Last weekend I did another TWIVGB for Critical Distance. Kris Ligman hasn’t been feeling all that well and I suggested she hand it off to Katie for a week to relieve some stress and get better. Well I ended up being the only non-busy person this weekend and now Kris is bleeding from her face. But I’m not going to talk about that here. Just wish her better and move on to something that occurred to me during last weeks curation.
Due to one thing and another I didn’t get all the suggestions from the week dumped on me until Saturday evening. So I had to plow through them as quickly as possible while taking in what I was reading. No skimming in other words. It didn’t help that my upper torso and back were in massive amounts of pain due to the concert I went to the previous evening. The pain began affecting my eyesight by blurring my vision. So yeah, it probably wasn’t good that I was in charge of the weekly curation. That, in a nutshell, is why it was late. Then I began thinking on was this even a good TWIVGB. I used to be really good at doing this. It’s one of the reasons Ben asked me to take over for two weeks in the first place. I used to be able to tell a good piece worth putting in the round up and what wasn’t. Over the years the community has stepped up its game so much that we are plateauing on a level of quality that once used to be the exception. Many of the pieces linked to at the beginning of the endeavor probably would be given the time of day now.
Then we enter the question of what is worth curating and why. Are we making a snapshot of the week? Are we basing the choices on the relevance, the quality of the prose, the reaction and discussion it might have spawned, the quality of the ideas? Or is it somewhere in between all of those. This probably should have been something I dealt with before doing the 2011 TYIVGB, but frankly that was a project I just wanted over by the end of it. No matter how you slice it I much prefer 2010 edition as a work unto itself than 2011s. Maybe it was expectation, maybe it was a rise in quality that blurs everything together. If everything is good, than nothing is really.
This is too big a concept to deal with in a single post, but mainly I want to focus on what struck me with regards to the issue of relevancy and reaction. Last week the debate that sprawled across the critical sphere on twitter and on the blogs was that of used games sales and what the publishers are doing the combat them. There were pleanty of posts, but I only linked one. The Rock, Paper Shotgun piece on whether we own our Steam games or not. This was a huge topic for the week, but none of the writing on it was that exceptional or noteworthy. It isn’t an easy topic to write about ( I know I tried and failed) and given the current climate some really bizarre and frighteningly mainstream thinking needs to be curtailed, but does that mean we curate it? Is historical importance enough in its own right for us to link it?
We, the editors of Critical Distance, were debating what exactly TWIVGB and Critical Distance are for, or rather what their direction is. The podcast got pulled into it as well. The short of it was, none of us knew or were quite on the same page. Critical Distance had some vague ideals of archiving and pointing out good critical pieces because the community was scattered and disparate, not even knowing the other end of the sphere existed. All of this was way back in ’08. Now 4 years later we haven’t defined it much beyond that. Each element being trial and error. The podcast itself was because Randy Ma and I wanted to be on a podcast. I revived it for that same reason. Now 5 episodes into my tenure I have to face what exactly do I want and can I do with it.
I get the feeling had Kris persevered through this weekend and done TWIVGB it would have been a very different list than mine. I’m thinking if Katie had not been busy it would have been different as well. While I’m not unhappy with it I find myself dissatisfied because I’m not sure. Hell here’s a piece by Kirk Battle that I really liked and even suggested when Kris was still going to do it. I cut it because I didn’t know if it was enough about games even tangentially to fairly include it. Then of course I couldn’t even do anything interesting with the TWIVGB itself because it was late and I was in pain. Kris liked its matter of factness, but I think I should have tried and gone with a football motif or something. We can’t do this every week no matter how easy it would be.
I know someone will think I’m putting way to much thought into this and worrying over nothing, but if I and the others didn’t TWIVGB wouldn’t be worth looking at. I was once asked who we thought we were to curate and declare something the best. We are the people who do it and worry about doing it well.
PS. Seriously I need podcast ideas. I only have one recording left before I have to make new ones. I thought about a behind the scenes sort of interviews with the different editors about how they do TWIVGB. None of us are the same and knowing the people behind them may help people understand the round-ups and what to expect when a certain person does it. Please, I need help.