Chris Buffa: ''Words are hard''

PR chicks might flirt with us, but it doesn’t mean we can grab their boobs

This is a coincidence because I just finished reading that piece and then came here to post about it because I found it so annoying.

I’d love to know who he’s referring to when he mentions the “arrogant” game journalists.

Agree with Buffa, that review was ridiculous. She is certainly free to express herself in any way she likes, but if she wants her reviews read, she needs to use language that a movie goer would understand. Now of course if her reviews are only for the high and mighty, then fine, but I wouldn’t read any of her reviews written like that.


This starry Night

I think this was line that made him so mad.

It’s been so long since I last got a free subscription to EW from Best Buy and cancelled it in disgust that I don’t remember enough details about why I hate Schwartzbaum and Glieberman so much. I know that part of the problem is that there has never been a wrong-er critic than OG, but I seem to recall thinking he’s a douche in addition to stupid. LS was guilty-by-association, but I’m pretty sure I hate her, too.

And that review, specifically, is absurd. She could take lessons on brevity and clarity from Wagner James Au.

That was just the intro. The full review is here. And, yeah, it’s a dense intro, but I still don’t see what you need a dictionary for.

EW’s reviews are like that, BTW. I suspect the approach has served them well, because Gleiberman and Schwarzbaum have been doing it for as long as I’ve been flipping through EW.

The more trenchant point is that I’d like to see more reviews of videogames that take that approach. Computer Games Magazine avoids the typical low- to middle-brow very well, and I love writing for them and reading them. There’s certainly a place for that kind of coverage. But to dismiss it as bad writing that could be fixed if the writer would just buy a style guide already! – which is Buffa’s premise – is pretty stupid.


Only two weeks! At this rate the next why videogame journalism sucks article will be due… gimme a second, gotta do the math… Great scott! By the time you read this! Much like all restaurants in Demolition Day becoming Taco Bell after the brutal café cleansing of 2016, soon all media will be consumed by why videogame journalism sucks articles! It’s a brave new world comrades!

Whoa, whoa, whoa, slow down, stusser! This ain’t no “why videogame journalism sucks” thread! This is a “why articles on why videogame journalism sucks suck” thread. Important distinction.

Although I suspect it’s going to devolve into a “why EW’s reviews suck/don’t suck” thread. We’ll see.


I agree Buffa is laying on the hyperbole when he says that you need a dictionary to understand that paragraph, but I also think that Scwarzbaum’s prose is sometimes overwrought. The “banality of famelessness” bit, in particular, jumps out at me in that quote. That’s the sort of sentence that’s just begging for an editor to put it out of its misery.

Tom: Yeah, I wasn’t speaking to your actual point, of course. Context is important in appreciating media, but most reviews you find aren’t about appreciating anything – they’re about a quick and dirty metric. Being pretty geeky about my media consumption, I definitely enjoy reviews/articles with context that take a deeper look at what’s going on with the movie, game, whatever that I’m interested in. The problem is that I have an intense personal dislike for Glieberman and Schwartzbaum.

I don’t complain about similarly faggy reviews in The Village Voice or other media outlets because their high-brow verbosity (gayness) is generally commensurate with that of the rest of the publication. EW just isn’t like that. I have found most of that magazine to be the lowest sort of trash – trash that I flip through every few weeks because it gives me easily digestable information that isn’t readily available elsewhere without some minor digging, but still trash.

Also, far be it from me to complain about other people’s convoluted sentence structure…

I only clicked on the link in the vain hope of seeing some cute PR girls. =)

Myself hopacates Buffa sports preparedness to acceptify his ass multitudinousing schitical witicrisms.

I love the writing style of the EW movie reviewers as well; even when I’m not in agreement with them, I know why I’m not, and that’s one benchmark I have for good critical writing.

As far as the “big words”…there aren’t any. If you’re struggling to understand that review, maybe put down EW and grab a copy of US Weekly or People. I hear there are some Hee Haw reruns coming up soon on TV too!

If you’re writing a game review, I think you can assume that much of your readership has some basic intellect going on–especially if you’re not reviewing a title that’s going to sit in the Top 5 in sales for two years like The Sims.

That quoted paragraph was like a metaphor puree, with “chilled” and “warm decor” in the same idea, but it didn’t actually have any hard words.

Here is one of Buffa’s great moments:

As much as some people would love to think that there is only one way to write a respective language, the influence of slang as well as pop culture cannot be ignored, which is probably why it’s a good thing that various entertainment industries aren’t covered by old and crusty English professors.
This is the sort of “one true sentence” that is exactly not what Hemmingway was aiming for.

Oh I dunno. Once steve and jeff show it’ll end up the same ol thing. Someone’s gonna mention edge magazine and lester bangs by page 7, I can smell it coming.

Lester bangs is the why videogame journalism sucks equivalent of hitler in godwin’s law. I like to call this principle “The Mandate of Bang” because I think it sounds pretty cool. “Bang’s Rule” isn’t a bad alternative, but just doesn’t roll off the tongue as readily.

I believe Tom is an avid movie goer and understood that review just fine - your statement is silly. Fine, you don’t like long sentences go read someone else, that Joel Siegel guy’s easy to read… and good with the puns.

But I disagree with Tom, that there’s anything wrong with quoting King’s On Writing, it’s a good little book for any aspiring writer. A bit basic, but sound.

Apart from that I’m glad I’m a proper journalist and not one of them game journalists (allthough I do recieve the occasional trinket in the mail from Nintendo… and I di believe I’m a God amongst men because of it). If there’s guys like Buffa in my field at least nobody is taking him serious and pointing out his screeds to the rest of us, which it appears people do all the time with these ‘game journalism suck’ discussions.

I remember how the University crushed the budding wordsmith in me by utterly flunking any of the carefully crafted papers that i would literally spend days on, by profs stating matter-of-factly, “This paper is too wordy”. Along with an F to reinforce the point. And then giving me perfect scores for 6am rush jobs i would throw together in under an hour. Of course, this was before my brain had turned to a milkshake of half-forgotten memories and vocabulary :).

The idea he needs a dictionary is ridiculous exaggeration, but what he was trying to say was to be clear and not too wordy - a point about which, ironically, he isn’t very clear. EW weekly’s review isn’t incomprehensible but neither is it a brief bagel-sized review you can digest in under a minute.

He didn’t even quote the more complicated paragraphs that may have muddled the straightfoward ideal with off-hand references to directors and other fantasy creatures that might have confused the reader and focused on the vocabulary which, frankly, isn’t the thing causing his confusion.

Now that I think about it, “The Edge Effect” is pretty good too.

Huh? I never said her review was not understandable, nor did I say or mean to imply that Tom couldn’t understand it. I can understand it just fine, it’s tedious to read. Reminds me of Dicken’s Great Expectations, a good book but a tiresome read.

Oh, I don’t think there’s anything wrong with quoting King’s On Writing, Hanzi. It’s a good primer. But Buffa’s article consists of only three things: 1) his confusion at certain words in a movie review, 2) him handing down the basics of King’s On Writing, and 3) some utterly inane crap about how to relate to PR chicks that most of us have known since eighth grade.

Okay, I lied. Some of us didn’t figure that stuff out until well into tenth grade.