A fair amount of discussion of L.A. Noire has raised questions about how to classify this “game”. Over at GamePro, for instance, Kat Bailey explains, “I feel like L.A. Noire is a success as a visual novel [. . .] it’s meant to be read and experienced as much as played” and that it is “arguable whether that approach is a good fit for the interactive medium of videogames” (“Second Opinion: L.A. Noire”, GamePro, 20 May 2011). Additionally, Bailey reiterates another criticism that has been leveled at the game that it “relies heavily on pixel hunting and guesswork”.
I spoke a couple weeks ago a little bit about how I felt that the forward momentum of the story and some of the player’s inability to do anything about it relates to the genre of noir itself (”L.A. Noire: The Fatalism of American Sticktoitiveness”, PopMatters, 1 June 2011). While that essay acknowledged the largely linear quality of the storytelling in L.A. Noire, still I find that the notion that L.A. Noire is somehow “not quite a game” because a lot of its choices lead in a particular direction or because the game mechanics include the necessity of a great deal of watching, observing, and pixel hunting is a notion that denies the rather integral relationship that exists between seeing and gaming.