only slightly worse than ‘The Boiling Pot’, but because the title would have locked me into a specific content category; requiring the purchase of a new web domain to escape. ‘The Boiling Pot’ carries an air of ‘anything goes’ and I’m starting to appreciate the freedom that is about to offer.
As you may have guessed from that statement I’m wanting to change the direction of the site.
I will be reducing the amount of reviews and articles about individual games. I will still occasionally post my thoughts on the games I play, but I think the boiling pot initiative has served it’s purpose. I created TBP to talk about video games and practice writing, and a ‘Review’ site provided the structure for me to achieve both goals.
I’ve written 37 game reviews since the site’s creation a year and a half ago and I now feel like I’m repeating myself. I’m also spotting recurring elements in my own criticisms
I feel frustration and contempt towards elements in games that waste my time, insult my intelligence or attempt to disguise manipulative and compulsive design as fun.
These are games that bloat their content. Games that give inadequate information or un-intuitive solutions on how to the solve the problems they present. Games that have unresponsive controls or unfair difficulty, or have insultingly written dialogue or plot.
I engage with games that trust me to figure out and overcome their challenges – competent at providing the necessary tools and signals to connect the dots without ever needing to be explicit.
I’m drawn to games that make me care about the characters involved and a story that is told to conclusion – one way or another – by the time I reach the end.
Games that take the tone, themes and story and manage to implement these into mechanics are what I considered the peak of video gaming, and distinguishes the platform from any other media.
Every game I have played possess combinations of the above positives and negatives. I’ve recommended avoiding games that sway too far on the negative; and recommended playing those that sway towards the positive. The …intensity of my recommendation depends on how far the needle swings.
And there are plenty of places and people that offer this kind of feedback. Plenty of review sites, curators, youtube videos and so on that allow people make the decision for themselves.
I’m not a complex individual and my taste in games isn’t terribly niche. The games I like aren’t obscure, nor are the games I dislike lauded by the masses.
I’ve spent some time comparing my old and recent reviews and I can see definite development on how I write. I’m even proud of some of these articles – just for the fact that I’m finding them an OK read. Modest sounding this may be, I’m happy that they aren’t awful and I’ll take the little victories.
They’re half way interesting to read too, the problem is that they aren’t terribly interesting for me to write anymore. There are only so many ways that the I can say that ‘the graphics are old but tolerable’ that a game has ‘impactful / weak audio-visual feedback’. So many ways I can say that characters are either interesting and empathetic or boring and loathsome. All just different combinations of the same ingredients.
I want to write about other things.
I want to dive into and write about the effects of video games on people, the relationship the player has with the game and what this relationship says about the player.
I wish to explore the topic of responsibility regarding the production and consumption of the media, and some of the short sightedness that can accompany games in the service of marketing and profit.
I find these topics interesting and important to explore and signal boost.
In the larger scheme of the universe – games aren’t important. If suddenly I couldn’t play any more games I’d be upset, but would probably find another activity to relieve the itch that games were scratching.
However, there are many in this world who feel differently and invest deeply into gaming on both the consumption and productions sides. This investment might not always be healthy and the effect to those invested can be …considerable.
I’m not going to completely stop reviewing games though. Just not every game. If I play a game that really blows me away, or really cheeses my onions – then I’ll stamp a rant.