For our 50th episode we welcome Sam Marchello of RPGamer.com. She offers her perspective on the state of game criticism and helps us break down the mania surrounding the Dead Island trailer. Plus, as a special bonus: our never-before-heard "pilot" episode! Special thanks to RandomRob for his epic musical contribution. Featuring Chi Kong Lui, Brad Gallaway, Mike Bracken, Richard Naik, and Tim "Podcast Angry 3D" Spaeth.

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Please send feedback and mailbag questions to podcast (at) gamecritics (dot) com.

Tim Spaeth

Tim Spaeth

Cleveland native Tim Spaeth grew up in a happy household – a household with a father whose major client happened to be an Atari games distributor. This led directly to Tim's first nickname: "The kid who got Atari games before anyone else." Indeed, he knew Pac-Man and E.T. were colossal bombs weeks before the rest of the world, and the resulting celebrity brought him great pleasure.

Through the years every aspect of Tim's life has been touched by gaming. He mastered typing thanks to Space Quest, honed his poker skills on The Sierra Network, and learned to hate after a particularly traumatic game of Tecmo Super Bowl.

Today, Tim lives in Chicago with his three kids and strives to find that perfect balance between family, career, and Warcraft. He enjoys broadcasting, martial arts, rock and roll, growing and shaving his beard, singing show tunes to the homeless, and losing at Mario Kart to his lovely, talented, and amazing girlfriend.

In late 2008, Tim became the producer and host of the GameCritics.com Podcast, and he's thrilled to be bringing GameCritics' unique editorial voice to a brand new medium.
Tim Spaeth

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23 Comments on "GameCritics.com Podcast Episode 50: The State of Game Criticism, Dead Island Mania"

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Anonymous
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Anonymous
5 years 6 months ago
Should I call Gears of War “sexist” since it only features only “alpha male” characters that are “bros” who enjoy killing mutant aliens. Bleh. Sorry, but in reverse to Sam’s comments about 3rd Birthday, I don’t like sensitive reviewers. Strongly disagree with Sam’s thoughts on 3rd Birthday, since the gameplay ITSELF is good. If you concentrate so hardly on the story sucking, fine, but the gameplay is the best action game for PSP, bar none. If I concentrated hard on the storyline for Resident Evil 4, then I’d hate that game also, since it’s just blockbuster storyline with no depth… Read more »
Trent Fingland
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Trent Fingland
5 years 6 months ago
First of I wanna say that I still stand by my Final Fantasy XIII review! Still! Anyway, I think the problem with the response to Dead Island isn’t just with gamers. People are suckers for sentimentality, and the combination of a cute, white girl dying in reverse to melodramatic music, followed by a touching scene with her parents is honestly all it takes for most people melt. By contrast, I just picked up Knight’s Contract, and in the opening video there are a couple of especially gruesome, obviously exploitative child deaths right there. I can say with complete confidence that… Read more »
Zolos
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Zolos
5 years 6 months ago

I am still listening to the podcast but with regards to reviews i think using a scale of 1-5 has better chances of being used fully compared to say out of 100.

Although inevitably this means that it’s more difficult to distinguish great games from good games it should allow for a more uniform way of giving out scores.

The way things stand 1-60% is barely used at all. Of course there is no guarantee that reviewers will not just rate everything between 3-5.

RandomRob
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RandomRob
5 years 6 months ago

I’d give Crystal Renn a 10 for making plus size sexy.

Mike Bracken
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Mike Bracken
5 years 6 months ago

I can’t believe you gave Dragon Age: Origins a 10. You can save anywhere in it outside of combat. I thought for sure that would knock it down to at least an 8. :p

Anonymous
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5 years 6 months ago

[quote=Anonymous] Keep in mind that the Women’s Lib movement died on the grapevine here in Japan back in the 70’s, things like gender equality and sexual harassment are things that are not only a part of the culture, they are also things that get fun poked at them by the mainstream media. [/quote]

Sorry, that should read ‘these are things that are not only NOT a part of the culture…’
Thanks!

