Saturday, December 13, 2008

A Gathering of the Minds

Do yourself a favor and head on over to's second annual year-end gaming club. The round-table discussion features a number of industry writers, analyzing and debating how 2008 fits into the history of the medium.

Slate's own Chris Suellentrop serves as the moderator of a group that consists of N'Gai Croal of Newsweek and Level Up, Stephen Totilo of MTV Multiplayer, and Seth Schiesel who serves as a staff writer and video game critic for The New York Times. The rapport between the four, who all contributed to last year's gaming club, is both enlightening and entertaining.

I found Schiesel's pieces the most interesting. From his discussion of the art of criticism to his assertion that "Once you start giving people choices, the game has to allow those choices to matter," his comments are always thoughtful and often critical, while still managing to convey a great excitement about the future of video games. Not bad qualities to have in a Times critic.

Post-script: At one point the discussion turned to You Have to Burn the Rope. Go play it. You'll thank me when you get to the end credits.

Post-post-script: You may also want to check out Schiesel's recent review of Left 4 Dead. I'm not sure why it's in the television section, but okay. While a fairly simple piece, it echoes some of his Slate sentiments about multiplayer gaming: basically that, at its best, multiplayer represents what is truly unique about this medium.