Jeff Gerstmann Explains His Departure From Gamespot

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uh huh, so it was exactly what it said on the tin eh? good to know

for importantly, gamespots still around? o.0 really? thought they would have gone away by now .....

catchpa: golly jeepers

I'll old school for my tastes but fitting none the less

maxben:

Therumancer:

See, if I rate a game a "5" or "6" nowadays on a 10 point scale it would be considered a scathing blast on the game, and calling it a piece of garbage, when in reality that's rating it as average or slightly above average.

Ok, but who the hell wants to watch an "average" movie (1:30-3 hours), or play an "Average" video game (6+ hours all the way to 100 hours of gameplay), read an "average" book (a 500 page book should take a week-2 weeks)?

THAT'S why consumers see 5 or 6 as "things to avoid". We have limited time and dont see the need to waste it on an average experience. Hell, in a BAD experience at least there is some enjoyment from how bad something is, the jokes you and your friends have about that crappy movie you saw for example. The "average" game has LESS entertainment value than a bad game for consumers.

So I see what you are saying, but that's because there is a disconnect between what consumers want and what statistics objectively mean. This has been a problem among reviewers in every medium. Remember, the reviewer has no time to waste (this is a job that they get paid for) and rarely buys access to the game/movie/book etc themselves. They know they cannot understand what consumers want exactly, they can just consider objective quality. The fact that this does not line up with consumer opinion is NORMAL

Why do you think consumer reviews tend to be 0 (do not buy) or 10 (buy)?

True, people are going to want the best possible products for their money. The idea of reviews is to help them determine that, and yes, most things being average (as they should be) is not going to cause them to act as a form of advertising... which is the point, reviews are not supposed to be advertisements. The problem with reviews is that they are being turned into advertisements by the games industry, and that needs to stop. Turning reviews into advertisements intended to help sell the products is why we see reviews becoming so top heavy. That said we already see a system where right now people are focusing on like a 2-3 number scale and making the same desicians based on whether a game got a 9.5 or a 10 or not, we've wound up in the same basic place anyway, it's just better to use the entire scale so more accurate analysis can happen. A 5 or 6 is about where an 8 is now.

As far as reviewers not matching the consumers, that's not true. No reviewer is universally connected to everyone, but most who become successful do so because they connect with the preferances of a huge group of people who think like they do. Leading to people having their favorite reviewes and trusted sources.

The thing with reviews right now is that reviewers tend to start out speaking for the fans, get their following, and then once they start to become known and influential you start seeing efforts to bring them in line with the desires of the gaming industry. They get pressured by their publisher who relies on advertising, or the reviewers are gradually corrupted by being offered money and perks by the industry in exchange for favorable reviews. Reviewers generally start out speaking for a large group of people, but inevitably cease to do so the bigger they become.

In general a reviewer tends to wind up losing credability right about the time they start getting invited to VIP events, E3, press conferances and similar things. The more access to information they should wind up having, the less critical they become of the industry and the more they gloss over failures until you start seeing a situation where they are rating everything with a lot of money behind it a 9+. This is called "Selling out".

How many times have you see a review who you once agreed with, wind up changing track under these circumstances, and then when questioned, go on about how much they support the industry, how great all the guys they have met in it are, and so on and so forth. Basically if your a guy who is palling around with the dudes your supposed to be policing, while they load you up with food and swag at press events, how the F@ck are you supposed to remain objective?

In general there is a sort of journalistic code of conduct enforced by larger news organizations to try and prevent companies from swaying the reviewers in exactly this way that so far has not been able to be applied to game reviewers. I could say a lot about how such things should be made to operate, but that would be a long post in of itself, and admittedly almost unreachable because it would require a lot of things to to alter
themselves in a radical fashion, involving the demise of most buisnesses that currently employ game reviewers as their very model of operation does not allow game reviewers and critics to remain independant. Basically game reviewers and critics should be feared by the industry more than being viewed as an extension of it's advertising branch. Much like how book, resteraunt, or movie critics from major publications like the New York Times can literally sink a business or product overnight, and are very difficult to sway due to the way things are made to operate (causing a lot of producers and creators to famously call for the deaths of critics... I feel a fairly adverserial relationship is for the best though... proof of a company corrupting a critic or reviewer should basically amount to the death of that person's career as well).

See, I think the industry actually suffers in terms of quality and control for the lack of anything equivilent to a "Phantom Gourmet", or dedicated consumer-reports type prescence on the product. In general an ending like the one in Mass Effect 3 which was so negatively received by so many people should sink the product... something like that should just not fly, and it's the job of reviewers and critics to catch things like that and act as our voice. Which also forces the game industry to take into account popular reception. Right now the whole "complete leap of faith" ideal of the industry doesn't really encourage it to produce quality products or take great care with it's writing and production. A reviewer saying without spoilers "this game features perhaps the biggest disappointment of an ending in history which will be rated from barely tolerable to absolutly morifying bad depending on the viewer" as a justification for rating it's writing as very low is EXACTLY the kind of thing we should have gotten before laying down $60 on a product. I mean it's easy for Bioware to sit there and go "lulz, our ending was meant to polarize people and illicit this reaction" once they have your money... and we see this very same thing continously recur for one reason or another with a lot of very expensive products... ME3 just being the example of the moment. Reviewers and critics are supposed to exist for basically that reason, and the fact that we saw all these perfect reviews, and not one mention of this from any review source before the game comes out demonstrates EXACTLY how bad the current system is.

