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“Skull of a Skeleton with Burning Cigarette” (1885-86) — Vincent van Gogh

Some four years ago, after an extended period of writer’s block (a problem I still have but am always working on!), I came across Tevis Thompson’s “On Videogame Reviews” that renewed my interest in critical analysis. Despite having spent more time critically analyzing more passive forms of entertainment like cinema in the past, I decided to initially focus on videogames because I find it full of storytelling potential due to its interactivity. However, it is nonetheless hampered by a kind of cultural tunnel-vision specific to self-proclaimed “Gamers” as well as the avaricious AAA companies – who only further homogenize the medium by obsessively following trends well past the point of diminishing returns and manipulating those who don’t know any better. Of course, I still wanted to get back to film and serialized drama, and eventually did. However, I’d still like to spend more time on another medium like comicbooks.

I originally put up my essays on Medium.com, back before the site implemented a paid subscription service and requiring a pay-wall for further visibility. It worked well enough, at first, despite the baffling reactions by some – which were (unfortunately yet expectedly) oddly personal attacks – that brought a lot of positive attention. When Medium.com did implement paid subscriptions and pay-walls, it went downhill after that. It made people less willing to read any of my pieces based on the site alone and opting out of a pay-wall, wanting my work to be read freely, didn’t help as it greatly limited my exposure to almost nothing. I stuck with it far longer than I should’ve, but finally got tired of expecting it to get any better thus bought a domain name and a website builder to carve out my own corner of the internet. I’ve reposted my Medium.com-era pieces here, with the exception of one I’m greatly embarrassed by, and have left largely unchanged save the formatting for the new site. I believe in transparency and do not want to white-wash my past opinions, even if those sentiments have changed greatly, to be honest about myself to others and to keep as a reminder to always strive for self-improvement.

Though my intention from the beginning was to give a non-fan perspective of videogames, my continually negative experiences with fandom lead to now considering myself an anti-fan. Regardless of any specific community of fandom and the decent people within it, overall it’s a toxic culture and one that negatively impacts Art – moreso when coupled with capitalistic practices like weaponizing consumerbases to silence dissent and antagonize rivals. The more blindly dedicated one is to a product or notable personality, partly due to a hype-machine based around obfuscated press releases and review embargoes or fostering parasocial relationships, the more hyper-defensive they become of them.

More recently, with outright fascism becoming popular in the United States – to the point the police don’t even hide brutal abuses of their power and people casually entertain the idea of eugenics – has caused me much frustration by how spineless mainstream news media has been during this period. An act of property damage by people protesting for social justice is treated as an act of grand heresy, where lifetime imprisonment is now possible, yet those going around in body armor and assault rifles to intimidate others are routinely downplayed if not simply ignored. So much for “civility,” so much for “both sides” – it was all (obviously) bullshit from the start! It’s why, even if I concentrate on writing about Art, I think it’s important to express anti-fascist (or antifa) attitudes to dispel the often outdated and nonsensical social standards we tend to take for granted about hierarchical structures and being far too deferential to “important” individuals like wealthy businessmen or royalty. There is no such thing as an “objective review,” regardless of what others may say, but I can proudly acknowledge and own my subjectivity. Criticism shouldn’t be about the confirming the bias of an audience or company marketers, but sharing unique perspectives to foster connection between people and instill a stronger awareness of our society and its culture. You sure as shit won’t be seeing review scores from me…