Anonymous
Guest
5 years 6 months ago
[quote=Sam]And the 3rd Birthday is sexist. Ar tonelico is also sexist. But I’d rather play Ar tonelico which at least doesn’t try to be anything more than it is, than play the 3rd Birthday where it attempts to be a snuff film most of the way through. [/quote] Great job on the podcast by everyone involved! Some really mature debate there – a nice change to what a lot of other gaming podcasts offer. I am definately interested in hearing more of Sam’s opinion of the 3rd Birthday though. ‘Snuff film’? Did we even play the same game? I finished… Read more »
Richard Naik
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Richard Naik
5 years 6 months ago

Yeah, exactly. There is no perfect, just “this is a great game and I recommend it as highly as I can”.

Michael "Macstorm" Cunningham
Guest
5 years 6 months ago

My opinion on 10s (or 5/5s on my site) is that you’d darn well better be willing to give them out just the same as you would a 1 or you’re not using the whole scale, just the lower part.

I’ve not done near the reviews of those here on staff, but out of my almost 100 reviews, I’ve given two 1/5s and two 5/5s. I don’t consider 5/5 to be a perfect game (and we don’t label it as such), just an amazing one.

Richard Naik
Guest
Richard Naik
5 years 6 months ago

Here are some of my personal 10s. In no particular order:

The Longest Journey
Dragon Age: Origins
Star Wars: Knights of the Old Republic
Amnesia: The Dark Descent
Team Fortress 2
Super Mario Galaxy
Chrono Trigger

Mike Bracken
Guest
Mike Bracken
5 years 6 months ago
I’m happy to see so many great comments on this podcast. I’m gonna respond to like ten things, so apologies if I don’t mention you by name. I can totally relate to the “get off my lawn” thing. I’ve struggled for years to figure out how to articulate my disdain for most of my gaming brethren without coming off as either an elitist or ageist person, and I still haven’t really figured out how to do it. I always tell people I’m glad the Internet wasn’t around when I was 20 — because I’d hate to have all of my… Read more »
Zolbrod
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Zolbrod
5 years 6 months ago
Just some random thoughts that came up while listening to this (extremely entertaining!) podcast. Feel free to ignore them: – Good choice, Sam! It’s always hard to come up with only 1 game as a representative of an entire genre, especially one as wide as RPGs, but Valkyrie Profile is a very nice choice indeed. Can’t complain about that. Me, I would’ve chosen Xenoblade probably. You guys are in for a treat if that ever gets localized. – I totally agree on a lot of gamers (not all of them obviously) being dense. And you don’t even have to visit… Read more »
Crofto
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Crofto
5 years 6 months ago
Great podcast chaps, and some excellent topics of discussion. I just wanted to highlight something I think maybe Mike said which was that he doesn’t like gamers in general, and that they get so overenthusiastic about trailers like Dead Island because they simply haven’t experienced films, television or literature properly. I completely agree with this, and it is unfortunately a trend in gaming for people to just assume what they’re seeing/playing is something special, when in reality it isn’t. Aside from the Dead Island trailer – which did absolutely nothing for me, by the way (I’m actually surprised it got… Read more »
Li-Ion
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Li-Ion
5 years 6 months ago
[quote=RandomRob]What game would I give a 10? I can’t think of one. [/quote] Oh, I can tell you what games I would give a 10 without hesitation: UFO: Enemy Unknown (the best game I ever played – period) Master of Orion 2 (took Civilization to space and made it so much better) Demon’s Souls (in my opinion the best game of this console generation) Mechwarrior 2 (everytime I step into any vehicle in any action game or action-sim I instinctively compare it to Mechwarrior 2, which is still my reference point after all these years) Day of the Tentacle (in… Read more »
Chi Kong Lui
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Chi Kong Lui
5 years 6 months ago
[quote=RandomRob]Richard, I was coming from the point of view of looking at a game like MGS4 or GTA4, both of which received 10 scores from various sites, yet does either game raise the bar for anything other than presentation? I’d say NO, strongly. What game would I give a 10? I can’t think of one. [/quote] One of the few modern games that I gave a 10 to was the first NBA2K. It was so far ahead of any basketball game up to that point that thought it was by far and away a 10. I also found it hilarious… Read more »
RandomRob
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RandomRob
5 years 6 months ago

Richard, I was coming from the point of view of looking at a game like MGS4 or GTA4, both of which received 10 scores from various sites, yet does either game raise the bar for anything other than presentation? I’d say NO, strongly.

