It’s been, like, fucking ages since Affectionate Diary was really pushing the exclusive envelope of exclusive, definitive reviews. I think this is mostly because my own writing had become far too obscene and obscure for me to finish the first paragraph of just about any review, so you all have my sincere apologies for that. I also ended up playing Forza 3 for like a whole fucking year and then Gran Turismo 5 for six months after that, and despite starting at least three reviews for GT5, I never got near to finishing one. Games came and went and I wrote bits and pieces here and there, but nothing felt ‘right’ to publish, really.
I think this is down to lots of stuff, but one key idea is that originally, Affectionate Diary was satire. It was a piss-take of the then-current state of game reviews – their overt and covert obligations, their language, their apparent short-sightedness, the blinkered cultural contexts, the assumption of shared (and tiny) reference bases, the lack of discrimination between design integrity and glossy effect, or spectacle and sophistication. I mean, we have a situation now where, from my point of view, the majoirty of professional game reviewers have appalling taste in games. They also have appalling taste in films, books and music, judging by reviews for things like Mass Effect 2 and Heavy Rain. Obviously, what this really means is that as a grumpy old cunt and I’m out of touch with the mainstream. Thing is, I’m not interested in it, nor am I that enlivened by the insights from reviewers dedicated to the increasingly dubious ‘experiential’ output of AAA game publishing – LA Noire cemented this for me. No-one mentioned that it was JUST FUCKING CUTSCENES AND WANDERING AROUND until the comment threads built up post-release. The *real* review is in there, not in the copy of the editorially-minded few that have paid writing positions, nor the utterly ill-equipped youths that watched LA Confidential, and not Double Indemnity, before reviewing it to give themselves some amazingly dubious qualification to comment on game hell-bent on being a shit film.
The idea that one single opinion should determine whether or not a game is good is bullshit, yeah? So my contribution to Affectionate Diary set about making sure it was obvious that my reviews were the opinion of a madman, the opinion of an obsessive with strict and certain prejudices, unreasonable tastes and astonishing capacities to endlessly play particular genres based purely on genre rather than objectively questionable metrics like ‘game quality’ or ‘production values’ or ‘polish’. In my own way, I wanted to fight back against review-lead media, which is now almost completely news-lead media, where rigour and balls and insight is rare, and where tabloid-like sensation drives the hits. Most websites will attest that the right review at the right time, even one that’s well-written and not a fucking instruction manual, will give a traffic spike to make their quoted average UUs and PIs seem as if that outlet is on a par with The Mail on a seriously trolling Jan Moir day, but ultimately, this doesn’t make me particularly happy, nor does it satisfy my thirst to read meaningful content.
As an old gamer, I don’t actually have a media outlet that caters for my tastes. I know what will work, and I rely on the testimony of players, rather than writers, to help me chose when I can’t work out if something’s worth playing. Now, that’s actually a bit of a lie, as I do trust some writers that I know personally, or who I’ve followed for ages, but there’s precious few of them and to be frank, I’d rather they didn’t write reviews at all. I’d much prefer them to write about games rather than appraising them, and had a lot more opportunities to properly express their passions and insights for the medium. But it seems that doesn’t generate the advertising serves the whole online economy utterly relies upon. That’s as sad an indictment of the audience as it is the media, but it’s still the status quo. Who has the real opportunity to change? And no, I won’t ‘like’ your outlet on fucking Facebook.
I kinda wish I had the balls to name or shame the people and outlets I like and don’t like, but I won’t, for fear of upsetting generally nice and decent people who only commit the crime of mediocrity, especially considering the judging context is my own set of seriously disturbed and batshit mental criteria.
SO ANYWAY if I am a grumpy, disaffected bastard, maybe it’s time to stop reviewing and start writing something else. Goodbye, I love you all. Especially the real commenters.
NOW FUCK OFF. I’VE GOT NUFF DWG3 GRINDING TO DO.