In Defense of the of Executive GamerOctober 12, 2008
In a recent interview, game designer Tim Schafer has brought up the notion of the “Executive Gamer.” This primarily applied to the gamers in the enthusiast press who are required to review many games each month for their subscribers. The idea is that these gamers are forced to constantly play games in marathon sittings every week in order to put them out in review. The most notorious is being required to review a game like Grand Theft Auto 4 where there is over 100 hours of game play that the developer expects the gamer reviewer to finish in time to review. Schafer’s contention is that these gamers are more or less separate from the normal gamer who must save money for months to play a game that will inevitably be played for the entire month as opposed to a couple of days.
It is a reasonable contention but flawed, in my opinion. Cinephiles often watch dozens of movies a week and advent readers can go through a library of books a week as well. Does this mean that their opinion is placed at fault to what makes a memorable novel or film? I believe the conflict Schafer sees goes back to idea of the public and the critic. Video games, just as books, can be enjoyed in a single sitting or multiple sittings. But that does not mean that the person who reads a book faster than another person has any less opinion of the product. I would agree with Schafer when it comes to multiplayer experiences because the review is required to predict the loyalty of the community, the amount of enjoyment from game play variation, and how long the multiplayer should last. Every MMO does not require the same extended online activity like WoW, but players should decide for themselves if the length of the free trail is sufficient for their gaming needs.
But the idea that an avid gamer is less qualified to review games is ridiculous, and to think that these gamers are thought to be too disconnected with the public is absurd. The different between marathon gaming and periodically gaming is very little is the brand scheme of things. It comes down to opinion. And a reviewers job is to give his opinion, and more often than not their experience is similar to the one they advise to their subscribers. Readers understand the environment that these game reviews occur under and it is up to personal judgment whether they agree or not.
It has become a successful relationship between the gamer and the reviewer and I don’t believe that the idea of an “executive gamer” should not be looked down upon. And with the trend of game journalist turning over to developer side, their knowledge and expertise are not something to look over or take lightly when it comes to judgment.