On day one of San Diego Comic-Con International, our Google calendar was a naively tight grid of panels. The plan was to bounce between Hall H (capacity: 6130 people) and Ballroom 20 (capacity: 4908 people), leaving just enough space in our schedule to briskly walk from one room to the next. What we learned on the first day was that at a convention of this size, attending any event isn’t possible without serious forethought and sacrifice.
San Diego Comic-Con International is an annual four-day celebration of the popular arts, that draws over 130,000 attendees from around the world. Originally started in 1970 as a comic book convention, the focus of the Con has since shifted from comic books to everything pop culture, from blockbusters and video games to the latest science fiction and fantasy novels. Some fans make the pilgrimage to see the people who create their favorite media, others to stock up on rare comic books or to spend thousands on the gigantic exhibition floor. Some people just come for the crowds.
Do video games get reviews, or criticisms? What’s the difference? This panel, hosted by a number of editors from The Escapist, Ars Technica, and the Boston Phoenix, among others, focused on the distinction between the two types of writing. A review, it seems, is focused on a product and potentially convincing a reader to buy something or not. A criticism, the panelists argued, is a piece written with a much deeper intent — to truly understand the game and communicate a particular experience to the reader. A review might be something you read before playing a game, and a criticism something afterwards. Reviews give you a comprehensive view, while a criticism is more on an in depth snapshot. Which is more effective and useful for the reader? That’s for you to decide.
Aaron H. Swartz is an accomplished 24-year-old by anyone’s standards. He co-authored the now widely-used RSS 1.0 specification at age 14, was one of three owners of the massively popular social news site Reddit, and recently completed a fellowship at the Harvard Ethics Center Lab on Institutional Corruption.
The original Portal was released in 2007 to critical acclaim. It was a very short, polished game based on a novel concept — players wield a portal gun that can fire a blue or orange portal onto certain surfaces, and things that go through one portal come out the other, preserving their speed and relative direction. By applying this simple idea in different ways, the player navigated through test chambers of increasing difficulty, all while evading the once-helpful robotic test administrator’s attempts to hurt your feelings (and kill you).
As fans of the animated series the movie is based on, and as human beings in general, watching <i>The Last Airbender</i> was a painful experience. Fans will mourn the film’s lack of resemblance to the original; everyone else will mourn the ghost of M. Night Shyamalan’s storytelling ability.