I was working with someone to create a review channel. As it turns out it’s a crap ton of work making reviews. While I was preparing to create the channel I started to ask questions like, “What is the use of a review” and “What purpose do they serve”. That shot me on a search for anything to do with reviews. I jumped around checking out highly entertaining reviewers like Zero Punctuation down to the less then perfect ones on /r/gamereviews. We all have to start somewhere.
Some of them broke games down by sections: story, gameplay, “graphics”. Most used a grading system, 8/10, five stars. That got me thinking of ways I should grade the games. I tried to come up with a way to take some of the subjectivity from a star rating system. It’s even possible to turn to a pass fail system, “buy or stay away”.
Spent some time with all that bouncing around my mind and was unable to clamp down on anything. What good is having a rating system? It bothered me that after a while I will end up with a list of games and a list of ratings. It then makes sense that it would be possible to use the ratings to compare the games.
One game gets a 5 out of 5 and that one gets a 4 out of 5. Why? Games are just so drastically different from one another, that comparison is impossible. Skyrim and Gone home have completely different goals, what would a comparison between them even mean?
Ok, so if we give limbo a 9 or 10 in aesthetics and we give BioShock infinite the same. Are they as good as another? Is it fair with one having a huge budget? Should the money even matter? How about the time to play through. Journey would also have to be given high marks for aesthetics but that can be beat in like 2 hours.
The system wouldn’t even work when looking at one game at a time. What could I give in story to something like League of legends? There is some lore to it, but a player would have to go out of their way to figure out what’s going on and it wouldn’t change the gameplay.
If the rating can’t be used to compare then it only serves one other purpose, as a summery of opinions, but that’s the whole review. If by the end of the review, the audience is unsure what the reviewer thinks, they are watching zero punctuation and are wondering if he actually liked the game or, the review is missing something significant.
Systems like this serve the reviewer more then anyone else. It simplifies formatting and attempts to remove some of the subjectivity from the review. Which is the conclusion I finally found my way to.
Reviews are more then their end rating. They are there to provide some ones personal tastes. There are a few reviewers of movies and games that I watch. Like Grace from Beyond the trailer. She does a crap ton of movie reviews. I can’t possibly watch as many movies as she does, cause that’s her job. No, I don’t trust her every opinion but I have seen enough of the movies she’s recommended or rejected. I now have an idea where her opinions and mine are relative to each other, which has a lot of value for me.
If you are a reviewer out there. Forget trying to be objective and share your true opinions. Don’t apologize for having a weakness for anything to do with dragons. Say it proudly. That honesty tells more then thousands of words trying to remove yourself from the reviewing equation.