一位遊戲評論家的基本素養:爲用戶甑別遊戲存在的閃光點

原文作者:Chris Plante 譯者:Megan Shieh

“你爲什麼討厭遊戲?”作爲一個遊戲評論家,我最常被問到這個問題。沒有一個遊戲評論家是不喜歡遊戲的,正是因爲出於對遊戲的喜愛——一種深不可測的、挑剔的、毫不妥協的愛,我們這些人才選擇成爲專業的電子遊戲評論家。有許多其他的工作薪水更高,耗時更少,而且工作描述中也不包括‘會在Twitter上被陌生人罵’。

與一般人相比,我玩過的遊戲可以說是數不勝數,因此平均數定律不可避免地開始生效。玩過的遊戲越多,眼光就變得越挑剔,遊戲中總是有那麼一兩個點會將我從沉浸感中拉出來,這些點可能是角色、劇情、玩法概念,也可能是發行商強行帶入遊戲的乏味微交易。

比起千篇一律的人設和背景故事,我更喜歡那些顛覆前作假設的人物和故事。我希望遊戲中的暴力是帶有目的性的。我欣賞那些珍視我的時間和金錢的遊戲。

一般人會根據自己的喜好選擇遊戲;而我選擇遊戲則是因爲它們出現在了我的谷歌日曆上(“選擇”這個詞對我來說不適用,準確地說是“我被分配了遊戲”)。

每年都會出現幾款真心好玩的遊戲;許多遊戲都不錯;大部分都過得去;有些不好玩;其他的呢…一轉眼就忘了。我試着不帶偏見地去玩每一款遊戲。

由於職責所在,因此玩遊戲的時候我必須對自己誠實,然後和讀者交流我的真實感受。我的意見本身無關緊要;重要的是,我用一種可以給讀者提供價值的方式來分享這些觀點。也就是說玩遊戲時,我以自己的角度出發;寫作時,我以讀者的角度出發。

遊戲評論家就像是在尋找黃金的礦工。有時候藝術是有生命的、充滿活力的,在地表上等待着,渴望被找到;其他時候它是死的,已經被埋葬了的,不過如果有人有足夠的耐心願意去挖掘,他們就能找到一些微小的線索,從而找到那些隨着電子遊戲業的發展而被埋葬了的藝術品。

沒有任何一家開發商會故意投入多年的時間來製作一款不完整的、不好玩的、毫無創意的遊戲;就像沒有遊戲評論家會爲了寫出一篇連自己都看不下去的800字文章,而投入一週的時間去玩一款二流的冒險遊戲一樣。開發商和評論家渴望的東西是一樣的——與衆不同。

有些人會問我:“既然遊戲不好玩又沒亮點,那爲什麼還要堅持玩下去?”因爲我總覺得我會找到一些東西,一些能夠表達開發者的夢想、雄心和信仰的東西。我想要找到這些東西來和你們分享,這樣如果你們也選擇去玩這款遊戲的話,就能知道如何更有效地利用你的時間。

有時候很難找到這些微小的黃金礦脈;有的時候連找都找不到;有時候花費了大量的時間,最終找到的只是一個冰涼的,毫無樂趣的核心;但根據我的經驗,一般的遊戲都是帶着少許黃金的不完美礦脈。

paper_fox_crop(from gamasutra.com)

paper_fox_crop(from gamasutra.com)

