Wednesday, March 19, 2014

The Citizen Kane of Videogames, Part Uno

Haven't we heard this phrase before? There's always so much debate over which videogame is the proverbial Citizen Kane of the industry, as in which videogame can be recognized by the most people as being "the best." for those who are not film buffs, the movie Citizen Kane is widely regarded by professional movie critics as the best film ever made, and as such you can't really BE a professional film snob-- I mean critic, without agreeing to this one unwritten rule amongst the Oscar-loving film community.

There have been quite a few videogames that, whether coined "the Citizen Kane of gaming" or not, HAVE been praised as being one of the best, if not the best, ever made. Some of the more popular choices for this controversial category have been Legend of Zelda: Ocarina of Time, Super Mario Bros. 3, and ABC News even did a piece in collaboration with Michael Thomsen from IGN giving a detailed analysis claiming Metroid Prime to be the Citizen Kane of videogames, directly comparing their themes and stories.

Consider this video by Anthony Burch to be in line with my feelings about not only Metroid Prime, but ANY game being called "The Citizen Kane of videogames."

What... you thought I was down with that shit? No, I'm here to show just how stupid this whole thing really is. Not because I think one medium is better than another (hint: videogames are better), but because they're so different and unique, that comparing Metroid Prime to Citizen Kane is like comparing Biggie Smalls to Douglas Adams. Don't worry though, I actually WILL be putting my own twist on the "Citizen Kane of videogames" debate, by giving a list of games that I think are most like Citizen Kane, but for different reasons than other people.

I love movies... just not Citizen Kane.

First of all, I think I should make one thing clear. I consider myself a major film buff, I love movies and everything good they give to us as entertainment and as art. I love a wide range of films, and I always love to analyze movies to look deep and see hidden beauty (or hidden ugliness) in them.

But do I think Citizen Kane is one of the best movies ever made?

... FUCK NO!

Who the hell would be so goddamn pretentious as to label ANY movie as one of the best movies ever-- OH WAIT, the answer to that would be every dipshit movie snob film critic asshole, the same people who treat the Academy Awards like the only meaningful event for the film community each year. I hate the Oscars. I hate people who view the Oscars as dogma, and look down on any movie that hasn't been nominated for one. I hate movies that try way too hard to be Oscar nominees, the desperate attention-seeking pretentious fucks.

Now why do I hate the Oscars? Because it's so obvious that the credentials for nomination in the Academy falls down to two words: Citizen Kane. When deciding which movie wins the award for Best Picture, they're really asking each other "which one is the most like Citizen Kane?" Every movie made with the intent of winning the Best Picture Oscar is really trying to be Citizen Kane. This kind of homogenization of an art form makes me want to puke red carpet out of my ass.

Videogames are NOT movies... crazy, I know!

Now, to the point: comparing games to films. Long story short, it's stupid as fuck.

Long story long, it's a pathetic and demeaning practice for people to try and validate videogames by trying to liken them to films, as if we as gamers need approval from big daddy Oscar to know that what we do is meaningful. If someone like Roger Ebert, who is widely considered to be the Citizen Kane of movie critics, makes an ignorant-ass statement saying videogames aren't art, I call him out on it but I don't sweat it like other people did. He's not part of this industry, so he has about as much real say on videogames as FOX News, who I may remind you recently called Bulletstorm "the worst game ever" because it allegedly "encourages rape." Fans of Ebert will of course heed his words just as they heed his views on films, but they need to remember that while he is a well-respected film critic who knows his shit when it comes to movies, that expertise does not bleed over to us and our industry. He's a film expert, not a gaming expert, so I don't sweat his opinions.

Roger Ebert's take on videogames and the subsequent response by the gaming community is a very accurate metaphor for the Citizen Kane debate as well, so don't think the above paragraph was just a digression. Roger Ebert applying his expertise on movies to videogames is the same thing as peple applying Citizen Kane to videogames as a whole. Citizen Kane and Roger Ebert are considered the best movie and movie critic, respectively, and they have just about fuck-all to do with videogames, but some gamers are so insecure about the industry they supposedly love that they need the validation of a respected part of the film industry, which has already been established as an art form. Yes, it would be nice if videogames saw more appreciation from film experts, but it's not a prerequisite for us to know that our games are awesome shit. So whether you're trying to compare a videogame to Citizen Kane to convince people that it's genuine art, or you want Roger Ebert to do it for you, you're still stupid.

Videogames sometimes take cues or inspiration from movies, and this is fine. After all, my favorite game of all time is Mass Effect, so I know when a videogame can work as an "interactive movie." But when combining the two art forms, videogames should always come first. Mass Effect is simply a cinematic videogame, where even the cinematic aspects are interactive. Other games focus more on being a movie instead of being a game, one of the chief reasons I dislike the Uncharted series.


Tell magx01 and the rest of The Thoughtful Gamers what's on your mind!