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LONG BLOG

Nothing is Sacred: Review Scores and Why We Should Keep Them

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But why would I want to know more about a reviewer when there are a billion of them? It allows for trust between you and the reviewer. How many times have you read a review and then saw an unexpectedly high/low score compared to what you thought they would’ve given? By sticking with certain reviewers (or more likely a publication or website) you start to understand how they write. Maybe they don’t spend enough time going over the negatives in the written portion and that’s why the score seems out of place. Or perhaps they used the wrong words to illustrate their opinions. But knowing that they tend to underrate/overate games allows you to trust that reviewer. You don’t need to find a reviewer you see eye to eye with, just one you can trust.

Trust in gaming reviews can of course be broken. The pinnacle of this broken trust and seemingly upstart of the removal of scores seems to have stemmed from the Jeff Gerstmann/Gamespot review of Kane & Lynch. I’m sure most of you are familiar with this and are aware of all sides of the story. But still, trust was broken and GS suffered greatly from it. The bias of all their reviews was brought into question (arguably a bit overboard) and I don’t think they have gained back the trust from a majority of the people they lost it from. This was a horrible time for everyone involved but I believe that it was a fairly isolated incident. Perhaps I think the best of people and am a fool for doing so, but I believe that most reviewers are honest and open about their work.

What else can numbers tell us about a game? Sites like Metacritic can help give us a general overview of the gaming community as a whole, or at least the ones who use that site. There are plenty of trolls, fanboys, and non-justifiable game bashing that go on there but now we know that those people make up a significant portion of gamers. Sadly though, knowing that these people abuse the system gives a lot of people justification to not use numerical scores altogether. Most of the time I think that sites like Metacritic do what it’s supposed to do well enough.. It’s only on occasion, usually with a console exclusive title, that the fanboys come out of the woodworks and intentionally lower the score because they don’t favor that system.

So in review; numerical scores given alongside game reviews are a great idea and one that we should try to keep. The score tells us more about the person or people reviewing the game than about the actual game itself. I do believe in keeping the actual content of the review above the score given but that doesn’t mean we should toss aside the number altogether. The system of course can be abused but I think it’s an example of a few bad apples ruining the batch. Understanding who the people reviewing a game are is just as important as what they have to say about the game. By using a numerical score associated with the review it makes trusting the reviewer(s) an easier process.
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About Lurfadurone of us since 3:26 PM on 07.03.2008

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