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Revuhlooshun avatar 2:31 PM on 08.29.2011  (server time)
Improvements: Why reviews suck

This is actually part of an idea I was going to c-blog on my own, but since this came up, I might as well do it now. I won’t bother with fancy pictures either, so prepare for some walls of text.

One of the biggest reasons Destructoid gets an unfairly bad rap is because of the reviews. The thing is: People don’t really disagree with the reviews. They disagree with the number.

Let’s take Jim’s FFXIII review. Now besides some, in my opinion, irrelevant fashion and style critiques, that review was dead on. Not only that, there weren’t many people who even disagreed with anything he had written. For all intents and purposes, it was spot on. It wasn’t exactly the style I’d use, since he really grinded it into the dirt, but the man wasn’t wrong. When it came to the game itself, he nailed every miserable point about it, which is what people want to know about – the game, how it plays, what works, what doesn't.

It was the number that bothered everyone. It’s the number, every time, that bothers everyone. And it’s not Jim’s fault, or any reviewers fault per se. The point I’m driving at is: 10 is too many fucking numbers.

How it should work is that 5 should be average. 5 is the average of 10 after all, so logically, 5 should be what an average game should score.

That’s not how people are looking at it. They see it as 7 being Bad. 8 is Good, 9 is Great, 10 is Perfect, and 1 through 6 are just varying shades of horrible. Our minds are skewed, how we view the numbers of this scale. Why?

Because we’re raised that way, from the moment we’re children.

What’s a 10 out of 10? It’s a 100%. If you get a 100% on a test, that means you pass. 90%, pass. 80%, pass. 70%, pass, but you’re going to get that look when you get home. 60%, you just barely passed, but you might also be getting an ass whooping.

I believe that is the frame of mind people are looking at these reviews through, at the out-of-10 scale. Any attempt to try to use the full scale of numbers proportionally results in a fucking shitfest, and it scars Destructoid’s name – even if the review itself is spot on! People are glossing right over the body of the reviews to focus only on that number it seems. And this is not simply limited to Destructoid – it’s a problem with reviews in general.

I propose dropping numbers entirely. However, there needs to be some sort of grade, unlike what Kotaku has done with a simple summary at the end. There needs to be some sort of judgement, a succinct verdict to bring the reviews together if they go down this path.

I propose grading games in the following manner:

Get This Shit Now
Buy It
Rent It
Forget It

Since most people are only really using half of the out-of-10 scale anyways, each grade would essentially work in the place of those limited numbers without triggering a shitstorm. “Get This Shit Now” would be a 10, a perfect game, but the idea is to transition away from these numbers, since their meanings and values are all over the place.

This system would allow reviewers to be as critical and fair as they’d like, and have their work be judged on its merits, without attaching arbitrary numbers that cancel the body of work.

Also, on an aside: We need more opinion pieces. There has been a big hole since Anthony Burch left. He was maybe the reason I came to the site every day. Jim was doing this sort of stuff for a while, but he hasn’t been, which is a shame. We need more critical thought on subjects, and I’m not sure the c-blogs are the place to farm this out to. The topics tend to be somewhat vague and open, leading to c-blogs which sort of hit on topics – but not really. Because there isn’t that much direction sometimes.

Yeah, Jim does the Jimquisition, but…personally, I preferred his written work, or written versions of his points. The fact of the matter is that for the most part, gaming blogs are identical. Kotaku, Destructoid, Joystiq – by and large, all are publishing the same news, give or take. Kotaku has gone the direction of focusing more on Japanese culture and retro articles, differentiating itself somewhat. Joystiq has decided to be dry as fuck, which I have no idea why.

I think Destructoid could differentiate itself in the market by also offering more analysis, critical thought, and debate. And also hilarious, which it already does.

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