A few people have asked me about the thinking behind my new Gamasutra columns, “Five minutes with…”. While I’ve been explaining it, I’ve been aware of a voice in the back of my head, saying something scathing but too indistinct for me to catch. I realised the other day it was a memory of this legendary diss, delivered by the Reverend Sydney Smith on hearing that a friend had set his cap to a widow twice his age and four times his size:
Marry her? Going to marry her? Impossible! You mean a part of her: he could not marry her all himself. It would be a case, not of bigamy, but trigamy: the neighborhood or the magistrates should interfere. There is enough of her to furnish wives for a whole parish. One man marry her!–it is monstrous. You might people a colony with her, or give an assembly with her, or perhaps take your morning’s walk round her,–always provided there were frequent resting-places, and you were in rude health. I once was rash enough to try walking round her before breakfast, but only got half-way, and gave it up exhausted. Or you might read the Riot Act and disperse her. In short, you might do anything with her but marry her.
And this, I’ve realised, is how I’ve come to feel about reviewing games. Review a game? You mean a part of it, surely. No-one could review a game all herself. There is just so much going on there, so many thousands of interesting design choices to talk about, so many experiences to share. I’m simply not equal to the task of reviewing a whole game anymore, nor willing to keep deleting the dozens of interesting little points in order to make way for the big, sweeping statements. So instead I’m taking little walks around them, with frequent resting places. Five minutes at a time. The second of the columns was about Minecraft – I’m hoping to reply to some of the very astute comments it generated here later. Next month I suspect I might be finding even five minutes of play too daunting, and talk about some particularly juicy menu screens. I think Rev’d Smith would approve.