對這些不完美遊戲的熱愛多年來一直伴隨着我。我也欣賞像《塞爾達》還有《輻射》這類的鉅作,它們的製作團隊擁有大量的時間、才能和金錢,但它們不是我最喜愛的遊戲類型。

相反,我更喜歡的是《武士道之刃》和《武士道之刃 2》,開發商用血條和連擊這兩種機制彌補了操作不流暢的缺陷;還有《地球防衛軍2017》,一個堅持了10年的、充滿了bug的開放世界遊戲,它的規模感至今尚未被超越;《重力眩暈 2》是一個現代AAA級遊戲,主角是一個年輕的超級英雄,他在不使用槍支的情況下對抗收入不平等(income inequality);《美國職業摔跤全明星》是少數認識到摔跤運動的歡樂和幽默的職業摔跤遊戲,它用諷刺性動畫代替了傳統的逼真模擬呈現形式;《凱瑟琳》可能是我的最愛,它既性感又頑皮,最出乎意料的是,它是過去十年裏最好玩的益智遊戲之一,同時也是對男性不安全感和自私的一種敏銳而真誠的探索。這些遊戲對我來說彌足珍貴,但它們都有缺陷,有些缺陷非常明顯。

如果說評論家的工作有一半類似於礦工,那麼另一半就像是一個在不穩定的地形上航行的導遊。評論家不僅會告訴你要避免什麼,而且還會幫你找出解決辦法。大多數糟糕的決定都有一個很好的意圖來源。爲什麼這個新的射擊遊戲感覺這麼奇怪?也許是因爲發行商將它指派給了一個以前只做過賽車遊戲的開發人員。在別的遊戲裏把對手爆頭的感覺很贊,但是在這個射擊遊戲裏總覺得缺了些什麼——一個好的評論家在評論的同時也會尋找遊戲缺失的東西。

“評論家們發表的評論可以提升我的體驗,他們會引導我去嘗試那些我平常不會去接觸的遊戲,然後以我可以理解的方式將它們的優點指出來。”

這就是我在評論遊戲時渴望做到的事情。

我熱愛電子遊戲,但我更喜歡的是在過去的十年裏與其他人分享這些不完美遊戲的機會——那些如果我不推薦的話,人們估計就會錯過的不完美遊戲。我也喜歡在世界級的大遊戲中找到好東西,但我認爲他們對規模和潤色的期望太大,以至於許多遊戲都無法與之匹敵。我評論遊戲是爲了爲玩家設定期望,提供內容,調查遊戲的缺點,同時也保證優點能夠綻放光芒。

我離開遊戲評論界已經好幾年了,所以可能需要一段時間來重新學習一些技能,找到我的肌肉記憶。但是我保證,即使我發表的評論感覺可能像是在抱怨,或是貶低遊戲;我的最終目的始終是尋找美好的東西和真相。

本文由遊戲邦編譯,轉載請註明來源,或諮詢微信zhengjintiao

Why do you hate games?”

That’s the question I’ve received the most as a video game critic. Of course, no video game critic hates games. If not for a love of games, a bottomless, nagging, nonnegotiable sort of love, no one would become a professional video game critic — or any critic, for that matter. Plenty of other jobs pay better, consume less time and don’t include in the job description, “Must be comfortable eating shit from strangers on Twitter.”

I do play more games than the average person, a lot more. Inevitably the law of averages kicks in. The more games I play, the more likely I’ll come across something that doesn’t click, be it a character, a story, a gameplay concept or maybe a method with which the game’s publisher tries to milk each player for cash through tasteless microtransactions.

I like characters and stories that challenge the assumptions of the previous generation of games, that don’t default to the agony and ecstasy of being a 30-something dude with a knack for headshots. I expect violence to have a purpose. I appreciate games that value my money and my time. Those are a few components of my tastes.

Where the average person chooses games based on taste, and perhaps a passing consideration of reviews, I pick games — “pick” isn’t the right word; let’s say “I’m assigned games” — because they appear on a Google Calendar crowded with upcoming releases. A few games every year are truly excellent. Many are good. Most are fine. Some are bad. Others, forgettable. I try to approach every game without prejudice.

As I play a game, my obligation is to be honest with myself, and then to communicate to the reader what personal truth I uncover. My opinion doesn’t matter on its own. What matters is my capacity to share that opinion in a fashion that provides a value to the reader. Which is to say that when I play, I have myself in mind; when I write, I have the reader in mind.

