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NoFuture's blog

1:35 PM on 10.07.2011

Ambiguity, Semantics, and other thoughts on Videogame Reviews

Hello, hello, and welcome back. It's been far too long since I last wrote a blog post, nearly 5 months! This is partially because I've been busy being unemployed, and partially because I hadn't the slightest clue what to actually write about. Now I'm back, and it seems to be THE game review season with a staggering amount of games coming out into the sunlight. Perfect time to write about reviews if you ask me. I think about them a lot, and as a statistician its hard for me not to analyze the hell out of anything that grabs my interest.

What I'm gonna write about specifically is what I feel reviews should be (gotta set up those assumptions :p), and the difference between an "average" game and an "average" review. Oh and probably something about the human condition I guess. I should warn you that things are gonna get kinda mathematical up in here, but I'll try to keep it light.

This is not what you signed up for. This is not what I'll do. ...this time.

I am of the opinion that a videogame review is the evaluation of an experience, not a scientific determination of a products inherent worth. I'm not a fan of reviews that simply list a game's features and how well they work. Although those things are obviously important, that should at most be the introduction to a review, not the thing's entire substance. Thus I think it's important to understand the personalities, likes and dislikes of the reviewers that you use to inform a purchase. Some may think this is a lot of work, but to that I would say that if you're relying on a review to judge an investment then its a part of being an intelligent consumer. But forget that, ITS JUST THE SETUP

So the first assumption is that games are reviewed based on the experience that the reviewer had with it (not every reviewer works in this fashion, but that's why its theory :p). The second assumption is that there are an infinite number of reviewers of all different kinds and personalities. So, assuming that these reviews are subjective, for any one game there theoretically exists a person for each possible enjoyment level. In simpler terms, every game has a person that would rate it a 10/10, a person who would rate it a 0/10 (or 1/10, whatevs), and a person for every score in between. Now, there is no reason that this distribution of people would be even, meaning there could be more people that like a particular game than there are those who hate it, and vice versa. There could very well be more people who rate Mega Man 2 a 10/10 then there are those that rate it a 7/10. So if you were to average the scores of every reviewer for any particular game, an "average score" would be procured (duh). Now, this "average score" is NOT the same as a "true" score that somehow tells a game's real worth. We're dealing with subjective measurements here, a "true score" in this regard doesn't really even matter (unless you are the most average dude ever). The "average score" that can be calculated is simply the average amount of enjoyment that the reviewers have had with the game.

This is a relevant image. Also stop nodding off or I SWEAR

So then what does a 5/10 mean? A 5/10 represents an average experience, but shockingly enough, it does NOT necessarily represent an average game. The "average" game is literally a mathematical average of the average scores of every game. An average of averages, and I'm willing to bet that there are not nearly as many good games as there are bad ones. I think it's pretty evident from the sheer amount of shovelware and other terrible games that come out regularly (that usually don't get reviewed thanks to the 8th Amendment), I would bet all my monies that the average game, the ACTUAL average game, scores around a 2/10. Yes, there are THAT many bad games out there. Obviously this is very different from a 5/10, as a 5 describes an experience that is neither good nor bad. A 2 is decidedly ass.

A game review serves to define the amount of enjoyment a particular reviewer reaps from the product, and this extends beyond games into any kind of art. Most games that get much media attention at all are much better than "average" and I think that that's pretty cool. Somethingsomething the human condition.

None of this really matters though these are just the things I think about. Thanks for reading!   read

12:49 PM on 05.27.2011

I Don't Want to be a Games Journalist

I'm happy just being a gamer. Let me start by saying that I'm not going to get into a debate about the term "Games Journalist", because that isn't relevant here; you know what I'm talking about. What I seek to do is to describe why being a games journalist is a shit job that I'd never want to undertake. To clarify a second time, I'm not suggesting that games journalists are terrible people or that they need to get "real jobs". On the contrary, I respect these people in a way similar to that which I respect blue-collar workers -- for taking on professions that improve my quality of life a great deal, professions that I could never take on myself. So let me detail to you the reasons why I could never be a games journalist.

It's because I could never be this cool.


I was perusing the front page of Destructoid the other day as I do every day (multiple times a day...) when I came across Jim Sterling's article on the Daily Mail's smear campaign against the new Call of Duty MW3 trailer. It was just like any other article of its kind, though in this case the first thing that crossed my mind was the question of why this story was being covered. The Daily Mail, from what I have come to understand, is pretty well recognized as a tabloid publication, and so I'd think that this kind of false panic inducing article would be business as usual for the outlet. You may recall that the last time the Daily Mail pulled this kind of stunt it was spreading some pretty dire misinformation, so the criticism was relevant; this case seemed to be average tabloid fuckery by comparison. So why was Jim giving it attention? After pondering it for a while, the answer hit me in the face like an unpleasantly damp sponge: it's the man's job.

Games journalists are expected to cover news about games. Seems obvious, but I don't think that the implications of this fact are fully realized by many people. This means ALL of the news. All of it. Whether you like it or not. Whether it's about games you like, games you hate, or games you simply don't care about. Now I realize that this isn't the only reason why news of this kind is reported; sometimes the journalist simply cares quite a bit about the subject. In Jim's case, I know that he loves video games quite a bit, and I recall him expressing the sentiment that he loves video games so much that he can't stand to sit on the sidelines when others take a shit on them. This is an attitude I respect and one that I think more journalists in general should have. But, like I said, I don't want to be a journalist. I want to play games.

What she thinks about WoW? Irrelevant!


