You've heard of Gears of War 3 right? It's kinda a big deal, or so they say. I wouldn't know, because according to Cliffy B, I shouldn't play the game. Why is that? Because I like RPGs. Epic's head honcho of all things douchy has decided he knows what kind of person should review his game, and it certainly isn't someone who enjoys other types of games. FPS fanatics only please -- other genres need not apply.
The trouble with this line of reasoning is that it assumes that gamers are not people, that they are instead some sort of strange species of people that having selected a genre to adore are no longer allowed to step out of the box they themselves have created. But gamers are people, and people are full of contradictions. There's a reason Madden is sitting on my shelf next to Rockband, and it's not because my husband like the game, because he hates sports titles, just ask him. It's because I am both a gamer and a person, and I like different types of games -- even those culture tells me I shouldn't play. Does that make me the wrong person to review Madden simply because I'm not an expert on the genre? Yes, according to Cliffy B.
There's another side to this argument however, and I realize that. I am fully aware that in order to review a game you have to be deeply familiar with the genre itself, and it would be remiss to play a game without having experienced previous titles with which to compare it. Perhaps only FPS players should review FPS games, but doesn't that somehow keep out the people who are looking at the genre from a new perspective? Shouldn't an outsider also have a voice as to whether a game is good on its own merit, aside from genre fanboyism? Or can we only review games if we know the genre itself, and should therefore divide our review staff accordingly. What do you think? How specialized does a reviewer need to really be?