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The Alligators Have Good Graphics | The House Next Door | Slant Magazine
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The Alligators Have Good Graphics (#110 of 2)

The Alligators Have Good Graphics, Vol. 2 Princesses in Other Castles

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The Alligators Have Good Graphics, Vol. 2: Princesses in Other Castles

Hothead Games

The Alligators Have Good Graphics, Vol. 2: Princesses in Other Castles

If the past year has seen the critical gaming community boom, there seem to be two games that best represent that explosion: Braid and BioShock. A great deal has been written about the two titles and their themes have been explored. Likewise, both were very well-reviewed and have sold extremely well. They’re both interesting from a critical perspective and extremely enjoyable. Their richness makes them appealing for gamers interested in critical discourse, but their popularity and thematic accessibility make those discourses accessible to nearly everyone. Neither title was the first to offer thematic depths, but they seem to have come along at the right moment.

It’s interesting, then, that a great deal of the critical community has reacted somewhat negatively to Braid’s themes. There have been several negative readings of the title. While it’s not surprising to find some dissenters when presented with a title as highly praised as Braid, I think the so-called dissenters deserve better than an outright dismissal. I adore Braid, and I consider it a masterpiece, but I find myself in nearly complete agreement with many of its harshest criticisms.

The Alligators Have Good Graphics, Vol. 1 Beginning Game Criticism, Vol. 1

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The Alligators Have Good Graphics, Vol. 1: Beginning Game Criticism, Vol. 1

Capcom

The Alligators Have Good Graphics, Vol. 1: Beginning Game Criticism, Vol. 1

The Internet has been extremely successful in making things seem bigger than they are. If you judge by the Internet, you’d probably think film criticism, amateur and otherwise, is a healthy and thriving hobby that a large portion of society partakes in. We know that’s not really true, with most of society paying to see movie sequels where the only thing new are the articles that have been taken out of the title. But the Internet is still full of highly-read film, TV, music and literary criticism. Much of that criticism is good criticism. Decades of slowly evolving art criticism have finally given birth to a world where a large number of people do engage in meaningful discussion, by reading or writing, on a daily basis.

It seems strange, then, that the most technological of all entertainment forms, video games, has almost no criticism to its name. There are thousands of sites devoted to writing about games and hundreds of thousands of people talking about games, but almost no one is doing so from anything resembling a critical perspective. There’s the occasional exception, but most game writing is either industry analysis or qualitative reviewing (usually amounting to some variation of “EA (Electronic Arts) is evil” and “I can’t move and shoot…FAIL”). Video game criticism, as a form, just doesn’t exist.