What game would I give a 10? I can’t think of one.

Richard Naik
Guest
Richard Naik
5 years 6 months ago
[quote=Mike Bracken]Just a quick comment… I agree with you on the 10s, Rob. It’s long been part of why I’ve never given a game a 10 during the almost ten years I’ve written for GameCritics (wow, almost ten years…my life is flying by). I think a 10 works for something after the fact — like years down the road. I’ve never entirely subscribed to the 10 is perfect and nothing can ever be perfect therefore nothing gets a 10 mentality, but instead tend to think of it in the same way you do. [/quote] [quote=RandomRob]A 9 should be as good… Read more »
Daneel Olivaw
Guest
Daneel Olivaw
5 years 6 months ago
Excellent episode. Loved that Tim says at the beginning of the pilot that they should change their name. Fifty episodes later and it is still “Gamecritics.com poscast”. Is was nice to hear a female voice for a change. Not to be sexist (don’t want the wrath of Sam Marchello to come upon me), but it breaks up the monotony. I don’t know if you talked about this in a previous show since I’m a fairly new listener, but Sam brought up some interesting points about ethics and ideology on gaming. Both in the sense of engaging ethically reprehensible themes (like… Read more »
Sam
Guest
5 years 6 months ago
Hi RPG Lover, First off, I never had credibility to begin with. I feel bad about mentioning RPG Fan, but at the sameitme there scoring system has never made much sense to me. I know they use an American standard system, but in Canada, those percentage scores mean something completely different, which for me is hard to process sometimes. I’m not saying our scoring system is perfect, because it’s not. But I admitted to my confusion with RPGFan because I sincerely sometimes wonder where they’re scores come from when I see 80% for a game where they bash something so… Read more »
Sam Marchello
Guest
5 years 6 months ago
First off, it was a pleasure to be on the podcast. I admit my performance wasn’t perfect (I’m a touch mad at myself for a few things). First off, I was totally in the camp that thought we scored FF13 too high, but we did somehow negate that with a second opinion review that appeared a few months later with a 3/5. That’s where I feel the game hits for me personally, but again some folks like things more than others, and even I can admit that’s a moment where our scoring wasn’t perfect. I find scoring in general to… Read more »
Mike Bracken
Guest
Mike Bracken
5 years 6 months ago

Just a quick comment…

I agree with you on the 10s, Rob. It’s long been part of why I’ve never given a game a 10 during the almost ten years I’ve written for GameCritics (wow, almost ten years…my life is flying by).

I think a 10 works for something after the fact — like years down the road. I’ve never entirely subscribed to the 10 is perfect and nothing can ever be perfect therefore nothing gets a 10 mentality, but instead tend to think of it in the same way you do.

RandomRob
Guest
RandomRob
5 years 6 months ago
I thought the discussion of child imagery was excellent- GOOD discussion, and likewise agree Dead Island has fated itself probably to obscurity. I enjoyed Sam Marchello’s presence (NICE TO HEAR A FEMALE VOICE ON THE GC PODCAST FR RLZ), I did think her comments about the Xtian themed game could have been more pointed. It sounded like she didnt like it because it had Xtian themes, rather than because the injection of them hamstrung the gameplay or story. My question for her would be something like: how does West differ from a game like Xenogears, that had Xtian imagery and… Read more »
RPG Lover
Guest
RPG Lover
5 years 6 months ago
Loved the podcast until a certain point, Sam Marchello seems to be doing a “my opinion is right, deal with it” mentality, however, she fails to take a lot of things into consideration. First of all, calling the 3rd Birthday sexist after playing Ar Tonelico 3 (which features actual stripping of girls) is kind of weird. Both are equally offensive to my senses. Second of all, I thought her opinions regarding game reviews were spot on until she started taking shots at competitor sites, and those opinions should be taken with a grain of salt as she leaves out important… Read more »
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