“Welcome to the fourth annual Slate Gaming Club—which I’m sure fans will soon begin calling SGC IV, not long after they grow weary of the club’s demands that readers take each of us out on dates to play darts and eat burgers. For the second consecutive year, we’ve shaken up the lineup. This year we have one professional game critic (Seth), one author of a very fine book on video games (Tom, 2010’s Extra Lives), and one novelist/journalist who has taken video games seriously in, of all places, the London Review of Books (John). And, of course, there’s me. If nothing else, I’ve proved hard to get rid of.
What was the year in video games 2010 all about? For me, it was one thing only: Red Dead Redemption. Rockstar’s Western was so much better than everything else I played this year that I hesitate to say that other video games released in 2010 belong in the same conversation. The score and the scenery have been rightly praised, but the writing is equally superb. Before I played Red Dead Redemption, I had begun to subscribe to the commonly heard critique that cutscenes are antithetical to the nature of video games—a futile effort by game makers to ape the conventions of cinema. Red Dead Redemption offers a powerful rebuttal: The problem with cutscenes (in other games) is not that they contradict the nature of the medium but that they’re mediocre.”