08.17.12

Do games need harsher critics?

Critical discussions of videogames take place largely on the internet—much of the intellectual runoff filtering into Twitter and Facebook feeds, waiting to be shared. But does our desire to be 'liked' and 'followed'—as critics or artists—come at the expense of honest critical thought? For the New York Times, book critic Dwight Garner riffs somewhat amiably on the crisis of critcism, warning that these platforms' penchant for promotion is "intellectual suicide."

It’s an interesting time to be a critic. There aren’t so many of us left, and we’re being squeezed from all sides at the exact same moment that new mediums like Twitter and Yelp have become all opinion, all the time, with little in their digitized streams of yak that a critic might recognize as real criticism.

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In a smart article in Slate earlier this month, “Against Enthusiasm,” Jacob Silverman nailed the way that Twitter, at least for writers, has become a “mutual-admiration society” and thus is filled with peril for literary culture.

“If you spend time in the literary Twitter- or blogospheres,” Silverman wrote, “you’ll be positively besieged by amiability, by a relentless enthusiasm that might have you believing that all new books are wonderful and that every writer is every other writer’s biggest fan.”

This isn’t just shallow, he added, it’s untrue. And the constant fake fraternizing has made genuine, honest opinion feel unduly harsh, a buzz kill from the gods. “Reviewers shouldn’t be recommendation machines,” Silverman added, “yet we have settled for that role, in part because the solicitous communalism of Twitter encourages it.”