Shut Up, ‘Her Story’ [Reblog]

Ed Smith is a writer from Derbyshire, UK, whose work has appeared in such publications as Killscreen, Vice, and The Observer. He runs (and writes) the websites Words That Won’t Sell and shutupvideogames. His work is (as you will soon discover) nuanced, wry and engaging—and oftentimes quite challenging; Against Child Protagonists an example of all these, but the latter particularly. I don’t always necessarily agree with his conclusions (that last article highlighted not merely for its challenge)—but agreement, of course, isn’t requisite to stimulation (frequently it’s the opposite, actually), nor even enjoyment. Smith has an excellent eye for analysis where all key elements of games are concerned, and I’ve found that I can always rely on his commentaries to greatly deepen and/or alter my perspective on the game at hand—L.A. Noire and The Beginner’s Guide as examples of either or both circumstances.

Whatever my level of alignment normally, there are absolutely no caveats necessary, no gray areas at all, in my agreement with this pithy and surgical piece, Shut Up, Her Story (summary and link to full text below), which is fitting given that writer/director Sam Barlow’s whodunnit/who’s who, for the many accolades thrown its way from choice corners of cyberspace, contains not even a rumour of subtlety or nuance itself. I finally made time today to sit down with the game myself, and I did so, I might add, equally prepared to love the thing or hate it—or to land without embarrassment somewhere between. My experience, however, paralleled to an unfortunate tee the words you’re about to read.

Speak up, Ed Smith!

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“God is a first rate novelist and to be there when He’s strutting his stuff is not only legitimate but honorable, part and parcel of fighting the good fight.” Richard Price wrote that, in his foreword to David Simon’s Homicide: A Year on the Killing Streets, the greatest work of crime non-fiction you’re ever likely to read. I can’t put myself up there with Price, and certainly not with Simon, but as a reporter and a critic, I’ll die with the belief that fact is always greater than fiction, that truth, no matter how mundane, is fascinating above even the best spun lie.

There are eight million stories in the naked city and Sam Barlow, developer of Her Story, makes it at least seem like he’s bringing us one of them. Live-action cutscenes, a Windows ’95 desktop, the unheard of (at least worldwide) city of Portsmouth, England — Her Story has pretensions of reality. Its actual videos of an…

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