Reviewing Games at The Escapist: Experiential vs. Evaluative

Reviewing Games at The Escapist: Experiential vs. Evaluative

Editor-in-Chief Russ Pitts elaborates on the The Escapist's review philosophy.

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I do like the reviews I find here. The best reviews are written by gamers themselves, people who play video games for fun and get paid for it because they're lucky enough to find someone who wants their opinion. People who play for pay aren't usually as good because they can be subjecive on who pays them.

Since coming to the Escapist, I've not only enjoyed playing games more, but I've paid more attention to the entire experience of when I play, good and bad. Thanks Escapist, you've made gaming and the entertainment industry into real entertainment.

While most of the reviews I read here look fine to me, I have two gripes. I don't expect anyone to be interested but I'll list them anyway!

1) Reviews don't usually list what platforms the games are released for in any clear way. For instance, I usually have no idea if a game is out for PS3/Xbox360 or if it's an Xbox360/PC title unless I look it up at another site. I rarely have any interest reading a 2-3 page game review for a platform I don't own, and it seems odd that this isn't clearly listed at the top of the page (or even in the title).

2) Indie titles usually get a license to suck. I've tried out some titles after reading extremely favorable reviews here, reviews that just doesn't seem to coincide with the product I've played by any stretch of the imagination.
Now I know there's such a thing as individual taste but I just don't see how anyone could play these games and not experience some degree of frustration or feelings along the lines of "this might have been a really cool idea if they had actually developed it further".
The kind of games I refer to are titles such as Cryostasis and The Path. I just can't see any way these games would have gotten reviews this favorable if released by a bigger developer in the state they were in.
To me it just seemed like they got an unreasonable amount of goodwill strictly for the purpose of trying to stimulate the growth of small/indie developers, and while that's certainly a noble gesture, it seems out of place in a critical and objective assessment of the game.

I really can't see why you added scores...

I mean, that fact that you DIDN'T HAVE THEM was a huge selling point of your reviews.

Anyway, you're philosophy is solid, but the number of reviews is too low. You either review high profile games or low budget indie games.

You never review stuff like Sonic & Sega All Stars Racing (WHICH IS AWESOME), or other mid-range titles.

Onyx Oblivion:
I really can't see why you added scores...

I mean, that fact that you DIDN'T HAVE THEM was a huge selling point of your reviews.

Anyway, you're philosophy is solid, but the number of reviews is too low. You either review high profile games or low budget indie games.

You never review stuff like Sonic & Sega All Stars Racing (WHICH IS AWESOME), or other mid-range titles.

I have to agree here. The content in your reviews is awesome, and, tyhe way you do it is really informative.

But...a few more, if you could, would be so awesome!

Really good article and interesting to learn why they do the review they do. How ever one complaint, I personally have purchased many things that were very expensive (80$ is more then the 60 I pay for games on my PS3/Xbox360) and if I didnt like them I was screwed, and you cant find reviews for. I am talking about Board games :D yea these are expensive as hell (starcraft board game was 80$) and if you dont like them, you really cant return them to the game shosp that sell them. Some will, most wont unless its because pieces of the game just are not there :D

But just a small caviot, otherwise good article.

Onyx Oblivion:
I really can't see why you added scores...

I mean, that fact that you DIDN'T HAVE THEM was a huge selling point of your reviews.

Anyway, you're philosophy is solid, but the number of reviews is too low. You either review high profile games or low budget indie games.

You never review stuff like Sonic & Sega All Stars Racing (WHICH IS AWESOME), or other mid-range titles.

Manpower is limited. We review the interesting stuff since we don't have the resources to cover *everything*.

Personally I detest that most of the "big name titles" (you know stuff like Modern Warfare, Bioshock, Diablo, Heavy Rain etc.) get raving and gushing positive reviews anywhere instead of critical analyzation, most of the reviewers somehow still seem to be "too close" to the industry (in that they meet the people, talk to them and maybe go have food with them etc. and that influences the review or leads to a more biased experience). The form of the prose and how they go about it might change and vary, but in the end its still about "how awesome" those games are and less about the negative parts (if any).

That's why I love (and actually signed up because of) Yahtzee. He isn't afraid to rip a game a new one or to admit that he likes and enjoys it in those rare cases and conveys that in a humoristic and enjoyable fashion. I might not agree with him most of the time and he may go overboard on some, but I respect the honesty.

I was a bit perturbed by the "Videogames are the most important entertainment media in history" statement. Don't get me wrong, videogames are pretty darn awesome (else I wouldn't be reading this site!); but they've got some stiff competition. I hear these things called books are doing pretty well. :)

Allandaros:
I was a bit perturbed by the "Videogames are the most important entertainment media in history" statement. Don't get me wrong, videogames are pretty darn awesome (else I wouldn't be reading this site!); but they've got some stiff competition. I hear these things called books are doing pretty well. :)

They're not as interactive though aside of skipping a few pages or taking out a red pen and starting to scribble all over the white spaces and last time I tried Co-Op or Multiplayer there were some... complications.

