Shawn elliott likes it when you watch

Could there be a more masturbatory use of several reasonably talented writers’ time than this? <go, go click the link>

A SYMPOSIUM? (Admittedly an email one.) The Michael Walbridge Q/A link ( was the predictable, knee-jerk and intellectually dishonest defense of bad reviewing practices that we’ve come to expect from an industry that time and time again demonstrates that it DOESN’T REALLY PLAY THE GAMES IT REVIEWS FOR VERY LONG IF AT ALL, on top of the other monumental failings including I AM AN ELEVATED FANBOY WITHOUT ANY REAL WRITING CREDENTIALS and NOSTALGIA TWEAKS GET YOU 2 EXTRA POINTS ON THE SCORE.

Speaking of which, I have yet to see “games journalism” industry really EVOLVE many of these writers; the claptrap they write is the largely the same as it was seven years ago, only now it’s fed by a sublimated knowledge of PR and the attendant cynicism it encourages. And while I know what I’m getting into here: who the hell’s Shawn Elliott? (Rhetorical, chumps; and yes, “who the hell am I?” Not starting a “symposium,” I am.)

I suppose this is just some sort of advanced new blog cross-linking scheme to pump hits, since it seems games blogging is the new way for displaced “games journalists” to keep their foot in the door, as it were, but MAN: I thought we had GAF for the industry circle jerks.

How about you motherfuckers cut the navel-gazing and start writing about GAMES again. Taking alook at Tom’s last two lists – the disappointing and overrated games ones – y’all sure fed me a lazy line of horseshit this year. The ludicrous claims of GTA4’s Oscar-worthiness alone should have you all scrambling to get your Film degrees refreshed.

Oh, this should be fun.

I admit that I like how you’re brave enough to come in here and take a big dump all over Shawn Elliott and games journalists in general. I think we might be able to have a good discussion, despite the insanely negative tone you adopt, your prematurely defensive insults, and the final line “Oh this should be fun,” which clearly shows that you realize you’re trolling. Despite all that, a discussion about said “navel gazing” could be interesting.

First, I think targeting Shawn Elliott in the same post where you slam games journalists for writing claptrap is pretty misguided. You’re railing for the same things that Shawn always did. Many times on GFW Radio he pointed out how bad and stale games journalism was in many respects and called for more in depth, interesting discussion about games. He also specifically called out a lot of GTAIV reviews as being nothing but insane hyperbole. He’s hardly the poster boy for what you claim to dislike in games journalism.

Secondly, the symposium he’s participating in seems to be setup to directly address a lot of what you seem to hate. You’re saying you want journalists to talk about games in a thoughtful way and yet, you hate that Shawn Elliott and others are doing an email symposium to…talk about games in a thoughtful way. Huh?

As for your claim that reviewers don’t play the games they review for long, if at all, I’d love to see some facts that support that. I can’t imagine how you could just toss that out there. I suspect your statement is patently false.

All that said, I certainly agree that a lot of those writing about games do a pretty shoddy job of it. I’d point to Jeff Haynes’ Metal Gear Solid 4 review as a good example of what I can’t stand. Brian Crecente’s review of GTAIV was also pretty terrible. For a recent example, I’ll go with James Mielke’s preview of the upcoming Watchmen games. It reads like a PR release.

But damn man, I really can’t understand what you’re getting at by attacking Elliott and his cohorts for trying to have a considered and thoughtful discussion about games and game journalism.

I get the feeling that Mr. Erickson would be fine with Shawn’s initiative if he, Shawn, hadn’t used the word symposium to describe it.

Which, I guess means Mr. Erickson either finds the word too close to poesy, which sounds a bit fey to him, or (and this is more likely) he swallowed the anti-education/anti-intellectual pill that folks these days are handing out like M&Ms. Maybe Mr. Erickson thinks film degrees and words like ‘symposium’ are unmasculine or high-falutin.

How delicious!

Yes. Masturbation, for one.


I really don’t understand this reaction (my thoughts). It seems like there’s been a number of these sorts of reactions to writers who want to attempt to write more intelligently about games.

