You may remember early Christian game reviews. Endless rants against every game that came out for either being too violent, or having less Jesus than a Jack Chick comic. While this sub-community has matured in recent years to more coherent review methods, I invite you to revisit the glory days of weird-ass reviews. Stand and bear witness to Maoist game reviews.
Unfortunately, these guys haven't been keeping their reviews up to date, but they cover some of the classic PC games from 3-5 years ago. From the review of Fallout 1 & 2:
What's interesting about these reviews, and others by people reviewing games through a similarly strong ideological lens, is that they tend to focus on the content and stories of games while almost entirely ignoring the technical aspects. This is, of course, almost entirely the opposite of more mainstream reviews. Compare the Maoist Fallout review with the Gamespot review of Fallout 2. Gamespot dedicates one paragraph to plot information, and this plot information is really only as much as the player would know by watching the introductory movie. The rest of the review is focused on the game's systems and playability. In contrast, the Maoist review contains so much plot information that is practically a spoiler, and all of this plot information is then given a Maoist textual analysis.
Of course Gamespot readers likely know, or have interest in learning, gaming buzzwords. Real-time, turn-based, FPS. Verbal shortcuts through complex idea shells to creamy centers of meaning. The Maoist game reviews don't have time to explain complex gaming concepts, because they're interested in complex political concepts. These political, theological, and philosophical reviewers focus on story and the "meaning" behind gameplay because they aren't telling us how to feel about games as gamers, but rather how to feel about games as Maoists, Christians, Furries, or whatever.
When we talk about wanting more information on the non-technical aspects of games in our game reviews, is this what we're actually asking for? The New Games Journalism seeks to recreate one player's experience of a game using a gonzo record of that player's experience, with all biases intact. The reader then uses their emotional response to the article to determine whether the game is worth experiencing personally. In order to make a review long enough to feel substantial, in order to actually find meaning worth talking about, doesn't the reviewer have to put forth some sort of bias with which to identify any meaning at all? Isn't New Games Journalism's harbinger, Always_Black's "Bow, Nigger" an article about online race relations, with Jedi Knight II as the stage on which the events actually take place?
Is this a bad thing? Young conservative university students made headlines over this past summer with their demand to be allowed to take classes that wouldn't force them to listen to opinions that didn't fit within their current political beliefs. In the same way, some gamers don't want to hear some reviewer preaching to them about deconstructionalist post-feminism in the key of Metroid Prime. But, of course, some of us would love to know what Samus has to do with deconstructionalist post-feminism. Do you want games to challenge you philosophically, or just mechanically? I suppose it comes down to personal taste.
In any case, if my understanding of the goals of the New Games Journalism is correct, then it is in fact not very new at all. Just as Gonzo Journalism wasn't so much a new development in writing as it was in editing, so it is with New Games Journalism. The only difference is that the internet (where almost all New Games Journalism is found) is effectively devoid of editors. The reader must act as her own personal editor by internally filtering content that does not meet her own personal standards for whatever reason. This new "Gonzo" is the act of letting biases and opinions pass through her mental filter.
New Games Journalism is not a way of writing . It is a way of reading.