Good introspective article. I feel more familiarised with your over-all perspective on gaming.

I'm in about the same boat as Dexter; showed up initially because of Yahtzee and then learned to love the whole site. I guess with a philosophy about reviews like this, its no surprise that escapist picked him up eh?

Keep up the good work escapist.

Oyster and Dexter represent me as well. Loved ZP and then decided to sign up and check out the forums, subscribe to the magazine, and in general participate in a great gaming community.

Is this clarification on the Escapist's standing on their article about other companies not reviewing games properly?

Edit: followed the link towards the end there, and found the best article I've read on the escapist in a long time.
What happened to Tycho Brahe? (as in why did they not get him to keep doing pieces?)

Byers:
1) Reviews don't usually list what platforms the games are released for in any clear way. For instance, I usually have no idea if a game is out for PS3/Xbox360 or if it's an Xbox360/PC title unless I look it up at another site. I rarely have any interest reading a 2-3 page game review for a platform I don't own, and it seems odd that this isn't clearly listed at the top of the page (or even in the title).

Seconded. Also sometimes it's not clear on which platform the reviewer played the game -- and this can sometimes be very significant (depending on the game).

Allandaros:
I was a bit perturbed by the "Videogames are the most important entertainment media in history" statement. Don't get me wrong, videogames are pretty darn awesome (else I wouldn't be reading this site!); but they've got some stiff competition. I hear these things called books are doing pretty well. :)

Books? You mean those weird things they sell on iTunes? Those are called eBooks, they're kinda like really long game manuals as far as I can tell.

Bravo, bravo! Very well said. Of course I think " most important and influential entertainment medium in the history of Mankind" may be a bit extreme though, but other then that, well said!

Twilight_guy:
Bravo, bravo! Very well said. Of course I think " most important and influential entertainment medium in the history of Mankind" may be a bit extreme though, but other then that, well said!

I think it's a little over the top too but ask me when I played on a ps2 for the first time and I'll have to agree.
I don't know if in 1000 years times people are still playing the games of "today". That's why books/literature will outlast us all.

S.R.S.:

Twilight_guy:
Bravo, bravo! Very well said. Of course I think " most important and influential entertainment medium in the history of Mankind" may be a bit extreme though, but other then that, well said!

I think it's a little over the top too but ask me when I played on a ps2 for the first time and I'll have to agree.
I don't know if in 1000 years times people are still playing the games of "today". That's why books/literature will outlast us all.

Actually there really aren't many thousand year old stories either. A lot of the old stories were written on media that hasn't survived. Even our modern technology probably won't make it very well and will either need to be transferred repeatedly to new tech/rewritten or be transfer to a more permanent from, like carving it in a rock.

Old stories don't survive because there interesting pieces really, but more as history to be studied. We really don't find the story of Gilgamesh or the roman gods as fascinating on their own but instead fascinating at least in part because they are old. I don't know if games will survive as something to be liked and applauded but they might survive as museum pieces.

Pong: An artifact from long ago! Gaze upon its ancient "pixels" and marvel!

Twilight_guy:

S.R.S.:

Twilight_guy:
Bravo, bravo! Very well said. Of course I think " most important and influential entertainment medium in the history of Mankind" may be a bit extreme though, but other then that, well said!

I think it's a little over the top too but ask me when I played on a ps2 for the first time and I'll have to agree.
I don't know if in 1000 years times people are still playing the games of "today". That's why books/literature will outlast us all.

Actually there really aren't many thousand year old stories either. A lot of the old stories were written on media that hasn't survived. Even our modern technology probably won't make it very well and will either need to be transferred repeatedly to new tech/rewritten or be transfer to a more permanent from, like carving it in a rock.

Old stories don't survive because there interesting pieces really, but more as history to be studied. We really don't find the story of Gilgamesh or the roman gods as fascinating on their own but instead fascinating at least in part because they are old. I don't know if games will survive as something to be liked and applauded but they might survive as museum pieces.

Pong: An artifact from long ago! Gaze upon its ancient "pixels" and marvel!

The bible and dead sea scrolls spring to mind.

I predict that with so many games coming out over the next 1000 years. That there would be no place for them. That ep. of Southpark when Cartman got unfrozen in the future and couldn't play his wii. You can take a guess at what might happen.

This is an admirable philosophy but it isn't really followed that closely by most reviewers.

And like Onyx said, for a supposedly alternative/leftfield site there's an overwhelming focus on high-profile, hyped games (which almost always get positive reviews).

I suppose the site is ultimately a commercial, money-making venture, so you do what you have to in order to get the most hits (hence the addition of scores, for Metacritic recognition).

 

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