Killing Is Harmless: new avenues for videogame criticism
Brendan Keogh’s new book about Spec Ops: The Line marks an important moment for writing about videogames.
Over the last few months I’ve seen an idea eating away at Brendan Keogh.
After playing Yager’s Spec Ops: The Line for the first time, he couldn’t stop talking about it. Brendan was writing about it before I had even finished the game, and before I knew it, he’d already written a significant amount—a significant amount. He said he had too much for any single website or magazine article. I could see it every time I spoke to him about it. He was excited.
And so Brendan wrote a book about Spec Ops: The Line. Most people would look at the world of videogames criticism and, failing to see a venue for publishing long-form criticism, wouldn’t think to write any in the first place. But it seemed like it couldn’t work any other way for Brendan. The fact that no-one (to my knowledge, anyway) had published a book of long-form videogame criticism before only vaguely seemed to register up until the moment the project was nearly upon him.
Killing Is Harmless: A Critical Reading of Spec Ops: The Line was released yesterday through Dan Purvis’ Stolen Projects label, and is selling for a couple of dollars. As much as I’d like to, I won’t publish a review of it as it’s never a good idea to review a friend’s work, but I’d like to gesture towards it in any case as an important moment in writing about videogames. It’s 169 pages of fluent, observant videogame criticism and narrative, written by the kind of person who’d throw together 50,000 words propelled only by the sheer romance for telling people about a great game.