I feel like the major problem with game review sites is that they all prefer to use a staff of many different critics with a myriad of editors above them. Their scores not only have to somewhat reflect the general consensus of other sites, but also the consensus in the office and what their bosses think. If only a website would come along and allow just a single guy to review a bunch of games, so we knew his artistic preferences and leanings over time (zero punctuation).
For example, if I reviewed every game I played, there would be a huge preference towards Rockstar and open world styled games, yet I'd trash most first person shooters and just about anything pumped out by EA. The thing is, most sites have the guy who likes Rockstar games review Red Dead Redemption one week, then have another guy who really digs JRPGs cover Final Fantasy the next, then get that guy who really likes Street Fighter to cover Street Fighter 4. On top of that, their scores probably get tampered with by the editors, just to make sure they aren't going too far outside the lines. Too many people in this world want to be games journalists, I guess.
As far as that firing at zoo, I still found it was totally justified. From the guy's writing on his leaked e-mail story, he sounded like a major tool. They probably already wanted to fire him for other reasons. He was essentially sent an advertisement and then accused his magazine of taking payola. Jackass.
I have absolutely no problem with the current rating system.
As a kid, when parents were buying me the occaisonal game, I loved every single one. I would enjoy any old trash. To this day, if a game is the right genre and isn't buggy, even following a pathetic storyline, with average graphics, fighting samey enemies, I do enjoy it.
It's only since I started buying lots of games that I now ignore certain games altogether just based on lack of interest.
Now here's the main problem with reviewing a poor game. Now unless the game has severely frustrated you, you don't want to dick all over it's creators, the ones who spent a lot of time crafting what they believed was a fantastic game. you want to applaud them for their efforts. so you point out the things you like about it, and try not to be too harsh.
This is where the problem originates, and scales up.
I even remember one review in a magazine I read awarding San Andreas 11/10 , because they gave Vice City 10/10, and san andreas was undeniably better.
Maybe that's the solution.
You remind me of a discussion I had with a guy one time, about how evaluations need to be honest, to your face affairs, that you understand exactly how you misstepped, and what you might need to work on to fix it. We came to the conclusion that companies should hire the other companies' reviewing teams to produce fair and balanced criticism for what the system can accomplish.
I can actually remember really liking the PC Gamer magazines (French and English variants) because they seemed to put more of a focus on in depth reviews (at least at the time) which for example, led me to go out and buy Vampire the Masquerade: Bloodlines, which the french PC Gamer (PC Jeux) had "only" given a 14/20. The blurb really, as it wasn't even a review, was what got me to buy that game.
And that's the thing, I don't like my purchasing decisions to be based solely around a numerical value which I've always found a weird way of grading things, but on what the writer of the review has to say. This approach has led me to buy not just VtM:B, but Plants Vs Zombies, Braid, Demon's Souls, and other games I've really really, enjoyed. I wish there was less focus on having to shoehorn a review into a number, and more on a reviewer taking their time to actually play through the game and explain what they liked and didn't like about it. Of course, that's unlikely
And thanks for the article!
So if a 7/10 is the new 5 then what about 4 stars out of 5? I don't understand. I just don't understand. It has been a few months since the Escapist decided they should give out scores and now you are saying scores are bad because they get inflated. And where was this essay a few months ago? Especially since no one knows the formula to what makes a game good or bad in the first place. You can have everything there and the game still suck or you can forget half the stuff and the game can rock.
I like this - simple and effective
But I'd rather reviews didn't give number scores and just described their opinion on the game/movie whatever with the positives and the negatives
I have a magazine somewhere that does almost exactly that, and adds a "better than blank, worse than blank" section, although it does include the arbitrary numbers aswell, they do elabourate then put an average at the end.
I think that reviewers need to add the pros/cons of the game, then follow it up with (if they feel that they may die if they don't) scores for each individual part of the game and depending on the genre how that part of the game is done.
It has been a few months since the Escapist decided they should give out scores and now you are saying scores are bad because they get inflated. And where was this essay a few months ago?
I'm freelance, so I don't have anything to do with Escapist editorial policy (introducing scores and the like.) A few months ago this article was inside my brain - the Escapist issue about "the state of reviews/criticism" was scheduled for late June so that is when it appeared.
Doesn't the Internet provide a medium for honest reviewers to speak their minds without the constraints that paper publishing places for income demand?
Technically, yes. Obviously the problem there is getting noticed. You could make a blog or whatever and put up some reviews (of games you've bought of course, as no publisher will send you review copies at this point) but ... who's reading it?
The reviews that get noticed are at the major gaming sites, which almost without exception suffer (to differing degrees) from the issues in the article. There is, however, a lot to be said for threads in large discussion forums now acting as a modern form of group-review. I didn't have room to explore that, unfortunately (and really it's a different topic.)
Blame school system.
70% is a C--an average.
Anything below 60% is an F--Fail.
Hence average games gets 7/10...because people are just used to that system.
I do agree that 50% should be a score for an absolutely average and mediocre game though, not 70%.
I despise some game rating systems out there. Why use a system that uses a percentage score or decimals? What is the quantifiable difference in a single percentage point or one-tenth of a point? It's why I usually avoid places like Gamespot or GameTrailers now. Reviews should only be five stars, with no partial stars. Maybe more, but not much more than 5. Even just a 10-point rating system (without decimals) is probably too much. I remember seeing one already posted that used six stars.
1 - Abysmal
2 - Bad
3 - Average/Compitent
4 - Good
5 - Awesome
Any finer points should be obtainable through the review itself.
The mentioned 'review inflation' would be easier to combat and harder to create (I hope, anyway. I could be wrong.) by simply using a more condensed rating system like that. I know The Escapist and some other places like G4 already use it, but everyone should.
Of course it could be argued that 'as long as we know that a 7/10 actually means it's probably bad or at best average, then it's fine.' I say this is very short-sighted and inconsiderate to potential new gamers who wouldn't know this and would get shafted by a game they thought was good and looked interesting, but really wasn't. It's another thing holding Gaming back from becoming truly mainstream. The industry as a whole really needs to get more mature about how they go about things sometimes. /rant
Anyway, I quite enjoyed the article.
This is why I enjoy critics like Angry Joe from Blistered Thumbs. He judges a game on its own merits, rather than how it holds up compared to some other game. He's perfectly willing to give a game a score of two out of ten. And then there's one show that refused to review two games because they didn't want to add a 0 out of 5 to their scoring system.