Here's another article lamenting the lack of, in this case, The Lester Bangs of videogames.
Hate to break it to you, but Lester Bangs is dead. He died in 1982. When he was alive, Rolling Stone hadn't become the boob-laden commercialized sad rag it is now with an endless parade of one-hit wonders and Britney Spears clones on the covers. The Ramones were still playing. And alive.
Maybe there is no Lester Bangs of videogames because there's no Lester Bangs of ANY medium. Not anymore.
But let's dissect the article a little more. It's very easy to say there's no Big Important Critic of videogames when videogames themselves are not as big as films or music. You simply don't get famous writing about videogames. Because if you did, surely Chuck at Esquire would have known about Clive at Wired, who wrote a review recently of Jaws Unleashed that began:
The bikini-clad swimmers have no clue what's coming.
Deep beneath the surface of the water, I glide like a cruise missile of death, quietly circling my prey and picking my angle of attack. Then I sense an opening and bam: I shoot upward, sink my teeth into one wriggling leg, and begin ripping my prey back and forth. Blood mixes with the frothy water-bubbles as the shrieking begins, and pretty soon I'm snacking on yet another resident -- oops, former resident -- of Amity Island.
He also apparently doesn't know about the whole movement under the unfortunate moniker "New Games Journalism" and all its practioners who, although you may argue over the legitimacy of their project, do in fact attempt exactly what Klosterman longs for.
The problem is, no one really cares for the stuff beyond a small group of like-minded folks who are mainly writers and developers. Gamers, for the most part, don't care to read about how a game makes you feel. Without an audience, fine writers who style themselves critics languish unread on blogs or in tiny niche websites.
But I also think he's misunderstanding what videogames are. Klosterman quotes Steven Johnson saying that videogames are more like architecture, which is a very interesting point (and when was the last time you read architecture criticism in a magazine?). But Klosterman confuses architecture with action:
But there's one (rather obvious) difference between architecture and video games: Architecture is static. I live in a building that has fourteen floors, and that's always true. I can't manipulate the floor plan of my apart¬ment or the number of bricks in the wall. What makes video-game criticism complex is that the action is almost never static. Unlike a film director or a recording artist, the game designer forfeits all autonomy over his creation—he can't dictate the emotions or motives of the characters. Every player invents the future.Uh... yeah, sort of. But outside of a play space like Second Life, actually, no player invents anything; she merely determines the sequence of certain events, and sometimes, the quality of those events. It's a very limited sort of freedom. The architecture that Johnson's talking about is the very code of the game, which is identical for everyone. We have different reactions to it, sure, but then, we have different reactions to films as well.
The difference really is why we want to read about certain writers' reactions to films but not about their reactions to games. So the answer is, there is a Lester Bangs, there are probably hundreds of them, but no one gives a shit.