So the Atlantic ran an article last week that popped a lot of monocles. Taylor Clark wrote this indepth piece on Braid creator Jonathan Blow and, I’ll be honest, it didn’t offend me in the slightest–primarily because I think my expectations are different than most gamers…more on that later.
Now, I don’t know anything about Taylor Clark except for what is presented in this article: he’s a great writer, he is a big fan of Jonathan Blow, and he is apparently not a fan of anything else (to be fair I don’t actually know if he’s a he, but knowing the industry as I do I’m making an assumption). He goes on at length decrying every game that isn’t Braid, the Witness, or Miegakure; my feathers remained unruffled until he took a swing at Flower.
Twitter was set ablaze with responses to these perceived attacks, often with the responder naming games they thought were superior to Braid. I’m sympathetic to the outrage…but we’re all being a bit stupid.
I don’t know who Taylor Clark is, and I don’t think anyone else does either (people always cite the article by its publication, the Atlantic, when they mention the article). I’m not pointing that out to disparage him! I’m entirely convinced he’s an accomplished writer, and as I mentioned I think the article is very well written…but I assert that we don’t know him because his accomplishments are not within our circle. Case in point: this article is in the Atlantic!
As games increase in relevance, they’ll inevitably become interesting subjects to people who are not us. We know this–we want this–but the unforseen side-effect is that those people are going to write articles that don’t take in the same scope our articles would have. We’re a hugely insular community; how the hell is a traditional journalist supposed to broach the subject of “art games” to their readers when they’re expected to have played (as an example) Ico as a prerequisite? I mean, hell, would we take their opinion seriously on any subject if they don’t own all three home consoles at a minimum?
I think this is why that article didn’t piss me off the way it did (seemingly) everyone else. I think most of us approached that article, in the Atlantic, with an unrealistic expectation that the author would have the same amount of experience as Jerry Holkins.
If this medium’s going to go the places we want it to, we’re going to have to become comfortable with “uncultured” opinions. Starting now.
(photo credit: pixellabphotos)