Friday, February 18, 2011
I realise the Smithsonian has an aura of awe surrounding it; an institute of such respectability that no one would dare criticise it. Well, when they decide to take on the realm of videogames, which I have over 20 years experience in and am an unequivocal expert on, and they screw it up, I'm going to say something. The Smithsonian's Art of Video Games exhibit is flawed and appears to have been devised by an idiot.
You go to the site, you register via an email address and are instantly given a password. You then have 80 votes to spend on games of artistic merit. This in itself is open to abuse, since you could create unlimited fake log-in accounts (which I will be doing), but the worst crime here is how utterly broken their voting system is.
You can only vote for ONE game, in each GENRE category of each system. They don't properly explain this to you, and the HTML is broken anyway in Firefox, forcing me to use Opera, but I only noticed this after I'd voted for Gunstar Heroes under the TARGET category. I then tried to vote for Ranger X but was denied. I had 75 votes left, but they wouldn't allow me to vote in one of the all-time greatest action games on the Mega Drive/Genesis. You're forced to pick between Gunstar, Viewpoint or Ranger X.
The problem here is they expect me to spend the rest of my votes in the other categories. But here's the catch people: who cares about some obscure strategy titles on the Intellivision? I can't vote for Ranger X, but I'm expected to choose either Armor Battle, B-17 Bomber or Utopia? I don't want to vote for any of them! Are they of any significance to anything?
I realise what they're trying to do. They're trying to force our votes so we don't end up with everyone spending all their votes on Gears of War, Halo and Bioshock, which is fair enough, that's admirable. But the hamfisted way they've devised this means that great games, like Ranger X to give a personal example, are going to be overlooked because they absolutely insist that I need to vote for Utopia on Intellivision. So really, you don't have 80 votes to play around - you have 1 vote for each genre on each system for each era.
The selection of games is reasonable, I will admit, showing that they at least spoke to someone of intelligence in the gaming world. Some will complain about the absence of some games (Demon's Souls?), but the shortlist isn't my problem. They managed to put obscure stuff like Espagaluda and other niche titles in there (Jet Set Radio and Future are both on there too). But because of the way the voting has been forced, it's all redundant, since most categories have a game that everyone will vote for to the detriment of the others, and since you can only vote once in each category it kind of negates the whole exercise. Why put Star Wars next to Super Mario World? No one will ever waste a vote on Star Wars instead of SMW - whereas if they allowed a specific number of votes for ANY game within a specific era, then we'd obviously get a lot of SMW votes, but people would have the opportunity to spend some votes on other games. As it stands, I can guarantee that some great games will receive nothing, simply because of how illogically this has been devised. The only way to correct the shortcomings of this system is to create multiple accounts. I've made several different accounts with email addresses which don't even exist, purely to make use of my 80 votes as I see fit. 80 votes have now been cast, and without the shackles of their arbitrary and illogical system.
Whoever devised the voting system had absolutely no clue about games or indeed voting. Or perhaps anything at all. It is a ridiculous exercise in frustration that will only skew the perception of games. Also, Jesus H Christ, Steel Battalion in the same category as Sid Meier's Pirates? Crimson Skies in the same category as Diablo II?
Who in the flaming hell categorised these? Gibbons? Macaques? Mangabeys? If academia can't understand the medium of games, then please just leave it alone and get lost.
Man, screw this nonsense.