Jimquisition: Review Scores Are Not Evil

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Legion:
I wish you'd went into more detail about why you like them, you mentioned they were fun and you liked debating them, but didn't really go into the reasons.

Personally I don't mind review scores. I just dislike the way 5/10 should mean average, but most people tend to think 7/10 is average and everything below that is bad. Obviously like you said, that's peoples problem, not the scores themselves.

I'm honestly fine with 7/10 as average. The problem is that now we've gotten to the point where 8 is bad, 9 is expected, and t10 is necessary for most games with hype.

I think of it more or less like school grades and treat 7 as a C. A 6 may not be a bad game, but it's either limited in appeal or lacks polish, etc. D is still passing in the school system. And while 4 or 5 could mean a bad game, I still think there should be a basement for absolute terrible games.

Then again, I wouldn't complain much if 5 was average.

My problem with the number review is that (in particular to Metacritic) good games with poor numbers sell
than they would have, while bad games with good numbers sell better. Usually its not an issue, but in sites which average all scores, it makes it possible to score-bomb a game up or down.

And, as already mentioned, it seem silly to have a 10 point system when the only scores ever given are 7, 8, 9, or 10. Why not use a 5star system?

Xanadu84:

Another:
I don't mind review scores, if it's a true scale score system.

In a scale of 1-10, five is average. Not 7 or 8. 7's and 8's can still be really good. Iv'e enjoyed a fair few games that have received such.

I'm rather irritated with that point. 5 does not have to be average. 5 just happens to be the middle number. I don't know about how you get graded but for me, if I scored a 50 on a test, I'm not going to complain that I failed because 50 is, "Average". To say that a 7 or 8 is average is EXACTLY as arbitrary as saying that 5 is. No, 5 is not inherently average. What is average is dependent on the kind of scores most games get. If average games get 7.5, then 7.5 IS average. Like...you know...by math.

I'd written out a whole response here before realising what the inherent problem with this argument is: we're confusing our definitions of "average". You're essentially arguing past each other because you're operating under different assumptions of what "average" means/should mean.

Anyway, I'd love to discuss this further, but writing that original post really took it out of me. Yawn.

mjc0961:

Blood Brain Barrier:
Jim should do audio clips rather than videos. I don't need to watch streams of clips from Japanese games I don't care about while at the same time listening to completely unrelated streams of Jim's occasionally funny/entertaining monologues.

...Then don't. This may come as a total surprise to you, but you don't have to watch the video just because it's there. You can open a new tab and just listen to the words while you look at something else. You can minimize the browser, turn off your monitor, or get up and do other things in the room while the audio plays.

Meanwhile, those of us who like the video, especially when it's a situation where the game clips help drive the point home (such as "Monster Boobs And Plastic Children", where I never would have known that the volleyball game he was talking about was that creepy if he hadn't been showing clips throughout the episode), can still watch them instead of having them taken away because the almighty Blood Brain Barrier dislikes them.

I do, sometimes. My post was more of a critique of Jim's video making, which comes across as lazy. About 5-10% of them is pretty damn funny and the problem is I don't know which 5-10%, which means I have to watch the whole thing so I don't miss anything.

So you can rephrase my quote as: Jim, stop putting random game clips in as filler because it's fucking boring.

DVS BSTrD:

Bocaj2000:
My compromise has always been to use X/5 instead of X/10 or X/100. When it's X/5 it's easier to interpret 3/5 as average than 5/10 or 50/100. It makes the review feel more like a suggestion than a grade on a test.

It's weird how a 3/5 still sounds like a good game but a 60/100 is usually passed over. I guess with little numbers it's easier to focus on the fact that it still has 3 points instead of it not having those last 40.

I wish I knew the exact psychology on it. I might ask some teachers and psych majors the exact reasoning behind it.

Watching the slow, inexorable acceptance of the inner facist was my favorite part to watch.

Xelanath:

Xanadu84:

Another:
I don't mind review scores, if it's a true scale score system.

In a scale of 1-10, five is average. Not 7 or 8. 7's and 8's can still be really good. Iv'e enjoyed a fair few games that have received such.

I'm rather irritated with that point. 5 does not have to be average. 5 just happens to be the middle number. I don't know about how you get graded but for me, if I scored a 50 on a test, I'm not going to complain that I failed because 50 is, "Average". To say that a 7 or 8 is average is EXACTLY as arbitrary as saying that 5 is. No, 5 is not inherently average. What is average is dependent on the kind of scores most games get. If average games get 7.5, then 7.5 IS average. Like...you know...by math.

I'd written out a whole response here before realising what the inherent problem with this argument is: we're confusing our definitions of "average". You're essentially arguing past each other because you're operating under different assumptions of what "average" means/should mean.

