Tuesday, November 08, 2011

Review Scores

The Father of Controversy
Games journalism is already pretty silly and many people don't think it's 'actual' journalism, but reviews are the part where shit hits the fan. Review scores are really the worst part, although any old timey IGN reviews are pretty terrible too. I feel like that era is over now and modern games criticism is on the rise. As I've said before, we're still in our adolescence but review scores are crazy infantile.
So Joystiq gives a game 4 stars, like Gran Turismo 5, and that's a decently high score. Commenters go ape shit because the score isn't high enough. Suddenly Microsoft is paying for the score to be lower and Joystiq hates the PS3 and they're basically Hitler.

Jeff Gerstmann gave The Legend of Zelda: Twilight Princess 8.8. The world goes ape shit. It's apparently not high enough and Gerstmann is just trolling. I agree with his review on the most part and the score is appropriate, but suddenly the opinion of Gamespot on a whole is less respected (not really) because of this score. The world goes ape shit. Of course there are other controversies with Gestmann and his reviews, but we'll talk about that later.

I hate scores. Not becuase they're inaccurate, but because they're ridiculous. There is no rating system that can ever accurately portray any creative media on a whole. Besides that, reviews are subjective. I personally hate Halo, but everyone loves it, like it was the second coming (and then the third, and fourth, and soon to be the fifth, sixth and seventh). If I had to give it a score out of 10, it would be dick and balls because I want to touch them both just the same.

Often a score isn't totally representative of the review either. In contemporary reviews the reviewer really puts his heart into writing what s/he accurately things and feels about the game. They tell their story and their experience. It is with a much higher level of criticism than you might get from your bros at the frat house, which is a point of contention in modern games criticism, but it is how they felt while they played the game.

You might feel differently, and that's fine. It's fine to be different and think differently, and it's fine to disagree, but it's not fine to think that you are right. No review claims to be correct. There is no correct interpretation of an experience.

Also, the most dick thing to do is insist a score should be higher without ever reading a review or having that experience. No game 'deserves' a score. Scores are not only subjective, but arbitrary. A common joke on the CAGcast is asking "How good is this game on a scale of 1 to [arbitrary word, like Batman]". That system is just as valid as 1 to 10, or 1 to 100, because it's just as arbitrary and nonsensical. To sum up any creative media in just one breath is a crime.

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