I want to play games. More importantly, I want to play games that I want to play. The second woe of the games journalist, especially those in the lower ranks, is the game for review. When I sit down to play a game, I want to play something that I enjoy. What I enjoy though is very likely not the game that I'd be called on to write a review for. Instead of spending my free time playing the latest Hitman game or the next Super Meat Boy-quality game, I may find myself burning precious brain cells to slog through the latest iCarly title. This is much more relevant to those that get employed at large news outlets for lower ranking review jobs, but there are problems that I would have even in the higher echelons of the business. When reviewing a game, you are expected to play games thoroughly, completely, and sometimes in a very short span of time. I like to play games at my own pace, and to whatever level of completion I see fit, and so this could easily become a pain, especially when dealing with a high profile title that just happens to be total shit. And god help you if you have a job writing game guides. God. Help. You.

So who wants to do the walkthrough for this one. Guys?

Being a gamer allows the freedom of playing the games that you want, when you want to, and to your liking. Not only that, but the fact that there are people out there reviewing games gives you a leg up on what's good and what's ass. Just being a gamer is a pretty sweet gig; it saves a lot of work.


Do you have any idea how long it took me to come up with what I was going to write about here? Honestly, I still don't know what direction this blog is going in, I just know that it's something like this, whatever this is. What I'm saying is that I don't just want to do game reviews; that isn't my job and I don't want that job. Writing game reviews is hard. Expressing one's opinions in writing effectively is much more challenging than one would expect, and transforming that opinion into a numbered score that people are going to look at and take somewhat seriously as a metric for the game's value is an intimidating and baffling prospect. I don't even know if I want to talk very much about the industry, or more accurately, I'm not sure how I want to talk about it. Much of the discussion seems so homogenous that I struggle to find an interesting angle or topic to discuss.

An interesting angle... Yea, whatever. I'd like to see you do better.

Want to know how I came up with this topic? I was scrolling through the C-Blogs, looking for some sort of inspiration I suppose, and it struck me that I didn't want to do game reviews or the standard industry commentary. That I didn't want to be a games journalist. That I very much enjoy being a gamer, and being in my position I find myself here. I am incredibly grateful to those at Destructoid. Without this site, I don't think I'd have retained the same interest in games that i have over such a long time. the people here work tirelessly to make my life that much more convenient, whether I notice it or not. Here are people that seem to spend more time researching and writing about video games than actually playing them (whether that is true or not) and to me that is an enormous sacrifice. I'm not saying that there are no upsides to the profession, let's not be ridiculous. There are certainly worse jobs to have, but those jobs don't often turn your hobby into your paycheck. If you still want to be a games journalist with all of the above to deal with, I salute you; you must be meant for the work and I wish you success.

I'm still not certain of what I will write here, but I think I've gained some clarity. When I first came to this site, one of the first things that I remember seeing was this:

And I couldn't be more glad to do that. Long Live Destructoid.   read

11:59 AM on 05.21.2011


Hi, my name's Matt, and I love video games. I got into gaming when I was young, my first console was the Sega Genesis, though most of my early gaming was with my cousins at their house, where they had the good ol' SNES. Super Mario Bros. and Street Fighter II, and Sonic are my earliest memories of video games, and unsurprisingly, my favorite genres of games today are platformers and fighting games.

Don't get me wrong now, I love all games, and that's the truth. Ok, most games; I tend to be turned off my excessive realism in games, with some weird exceptions. Essentially I don't enjoy games that have me doing things that I could be doing in real life, or ones that impose too many real-life restrictions on me. As such, simulation-type games and sports games tend to rub me the wrong way (with the exception of Gran Turismo and some FIFA games, for whatever reason). Unless these games are arcade-like in their gameplay, they don't get much attention from me.

My favorite games of all time? Can I choose by genre? Even then it's hard. My favorite platformer would have to be Super Ghouls 'n' Ghosts, because I'm a glutton for punishment. My favorite fighting game is easily Guilty Gear Accent Core, because its impossible NOT to love that game. I still play it to death. My other favorites tend to get blurred together, but some that I really love are Shadow of the Colossus, the Devil May Cry series, Dead Space, Final Fantasy 7 and 10 (playing 6 right now and loving it, don't murder me), oh and FF TACTICS!!! That actually might be my favorite game of all time. There are just so many good games.

Right now I'm mainly playing PC games and old NES, SNES, GBA, and PS1 games. Why all the old games? Two reasons. 1) I'm a college student and can't afford a console (PS3 at home D:) If I could I'd own ALL the consoles so I'd never miss anything. and then 2) I grew up with the Genesis and then the PS1, PS2, and PS3. As such, I've missed out on basically EVERY NINTENDO CLASSIC and that's just not ok. I'd always go over to friends' houses and they'd have the latest Zelda game or whatever and I was missing out. I don't like missing out (like I said before, ALL THE GAMES I MUST PLAY THEM). In particular I'm currently working through a number of games: Osmos(PC/Steam), Earthbound(SNES), and uhhh....Bioshock. Yes, I know. I'm a busy guy, ok? I mentioned before that I was also playing FFVI, and I was, but it's kind of on hold until I beat these other games. I have this "multiple games" habit, as you can see; it gets me into trouble sometimes.

So yea, I think that that's about it. Oh, before someone tries to kill me, I plan on replaying FFIX again, I think I did it wrong before (yea..) and I might have a better experience the second time through.
I've been creeping in the shadows at Dtoid for a while now, maybe it's time for a change.   read

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