Anyway, I'd love to discuss this further, but writing that original post really took it out of me. Yawn.

Just want to point out that my definition is either the mathematical definition when scores are representing some sort of representation of quality, or the colloquial definition of middling in terms of quality. 5 is "Average" only insofar as it is the average of all the integers in the set. Which is completely arbitrary, because we are talking about game quality, and not arithmetic. Its an easy enough assumption to make initially, but reality has demonstrated that it is clearly wrong.

But I sympathize. Ive accidentally nudged the back button after crafted a 30 minute thesis. and hated myself so badly...it about the worst thing ever.

Lvl 64 Klutz:

Legion:
I wish you'd went into more detail about why you like them, you mentioned they were fun and you liked debating them, but didn't really go into the reasons.

Personally I don't mind review scores. I just dislike the way 5/10 should mean average, but most people tend to think 7/10 is average and everything below that is bad. Obviously like you said, that's peoples problem, not the scores themselves.

It depends on how you look at the 10 point grading scale. If you look at it like an academic grade, then 7/10 *should* be the average/mediocre game. That's how most reviewers see it, even. Just look here on the Escapist where 2 and a half stars is usually accompanied by a "don't bother" recommendation and anything below that is pretty much considered garbage.

I don't know if 2.5 stars is considered below average on the Escapist. It's just that there are so many games above average, why would you waste your time with one that was only barely up to par? (Come to think of it, this would explain the 7/10 scores, too)

Bocaj2000:

DVS BSTrD:

Bocaj2000:
My compromise has always been to use X/5 instead of X/10 or X/100. When it's X/5 it's easier to interpret 3/5 as average than 5/10 or 50/100. It makes the review feel more like a suggestion than a grade on a test.

It's weird how a 3/5 still sounds like a good game but a 60/100 is usually passed over. I guess with little numbers it's easier to focus on the fact that it still has 3 points instead of it not having those last 40.

I wish I knew the exact psychology on it. I might ask some teachers and psych majors the exact reasoning behind it.

,
It's especially strange because it's the opposite with larger numbers. The difference between $10 and $10,000 'feels' a lot bigger than the difference between $1,700,000 and $2,000,000. It's like, "If you have that much money to start with, an extra 300k is nothin'"

Probably something about exponentials.

Did I just see a game where you were throwing turds at a toilet.....?

I dislike review scores because they are meaningless and pointless, and in many cases just seem to be there so the reviewer doesn't have to go into more detail on things. I dislike them in the same way I dislike reviewers who say "Combat is tight and fast paced". Wow, way to say absolutely nothing. I go to reviews to inform myself about a game, and in general I can only do so thanks to the game footage playing in the background of video reviews. The rest of the time its all a very vague, general sense of what happens in the game, and more detail on whether the reviewer liked it or not.
Yeah, that's how reviews work. Maybe I just hate reviews in general. Were I to write a review, however, I would actually put some detail into explaining how the mechanics work so that my audience could get an idea of whether they'd like it or not, but hey, I'll never be a reviewer. I CBF writing up my opinions on a game unless its in a forum argument, so yeah.

daxterx2005:
Did I just see a game where you were throwing turds at a toilet.....?

Duke Nukem Forever. Trust me, and the rest of the world, in saying this: Do not get it. It starts out ok with "Well, that's a bit of a novel idea, this really isn't as bad as people say it is", but less than halfway through the game you'll change your mind =/.

No Jim, the "Stop using review scores" argument does not hinge on the belief that all reviewers hate them

It hinges on the fact that review scores are a fucking retarded, broken system that is actively damaging the industry.

Edit:

Oh, and I find it absolutely HILARIOUS, that you apparently now hold the opinion that people blowing up and threatening reviewers over "too low" review scores doesn't matter, when back when the Uncharted 3 debacle actually was going on, you couldn't stop going on about how poor reviewers were being forced to give better scores and how awful of a problem it was, I wish I still had the screenshots of those tweets you made back then.

muffinatorXII:
i don't really have a problem with scores it's just that they make no sense. first of all i don't believe a complex opinion can be quantified numerically and if it could you would have to decide on a universal scale to use it on, which also makes no sense because different people value things differently.

and there is this weird thing right now where 7/10 is average

I'm surprised that Jim didn't go over this argument, or is it because its the only sensible one against scores, and Jim likes his strawmen?

I find scores mostly stupid and harmless, and don't care either way. The only aspect I'd like to see changed is if you do use them, use an actual scale of 1-10, or 1-5 stars, whatever, USE THE WHOLE RANGE. If a game is as bad as shit like Vampire Rain, give it a 1 or 2, not a frigging 6. In the mind of a sane person a 6 means it's not good, but passable. A grade I would not give something like Vampire Rain.

