'Reviews Aren't Biased, Readers Are!' - In Defence of GameSpot's Editors

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Posted by Starshine_M2A2 (4057 posts) -

For quite a while now GameSpot’s reviewers have been on the receiving end of some pretty negative comments from community members concerning the validity of various game reviews. Comments range from accusations of bias and acceptance of bribes from publishers to general inaccuracies and misleading information. This arguably started way back in 2007 when long time editor and reviewer Jeff Gerstmann was fired from GameSpot shortly after writing an unflattering review for Kane and Lynch: Dead Men (2007). Rumours quickly circulated that his termination was due to outside pressure from the game’s publisher Eidos Interactive who had invested a significant amount of advertising money into GameSpot. It wasn’t until 2012 that Gerstmann was legally able to reveal that this was indeed the reason for his termination.

This turned out to be a far more serious blow for the site than anticipated when it not only lost Gerstmann but also Ryan Davis, Brad Shoemaker, Alex Navarro and freelancer Frank Provo in what Joystiq called the “GameSpot exodus”. These were all well liked and well respected writers amongst GameSpot’s community and their sudden departure, the reasons behind it combined with the subsequent appearance of new faces to the editorial staff undoubtedly contributed to the present distrustful attitude by the site’s readership.

But regardless of what happened in 2007, there has been nothing to indicate that there has been any dodgy activity in how GameSpot reviews games before or since. Gerstmann gave Dead Men a mediocre score despite the money being poured into the site and although it resulted in his dismissal, his review remains published and unaltered. Yet rumours and accusations towards the review team continue to the present day and to be perfectly honest, I’m tired of it. I’m tired of reading time and again the absurd nonsense that is so often spouted by the uninformed (or misinformed) community in both the forums and comments sections.

So, as a response from a tired old GameSpot reader (well, 26) and in defence of a site that has long been at the forefront of professional game journalism, I hereby call it’s dissenters out on their BS.

The most common complaint I keep reading is that GameSpot’s reviews are often biased. One that received particular scorn was Carolyn Petit’s review of Grand Theft Auto V (2013) which came under attack in September last year for suggesting the game was “politically muddled and profoundly misogynistic”. Petit herself was then hit by 20,000 comments, many of which were violent, from an offended community who were presumably expecting the game to be awarded a perfect 10 for simply carrying the GTA label. As someone who does his best to be an objective reader, the problem with calling her review biased was obvious almost immediately. Petit praised virtually every other aspect of the game from its graphics, immersion, storytelling and characters. Everyone was on board with this, they all agreed and everything was rosy. But as soon as she pointed out that the game may have a flaw, all of this positivity – that far outweighed any negative aspect of the game – counted for nothing to most readers and the focus of the community was suddenly on her suggestion of misogyny being present in their beloved game. She was accused of having a secret or personal ‘agenda’ and was inserting her own political and philosophical beliefs into her review. Isn’t it possible that this ‘agenda’ was actually her OPINION – which is what all reviews ultimately boil down to anyway – and that the absurdity of such a claim is only made greater when you compare that to the disproportionate positivity contained within? If she did have some kind of agenda against the game, awarding a 9 and calling it “an exhilarating, fascinating game” seems a curious way to go about it.

I love GTAV but I also love the fact that Petit gave it a 9 instead of a 10. It would have been so easy for her to do so considering the hype surrounding its release, the illustrious pedigree of the previous games in the franchise and it’s immense following. Everybody was expecting something truly outstanding and a game that was even better than GTAIV which HAD been awarded a 10. Perhaps it was us who were being biased for expecting yet another masterpiece – which is fine because we’re fans and that’s what fans do. But as a reviewer for GameSpot, Carolyn stayed her hand. She felt this game did have flaws that needed addressing and that to automatically award a 10 for simply being a Grand Theft Auto game would be wrong. So if anything, Petit was completely unbiased in her review for telling us what she thought – not what we wanted to hear. And she should be applauded for that.

Another common complaint is a perceived bias towards Nintendo among GameSpot editors. Nintendo developed games as well as ports released on the Wii U have been viewed as being awarded lower scores than rival sites like IGN as well as overall scores accumulated by Metacritic. It’s no secret Nintendo have been on the ropes for some time now. Besides the dwindling sales of the console itself, Nintendo have been criticised time and again for a lack of new IPs, releasing too many Mario games and a general decline in innovation across the board. These are opinions shared not just by GameSpot but the majority of game journalists throughout the world. But despite this site apparently being the only one accused of Nintendo bias - and for awarding games like The Legend of Zelda: Skyward Sword (2011) and Luigi’s Mansion: Dark Moon (2013) lower than average ratings, they then awarded Super Mario 3D World (2013) a 9 calling it “a game of exceptional craft” on a console most believe to be all but dead and buried. High ratings were also given to New Super Mario Bros. U (2012), The Legend of Zelda: The Wind Waker HD (2013), Pikmin 3 (2013) and Nintendo Land (2012). This is a very strange definition of bias being generated by GameSpot’s readership.