Therumancer:

The Random One:
So he quit a bad company, didn't manage to make his own company run, then got bought by the very same company he had quit. Sorry if that doesn't leave me in the mood for tacos.

Therumancer:
I mean how does say "Mass Effect" compare to say "Planescape: Torment" in the scope of writing?

See, this is the issue right there. Do you say Mass Effect's writing is good because it compares well to other AAA titles out there who don't give a rat's ass about how well they're written because the player is just supposed to look for the guy with FOLLOW on top of his head or do you say it's bad because it's not as good as the game that is widely considered to be one of the best written games ever? Both are fair comparisons - I mean, if we expect graphics and game design to evolve constantly, so should writing - but no one bothers to inform us what measure is their scale.

Except Kill Screen, but they're Kill Screen. And they don't give numerical reviews any more anyway.

Well, I think the scale is obvious. Planescape: Torment is a video game, so are the other video games. The problem is people insisting such things should be measured by the FPS with "follow" above the guy's head, if that is what most people are doing in the current generation. In reality the bottom line is that if your not doing at least as well a Planescape: Torment, you don't deserve high marks. If your story is garbage or pretty much just tacked on, or interferes with the gameplay, or whatever else then a game deserves increasingly lower marks depending on how bad it gets.

You put Torment on a pedestal there, and I think highly of the game too, but I don't agree with this line of reasoning, or at least not the way you framed it. When it comes to story, presentation is as important as content, and a game like Mass Effect cannot be presented in the same manner as a game like Torment successfully anymore than a movie can be presented in the same way as a book.

Torment is(IMO) the pinnacle of the transition point between turn based tactical RPGs and real time action RPGs. Because it has more in common with the former than the latter, a novel-like flow of conversation works and works well. Mass Effect, on the other hand, is clearly trying to be as close to a cinematic experience as it can be without being Heavy Rain. The structure and content of the game's story works very well for that, and to try to compare it to a game with a completely different format and intent doesn't work for me. It would be like complaining that Halo's shooting isn't nearly as precise as Contra's. Yes, both games are about people shooting aliens, but that's where the similarities end, and direct comparisons are unfair.

Now I could rattle off a couple things about Mass Effect's conversation system that diminish the game all on it's own(e.g. the way conversations play out visually hilariously remind me of "pan and scan" VHS edits), but that again has nothing to do with Torment.

nikomas1:
If you did listen to their podcast, they managed to convince me that it should have gotten their GOTY...

I'm pretty sure if I listened to their podcast, I'd still think it was stupid and reeked more of commercialism than integrity.

Scars Unseen:

Therumancer:

The Random One:
So he quit a bad company, didn't manage to make his own company run, then got bought by the very same company he had quit. Sorry if that doesn't leave me in the mood for tacos.

See, this is the issue right there. Do you say Mass Effect's writing is good because it compares well to other AAA titles out there who don't give a rat's ass about how well they're written because the player is just supposed to look for the guy with FOLLOW on top of his head or do you say it's bad because it's not as good as the game that is widely considered to be one of the best written games ever? Both are fair comparisons - I mean, if we expect graphics and game design to evolve constantly, so should writing - but no one bothers to inform us what measure is their scale.

Except Kill Screen, but they're Kill Screen. And they don't give numerical reviews any more anyway.

Well, I think the scale is obvious. Planescape: Torment is a video game, so are the other video games. The problem is people insisting such things should be measured by the FPS with "follow" above the guy's head, if that is what most people are doing in the current generation. In reality the bottom line is that if your not doing at least as well a Planescape: Torment, you don't deserve high marks. If your story is garbage or pretty much just tacked on, or interferes with the gameplay, or whatever else then a game deserves increasingly lower marks depending on how bad it gets.

You put Torment on a pedestal there, and I think highly of the game too, but I don't agree with this line of reasoning, or at least not the way you framed it. When it comes to story, presentation is as important as content, and a game like Mass Effect cannot be presented in the same manner as a game like Torment successfully anymore than a movie can be presented in the same way as a book.

Torment is(IMO) the pinnacle of the transition point between turn based tactical RPGs and real time action RPGs. Because it has more in common with the former than the latter, a novel-like flow of conversation works and works well. Mass Effect, on the other hand, is clearly trying to be as close to a cinematic experience as it can be without being Heavy Rain. The structure and content of the game's story works very well for that, and to try to compare it to a game with a completely different format and intent doesn't work for me. It would be like complaining that Halo's shooting isn't nearly as precise as Contra's. Yes, both games are about people shooting aliens, but that's where the similarities end, and direct comparisons are unfair.