I like them. It's a natural way to summarize the subjective opinion of the reviewer. Any game will have its ups and downs and it can be hard for a reader to guess how much those ups and downs influence the game. A score will help keep the perspective.

Maybe the game looks very ugly, but if the reviewer gave it an 8/10 I suppose the graphical presentation isn't so important in that case.

Like Jim I like to look at the score first and then see how the reviewer reached that conclusion. It's an important piece of the puzzle.

That's easy for you to say, Jim, but Review Scores killed my parents.

I prefer letter grades to X/10 or X/100, since pretty much everyone who reads it is well aware that C = average. That said, one major issue I do have with the final scores is when, say, a game's campaign is awful but it has a really good, innovative multiplayer, the final score winds up being an average because the two balance each other out. Unfortunately, that means that really good ideas in the multiplayer get ignored because it's percieved by idiots/Metacritic as "just average". The same thing in reverse is likely to be what happened to Spec Ops, since the single-player was amazing but the multiplayer was blatantly tacked on.

I dunno, maybe reviews should have an individual score for every "part" of the game, so CoD would have a separate grade for campaign, multiplayer and zombies. That's just my opinion though.

I like a lot of games rated only 5 or 6 out of ten.
And I consider myself an connoisseur, a game-gourmet. I don'T play every shit because it's got a high rating.

It's not the scores that's the problem it's how they are viewed. A 7 is not a bad score.
Personally I think you might alleviate some of those kinds of issues by switching to a scale that goes from -5 to 5.
0 is a game that does not stand out. Minus 1 or plus 1 for every irritation or good feature.

sindremaster:

AJey:
So you missed the most obvious point? How about the fact that scores provide zero information! None! Nothing!

They tell you how much the reviewer liked the game. It doesn't tell you why, but that's what the text is there for.

I'm sure glad I don't read anything.

Andy of Comix Inc:

Xanadu84:
I'm rather irritated with that point. 5 does not have to be average. 5 just happens to be the middle number. I don't know about how you get graded but for me, if I scored a 50 on a test, I'm not going to complain that I failed because 50 is, "Average".

I believe he's referring to 5/10 meaning "of average quality." Not the maths of it. On an opinion scale of 1 to 10, 5 should be the middle opinion, and if you weigh 1 as "worst ever" and 10 as "perfect," then 5 comes out as "average." Of course once you apply maths to the score system then things start to get a bit skew-whiff, but I think most people accept that the qualities associated with number scores - especially stars - are permanent, not dependent on a bell curve or what have you.

Exactly what I was going for. I simply think that its silly that on a ten point scale of opinion only 3 of the 10 scores (8,9,10) are considered good. It think it gives the scale and the reviewer more flexibility.

I also seem to have offended Xanadu. Part of that is my fault, as I meant to describe the median, not the mean value.

I don't inherently mind scores, but sometimes I look at what was said in the review article and go "wait, so, you just said that about the game and gave it that number?". It's about the reviewer as well, they can be as much as a raving chimpanzee as the troll who gets upset when their favourite game doesn't get a 10.

Also, Jim, that last bit was disturbing and hilarious at the same time.

No mention of Cliffy B throwing a tantrum because Eurogamer gave Gears Of War 3 an 8/10?

My biggest problem with the scoring system generally used is there is no consistency.
All the score tells you is what that particular reviewer thought of the game. Now the one thing that does annoy me about it is when the main body of the review contains little information that relates to how that score might have been decided upon, that makes me suspicious.

I'm on board, but I don't know how I feel about companies (large companies, apparently) handing out paychecks or bonuses based on a game's metacritic score. These things should be seperated, in my opinion. I suppose it's your responsibility when getting hired at a developer to know what you're getting in to, but to be eagerly refreshing metacritic on release night in hopes you get another 2 grand on your annual salary seems inane.

Yeah, you are right there I think.

But as often you are forgetting the implications of review scores outside the immediacy of games themselves, as you say I personally dont have an objection with honest review scores, I understand they represent a particular experience, which is fine but they also can be used for motives fully outside the games themselves, and as you say it's hard to judge the reviewer when someone plays the "its just my opinion" card.

I personally believe the question about what should the average score be, is rather pointless. I do find it funny that people want 10's for their fanboyish needs. But I also find it funny that anyone thinks 5 should be the average, since most games released are normally not just "a test" but a number of tests, QA corrections, talented artists, and dedicated developers. Not to say that no game is BAD, there are many BAD BAD games, but as a whole, the quality of products that actually get published is at least technically quite proeficient. So its hard to judge it out of context.

Of course, the world is not going to end because a review score responds more to money pressures or the desire to stand out, but it can be annoying, especially when someone takes games seriously.