When researching this blog I read many forum posts across IGN, Wii Chat and others where users’ accusations of GameSpot’s ‘bias’ boiled down to them awarding lower scores to games like Skyward Sword when “everyone, I mean everyone, gave it a high score” as one poster stated. But THAT’S the problem right there! We can’t expect GameSpot to give a game a high score just because everyone else did! That’s not what they’re here for and it goes against the very point of the site’s existence. If that was how games were rated, there would be no need for sites like GameSpot or IGN, GameSpy, Metacritic, Giant Bomb and countless others out there because we would all have the same point of view.

A specific reviewer frequently on the receiving end for Nintendo bias is Tom Mcshea. He penned Skyward Sword’s review which made him “the most hated man in gaming” according to n4g as well as being lampooned for his suggestion that Nintendo was “trapped by its legacy”. This is where I struggle to explain because despite a gargantuan amount of hate surrounding his articles and reviews, they appear to be…well, true. I believe Nintendo is absolutely trapped by its legacy and that they’ve become a rigid and petulant company too reliant on their core IPs. As for his reviews, I haven’t played Skyward Sword so I can’t comment on that particular game - but I have played BioShock Infinite (2013). The game was released in March last year and as most will know, received almost unanimous critical acclaim, including by GameSpot. In October, as part of the site’s redesign to include reviews by multiple editors, Mcshea posted his own less positive review and again I found myself agreeing with a great deal of it. I adored the story, the atmosphere and, of course, the ending. But like Tom I found the gameplay to be some of the most tedious and unimaginative examples I’ve seen in a very long time. While I don’t agree the game deserved quite as low as a 4.5, I was still glad there was a reviewer who was brave enough to call it as he saw it and offer an opinion alternate to everybody else’s. Whether or not you agree with what he wrote, you simply cannot accuse someone who gives one of the most lauded games in recent history a negative review of being biased. You just can’t.

If nothing else, I think a lot of gamers tend to get angry when they read or hear something they don’t like about their favourite game. I’m speaking from experience as I recall reading Aaron Thomas’ review for Medal of Honor: Airborne (2007). I was a huge fan of the series when it was still set in World War II, I loved everything about it from its single-player campaign to its multiplayer. So when this editor comes along from GameSpot’s *sports* section and posts an average review for a first-person shooter, I was not happy. I felt betrayed and lied to as I never considered for one moment that a sequel to Medal of Honor: Allied Assault (2002) could be anything less than perfect. But he was right. It’s a terrible, terrible game and blemish on the franchise. I think it genuinely taught me not to dismiss a review based on my own opinion I had formed before I had even read it which is a fundamental mechanism for how our own bias can cause us to perceive others of being so when they are anything but.

It is for all of these reasons that GameSpot is the last site I will ever judge to be biased and their continued refusal to be influenced by fan followings, hype or general expectations is why I will continue to read the works of writers like Carolyn Petit and Tom Mcshea – whether I agree with what’s being said or not. And as the site shows increasing enthusiasm for freelance and user written reviews, why should there be any reason to stop?

#1 Posted by Lulu_Lulu (8574 posts) -

The Problem with reviews these day is the scores. The moment you put a number on any review you can bet that you've already lost 50% of potential readers. they'l check the number and then move on.

#2 Posted by Garfield360UK (19490 posts) -

All good and fair points, kudos for bringing this up. I do fall under the side of reviews should be opinions when it comes to entertainment (so not just games, but films, tv shows etc). There is the common issue with video game reviews where it is expected that sites will run with very similar scores and any that do not are somehow trying to wreck the games metacritic or whatever (no doubt some smaller sites may do this, I do not know, and some give 10/10 just for the name without playing the game). However, people do need to start reading the reviews and take a minute to think about what they want to respond with. I would suggest looking at the recent PAX Panel Zoey Quinn and Patrick Klepek did regarding similar issues raised against them.

#3 Posted by geniobastardo (917 posts) -

Bring the Kotaku system . A simple 'Yes' and 'No' is better than those heavily complicated brutalizing mathematical numbers.

