Hello guys! Are you ready for a new blog? I'm getting closer and closer in polishing my own writing style as a reviewer. I must agree that I won't be able to give you some tips yet, it is too soon for that. But I wanted to debate a common problem, for both users and reviewers, and that is the rating system. You can find rating systems on most sites that advertise products or sites that act as databases. As example, which I'm using on a daily basis, there is IMDb, MAL, Goodreads and so on. Most of them have one of the common rating system, the 1-10 rating one. To make things easier I'll call it the classic one. This is can be found on Destructoid reviews too. Before delving into details, you must know that I'll only debate the subject around game reviewing and not other types of content.
As normal it may seem this was most probably inspired from the marking system in education, where teachers give the students a mark between 1 and 10 based on their performance (at least that's how it works in my country, or at least how it's intended to work). So here comes the disadvantages of using this system. As you may recall from your childhood, there was at least one time you got a mark that didn't represented your performance as much as you expected.
If we choose to give every game aspect a mark (art, gameplay, performance, etc) you may end up in a bad situation and induce the readers in a blank void. Let's assume we are giving art, gameplay and story each a mark. Maybe the art and gameplay were cool but there was no story, so that will end up 10, 10, 1 (you may consider 10 a rarity but I'm using it as example to show how inaccurate this system actually is) and the average is 7. That is the average level which means that game is "good". What does good actually mean? The player may only be attracted by story, which in this case is rated as 1, so that means the game is garbage for him. Lets go even crazier. Let's assume we rate art, music, gameplay and story. 10 art, 10 music, 1 gameplay and 10 story. We'll end up with 7.75, even a higher rating than before. So what I'm trying to say is that it's impossible to use this system as a standard in game reviewing for these reasons: it's highly volatile and doesn't reflect the real value (if you choose to rate art gameplay and story for example, all the other aspects are left behind; if you are covering them too it will become even worse and may confuse the reader, and most importantly considering one of them is crap and the others are perfect, the rating will go up with every higher than the current average mark and will end up in the good/great games range when the game is barely playable) and it's hard to review the same topics on each game (there are too many genres, usually you can't review story in a dungeon-crawler style game). Looking at the alternatives, well, there aren't so many. The only one I know and I agree with it completely, it's the Steam rating system, which basically reduces everything to a “binary decision", recommended or not.
As a curator for a while, this is the friendliest system for both the reader and the reviewer. This way, you skip all the number rating nonsense, which is very non-practical and misleading. Aside the written review, which gives pros, cons and details on everything important, the final score will now reflect the overall quality of the game. Now you'll probably think, why doesn't everyone use it? Well, it has its' benefits compared to the classic one, but it lacks differentiation between lower quality and higher quality games. Every game has it's role, so recommending both a AAA and an indie casual game may be unfair. That's why I customized the Steam rating system to better reflect the game’s quality. As a steam curator I'll continue to rate them with recommended not recommended, but on my upcoming blogs I'll introduce my new system (which I'm using for my library tags too).
These tags are Garbage, Interesting, Cool and AAA. “Garbage” speaks for itself, these are mostly games that are worse than f2p ones and even requires you to pay money for them. These are usually indie games with no interesting mechanics or interesting artwork. Aside of playing them once for finding out what they’re about, you'll never play them again. This would represent not recommended games. After that comes the recommended side. “Interesting” represent the games meant for casual players. You are usually playing it for the pure scope of playing something. Again, these ones don't usually have great mechanics, but they are cheap and offer a lot of fun when playing. They aren’t overwhelming, but they don't annoy you and they can be played at a later time. The next category, “Cool”, represent games that shows promising mechanics and they are full-fledged games that will leave you with a nice aftertaste. Finally, we have the AAA category. I must let you know that I don't refer only to AAA studios or games with huge marketing investments, but to games that have AAA quality. In many cases it happens for a lot of indie games to surpass AAA games and I'll consider them as they should have been. I'm gonna use this rating system starting with my next review article.
I must let you know, each rating system has it's own subjectivity, so mine isn't perfect either. Still, I find it simpler and better than the 1-10 one and gives more insight than the recommended/not recommended one.