Criticizing games, at its best, is akin to working as a field researcher. Sometimes the artistry is living and vibrant, waiting right on the surface, eager to be studied. Other times, it’s dead and buried, but if one’s patient and willing to dig, they can find tiny clues of a righteous thing that, due to whatever cataclysmic event of video game development, had the life squashed from it.

No developer spends years developing a game because they want to create broken, incomplete, joyless, creatively bankrupt things, just like critics don’t want to spend a week playing a middling adventure just so they can write 800 words on something that didn’t move them. Both creators and critics hunger for distinction.

When people ask why I hate one game or another, I want to hold up the handful of fossils I worked diligently to loose from the game. “I pushed through 20 hours of another forgettable shooter,” I wish to say, “because I knew I’d find something, somewhere that spoke to its creators’ dreams, ambitions and beliefs. And I hope that knowing it exists, knowing how to look for it and where to find it, will make your time richer should you choose to play too.”

Sometimes it’s tough to uncover these little veins of gold. Sometimes I fail. And sometimes a game is made from a place of such corporate cynicism that hours of searching uncovers a cold, joyless core. But in my experience, the average game is an imperfect vessel for a nugget of greatness.

A love for these imperfect games has stuck with me over the years. I respect games like Zelda and Fallout that come from teams that have time, talent and money, but they don’t sit on the top of my shelf.

Instead, I have Bushido Blade andBushido Blade 2, the awkward-to-control fighting game pairing that did away with health meters and combos. There’s Earth Defense Force 2017, a decade-old bug-riddled open-world game with a sense of scale that still hasn’t been bested.Gravity Rush 2 is a modern AAA game starring a young superheroine who fights income inequality without using a gun. WWE All Stars is one of the few pro wrestling games to recognize the joy and playfulness of the sport, trading hyper-realistic simulation for a satirical cartoon. And Catherine is my Number One problematic fave, but it’s sexy and mischievous and, most unexpectedly, one of the best puzzle games of the past decade, while also doubling as a shrewd but sincere exploration of male insecurity and selfishness.

These games are precious to me, but they are all flawed, a few deeply so. Video games are a young and awkward medium, a volatile mix of the humanities (game designers, musicians, filmmakers, actors, writers) with big business (publicity, marketing, social engineering experts, economists, publicly traded publishers). In development, there is endless room for error, if not outright interference. Each time I learn more about the notoriously secret nature of video game development, particularly on big budget blockbusters, I’m impressed so many games achieve technical competence, let alone any higher function of art.

If half of a critic’s job is akin to a miner in search of gold, the other half is like a tour guide navigating unstable terrain. A critic shows you not merely what to avoid, but frames the problem. Most bad decisions have a well-intending (or at the least fascinating) origin. Why does a new shooter feel so strange? Perhaps because it was assigned by a publisher to a developer that had previously only made racing games. Maybe popping zombie heads feels good in other games, but this shooter is lacking that oomph — a good critic is also looking for the absence of a thing.

I appreciate when a critic elevates my experience with a piece of art: when they can guide me through what would otherwise turn me away, and then frame greatness in a way I can understand. That’s what I aspire to do whenever I write or speak about a game.

I love video games, but what I might love more is the opportunity I’ve had over the last decade to share the imperfect games with other people, people who might have otherwise passed them on their occasional visit to GameStop in search of Madden or Destiny, Grand Theft Auto or Call of Duty. I like finding greatness in the world’s biggest games, too, but I recognize they set an expectation of polish and scope that so many games can’t match. When I criticize a game, I do so to set expectations, to provide context, to interrogate what doesn’t work and to shine a light on what does.

I’ve been away from video game criticism for a couple of years, so it may take me a while to relearn some skills and find my muscle memory. But I promise, even when I appear grumpy and downtrodden, that I’m always searching for beauty and truth. I can’t wait to share it with you.(Source: polygon.com