8.537 thumbs out of 5 stars

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.

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Unique gaming experience.

I don’t remember what I was complaining about while arguing with Grassy, but I got a strong pang of nostalgia. Something had me thinking about peculiar gaming experiences.

Things that weren’t part of the games. Things that happened because of my unique situation.  Things that I simply can never re-live.  Like playing the first game that requires a pause to look around and just enjoy the spectacle.

I started to run through all the years of gaming I could remember, and find those times.

I got the PlayStation as a Christmas present, along with Final fantasy VII but no memory card. I remember playing the first maybe 2 hours over and over, stretching it to around 15 hours.

When I finally made it past the tower and out of the city for the first time. I can’t describe the excitement that came with the realization that this city was just one of a whole world. That changed gaming for me.

I had spent so much time in Midgar, I just never would have thought that there was another place.

I remember being challenged to 1v1 in Unreal Tournament by some other dude at school.  Unreal was the first online game I had ever bought.  At the time, I had just got broad band.  I played that game day and night, so naturally I accepted.

I pretty much destroyed him.  He had a negative score by the end since I took to pushing him over the edge. Then the big reveal, it was actually another dude playing.  The lesser of the pair.  Now I’d fight the real challenger.

He picked an indoor map, low gravity, and intsa-gib only(which is a one shot kill gone).  Did I mentioned, I lived this game?  Particularly with the insta-gib.  I would practice with that gun at 180% normal game speed.

I stomped him worst.

The last straw was my leap from one side of the stage to the other and killing him three times before I landed.  They disconnected. Memories.

I spoke to Grassy about his experiences.  Apparently he is the most boring standard gamer ever.

Please share some of yours.

Is it so bad to wish for new, or at least, well thought out ideas?

I grew up watching TLC, The Discovery Channel and History Channel.  Back when they had programming that actually taught things. After a few years of watching pieces on Dinosaurs, I slowly found myself already reaching the cap of knowledge.  It wasn’t that there was no more about Dinosaurs to learn, just that this was the cap that the channel was not willing to go over.  I guess in the interest of maintaining an audience.

They can’t exactly give a college level Paleontology piece.  Later the internet became a real thing, or maybe I just got old enough for it to mean something to me, and I found much more information out there.

Now-a-days, when I get an informational itch. I can run to youtube and find out as much as I want on a subject.  Sometimes literally from a college class lecture posted on the university site.  Which is just amazing to me.  This may have made me spoiled.

Now when I see a show online, I have expectations.  If it’s a fairly new channel, I can accept bad production value for more in-depth information.  For a channel with some money in it, I expect a certain amount of safety, meaning they aren’t going to poo on their sponsors and want go all out raging.

These two channels ‘PBS Idea Channel‘ and ‘PBS Game/Show‘ both have a bit of money and about the same production value.  I am Fairly sure they aren’t done by just one person.  There is a world of difference between them though.

The Idea Channel does it’s best to try and expose it’s reader to a new Idea.  Usually with a title like ‘Google is Knowledge’ or ‘The Internet is Cats’.  From there they’ll expand that thought and come around to some sense.  Not everyone would agree if their conclusion is right or not, but everyone is thinking.

PBS Game/show doesn’t do this.  It possesses more provocative titles like ‘Are games Racist’ and ‘Do Video Games Need Feminism?’ or their newest video ‘Will Videogames Become a Controlled Substance’.


Having been an avid viewer of the ‘PBS Idea Channel’, I expected this channel to also make sense of their titles.  I might have also thought they would cover the topic with reasonable care.  The show could even, If I was lucky, give me something new to think about.  Maybe a new perspective?

Nope, they mostly amount to a superficial look at the topic with nothing more then maybe an hour of thought could bring.

Give “Will Videogames Become a controlled substance?”.  This topic, I would agree, is something that is worth talking about, but it’s serious enough that it requires some definitions.

Non-physical Addiction is when something takes precedents and starts to effect a persons life in a significant way.  Not to be confused with people just taking part in a hobby, which can take a bunch of time too.  People don’t lose jobs and relationships over a hobby, they do over an addiction. This definition isn’t all inclusive, but it’s enough to start talking about the subject.  It’s actually very important to distinguish Physical and Non-Physical addiction.  The video puts them together in one lump.

“The reality is that most people who drink don’t become alcoholics and most people that play games, won’t become addicts.  But we still recognize that alcohol and addictive substances are dangerous.”  This is just dirty.  These things can not be lump together with gaming, alcohol and addictive substances.  Well ok, drunk gaming can be fun…  but they are not at all in the same levels of danger, not by any stretch of the imagination.

Non-Physical Addiction is always part of a psychological problem.  Every business is trying to get you to play and spend as much money as they can get out of you.  It is not the game makers job to try and save you.

Legislation on the vain of controlling any kind of Non-physical addiction, should be shot down. Non-physical addiction is fought by having more readily available psychological help and removal of it’s stigma.

People are susceptible to addiction of any type, when they are emotionally and psychologically compromised.  It has nothing at all to do with the escapism or how immersive a game is.

“.. it’s about to get a whole lot more dangerous.”  Come on, there is no danger.  If most of these addicts didn’t fall for games, they’d have fallen into something else.

The level of polish in this show is just so opposite to the actual content.  I started off watching hoping they’d grow and start giving actual insight. It’s clear now that this is never going to happen.

I blame my expectations on Extra Credits, Vsause, Nova before them, and all the other great shows that try to give more then the basics.

How much should I be concerned what the audience wants compared to what I want?

While trying to write, this is a chief concern of mine.  Should I be aiming for just the largest possible audience or focus on trying to attract the particular type that enjoy what I want to make.

I have this little issue on my Youtube Channel.  I have put up more of TF2 then anything else, but that’s cause I usually play TF2.  So some people have grown to expect the channel to be only TF2.  My plan has always been to just share my fun times, regardless of what game I am playing.

When I am focusing on my writing this worries me.  Mainly since I can’t produce nearly as many iterations of a novel as I do with the videos.

Am I doing all this purely for the goal of gaining fame?  No, but my audiences, however small they are now, are important.  That balance is rough.  Some times I just end up saying, “This is what I want, so it’s what I am going to do.”

Getting into an open and creative mode.

I just watched this lecture with John Cleese  and he formalized ideas I have been lightly touching at.

The lecture is about being creative.  How, do you get yourself to be creative?  Where does it come from?

If you’ve got the time, it would be great to watch the thole thing, if not here’s a short version.  No one knows how to be creative or how to make themselves be creative on a whim.  At best you can create a situation in which you are open to creativity.

Those ideas that spawn in opening a thought that you hadn’t had, are usually a product of a few conditions.  One, you have spent the time to lay a mental framework to an open mind around the situation.  Two, you allow yourself to be free to play and ponder, without bogging ideas down with pressure to be ‘right’ or ‘fast’.

He recommends setting a time, like an hour and a half, to practice getting and  holding this ‘Open mode’.  Then get used to moving to a ‘Closed mode’ when it comes to implementation.

This is extremely close to my view on training up those creative thought. Which isn’t an easy thing for me.

I would add a stipulation that it helps to first have a certain degree of understanding of a subject.  So, if you are trying to come up with a creative play in chess.  You’ll have to understand the game well enough to know that what you have come up with is something.