Killing Is Harmless: new avenues for videogame criticism
Brendan Keoghâ€™s new book about Spec Ops: The Line marks an important moment for writing about videogames.
Over the last few months Iâ€™ve seen an idea eating away at Brendan Keogh.
After playing Yagerâ€™s Spec Ops: The Line for the first time, he couldnâ€™t stop talking about it. Brendan was writing about it before I had even finished the game, and before I knew it, heâ€™d already written a significant amountâ€”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, wouldnâ€™t think to write any in the first place. But it seemed like it couldnâ€™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 Purvisâ€™ Stolen Projects label, and is selling for a couple of dollars. As much as Iâ€™d like to, I wonâ€™t publish a review of it as itâ€™s never a good idea to review a friendâ€™s work, but Iâ€™d like to gesture towards it in any case as an important moment in writing about videogames. Itâ€™s 169 pages of fluent, observant videogame criticism and narrative, written by the kind of person whoâ€™d throw together 50,000 words propelled only by the sheer romance for telling people about a great game.