I’ve been musing recently on the difference between literary criticism (and movie criticism) and game criticism.
One of the things that came to mind was that literary criticism is more focused on the art of its subject and game criticism is more focused on the craft.
By Art, I mean what a game is.
The Art of a game is that undefinable “something” that affects you on a deep level. The author of Zen and The Art of Motorcycle Maintainance would call it “Quality.”
By Craft, I mean what a game does.
The Craft of a game is the skill of execution — the features, gameplay, etc. This has more to do with the external experience of playing the game.
The two are completely linked — you can’t have good Art without good Craft, and vice-versa. It’s just a question of what you choose to look at when you critique a game.
The best way I could illustrate this would be by example:
Here’s a piece of criticism that focuses on the art [SPOILER ALERT. DON’T READ THIS UNLESS YOU’VE FINISHED BOTH PORTAL AND BIOSHOCK]:
Anyway, I’m not trying to make any specific point here, only that I think it’s an interesting difference.