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Review hegemony

posted on October 24th, 2007 by jay

Gamers expect very specific review scores for certain games. When Twilight Princess got an 8.6 the internet almost self destructed. Recently, Ratchet and Clank got a 7.5. People are in an uproar over a game they have never played. It’s a triple A title and deserves a triple A score seems to be the prevailing wisdom.

There are a few ways to look at this phenomenon. The first and plainly stupid view is that reviewers are doing their job poorly or are biased. I believe money has changed hands for good reviews but have a tough time swallowing that Microsoft payed for R&C to get a low score. The next and significantly more rational perspective is that the people complaining are actually in the minority. These people are also 14 year old fanboys with a first grade understanding of the English language.

While the second angle is likely correct, the third view, and my view, is that game reviewers themselves are to blame for this sort of uproar. If a movie reviewer doesn’t like the big popular well reviewed movie of the day, few people accuse them of bias. It’s simply understood that people have different taste and the movie critic is expressing his personal opinion. When it comes to games, though, reviewers seek out objectivity. This is absurd on multiple levels and it results in readers who are unaccustomed to encountering honest impressions of a game.

Try this, big game media – give Mario Galaxy a 5. Find someone in your office who doesn’t enjoy it and encourage him to write a subjective review. Forums will explode in rage but there will be plenty of people who agree with the review because Mario, like Hitchcock or Guest, is not for everyone. Then give Mass Effect a 6, Metal Gear Solid a 4 and Ponyz a 7. Break your objectivometer and make readers uncomfortable. It’s the only way to prepare them for real opinions.

2 Comments

  1. Matt said on October 24, 2007:

    That’s why I keep saying we should do away with numbers. Half the idiots on the web would have nothing to complain about.

    But, I was recently reading about the PS3 Folklore game, and there was some kind of review controversy on GameDaily recently. They gave it a 4/10, and 100% of the readers disagreed with the review. Now, if it was 75% or below, I would say nothing, but 100%? There’s something there.

    And from what I’ve heard, R&C plays like the other ones, which, while not that bad, doesn’t help it attain 10/10 status, I’m sorry.

    Also, people need to realize that some reviewers have different tastes. They need to research multiple sites and reviewers to see who they align with the most. Matt C. from IGN seems to enjoy what I like, so I tend to follow with his recommendations. The other ones I don’t look at. That’s also why I don’t really look to metacritic. The reviewers that I don’t agree with can affect a game’s score.

  2. Shota said on January 14, 2008:

    Ok Jay, Guest I can understand, maybe, but Hitchcock? I’d like to see these people who say that Hitchcock is not for them so I can point my finger at them and convulse laughing.

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