I've been observing a lot of people expressing distaste for reviewer Jed Whitaker lately, especially after the review of Valkyrie Drive. I just wanted to address a few issues I had with a few of the opinions people stated and take a fair look at both sides of the issue.
FYI: Whitaker reviewed a game where girls were sexualized. I don't know if the game explicitly told their ages, but most people can guess from how they're depicted they're probably not 18. It's worth noting this game comes from a different country where sexualizing minors is in a completely different context and is more socially acceptable. That's not better or worse, just different. If that crosses a moral boundary for you though then feel free to be outraged.
In the review Whitaker spends a lot of page space lamenting the fact the sexualized elements of the game do nothing and the game spends more time and dialogue dedicating itself to its (according to Whitaker) flaccid eroticism than other elements of the port. Those parts are addressed but they are in the background to the main element: his distaste for sexualizing minors.
Something that needs to be remembered is that reviews are nothing but opinion. You can list facts about the game but the nitty-gritty of a review is what the critics impressions are and those can fall on any spectrum.
I know Whitaker has a track record of making unpopular reviews. People seem to think he dislikes cult classics or pans games for having similar sexualized themes.
But it's not all he does. Just looking at his list of reviews he gave That's You a 6.5 and no one got offended, I would argue, largely because the subject matter didn't rile a dedicated and loyal fanbase of anime fans. There's far less of a hardcore audience for party games, by nature of the genre, to piss off with a negative opinion. Not that 6.5 is a bad score. According to the grading system it is "All Right."
Oceanhorn gets a similar 6.5 and while Dead By Daylight gets a 2.5 he did give Monolith a 9.
So going to June, disregarding hardware reviews, we've got two games with mediocre scores, one with a terrible score and one with a great score.
I also don't believe in review scores being the sole determinant of quality, but its the easiest thing to quickly source and refer to without spending all of this blog diving into old reviews.
But I do get two themes: 1) Whitaker is a tough critic. 2) He has a broad range of opinions and isn't afraid to give a game a low or high score.
Being a tough critic isn't a bad thing, mind you. Yhatzee over at Zero Punctuation is a tough critic and people love him because his style of reviewing is comical. If Whitaker gave his reviews in lymerick or called his games funny things like 'a load of poopy ass butt' people would love him.
Instead he provides pretty critical reviews where he states his opinion honestly and for that reason people don't like him.
It's his job to give his opinion and it's not obligated for you to like it. If he doesn't like games where young girls titties are groped then that's his opinion. If you think he shouldn't be put on titty-game reviewer duty then you're misinterpreting the point of reviews. They're so you get a broad range of opinions. If you only read reviews from people who like titty games then you're only going to get positive reviews. Sometimes its refreshing to see a perspective from an outsider.
That doesn't mean you have to like that perspective or agree with his opinions. But if you're into games where young girls are sexualized that's okay, and you're probably going to follow sites, accounts or blogs where people have similar tastes and can review the game based on different merits.
No two people are going to see the game the same way. One critic may focus on the story or aesthetics while the other is gameplay-first. I tend to value games where they try something new with the art-style even if the game itself tends to be mediocre. So it's not fair to say because Whitaker doesn't like titty games (and has he even explicity stated that, or is that something people are assuming?) his opinion in titty games is invalid.
You may not like his opinion but that doesn't make him a bad reviewer. His review of Valkyrie Drive addressed several things that, as someone who appreciates finer titty games but not necessarily all of them, I got something valuable from his perspective.
Now I do have to state something I found distasteful with his review and that was the line 'Dynasty Warrior for pedophiles.' I don't think it's right to say that if you like a game like that you're necessarily a pedophile or have those tendencies. That was a step too far and I'm glad Destructoid stepped in and removed it. Bending to people's wishes and censoring your review vs. realizing you made a mistake and editing it is a fine line and I feel like Destructoid stayed behind that line and made the right call.
I also realize I'm only going so far back as June and Whitaker has had a reputation for far longer than that. But you should get the gist of what I'm trying to say.
He's not someone Destructoid took on to be a radical critic who pans games to get clicks. He's a tough critic with the same tastes and distates as any other reviewer and his differ from others.
If you disagree with his reviews then I'm sure you follow at least a dozen other outlets and games media sources where you can find other opinions more in line with what you would expect for a game like Valkyrie Drive. But that's not what reviews and criticism are about.
It's easy to say dissenting opinions are wrong when sites like Metacritic take everyones opinions, devalue them by boiling them down to numbers (like I did above, I recognize) and then throw them in a blender to get an average score and a colour indicating either good, mediocre or garbage.
But reviewers are people and I value Destructoid's editorial skills in picking writers valued for their talent and opinions, rather than people who will throw out fictional reviews meant to garner page views.
If you think that's the type of site Destructoid is then that's on your opinion. Maybe I'm placing too much faith in games media or Destructoid. That's up to you to decide.
But as far as I'm concerned Whitaker is a fine reviewer that provides a tough stance on games. Tbh I think review scores should be done away with entirely and that would relieve a lot of frustration from people, but I also see they're a valuable shorthand. So there's that.
But if you disagree with him or any other reviewer for their opinions, remember they're just that, opinions. You're not supposed to agree with them all the time, and for every opinion you disagree with, there's a billion out there who you will.