Critics should stick to what they know…

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I would like to introduce you to Sean Means.  He is the main movie critic at the Salt Lake Tribune.  He also does a column called The Culture Vulture.  I try to think that the name was chosen for its simple rhyme, but I cannot help but think that it refers to a carrion bird picking over the dead pieces of culture.  Especially after the column posted last week (June 9, 2010): Culture Vulture:  Telling Stories a skill video games can’t master.

Yeah, I know:  Pretty dumb title.  The article is not much better.

At this point, I cannot really find the energy to argue with Mr. Means.  He obviously hasn’t played any games lately.  He almost starts to address this fact in his article, but instead goes off on a tangent about how Robert Ebert says video games are not art.  (What is art?  That is real discussion.  This article is not a real discussion though.)  We can call this a misdirection.  Mr. Means knows people are going to call him on his lack of video game knowledge, so he tries to deflect them.

His main argument is over “authorial control.”  Basically, he says that there is not the same authorial control in video games as there is in other things, like books and movies.  Of course, that is true.  However, books and movies do not share the same type of authorial control at all either.  So what?  That is his argument? A book has an author–usually one–with and an editor–again, usually one.  Movies have… what?  A screenwriter, a director, and actors.  And the editor.  Or editors.  And the people with the money.  Where is the authorial control?  What does it matter that in video games the control is shared with the player?

Others have made great comments about the article in the Salt Lake Tribune’s comment page.  If you care about these things, and I know you do, you should check it out.  Be ready for the next time you hear someone try to make this argument.

Mr. Means obviously is not familiar with video games.  Why the diatribe?  Just to make column space in the newspaper get filled, I would guess. I would suggest that he should not be talking about things he isn’t aware of.

One more good example of Mr. Means and his knowledge?  On May 28, his pick for the weekend was Killers;  a movie he had not even reviewed yet–nor seen.  How can you tell people the best movie to see that weekend is one you haven’t seen?  The best part, the next day, when he did review the movie, he panned it.  (If you really want to see the review, for some odd reason, click here.)

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