There is a part of video game journalism that may be somewhat unique to this field of journalism, something that I want to banter with you lot today: The awkward balance between the self and professionalism.
The balance between your personality and following the ethical codes of journalism is one that exists within every branch of journalism: From musical reviews to news about tragedies all the way to the dry subject of economics. If you go with cold professionalism, it'll likely be an inaccessible dense wall of words able to bore even the intimately familiar. If you go with just your personality, chances are you'll stumble over one or two ethical codes and unintentionally give someone an unfair time.
“But Rio, you sour-faced bundle of sticks with a yeast infection, why is this unique to the field of games journalism?”. Firstly, please don't say that, that hurts my feelings. Secondly, it is unique because of the culture that exists in our video game environment.
After the wake of Gamer Gate (if you believe it to be a well-meaning force or a cruel campaign against women), games journalism is constantly scrutinised for corruption in a similar style to an inquisition force. Any perceived stepping over the boundaries as personally decided will be met with waves upon waves of electronic hate. On the other-hand, those disillusioned or still swooned by journalism are flocking around Let's Play channels (including some that make more per person in profits than an entire games journalism website does prior to costs), excited for how the various personalities present what the games are like along with an entertaining show.
Usually this balance is kept in check through arms-reach enthusiasm. We wouldn't sully our hands with favourites when reporting, while cherishing what got us into the industry in the first place to keep us from becoming emotionally dead. Occasionally this is breached to the fury of the audience, but usually the balance is kept.
Other times it is breached without the fury of the audience, like the time Rock Paper Shotgun's John Walker interviewed Peter Molyneux.
Except, sometimes, I believe it is improper to keep the balance.
Sometimes something is so instinctual, so emotionally-attached and so much a part of us that to keep the balance would do disservice. To quote Hunter S Thompson: "You can't be objective about Nixon.". I bring this up as most games I review I don't have a personal desire to see flourish or fall. I might have vague hopes or indistinct expectations, but I never actively personally want a game to do well.
Then there's the exception to the rule. For me, it is Zero Escape: Zero Time Dilemma. I've rambled a lot in the past about how the previous title in the series, Zero Escape: Virtue's Last Reward, made me care about video games again. I still consider it my favourite game and my favourite narrative in any medium, even with its various plot holes and flaws. It means so much to me that while I'll likely still attempt to act professional when reviewing ZE:ZTD, it feels wrong to do so.
I was one of many people trying to support Operation Bluebird after the writer Kotaro Uchikoshi announced on Twitter with a heavy heart that Zero Escape would not see a finale to its trilogy. I tried to raise awareness of the game, in hopes that maybe a publisher would take a chance on it if enough people showed desire of a sequel. It is the only visual novel I've sat down and played multiple times, knowing the twists and turns but still being impressed by it. It is also the only one I've watched someone else play, gleefully watching them react in awe, shock and confusion as they try to solve the plot prior to completion.
I still regret the time I spoiled a twist in Zero Escape: Virtue's Last Reward when in my drowsy state I realised why an event occurred and exclaimed it out loud.
At this point, to walk into reviewing ZE:ZTD with absolute professionalism, I may as well dissect a tragedy with statistics, quantify love and describe Thatcher's time as prime minister. In the end, I'd miss the personal touch to it. I'd be ignoring how ZE:ZTD for me isn't just a visual novel with a story which may be good or may be bad. That I'll be walking in emotionally-invested at the get-go due to my history; begging and pleading for it to be as good or better than ZE:VLR. I'd be simplifying the personal connection I'll be having with the game (one finishing a trilogy) to a simple review declaring “this is good” or “this is bad”.
At that point, I may as well be doing an objective eulogy.
I am still not sure how I'm going to approach reviewing Zero Escape: Zero Time Dilemma. Currently I follow closely any news about the development, trying to find some way to flex my journalism prowess (or, rather, lack of) with regards to the up-and-coming title with a 2016 release. There was a demo showing in San Francisco roughly the same time as the Game Developers Conference that sadly was a good few miles out of my reach. I'm currently hoping they'll visit EGX Rezzed early next month so I can do a preview piece on it, hoping to already work out how I'm going to tackle the game when it hits a release. I doubt they will, but one can hope.
At that, let's leap on into the recaps below!
* - Characterisation is an important part of any story, either luring you deeper into the swamps of immersion or acting as a splash of cold water to your dreaming. While not my cup of tea, Forgotten Bastion talks about their love for Goofy in Kingdom Hearts and how sometimes in a plot you should allow characters to be their happy selves. After all, a cast of characters who are always mature and serious often come off as try-hard and immature in their lack of range of emotions.
A – Ports of older games seems to always bring up conversations of “things I wish would get the port treatment”. Rabite has used the stage created by the announcement of a SNES virtual console on the 3DS to talk about games they've like to see. I'm still hoping for Bushido Blade on the PS4, with maybe an online mode added, so I can finally conquer the 100 enemy corridor without a defeat. One day...
A – Damn Fuzunga is just furious with the X-Box One; as in white blinding rage, the type you black out from and wake up with bloody knuckles. Although it is appropriate this recap is being posted the same day Microsoft announced Fable Legends is being cancelled, Press Play Studios is being closed and there being severe talks about closing Lionhead Studios as well. Things just have been going badly for Microsoft this gen.
This week, I've been mostly listening to: Nothing's Gonna Hurt You Baby by Cigarettes After Sex.
I just hope the embed works this week.
C – Some thoughts about the Dark Souls series and Bloodborne by Blazewii.
C – A brief moment of anxiety by AlexBrub concerning trying to make an avatar that represents you in a game.
R – Lord Spencer reviews the DS title Lufia: Curse of the Sinistrals. Although there is one interesting note in how he blames Destructoid for not reviewing it despite interest: Sometimes the lack of a review is due to reasons outside of a gaming website's control. For instance, I've seen instances of publishers completely ignoring game websites in favour of Let's Players in terms of review copies. There have also been one or two instances where they seemed to not give out review copies at all (I can think of one recent title in particular). Not saying that this happened in this case, just it may not have been Destructoid's fault for not reviewing it.
R – Tokora reviews Adventures of Mana. I think the best advice I could give, if you're trying to enter the reviewing scene, is to read/watch reviews you enjoy and work out what you enjoy about them. As it is, it reads like an university essay in the sense that it is functional but lacks a personality to it. Although it is still a good review, especially for a first attempt.
Perhaps the comparison between Thatcher and Nixon is incorrect, considering after she died Ding Dong the Witch is Dead reached the UK Music Charts and on the same day as her funeral people celebrated her death. I don't think the American people went that far when Nixon died. Then again, Thatcher did a lot of pretty terrible things.
? - I...Is this bad? What am I looking at Fyompu?
I still think a particular conversation in Nine Hours, Nine Persons, Nine Doors is a narrative fail.