Critical handmaiden

While going through my referrer stats – one of the many activities I never want to have to explain to my mother – I noticed a link from Timothy Burke’s blog, which I mentioned in an earlier post on Star Wars Galaxies.

I found the following particularly interesting:

If you want to serve as a critical handmaiden to the work of creativity, then I think that requires a frankly utilitarian approach, a conscious desire to render service at the points of absence or frustration in ongoing cultural projects. That is certainly what lies behind my own writing about computer games: I am not interested in being seen as an academic specialist in computer games, and legitimated as such, but as an academic whose scholarly experience bootstraps an experience of games to being productively engaged in the act of game design. I want to work within a consciously middlebrow critical practice, like Eric Zimmerman and Katie Salen do in their recent book Rules of Play.

This warms the cockles of my heart, as it expresses a few of the reasons of why I write and talk about game design: to make better games, and to make games better.

And therefore my occasional impatience when I read something which is not aimed at this goal. I realize that this is unreasonable: other people need not share my objectives, and may have perfectly valid ones of their own. But then I am not a reasonable person.

On the other hand, I am perfectly capable of changing my mind. I would dearly like to see more writing that can help the average game developer, including myself, make better games. If you know of academic writing on games that obviously proves that I am a pig-headed fool, do let me know.