Remember New Games Journalism? Those initial moments of revelation, the refreshing breaks from traditional videogame coverage, the eventual spiral-down into seeming self-indulgence? In its better forms, New Games Journalism is still alive and kicking. But enthusiasm around the supposed nouvelle vague has died down considerably over the past year, giving us all some time to cool our jets and reflect.
Whether you've come to love it or hate it, the fact remains: New Games Journalism certainly made a splash. Why did it strike such a chord with the gaming community? Maybe because we needed a jump-start to help us break away from the stale, standardized forms of game writing that permeated the media. Or, maybe we simply enjoyed an excuse to hear ourselves rant. Either way, the idea was picked up across the reporting spectrum; it was heralded as the way of the future.
There are those among us who were glad to see the fervor pass. Still, the concepts at the basis of New Games Journalism have entered our collective gamer consciousness, and, for better or worse, that can't be undone. We've come to accept that our responses to games, not just the content of the games themselves, are what determine meaningful play experiences. A worthwhile game that doesn't affect us may not be worthwhile after all.
It's this sort of thinking that's sparked our recent interest in emotional response, in personal narratives, in questions like, "Can a Game Make You Cry?" We want to share our side of the story. No longer satisfied with knowing how we can interact with a game, we want to know how a game will interact with us. Newly empowered, we've turned the spotlight on a type of reverse interactivity. Our real-world reactions become linked with our actions in-game, and vice versa. A whole new dichotomy - or at least our awareness of one - has been born.
How can we react to a game? Through laughter, through frustration, even through tears. Skeptics may say videogames aren't deep enough to inspire real emotion. Insensitive gamers may claim crying over Final Fantasy is just lame. But, for the most part, these responses are acceptable, respectable, even normal. Happy, angry, sad. They tell us how a game makes us feel; they show us, and others, how deeply we've connected with the game.
These, however, are not the only possible responses. When playing a game, be it Zelda, Perfect Dark or Number Munchers, we also respond on a bodily level. And while a catalogue of our purely emotional responses is well and good - and important in its own right - we can't overlook the physical side to our play. We may be part of an increasingly digital age, where even the most body-centric pastimes can be enacted online, but we still can't be separated from our real-life incarnations or their reactions to our actions on-screen.
How can we react to a game with our bodies? I can't speak for anyone else, but then again, I don't have to. After all, this is an article about New Games Journalism. Who better to put on the dissecting table than me?