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Tim Spaeth 10-22-2009 09:57 AM

Next Show (Ep24): Your Input
 
The topic for Episode 24, recording this Sunday October 25th, is The Myths of Game Criticism. Among the "myths" we are considering:

1) Critics should be required to finish games before writing a review.

2) The goal of a "proper" game review should be to inform the reader as to whether they should or should not buy a game.

3) Those who write about games are not journalists, rather, should be considered "enthusiast press" or simply "games writer."

4) There is no difference between a "review" and a "critique".

5) The explosion of blogs, podcasts, and Twitter has rendered formal game reviews obsolete.

6) Individual game critics and review sites are under constant, unrelenting pressure from aggregate sites to change scores.

7) Game scores are often purposefully tweaked to either generate controversy or avoid it.

8) A reader should not need to be familiar with the author of a review in order to derive value from it.

Any comments on these? Are there other "myths" you'd like confirmed or debunked? Share your ideas here and we'll discuss them on the show!

joetbd 10-22-2009 09:30 PM

Re: Next Show (Ep24): Your Input
 
-updated

2) That has to be part of the equation. Maybe not 100%, but it has to be part of the mission of a review, to inform people that are considering purchasing the game. A lot of people, still look game reviews, when they want to know if something is good enough to buy. A lot of us are so obsessed with games (we are familiar with all the game information resources), that we forget how "normal people" approach finding a game worth buying. Remember a lot of mothers still ask their local Gamestop clerk "my son is 12, what should I get"?

5) See answer #2. Not everyone pays attention to blogs and podcasts.

6) I think the question “are they pressured to change scores” is the wrong question. I believe the climate that influences the reviewer, applies its pressure, before there is any score to change. Its at E3 when everyone falls in love with a tech demo, and buzz is generated. Thats when things start to take shape. Its the PR team working hard a year before the game comes out.

I think most games live and die, before they ever reach store shelves, even before game sites receive their review copies.

Most of the time, I think reviewers just go with the flow. What ever momentum the publisher has managed to build before launch. Reviewers tend to just roll with it, and make it "official" by writing a review to match the buzz. Possibly so they can ride the coat tails of a successful game... I dont know.

7) Absolutely! See the whole thread we have going on the game review scores.

joetbd 10-24-2009 01:10 AM

Re: Next Show (Ep24): Your Input
 
I think it is an understood fact, that review scores are higher than they used to be.
It is not 1994 any more, Five is no longer an average or normal score.

What most people dont know, is that 7 is no longer the average score either. Because of some number crunching in 2006 by Matthew Gallant, we can see IGN's most frequently given score is an Eight. And they are not alone. In the same time frame, 34 websites had an average score of 8 or higher.

How can you have "great" as your most frequent review rating?

-

My other big question, would be:

What do you think of the concept of the "Correct" review. There seems to be a popular notion, that reviewing a game is like doing a math equation. Everyone should come to the same conclusion.

Richard Naik 10-24-2009 01:35 PM

Re: Next Show (Ep24): Your Input
 
1) No-it's perfectly possible to form an opinion on a game without finishing it. Very, very rarely does endgame content sway my opinion of a game, and the fact that a game can't keep my attention long enough to finish it is damning in and of itself.

2) I wouldn't say it's the primary goal, but it is a result. My goals in my reviews are always to express opinion-if all I wanted to do is tell people what they should buy I would just say-"It's awesome", "It's OK", or "It's sucks".

3) Journalism as we know it has been redefined so that it doesn't necessarily come from formal media (i.e., respected blog sites such as GameCritics), and with that we've seen lots of good, insightful writing from sources we wouldn't have otherwise seen, and tons of crap from complete morons. The definition of "press" (look at the 31st) refers to "any media agency", which in today's world can mean just about anything. In this sense, GameCritics can certainly be considered journalism even though we aren't a formal media outlet.

4) A critique can be considered any sort of thoughtful evaluation, so unless the review is totally devoid of any sense of thought I think they can be considered the same thing in many cases.

5) See answers to 2 and 4. I don't really see a Twitter post conveying that much insight into a game's worth, and again, GC produces plenty of "formal" reviews.

6) I can only speak for myself, but I could care less what the Metacritic score is-I evaluate the game as I see fit and if I'm out of sync with the rest of the Metacritic reviews then so be it.

7) We've all seen the Kane & Lynch incident, so yes, this does happen.

8) Yes. It helps if the author states where he's coming from in some cases to give the reader some perspective, but by and large readers shouldn't need to be familiar with the author's other work.

joetbd 10-25-2009 03:06 AM

Re: Next Show (Ep24): Your Input
 
Quote:

Originally Posted by Richard Naik (Post 175963)
1) it's perfectly possible to form an opinion on a game without finishing it. Very, very rarely does endgame content sway my opinion of a game, and the fact that a game can't keep my attention long enough to finish it is damning in and of itself.

Doesn't this seem like a false issue? Academically it might be worth arguing the point. But in practice, it seems like it comes up most often when a review is given that fans do not like. And they grasp at any reason they can, to find fault with the review or the reviewer.

Which is part of a greater issue of fanboys. They are very vocal, and often attack a reviewer personally.