Now I could rattle off a couple things about Mass Effect's conversation system that diminish the game all on it's own(e.g. the way conversations play out visually hilariously remind me of "pan and scan" VHS edits), but that again has nothing to do with Torment.

Torment was just an example of a game with strong writing, not actually intended as a universal example of the best possible writing, rather one that games need to be compared to.

In general writing does tend to vary in quality which is why some authors become famous, and others never go anywhere, and the good ones have hits and misses. The point or reviews is to create a sort of universal scale by which writing is going to be judged... granted that scale is going to vary from reviewer to reviewer and critic to critic, and people are going to gravitate towards the reviewers they agree with, and those that wind up with a lot of people agreeing with them are the ones who become big time reviewers.

Part of the problem with Mass Effect's writing is of course that using the whole "cinematic movie experience" is a problem because games are not movies, Thus that does not present an excuse for failures in storytelling and when it gets in the way of the interactivity of the experience. Rating a game's story comes down to how well it works as a game.

That said, in judging something like ME3, or other games the bottom line is that in the end Toment, for all it's age, told a better story as a game than we were seeing here, the same could be said of a lot of games to be honest. As a result someone who rated Torment highly for it's story should not be giving equally high ratings to other games unless they manage to equal or surpass Torment. In the case of ME3 specifically you can't even use the cinematic defense even if it was to apply (which it really doesn't, it's nothing but an excuse, the intent doesn't matter for reviews, just the results) because even within that sphere other games trying to do he same thing have done better... heck Bioware has done better with their other games. "Dragon Age: Origins" for example did a better job, as did say "Jade Empire" or even "Knights Of The Old Republic", the games which made Bioware famous, all of those games managed to end on a note the user base found acceptable for example and didn't have nearly everyone who isn't a professional reviewer, rating it "mediocre" at the highest to complete garbage that has ultimatly taken a wrecking ball to the entire series if it's allowed to stand.

The point here isn't about any specific game really, ME3 is just an example "of the moment" about bad writing, with writing being just one part of a game, but one that should factor into it's overall review scores and cost it points. We need some serious reforms among reviewers, including a reviewer system that is not tied to the industry (and indeed winds up having a sort of adversarial "galloping gourmet" type relationship with it, to keep it on it's toes) which will lead to more honesty.

See, a game like ME3 getting high, nearly perfect reviews accross the board from a lot of whatI've seen, without any points being subtracted for that ending (and let's be honest it deserved points subtracted on story grounds for more than that... Leng, I'm looking at you). Since everything comes down to the climax (end of act 2 more or less) and the finale, arguably the whole thing was gutted. If Story say counts for one third of a grade "utter failure" probably should have counted for like 33% being gone from a final score for ME3. You consider they have improved the shooting mechanics and AI and stuff, but it's still not as good as other major third person shooter franchises, but scores top marks for technology and voice acting, your probably going to wind up with a game that should rank between a 5 and 6 on a 10 point scale... which is actually not calling the game bad, saying it's an average game... one with top notch presentation and some okay mechanics, but just as many horrendous flaws. Part of the point of such reviews should be to send a message to the game industry that trying to make your games like movies does NOT tend to wind up with them being good games.

We'll probably have to agree to disagree here, but that's what I think on the subject. Of course I also understand that the odds of seeing a complete and total reform of reviews and their relation with the industry is not likely to happen in the near future, and really might not ever happen due to the way things evolved. The industry has their fingers so tightly into the review system and is in such a powerful position to corrupt any "free" reviewers as they become popular that I can't see things changing... which won't prevent me from criticizing the system and pointing out it's flaws. As long as people like me don't fall silent there is still more of a chance that we'll see changes. Truthfully I think a lot of big companies will lose tons of money from more in the way of free reviewers, but at the same time I think this will cause them to be more careful and become better at designing and developing games, so gaming as a whole will wind up benefitting as the desires of industry profiteers and reviewers and their control over the consumer base start to balance each other out.

Zachary Amaranth:

nikomas1:
If you did listen to their podcast, they managed to convince me that it should have gotten their GOTY...

I'm pretty sure if I listened to their podcast, I'd still think it was stupid and reeked more of commercialism than integrity.

Not gonna mince my words here, but that's a dumb statement. "I don't know anything about them or their opinions, but they suck".

And you really don't seem to understand how an opinion works. These guys are genuinely interested and love stupid and over-the-top nonsense like Saints Row 3. I don't agree with them, but I've actually listened to their opinions and they're not "commercial" or whatever other garbage you're accusing them of.

P.S. Yeah, I know this is 3 years old now, but holy crap - that's just something that annoyed me to no end.

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