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January 18, 2009 5:09 am

Well, it appears Consolevania has ended, which means that Scotland just lost approximately ten thousand cool points.

If Double H from Beyond Good & Evil has taught me anything, it's the importance of following the manual; and the manual clearly states "D.B.U.T.T. - Don't break up the TEAM." So, what gives?

One of the primary reasons for the show's demise, according to Rab, was burnout caused by the strain of being expected to constantly review new games, rather than having the freedom to simply enjoy them. Rab also cites compliments that he and Ryan had received regarding some of their harsher invectives, indicating that certain fans seemed all too eager to reward them for (what was evidently perceived as) the show's increasingly acerbic tone.

Obviously, there is a distinction to be made between the act of criticizing a game out of a sincere and abiding love for the medium, as opposed to just savaging something for the sake of savaging it - but personally, it always seemed apparent to me that CV was on the proper side of that boundary, and I was surprised to learn that the creators themselves felt otherwise. Even in the rare instances when their satire veered into outright castigation, it was usually directed at a target that undeniably warranted such treatment.

Rab's explanation also contained a miniature existential crisis regarding the triviality of game reviews (particularly negative ones), in which he heralded the process of providing recommendations as more fulfilling and, ultimately, more valuable than formulating scathing deconstructions. His thoughts on the subject actually reminded me a lot of a speech I really enjoyed from Ratatouille, delivered by the reformed (I'm not evil!) food critic Anton Ego:

In many ways, the work of a critic is easy. We risk very little yet enjoy a position over those who offer up their work and their selves to our judgment. We thrive on negative criticism, which is fun to write and to read. But the bitter truth we critics must face is that, in the grand scheme of things, the average piece of junk is more meaningful than our criticism designating it so. But there are times when a critic truly risks something, and that is in the discovery and defense of the new.

Here's a story for you: A few years ago, I got into an argument with a fellow game developer over whether or not there is an inherent contradiction in being both a fan and a critic of something. His stance was that I was unqualified to recommend a game to an average player because my tastes had been refined to the point of irrelevancy. In essence, the amount of critical thinking that I applied to games had, in his view, made me an "elitist," thus precluding me from being able to evaluate them from the perspective of the common fan.

This infuriated me at the time, but the point he was making has stayed with me ever since. While I still disagree with the assertion that the roles are mutually exclusive, I do think that it can be difficult to prevent them from interfering with one another.

Take GameFan, one of my all-time favorite video game magazines, and one that leaned heavily toward the "fan" end of the spectrum (hence the name): By the time Super Mario 64 was released, the staff had already awarded so many '100/100' scores to other games that they were forced to give it a rating of '100+' to help distinguish it from the many "perfect" games that had preceded it. The heightened level of ardor was generally one of GameFan's strengths, but in such instances it did occasionally serve to damage their critical credibility (and Play, the magazine's spiritual successor, ought to include a free grain of salt with each issue, but that's another matter entirely).

Having listened to Rab's farewell address, I still believe that both praise and derision are vital to the continued evolution of the medium. But if a choice really had to be made between being game fans or being game critics, there is no doubt in my mind that CV TEAM made the right decision.