They will say you are not a real reviewer, or your whole review is voided, because of one mistake they "claim" you have made. And those are the ones that are polite enough not to simply swear at you up and down.

Richard Naik 10-25-2009 03:16 AM

Re: Next Show (Ep24): Your Input
 
I wouldn't say it's a totally false issue, but you're mostly right-it comes up most often when someone is trying to discredit the writer in any way possible.

joetbd 10-29-2009 12:22 PM

Re: Next Show (Ep24): Your Input
 
I was writing about some feedback a reviewer was getting. And I noticed some of the replies were very familiar.
I see these same comments, every time a popular game, gets a less then glowing review.

these are actual quotes
from the comments section following one specific review:

"Yeah I bet you like Halo"

"maybe the reviewer should grow a set. then go back to playing a man's game"

"Have you even played the game?"

"This is a poorly written review by a person who completely failed to understand the game's premise and appeal"

sound familiar?
Another one I see a lot is
you are playing the game wrong.

Its a wonder every game doesnt get a 10 out of 10. Just so the reviewers doesnt have to put up with that.

Brad Gallaway 10-29-2009 09:39 PM

Re: Next Show (Ep24): Your Input
 
Heh, sometimes I wonder that too, Joe... :rolleyes:

Richard Naik 10-29-2009 09:55 PM

Re: Next Show (Ep24): Your Input
 
If every game got a 10 the comments would be;

"A 10? No way that was as good as Halo"

"Man, you just don't have the guts to not like a game"

"This is a disgrace to gaming and you clearly can't see it."

joetbd 10-30-2009 01:35 AM

Re: Next Show (Ep24): Your Input
 
Quote:

Originally Posted by Richard Naik (Post 176214)
"A 10? No way that was as good as Halo"

Thats probably one of the reasons people complain about their favorite game getting a 9.3, because some where there is another game that got a 9.4

Even when their game is called "very good" they find that unexceptable, because something else was called great.

Thats what is so dangerous about over rating games to please publishers, fanboys, and the whole community. At some point, they are going to run out of numbers under 10. And every review of any big title will read like an advertisement.

Chi Kong Lui 10-30-2009 09:12 AM

Re: Next Show (Ep24): Your Input
 
Quote:

Originally Posted by joetbd (Post 176220)
Thats what is so dangerous about over rating games to please publishers, fanboys, and the whole community. At some point, they are going to run out of numbers under 10. And every review of any big title will read like an advertisement.

Excellent point. The higher the review scores go, the more worthless they become. PR folks couldn't give two shits about game criticism. To them, game reviews are tools to market their games. Once game reviews become worthless, they'll just move onto another platform to promote their games. Game journalists and writers need to wake up and forget about the short term gains with publishers before game reviews lose all value and then they lose an entire platform of games writing.

joetbd 10-31-2009 01:09 PM

Re: Next Show (Ep24): Your Input
 
Game journalists, like most of us, are not paid to care. It is not their job to take a close critical look at games. It is their job to write something that will fill the void in their websites review section. They are there for their ability to crank out readable reviews at a fast pace, not their ability to examine games.

If I had to boil my complaint of game journalists down to one idea. It would be that. Their job is to fill the void. They are paid to write boilerplate and say the same things every other game writer is saying.
If they happen to take a closer look, and write something worthwhile, they do that on their own.

And I dont have a problem with that. They are simply doing their job, like an accountant, postal worker, or secretary. My issue, is not with the individuals, but the situation. These reviews are dominating everyones attention, and not leaving any space for more honest/fair/unbiased game criticism. All of the discussion of games seems to revolve around what IGN said, or what Gamespot said. That is the shame of it. All of the people that want to discuss games are distracted by these outlets that are just filling a void.

But like I said, that is if I had to boil it all down to one point. I think its more complicated than that. I think some people do care. But they still have to work within the sytem, if they want to get paid. A system which is flawed (for game criticism)

Tim Spaeth 11-01-2009 08:45 AM

Re: Next Show (Ep24): Your Input
 
If anyone is having a lazy Sunday morning, I just posted Episode 24 to iTunes and Zune and the RSS feed. It's not on the homepage yet, but will be shortly. We could only fit Myths 1-4 in this show; we're recording the second part tonight with an exciting bonus myth number 9!

joetbd 11-01-2009 11:58 AM

Re: Tim!!!!!
 
Quote:

Originally Posted by Tim Spaeth (Post 176339)
we're recording the second part tonight

Tim, you ambushed me. You asked the question "should a review help inform about a purchase".

But the guys answered the question "should a critic explicitly tell people whether or not they should buy that game".

[just kidding - I know that conversations take funny turns. That is the charm of a discussion]

Plus, Im glad Im not the only person that liked Red Faction, this summer. I think it got lost in the battle between Prototype and Infamous.

Tim Spaeth 11-05-2009 03:09 PM

Re: Next Show (Ep24): Your Input
 
Joe -- sorry about that. :) It wasn't a deliberate ambush. I realized during the edit that we'd steered the conversation in a slightly different direction. I'm working on Part II today and I think we credit you with another quote. You definitely get a shout-out at the end.


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