What is so circle-jerking about people that talk about games beyond reviews? Is this a bad thing or something?

I realize you said that this is rhetorical, but given other statements in your original post, I get the genuine impression that you don’t know the answer to this question.

Because we’ve gotten to the point where the personalities writing about the games are more interesting than the games themselves. The vast majority of games fall into the shooter/action/adventure template, and worse, many of them license the same engine so they all look the same as well as play the same. Innovative games are few and far between, and after a while you run out of adjectives reviewing the same game over and over again. At least they found something to do with their time.

Shawn Elliott is a big jerk! How could he have left me out of the symposium? :`[

I’ll be the first to admit I need an editor, but I have to agree with everyone else and say your post is very confusing.

Oh, except the part about Tom. That was pretty clear.

I put far more trust into the review opinions of the people on that participant list than I do into any metascore or industry average.

Did he spend as much time working on deep, interesting game discussions at 1UP as he did lamenting the lack thereof elsewhere? Maybe he did; I’m not that familiar with his work.

It seems like it’s trendy to complain that no one is doing these kinds of “big, serious, critical” types of articles, and it often comes from the very people who could be producing these kinds of pieces. But instead of navel gazing about the whys (or why nots), why not spend some of that time actually writing the damn things? If you’re a full-time staff member somewhere, nothing’s stopping you from writing that think-piece on the side. Post it, and see what kind of traffic it gets. Most people think there’s little audience for this kind of article, and maybe they’re right. But who knows? Try it.

And if you’re a freelancer, you can do the legwork and pitch a finished article. If no one wants it, you can always post it to your blog and revel in the adulation of the 10 people who also say we need these kinds of articles but can’t be bothered to write the things in the first place.

And if you’re a freelancer, you can do the legwork and pitch a finished article. If no one wants it, you can always post it to your blog and revel in the adulation of the 10 people who also say we need these kinds of articles but can’t be bothered to write the things in the first place.

You mean these 10?

You clearly never listened to GFW Radio.

In my opinion his thoughts, both on the GFW Podcast and in the GFW (and later EGM) features he worked on were always very interesting. His thoughts and reviews never got mired in discussion of the basic mechanics of a game, but instead tried to get deeper into what made a game good (or bad). He really had a unique way of looking and at breaking down games and his voice has been sorely missed.

(free on me)


Yes, he did.

Welcome to our newest member, ShawnElliott

Now it’s going to get interesting.

All this hemming and hawing has produced very little of substance, save the elevation of dubious personalities and this long-running yet predominantly silly meta-discussion of the “games journalism industry”.

The reason I started this thread was because the questions posed illustrated NONE of the problems currently plaguing games reviewing, but instead allowed for pseudo-intellectual defenses of the chronically poor reviewing standards seen across ALL publications out there, a few blogs and small sites notwithstanding.

I cannot count the number of reviews I’ve read where it was patently obvious that a reviewer played no more than a couple hours of a game at best, or had a clear agenda – be it fueled by nostalgia or by PR flackery – when penning it. Likewise, the number of reviews in magazines and on major sites where the game is not evaluated against the intent of the designers and the execution thereof, but rather against the reviewer’s mythical expectations for the genre/series, is also pretty fuckin’ huge.

I know who Shawn Elliot is, although I avoid most gaming podcasts not featuring Jeff Green because most of the podcasters sound like the average gaming types I frequently hang out with, minus the personality. His reviews aren’t any credibly different from the norm, despite the fact that he makes some effort to suggest that they might be on 1UP and on his blog.

I do think there are some strong voices out there (avert your eyes, Tom), like Tom and N’Gai, but the questions asked in this symposium doesn’t ask the hard and presumptuous questions, like “why the hell don’t you guys play the games you review”? (And yes, I know that playing very little of the average, unanticipated game is the NORM – how many credible reviews of a dungeon crawler or Dynasty Warriors entry have been written? Answer: so very few!

Maybe if he should have called it something like a “Raging Review Throwdown” or a “Critics’ Cage Match.” Sunday, Sunday, SUNDAY!!!

He already has an account. I don’t know why he’d make a second.