Pop-culture writer Chuck Klosterman didn't earn many followers when he criticized gaming critics for not filling in the deified shoes of rock-critic turned cultural messiah, Lester Bangs. The response from the gaming community sounded something like, "He's dead and they've buried his shoes."
Critics like Wired News' Clive Thompson made short shrift of Klosterman's Esquire piece, basically saying that there's plenty of intelligent discussion going on, it's just not going on in the pages of Esquire magazine.
Klosterman, a little bruised perhaps, pulled himself up and sat back down again with Gamespot's Rich Brown to explain his critique. He said, "I think that people were confused by my piece. What they seemed to think that I was saying is that no one is doing good video game criticism. And that's not really the point, I wasn't making that argument. What I was saying is that there seems to be no dominant person writing about video games in a way that transcends the insular culture of gaming. In other words there's no one writing about video games who is of interest to people who aren't actively playing them."
The reason there is no Lester Bangs of gaming is similar to the reason there is no Lester Bangs of music or Pauline Kael of movies anymore. People don't want serious criticism, they want service journalism: how many stars?; how many thumbs-up? In his own way, Klosterman is right, he's just not an informed critic. He reveals as much with, "I know people who are more engaged with it than I am, and when I say 'it,' I mean the Internet."
Follow the debate:
Read - The Lester Bangs of Video Games (Esquire)
Read - Why No Lester Bangs of Gaming? (Wired News ... or Game Girl Advance or John Scalzi)
Read - Chuck Klosterman answers critics (Gamespot)