Archive for July, 2012

Reconstructive criticism

July 30, 2012

While video game criticism suffers from sloppy writing, board game criticism suffers from sloppy thinking. Too often, board game reviews sound like back-of-the-box press blurbs, content to regurgitate rulesets and offer a limp yea or nay recommendation. They tell you all about the plastic bits inside the box instead of recreating the feeling of play, those moments when the game rises above its punch-out counters and plastic dudes to become a miniature zeitgeist, an instrument of shared goodwill or night-ruining drudgery.

When most board game reviews talk about the experience of play, it’s as procedural analysis.

Michael Barnes, on the other hand, has been writing critical discussion on board games for years in his Cracked LCD column, which migrated this year from Gameshark to its new home at No High Scores. Barnes has a talent for relaying the experience of play, and champions fun-first design over stodgy rulesets that limit player choice and interaction.

A weary man.

But it seems he’s growing weary.