Slate is currently hosting one of its back-and-forth roundtables about the year in video games and The New York Times‘ reviewer Seth Shiesel took his co-participants to task for being overly critical of games that don’t do enough to further the medium. “You guys are so defensive,” he wrote.
Some of the other participants had misgivings about Call of Duty: Black Ops, a gory shooter partially set during the Vietnam War that’s one of 2010’s best sellers. Mr. Shiesel dissented, saying that his editor told him a few years ago that he no longer needs to justify the artistic merit of video games in his pieces on the basis that “it makes you, and us, look small.”
See, I don’t worry anymore that Black Ops’s Bond-ian approach to the Cold War makes games look bad. I was thrilled just to go along for the ride because I accept it for what it is: escapist mass interactive entertainment, of which it is a superb example.
Tom Bissell, author of Extra Lives: Why Video Games Matter, responded in the discussion by pointing out that Mr. Shiesel has been criticized in the past for overly hyperbolic positive reviews.
“Oh Snap,” commented N’Gai Croal, former Newsweek video game reporter, via Twitter.