During a recent HotSpot, Ricardo Torres showed how frustrated he was with the length of Golden Sun: Dark Dawn. The reason? He wanted to get the review done by a certain day, but the game wasn't cooperating.
I don't mean to rag on Ricardo here as I've heard the same type of thing from other members of the gaming press. And it's not just that they need to REVIEW a lot of games.... There are a ton of good games out there, and it's hard for them to get to them all on top of their scheduled games for review.
We all know how that feels, even without any review responsibilities. Some of us have huge backlogs that we promise we'll get to eventually, and some of us just don't buy that many games because we know we won't get to them all.
So what's the effect of this?
Stick with me for a minute here. The writing/reading/literary academic community uses the terms horizontal and vertical when talking about reading. Horizontal reading describes the act of reading a wide range of material without digging much below the surface of any one piece, while vertical reading focuses on covering a narrow range of material but gaining a much deeper understanding of each one. Thanks to the vast amount of information available on the internet, we tend to engage in more horizontal than vertical reading, and this can potentially lead to issues of not fully understanding the nuances and important details of a piece of writing, whether it be a book or a news story or whatever, before moving on to the next one.
You can see where I'm going with this.
Since we have a limited amount of time, we can't fully engage in BOTH horizontal and vertical gaming. One of the problems with game reviews is that we want reviewers to do both. We want them to cover a huge range of games while digging as deeply as they can into each one. I think understanding this concept helps us to understand how some reviewers can get it so WRONG sometimes. In their quest to see as much of a game as quickly as possible, it's almost inevitable that they'll miss some things, especially when some games lend themselves to a slower, more deliberate experience.
As for us regular non-press gamers, we also have to make a choice. Do we slow it down and try to experience everything in a game before moving on? Or do we try to experience as much as we can of what the industry as a whole has to offer?
I'm a vertical gamer, myself. That means that there are a lot of good games that I'll never play, but I'm okay with that. Investing serious time into a good game can totally change the experience from what I might have had by just skimming over it.
So what type of gamer are you? Would you rather NOT be that type of gamer or are you okay with it?