There are plenty of self congratulatory game reviews and interviews out there. Depending on who it is from, sometimes I even eat it up. However, something struck a nerve when I read through the amazingly smug make out session with the writer behind Gears of War 3.
Let me say up front - I love good writing in games. Towards the end of the article, the point is made that "story is gameplay is story" - that the two are inexorably intertwined. It's true, and it is what has made some of my favorites like Braid and Bioshock so spectacular.
Now let me add to that... I think the entire Gears franchise has great gameplay. I did play Gears 2 all the way through. It knew what it was, and the gameplay was distinct, in some ways innovative, and just generally solid (other than some insane multiplayer bug shenanigans).
So what was it in this article that really burned me? Hmm..... oh here it is:
"I deliberately do not play games. I've actually got an Xbox here but if I spent any time playing games I wouldn't do anything else."
What? You are doing an interview about how great your story is in Gears 3, about how you've delivered the franchise from its "shallow plot" inception, about how you had unfettered access to all aspects of the game design.... and you never played it? Gears? The game with the hiding, and the chainsaws, and the catch phrases.....
There are those who don't quite agree that this game's plot represents a sudden immaculate ascension to storytelling nirvana. These snarky plot hipsters seem to feel that Gears 3 doesn't quite escape it's sophomoric past of meathead stereotypes, catch phrases, and gore sprays.
Even still - video games and gaming are always laboring under the yoke of being lesser forms of art and entertainment. I for one think we could always use one more intelligent well written storyteller on Team Gaming, and that's why I challenge and welcome anyone who derides games and gaming to actually sit down and give it a chance. I'd further extend that offer to anyone with a lame excuse for not playing a game they were such an intricate part of.
However, given the unique circumstances here, I think it incumbent upon me to extend the same courtesy to a far more accomplished author than myself and try her approach:
I never played Gears 3, though I did briefly own it as part of an online ordering mix up in which I was trying to get some cheap headphones. I have looked at several pictures of the characters in the game, and I have read several other peoples opinions of the story. Based on that, I think the plot sucks - too little too late and chickening out on a once bold (if shallow) statement of how fun it is to smash things, shoot things, and cut things with chainsaws. I don't need to actually experience the plot to know this, the circumstantial material I've reviewed is full of little clues that make me confident it is so. I mean why even buy the game right? I can just read what people write about it and have just as much fun.
Hmmm... maybe that style just doesn't work for me, but to each his(or her) own. Agree to disagree.