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I don’t like video game reviews with score based conclusions.
There is no solution.
Kidding aside, I think there is something fundamentally wrong with our current-day approach to video game reviews, and I hope that after reading this, while you may or may not be fully convinced of my argument, you would at least see where I’m coming from.
For those who are too lazy, there are only about 14 movies on Metacritic that scored higher than 86+ in 2010, and four or five of those were documentaries, so they don’t count. If you look at video games, there are close to two pages of games that were rated 86+ (that’s something like 150ish games). Of course, having so many differences between the two industries makes this a super arbitrary comparison, but you’ve got to admit that those are some interesting numbers.
Either way, I’m sure many of you have heard of the “7-10” scale that many feel the industry has “slipped” into for video game reviews. In this particular case, video game reviews that deal with high-power publishers end up reading like the report card of an Asian kid:
- A score of 5-6/10 only happens when everyone sees the hate train coming far in advance.
- A score of 7/10 is barely acceptable (you’re definitely sending a negative message);
- A score of 8/10 is only slightly above average.
- A score of 8.6/10 is what some publishers are calling the minimum score for early publishing.
- A score of 9/10 is when you want to play nice.
- A score of 9.5/10 is when you’re gunning for a quote on the game’s box cover (keep it to one sentence, pump it full of positive action words and, if you can, use the word “redefines,” like “this game redefines the genre of puzzle-based first-person farming, our minds are blown.”).
- A score of 10/10 is when things get a little overbearing (“this game is the epitome of all things ever made ever, people”).
Obviously there are a number of sites that employ a real 1-10 scale, where 5 is about average and so on, but they’ve long since become the minority, with casual readers sometimes being shocked by just how mean some of those snotty reviewers can get. Little Timmy ends up wondering why Eurogamer is so angry at Dragon Age 2 to give it a 70. Does anyone else find it odd that we assume something went wrong when a blockbuster game gets a 70 when, in reality, they’re just trying to say that Dragon Age 2 is (unfortunately) a decent experience at best?
But let’s justify here: surely we can accommodate these artificially inflated numbers with some clever bell-curvery (not a word) and voila! All fixed! If we simply take all mega high scores and assume they’re rating on a scale of 7-10 while assuming that lower scores are utilizing the full scale (read: properly), we can easily extrapolate some actual objective judgement of a game, right?
Don’t answer that. Just get a snack and let’s go deeper.
Click here for part 2.