And dont get me wrong, for me the important aspects in a review are: clarity, coherence, honesty and the intention of objectivity. When Yahtzee does a critique, I don't ask those values, because I expect it to be a more visceral, raw and personal view of the game, but he does not score them either, which makes perfect sense to me.

You may be a good reviewer, and as such professional, someone who wants to really inform the audience about the quality of a game based on a coherent score that you give. But as good as you might be, it doesn't mean you are the norm, or that it doesnt lend itself to bad practices.

The problem is when these situations start blending: A pretty funny case was a single negative review I read of this year's Journey in a web called quarter-to-three(which is the only negative review of the game that you can probably find anywhere). I personally thought that beyond any technical criticisms (and many can be had), Journey was a fantastic, well crafted experience, that spoke insightfully to the current state of gaming as a whole and managed to debase my "artsy fartsy" worries by also delivering an extremely engaging -game-. But then I found this review that spoke with almost inslting ignorance (almost felt trolling), and I couldn't find any other explanation for it other than getting hits on their web.
Is this ok? I suppose, but it bothers me as much as when resident evil 6 gets a suspiciously inflated score on IGN even when the written review is actually quite critical about it $$. More than a review these are ADs for different motives.
Let me ask you Jim, are you okay with paid reviews? Is it fine if a company offers money to get their product rated higher as to -cheat- people into consuming? I don't like it in any order of things, I can't lie.
Am I going to go on a murderous rampage because of it? no. But in my views it does shine a negative light on the ecosystem as a whole.

So, no I dont think review scores are the issue, obviously. As everything -objects- Guns, Bombs and Drugs are not the problem, its what people do with them... but that would have been a more interesting discussion that we chose to avoid here.. again

Jimothy Sterling:
Yes, they got upset with me because of my Konami Jimquisition video, as well as some negative reviews. I am now less than dirt in their Eastern office.

Is there an article on this or something with more information? Did they really just throw a fit?

You go on to say that reviews scores can do much harm and that they bring nothing to the review and that you use them mostly for 'fun and debate'.

You also say that the main reason you keep them is because they provide more traffic to the review.

I don't see how you justified review scores at all. They are still useless things that do more harm than anything.

CrossLOPER:

Jimothy Sterling:
Yes, they got upset with me because of my Konami Jimquisition video, as well as some negative reviews. I am now less than dirt in their Eastern office.

Is there an article on this or something with more information? Did they really just throw a fit?

There's no article yet. I am considering revisiting Konami in a future Jimquisition though, and I can detail it there. It's a really fucked story.

finally, i met a reviewer that likes scores, im going to read your reviews from now on.

This video is all well and good in a magical world where things like MetaCritic doesn't exist or doesn't have any real world value, but since MetaCritic DOES exist, you putting a review of anything lower than a 9 is essentially you casting your vote of "I want this game to fail commercially".

That is the power you as a journalist have over this industry and not owning up to that in this video just portrays game journalists as the irresponsible hack writers you too often get labeled as.

EDIT:

I'm sensitive about this because of The Secret World, a game that was probably the most impressive steps forward in MMO content design in years, that was essentially killed a month after launch because it got a good number of middling review scores followed by one guy who basically torched the game based on his experience with the beta client.

What this tells me is that gamers aren't ready for games to innovate, because they'd rather play 95 metacritic score games than any that are willing to take any risks in upsetting the review-class journalists.

This Jimquisition wasn't as well compiled as some of your better episodes. I felt like it lacked direction, had no clear conclusions, and was more or less a jumble of ideas on the said topic. Just some friendly criticism. That said, I don't care at all about this topic.

Jim is discussing people's reactions to review scores, so naturally he juxtaposes footage of Duke Nukem flinging shit everywhere. A perfect metaphor, if lacking in subtlety.

kodra:

I'm sensitive about this because of The Secret World, a game that was probably the most impressive steps forward in MMO content design in years, that was essentially killed a month after launch because it got a good number of middling review scores followed by one guy who basically torched the game based on his experience with the beta client.

What this tells me is that gamers aren't ready for games to innovate, because they'd rather play 95 metacritic score games than any that are willing to take any risks in upsetting the review-class journalists.

Actually, I'm 90% sure that Secret World failed because of it's $60 + $15/mo pricing scheme.

Well, the issue that I have with scores is when the reviewers use them inconsistently.

For one game they might say "... this game is fun but the mediocre graphics and forgettable sound makes it look like something we have played before, it is alright but don't rush out the door to buy it I give it an 8"

Whereas for another they will say "... man I had so much fun with this game, it was original, had innovative gameplay, and I could not stop playing; however, it had some technical issues and that is why I give it an 8"

What the hell?! It is not the score itself, it is how they got to the score that bugs me. One is obviously below par and the other is supposed to be great. I see this happening all the time

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