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Ambiguity, Semantics, and other thoughts on Videogame Reviews - Destructoid




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About
I'm Matt, a chemist, musician, artist, and most importantly, a gamer. I've been gaming since I got a Sega Genesis as a kid and haven't stopped since. I've been a lurker on Dtoid for quite a while, but now that I've graduated college(!) I think I can spare the time to write more.

I mainly play games on the PS3 and PC, because that's what I have. My PC isn't that powerful though, so it's mostly just indie titles and older releases. I'm a busy dude, and so lately I've been favoring the games on my PC simply because I'm there. Like, right now. I'm not sure what I'm going to write about in this blog thing, but I'll try to keep it interesting, at the very least.

Games I'm Playing
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Punch-Out!!
Super-Mario RPG - Legend of the Seven Stars
Desktop Dungeons
Borderlands
Aquaria

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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!



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