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Games Criticism, Censorship and Artistic Integrity

hotline-miami-headerDid I miss the memo? I’m convinced that there is a missive sent out to video games writers with talking points that we’re all supposed to stick to for a year.

Last year, it was that the vision of a developer should never be questioned. Look at the uproar over Mass Effect 3’s ending. Despite the plot holes and inconsistencies in the ending sequence, many members of the media defended BioWare by saying that this was BioWare’s vision and it shouldn’t be compromised because we shouldn’t compromise the developer’s “artistic integrity.”

This year, artistic integrity is no longer an applicable concept when talking about the contents of a game. Now, if a writer feels that the majority of people should be offended by something, it should be changed. In twelve months, we’ve gone from a developer having unassailable artistic integrity to a press corps getting dangerously close to censorship.

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Building (Critical) Consensus: Dragon’s Crown

dragons-crown-box-artDragon’s Crown might be one of the more controversial releases of 2013 in the ongoing concern over sexism and misogyny video games. The 2D side-scrolling brawler has been making headlines since its art first hit the internet. The “hypersexualized” art of the game which depicts a female sorceress with massive breasts, an amazon in almost no clothing and male characters so impossibly muscled that they shouldn’t be able to move.

Some reviewers didn’t let the art style influence their review while others weighed it heavily in their scores. Polygon was the site that’s taken the most flak from gamers (or, at least, Dragon’s Crown fans) over their review which came in almost 20% under the GameRankings average as a result of the game’s art style and depiction of female NPCs. But, of course, that’s why you read multiple reviews. And, of course, you’ll know ahead of time if the art style is off-putting so you won’t let a bad review heavily criticizing the art style get to you, I hope.

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