There's been a lot of talk about the way video game reviews tend to be more like product-reviews - running down checklists of pros and cons instead of focusing on emotional impact and resonance. However in my experience those reviews are few and far between and usually only appear on the mass-market sites like GameSpot and IGN, while reviews on other sites and in magazines are much more focused on the experience. Often music and movie reviews are brought up as guiding stars for game reviews to aspire to.
When reading movie or music reviews however, I'm often struck by the level of dissection in them. Talks about the acts of a movie, anticipation, chords and scales in music - these are things I have no feeling for - or rather though for. So when a reviewer states that this and that happened in the second act, or complaints about the amount of exposition in a movie, I just don't connect. I see a movie or a piece of music as a amorphous, flowing, continually changing experience that has a beginning and an end, not as a LEGO set of pieces crafted together that can be picked apart.
Games are a different beast though, and while I want and try to go into a narrative-based game in this same way, more often than not I start seeing the man behind the curtain pulling the strings. Thinking about AI-routines, analyzing texture detail and mentally noting the verbs available to me as the player. I often think back fondly: to the days when a friend would come round with a new game that I had never hear of and that would promptly consume my thoughts for weeks or months to come; when I got back into gaming after a few years hiatus and explored the world of Starfox Adventures in wonderment - slowly walking around the environments constantly turning the camera to inspect every finely crafted detail like a true gaming tourist; or the sense of anticipation for what new game genre I would discover next.
Perhaps it's a matter of over exposure - I'm a life-long Star Wars fan, and it use to be I would watch the movies once or twice a year and often though about that universe and was by default interested in new books or games in the franchise, however since a few years back I've been listening to the Star Wars fan podcast The Forcecast and have found that the weekly show satiates all my Star Wars craving to the point that I seldom feel a hunger for more. Now, when it comes to gaming that isn't quite the case, but I do find that taking in a lot of games media does affect my enjoyment of games in a negative way, turning me into a critic instead of a gamer. That said I can't imagine giving up following games news all together, and there are of course many perks to keeping up to date, not the least of which is filtering out the must-play games and the ones to avoid.
On this weeks episode of the Eurogamer podcast the question was posed of what game you would like to be able to experience again for the first time - I find it hard to single out a specific game and although I don't want to have my gaming history erased it would be interesting to know how I would experience games now if I hadn't played any before.