In hopes of an actual intelligent conversation, I am providing a point by point response to the article published here regarding Jonathan Holmes’ comments on David Cage and Heavy Rain (http://www.destructoid.com/heavy-rain-creator-really-likes-heavy-rain-196654.phtml). The essential point here is not over the qualities of Heavy Rain nor of David Cage’s hubris, but more about the sad state of a website when a hired journalist is allowed to make such asinine and thoughtless rant. Many others have left some really good replies on the original post itself, but this is my attempt to go through Jonathan’s “arguments” point by point.
Holmes begins his article not with a detailed description of how Heavy Rain may have lifted its mechanics from other games, but openly states he barely played the game for these reasons:
"… the parts I played were corny, hamfisted and hackneyed that I couldn't go on. A red balloon slowly floating into the sky to symbolize the death of a child? Seriously? Is this a lame-ass, art school film project, or a videogame?"
This is not an argument. This is the basest act of trolling out there. “corny, hamfisted, and hackneyed” provide absolutely no critique. Those are general adjectives that are simply used to try to insult those that liked Heavy Rain. If Holmes had a real point to make, he would give specifics and back that up with evidence.
He continues his rant about the red balloon by trying to belittle the game by comparing it to an art school project. So Holmes doesn’t like the use of symbolism… fine. But he is speaking quite ignorantly here. Several renowned film-makers have used the red balloon symbolically in their movies. Are all of these directors on the level of a bad art student? Does Holmes even have a clue what he is talking about, or is he just trolling to justify his own opinion? Maybe if Holmes had actual taken a year of film history he wouldn’t have made such an unjustified slam against Cage for paying homage to such films.
The worst part of his article is when he builds his straw-man and tears it down to delegitimize those that think differently than him. He asserts that people that champion Heavy Rain really don’t care about video games. He states that we only want video games to be accepted by the mainstream like movies and television. How the hell does he know this? What a lazy assessment! It’s easy to tear us down when you build up an argument that is completely baseless. He says he “knows” these people. Care to quote someone?
I will only speak for myself, but I could care less about games being accepted by anyone. What I do care about, is the medium maturing and moving forward. I believe video games can and should be a powerful, interactive story-telling medium. Most games that are loved for their great story are still not fully interactive stories. Heavy Rain was a step in this direction. The story itself was being played. Yes, there were clichés and imperfections, but there was also a real emotional connection for many who played the game. I appreciated a game being placed in a realistic, modern day setting which told a story that was not about “saving the world from evil”. Perhaps Holmes should try understanding opposing viewpoints instead of building straw-men of those that differ in their opinion.
Trying to trivialize Heavy Rain as simply one long QTE is pretty small minded too. The controls are contextual, not just QTE. Yes, QTE is a big element, but trying to dismiss the merits of the game based on this argument really lacks any nuance.
In the end, I really don’t care if any journalist liked Heavy Rain or not. Everyone is entitled to an opinion, but a good journalist better be able to articulate reasons why they hold their opinion. Instead of either showing evidence of how Cage’s arrogant comments were false or giving a real critique of Heavy Rain, Holmes just tried to tear apart a game and its fans without any substance. That sort of thing is expected on many message boards, but not from a paid journalist. I’ve been on Destructoid.com for a short while now and have been pleased with the overall maturity and community of the blogs. This sort of article undermines the integrity of the rest of the site.