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Reviewing Games: Doing It Right

Note: This isn't directed at anyone who commented on Toph's review. The comments were more or less dick-head free :D

Tophers brand spankin' new review of Ikaruga got me thinking about the always hot button topic of game reviews, and more specifically, game review scores. Plenty of theories about how games should be reviewed "properly" are floating around out there, but at the end of the day, like it or not, the industry has pretty much decided to use the age old ten point scale, but is that really such a good idea?

Sure. Why not? (Pro-tip: Rhetorical questions are the best for setting yourself up)

Obviously an old argument has to do with using the "whole system" rather than the 6-9-point-something scale that we tend to see in most review sites and magazines. Now I don't presume to know what the majority of gamers think, but I'm under the impression that most of us are in favor of using the whole system; I mean what's the point of having those other numbers when they almost never get used?

Now what happens when a reviewer honestly tries to use the whole scale? Oftentimes it's pure chaos. People riot in the streets, overturning cars and burning orphanages in a horrific show of support for a game they often have yet to play. As far as I can tell, part of the reason this violent reaction occurs is because of the way that the majority of gaming outlets have acclimatized us as to what a "nine" game is and what a "seven" game is, and when someone breaks from these pre-conceived notions, the aforementioned atom-bomb like reactions happen. Accusations of personal bias and ulterior motives start to fly, people start to question whether the right reviewer was chosen and naturally the reviewer him/herself can come under fire for "not playing the game properly" or any number of other imagined offenses.

Arbitrary number is arbitrary.

Is the review score not a subjective personal number? Is a man not entitled to the sweat of his brow? Is it really so hard to believe that someone might not like a game that you like? Do you really need validation of your purchases, of your tastes, via some number that someone slapped on them?

Of course the whole point of a review is to give you enough information to go on when deciding whether or not a game is worth your time right? Well wouldn't the actual REVIEW be a better way to make your decision? There have been plenty of games that I've seen get less than favorable reviews that I've thoroughly enjoyed, and the reason that I bought some of those games are because of said reviews. When reading a well written review you should be able to get a good feel for what the reviewer liked and didn't like and decide as to whether or not those things matter to you or not. Maybe the reviewer docked some marks because the game is another Gears of War clone, maybe you're just salivating for a GoW clone at that time, but the score isn't going to tell you shit.

Numberless system?


Numbers make it easier to sort through the complete garbage and the cream of the crop. Granted, if you go in with the 7-10 scale mentality, and you're reading a site or magazine that is trying to use the whole scale, you might skip some good games that got lower scores, but if you keep your mind open and take a minute to actually read the reviews then you'll be able to find some hidden gems just fine. Unfortunately, as long as there are numbers reviewers will agonize over how to sum up their experience of a game and express it with a digit or two, while simultaneously thinking "OK, now how will I have to defend this stupid goddamn number?"

Ultimately all you can ask of a reviewer is their honest opinion. Anything less makes a mockery of the whole point of a review. Always remember to take the context of a review into account and ask yourself:

What actually went into that number?

Or we could avoid all these problems and just rate shit with firetrucks.

P.S. Unrelated note: Swearing off Dtoid for the next two weeks until exams are done. If you see me
commenting or logged onto the forum, flame me until I leave. Thanks :)

P.P.S. AFTER this blog of course... smart-asses ;)

Random quote... EXECUTE!

"Hype is the awkward and desperate attempt to convince journalists that what you've made is worth the misery of having to review it."

~Federico Fellini
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About The GHostone of us since 1:55 AM on 01.25.2008

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