This Is A Black Image, Black Is A Colour….Wait: Objective Reviewing Of Video Games

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Not much that comes from a persons mouth is objective, to be at an objective stance requires an amount of self awareness and control reaching levels of godhood. However that sounds like a problem to a bunch of people concerning how reviewers on the various gaming sites talk about and score a game, suggesting that they skew scores and such due to their personal views. Sounds pretty bad when it’s supposed to be a review about the game…but how much of a game can be said at a technical point and where do we draw our lines?

I’ve done a few impressions on this blog out of a desire to vent my frustrations with the undoing of my gaming joy by small or large problems within. I try to bring up the problems I have with the game in clear context, if its a personal issue with this kind of style I’ll say so and if its a technical aspect or design aspect I’ll do the same. Clarity in negativity I find is beautiful thing as it demonstrates both an awareness of what constitutes a preference instead of an actual flaw as well as indicating that distinction to the reader. Hell if I played a game that was fundamentally sound but didn’t appeal to my audience I’d say it’s a good game…but not for me.

I’ve always been of the mind that a review score should be scored in 2 areas: one for the person and one for the technical side. You could think a game is trash and give it your arbitrary number out of arbitrary, while also giving it high scores for the technical marvel as a game is both a mechanical landmark as well as a entertainment piece. I mean golly this game is bad but I won’t argue that the visual work is pretty damn good, I think Remember Me is a game in recent memory where it’s undoing was in gameplay while it was a visual joy to look at for the most part.

A video game cannot be seen in the perspective of objectivity, it does not have a clear goal to achieve flat out but rather imposed ones we each put on. Some need a good story, some need more attractive visuals and others need simple mechanics expanded upon. Objectivity suggests there is but a simple goal in mind and that perfection is attainable, so perfection only exists with a checklist to tick off. I can get a perfect score in a rhythm game under these rules, the same run could mean otherwise under a different objective.

What a reviewer shouldn’t be doing is letting themselves get hung up on specific details that tint the entire review. Quite frankly I don’t know why any review site focusing on games has a more impactful word on the game than any other, they are just people. What quite frankly does the one reviewing have that makes their word on the game so impactful on so many? The tie to a professional site? Hardly.

I’d argue that due to the need to play games at such a pace in time for release dates as well as the quantity of games that need be played make them the worst person to review a game, they are both exhausted and rushed to form an opinion to spread across two pages. Perhaps this is why the rise of the Youtube review has been so welcome, varied people with various tastes who review games they take interest in as a gamer rather than as work. They can play for weeks to get a good grasp of their thoughts, let the initial rush or anger or disappoint diffuse before speaking their mind.

With that all in mind though, there is still the existence of metacritic tied wages, bonuses being given when a game gets a good average score from people who I say are in a terrible position to review any games. What credentials do the people at IGN or Gamespot have to make their review impactful enough to decide a working developers potential income? it’s folly if you ask me, these are people with tastes as much as you and I and will bring the human element to a review every single time.

If somebody asked me to review say a FIFA or Madden game, I’d say both to them and within my review that I am not an advocate of these games, maybe even say that I’m not the right person to hold your do or die decision to purchase to. I could perhaps give my take from an outsider and a beginner, judging the game on how well it brings me in and make certain aspects appealing to the lay man as such but not much else.

Some games really do cater to a specific kind of person, people who get the references and find the appeal in the anime visuals or the ludicrous numbers, aspects that may fall flat for someone who doesn’t find that an immediate selling point. My personal draws are the music and the possibility to either be or look after a young, short female character. I just enjoy that kind of thing, it likely means bugger all to others but to me it’s the hook.

Common accusations towards some reviewers is that they aren’t good enough at the game to give it a fair score as they detract due to difficulty. Some games are hard yes, some people and as such reviewers don’t have a clear distinction between cheap difficulty and simply hard difficulty.

If you asked me if the Souls series from From Software were good games, I’d say the gameplay is very observation based and as such isn’t a lot of fun to fight. However in such a scenario I’d likely try and do a double review, find someone who does like that style for their take, making it clear that this game is for a kind of person and if it doesn’t click you’ll hate it.

You will never be objective with a piece of entertainment, short of its technical components in comparison to the standard. Aw hell even that can go subjectively if people find a high level lighting effect more visually enjoyable than the high polygon but drab colour palette of another game.

You shouldn’t let personal bias affect a game review, make it personal but don’t let that bias dictate so much of the review. Yeah I don’t like this kind of thing, no I don’t like the pandering but I won’t destroy it through words because of that. I’ll just chuck it in that this is how I feel, maybe ask somebody else to provide a different perspective and give people more than one insight when my own is too bogged down with me.

I mean me is pretty great but I’ve already gone on about how in one Tales Of Xillia I was obsessed with looking after the petite female character with missing/dead parents. I still tell people I hate that game as I’m aware that beyond my personal interest it’s lacking in every area.

can love it, doesn’t mean it should be loved, with the opposite being true.

What games do you have one element you like despite it being pretty bad all around? What is your view on reviewing games? Is there a solution to the problems that people accuse reviews of having? Thanks for the read and I’ll see you later…oh dammit this is a 1200+ word post, it was supposed to be 500 max. Sorry for the wordiness, I get carried away sometimes when I could split it into another post.

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  1. #1 by angryjez on May 30, 2015 - 11:39 am

    It’s as if you reached into my thoughts and put them onto paper. I can’t say that I really pay any serious attention to reviews, in particular those published on websites such as IGN or Gamespot. Scoring a game out of 10 will not sway my decision to buy a game. Take Arkham Origins, for example. Gamespot gave it a 6/10, yet I enjoyed the hell out of that game, and in my opinion, it had the best storyline in the series (because, you know, Deathstroke). But hey, that’s my opinion, and reviews are the opinion of the person, er, reviewing the game.

    One thing I do want to point out is Gamespot’s review of Destiny. They scored it a 6, which I would assume means that the game is just average and not really worth your time. Yet, I swear they publish a new article about the game on the website every day. How is anyone expected to trust their reviews/opinion when they contradict themselves by continuing to devote time and money towards promoting this supposed average and disappointing game?

    TL;DR I like Arhkam Origins and don’t trust reviews from mainstream gaming websites.

    Like

    • #2 by Prof.mcstevie on May 30, 2015 - 5:54 pm

      They promote with one hand while giving it contradictory scores with the other, with their reviews having a irritatingly large impact on both the creators and players of games. It’s a sad truth huh.

      Like

    • #3 by Daniel Pool on June 10, 2015 - 12:38 am

      For Destiny I think the issue is that the reviewer wasn’t overall impressed–something to the effect of unfinished–but it is popular thus it gets more articles. It could be the worst game ever but if it generates clicks they will write on it.

      Like

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