Gamers are a unique bunch. It seems as if they thrive off the sheer idea of conflict. And one of the most prominent sources of conflict in todayís game market is the review score.
With a sixty dollar price tag being slapped on everything thatís coming out now, (even PC games, thanks to MW2 setting the stage) gamers are cautious when making a new purchase. For those of us who donít have GameFly, buying a game on release day is a risky endeavor. So, most of us turn to reviews to help guide our decisions.
But thereís an issue here. A large portion of the gaming community looks at the score of the review, rather than the content. And people get angry, simply based on that number. If you were to simply browse through the comments of an average review, the majority of them are ďI would have given this a 6.5 not a 9Ē or something along those lines. And this is the wrong way to go about it.
Review scores are a cumulative gauge of the review as a whole, both likes and dislikes. The score is truly the most unimportant part of the review. Some sites and magazines have attempted to offset this by introducing a system which scores each element individually, but that still doesnít do the game justice. Gamers may skim the contents of an article, and some may even read the whole review, but a large number lack the common sense to engage some of the ideas in the review rather than the number thatís placed at the bottom.
And thatís all it is. Itís a number. A number canít tell you the high points (or the low points for that matter) of a game. A number cannot describe the fact that the gameplay is clunky yet the ending is simply a triumph and will leave you in a puddle of your own tears and vomit wondering how in the world you got there.
And another problem is that gamers take review scores as if they were sent from the heavens. Peopleís like and dislikes vary, and itís okay to disagree with a point made in the article. But to simply disown a review because of the final score is absolutely juvenile. However, because the community has responded in such a way to reviews, many reviewers have turned to a tactic I like to call ď7 to 10Ē. This is where a game can only score between the likes of 7 and 10, and itís a tactic that generally keeps the community happy. And itís sad to see that. Reviewers got their job for a reason, and they should be allowed to give a game a one if itís that bad without fear of losing hits on their site. Because as Iíve previously mentioned, it isnít the score that counts.
All in all however, the review is never a substitute for personal experience. And many fail to understand that as well. If a review is bad, the game must obviously be bad. This mentality is destructive to the nature of games and the risks developers take. Many new developers are afraid to take risks because the Ďtried and trueí methods are accepted more by the medium, and will generally land better scores (unless executed wrongly). Developers understand that gamers hinge on reviews, and for the most part thatís true. And if gamers hinge on those reviews, anything that may be disliked by a certain reviewer may end in a loss of sales, even if that is offset by something else in the game. But as I was told as a kid, whatís true isnít always right.
So this is where we stand. Reviews should be taken as a guide, not an end all be all solution. If the content of the article praises originality but has a lesser view of the games graphics, it may factor into the score, but those are two independent factors and should be treated as such. Gamers should look at a review and make an informed decision of whether or not to purchase. And with more of this mentality, developers may be led to try new things and execute new ideas. Because as a community, that is what we love to see.
Small sidenote: As mentioned in my bio, I'm writing for an almost brand new gaming blog, which means we need to get our name out there. As much as I hate to have to put a plug in here, everyone has to start somewhere. Like I said, its very new, which mean its rough around the edges currently, but hopefully things will really start to get going fairly soon. Check it out if you have some time, you'll find this article along with your basic news and previews. More articles like this to come: NextGenRetro