Video game criticism

Alexis Blanchet (Université Sorbonne Nouvelle - Paris 3), Rilla Khaled (Concordia University), Henry E. Lowood (Stanford University), James Newman (Bath Spa University), Jaakko Suominen (University of Turku) and Gabrielle Trépanier-Jobin (Université du Québec à Montréal).

Whether we talk about literature, music, cinema or other forms of art, criticism and theory have always progressed hand in hand. Through description, classification, and evaluation, critical discourses have offered material to theoretical analysis which, in return, deepened, questioned and methodized their practice. Much academic attention in game studies has been paid to these discourses, attesting the influence of reviews on the development of video game culture, the designation of landmark video games and the definition of criteria to evaluate their quality. And yet, a full-scale comprehensive study of the discourse paradigms which regulate this practice remains to be conducted.

This research project will analyze the variety and evolution of video game criticism across print, online and broadcast media to further our understanding of the video game as a technological and artistic medium, tracking the reception of video games from the late 1970s to the present. It will focus on four geographical areas: Canada, France, the United Kingdom and the United States. It will cover four axes of research: criticism and technology, criticism and art, the forms of criticism, and criticism and the industry. The results will lead to an increased understanding of the journalistic discourse community’s impact on the processes of legitimization of video games and shaping of video game culture. It will also contribute to the preservation of an important part of video game history.

Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council (SSHRC) Grant: « From Technofetishists to Art Lovers: The Evolution of Video Game Criticism in Canada, France, U.K. and U.S.A.» (20018-2023).

ResultsHaut de la page

Interview with Douglas Alves

PublicationsHaut de la page

Books and journals
The World of Scary Video Games: A Study in Videoludic Horror

Perron, Bernard. 2018. The World of Scary Video Games: Study in Videoludic Horror. New York : Bloomsbury.

To know more

As for film and literature, the horror genre has been very popular in the video game. The World of Scary Video Games provides a comprehensive overview of the videoludic horror, dealing with the games labelled as “survival horror” as well as the mainstream and independent works associated with the genre. It examines the ways in which video games have elicited horror, terror and fear since Haunted House (1981). Bernard Perron combines an historical account with a theoretical approach in order to offer a broad history of the genre, outline its formal singularities and explore its principal issues. It studies the most important games and game series, from Haunted House (1981) to Alone in the Dark (1992- ), Resident Evil (1996-present), Silent Hill (1999-present), Fatal Frame (2001-present), Dead Space (2008-2013), Amnesia: the Dark Descent (2010), and The Evil Within (2014). Accessibly written, The World of Scary Video Games helps the reader to trace the history of an important genre of the video game. Chapter 2 analyzes very closely how the label came to crystallize a common cultural consensus around what horror video games were, and was taken up as a universal term to name quite different games. It shows how the understanding of and the references to survival horror have not been the same, on the one hand, for journalists and reviewers who have witnessed its advent and followed the releases of games, and on the other hand, for scholars who aim to theorize and discuss these games in relation to a larger media landscape. And the term is certainly not as potent to younger gamers.

The Media Snatcher

Therrien, Carl. 2019. The Media Snatcher: PC/CORE/TURBO/ENGINE/GRAFX/16/CDROM2/SUPER/DUO/ARCADE/RX. Cambridge : MIT Press. [Online]

Book chapters and articles

Heine, Samuel. 2022. « Minoritaires mais pas invisibles : étude des discours portant sur les femmes dans la presse vidéoludique de 1985 à 2001 ». Sciences du jeu, numéro 18 (octobre). [Online].


Perron, Bernard and Christopher Ravenelle. to be published in 2023. « Quelle cote ont les notes ? Étude quantitative et qualitative des notations des magazines de jeux vidéo » in Lire les magazines de jeux vidéo - Couverture(s) de la presse française, Sélim Ammouche, Alexis Blanchet, Björn-Olav Dozo et Mathieu Triclot (Ed.), collection Jeu / Play / Spiel, Liège : Presses universitaires de Liège, p. 103-115.


Therrien, Carl, Dany Guay-Bélanger and Isabelle Lefebvre. to be published in 2023. « L’histoire du jeu vidéo encadrée : une étude comparative de la culture vidéoludique à travers les publicités imprimées (États-Unis et France) » in Lire les magazines de jeux vidéo - Couverture(s) de la presse française, Sélim Ammouche, Alexis Blanchet, Björn-Olav Dozo et Mathieu Triclot (Ed.), collection Jeu / Play / Spiel, Liège : Presses universitaires de Liège.

EventsHaut de la page


Perron, Bernard. 2018. « Les nouvelles formes de la critique » and roundtable « Penser la critique aujourd’hui : défis, transformations, résistances ». Workshop on Video Game Criticism, 15-16 november 2018, Université de Montréal. Guests: Alexis Blanchet (Paris III-Sorbonne-Nouvelle), Simon Dor (Université du Québec en Abitibi-Témiscamingue - UQAT), Dayi Lin (Queen’s University), Henry Lowood (Stanford University) and Jaakko Suominen (University of Turkku).


Therrien, Carl, André Habib and Alice Michaud-Lapointe. 2021. « Les nouvelles formes de la critique » et table ronde « Penser la critique aujourd’hui : défis, transformations, résistances ». Speed conference within the Midis du GRAFIM, 12 march 2021, Université de Montréal.

Conference PapersHaut de la page


Heine, Samuel. 2019. « Inspecting Diversity in Video Game Criticism: Defining Methods ». GamesLit 2019, Kolkata, 18-20 november 2019.


Perron, Bernard. 2019. « More Than Facts and Statements: The Forms of Video Game Criticism ». Society for Cinema & Media Studies Conference 2019, Seattle, 16 march 2019.


Perron, Bernard and Francis Lavigne. 2019. « Petit métaguide de la critique vidéoludique ». Les langages du jeu vidéo, Université de Lausanne, 26 october 2019.


Therrien, Carl. 2021. « Et si les jeux avaient toujours été impurs? Émergence, exclusion et redécouverte des jeux d'actualisation sur la PC Engine CD-ROM2 », Séminaire en ligne sur l’étude des plateformes vidéoludiques (organisation: Pierre-Yves Hurel et Yannick Rochat), 4 march 2021.


Therrien, Carl, Isabelle Lefebvre and Jean-Charles Ray. 2019. « Le cadre publicitaire au cœur de la culture vidéoludique. Étude comparative des publicités imprimées dans Computer Gaming World et Tilt », Les langages du jeu vidéo, Université de Lausanne, 24-26 october 2019

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