#4 Posted by jasonredemption (205 posts) -

I personally have no problem when a GTAV or Skyward Sword or even the Last of Us gets a lower score then the majority of other gaming review sites I think the problem is in the total inconsistency. I love that the reviewers are passionate and excited about games or perhaps are playing a game they're not that excited for but when it comes time to score they need to set their personal opinions aside and really add up all the objective pros and cons of the game. I remember when I used to read/watch N64 and GameCube reviews back in the day. Even if a Reviewer pointed out the flaws of a particular game they made it clear who would enjoy it and sum up the positives and the negatives of the game and give it a fair score based upon that. (It was my impression that's how they did things, probably not 100% accurate).

The problem with modern reviews (whether they be IGN or GameSpot) is that the reviewers will take a whole point off for something that was just their personal opinion. If at least valid reasons can be pointed to that causes a game to receive the score it does will help wild fanboyism to quiet down.

You do make an accurate point that readers are at fault. To expect a game you're excited about is an automatic 10 is ridiculous, however reading a review that praises every aspect of the game and ends with a simple 8 also makes one wonder what the game would have needed to do to get a 9 or a 10. It's also true that numbers cause many a reader to ignore the words and focus on the number alone and that's not helpful. Reviewers need to review more objectively and readers need to actually read the review before reading the score and flaming the reviewer in the comments section.

Just my two cents. Good blog.

#5 Edited by Articuno76 (18649 posts) -

There is a marked difference between an opinion on a game and politics. An opinion on a game is the player's response that a game informs, whereas politics are a players' response to a game that their baggage informs. One is actual game critique, the other has about as much relevance to the review as what you ate for lunch that afternoon.

To stick with that lunch example: Consider a review for the latest Cooking Mama game. The reviewer calls it out for having a small number of recipes. That's a legit criticism (and as with any criticism, is subjective). If we take the Carolyn approach the review, the reviewer would criticise the game for making them feel ill because it includes a Salisbury Steak recipe; something the reviewer had for lunch and threw up.

Since that baggage is extremely personal it shouldn't be in a review unless you know full well you speak for the majority of your audience; for example if you take issue with the way gamers are portrayed in a game as spotty nerds; it is safe to assume the majority of people reading a game review would identify as gamers and have the same issue, but not everyone ate that Salisbury Steak and you would be insensitive or self-absorbed to think they did.

#6 Edited by Ballroompirate (21622 posts) -

Sorry but the GS journalists/reviewers deserve every flak they get cause quite frankly and to put it simple, they suck.

Let's go down the list, first off there's Kevin who scores PC games a lot higher than his Console game reviews. Example his Guild Wars 2 review which he gave the game a 9 when the game had a lot of bugs and glitches, he was even playing a Nercomancer which was one of the buggiest classes in the game (fyi I was in the guild he was in when he was reviewing GW2). So why does he give games on one system a free pass when there's bug and glitches a pass and not the other?

Then there's Carolyn, needless to say if you have been here actively at all the past 2 years you know the shyt storms she's caused so I won't even touch all the shyt that has went on during that.

The most infamous reviewer on this site Tom Mcshea...oh Tom how you still have a job no one knows. Tom is the reviewer no one takes seriously cause his sole purpose is to piss off fanboys.

#7 Posted by Articuno76 (18649 posts) -

So why does he give games on one system a free pass when there's bug and glitches a pass and not the other?

You have to look at the impact of bugs and glitches on the overall experience of a game in context rather than simply tallying up a count.

Moreover many bugs (particularly in PC games) are overlooked during review because the publisher/developer tells the reviewer they will be fixed by the time the game goes on sale. And generally speaking reviewers take publishers on their word because it is normally good; we only see the tip of the iceberg (the horror stories) of games that were buggy in review making it out in a buggy state.

If reviewers didn't do this you'd see plenty of confusing reviews decrying buggy games that are almost entirely bug free when they get in consumers hands.

#8 Posted by Jacanuk (3636 posts) -

You are wrong but also right in that gamers are bias as much as the critics are. But claiming the critics are not bias in their review is completely wrong, in many reviews you can clearly "hear/Read/see" that the reviewer has a pre-deposed opinion about the game or is influenced by their own opinions on various subjects, be it Carolyns GTA "misogynistic" or Navarro´s dislike for Thief

But thats part of the game and i don't think you will hear any "critic" claim anything else.

#9 Posted by Minishdriveby (9970 posts) -

I personally have no problem when a GTAV or Skyward Sword or even the Last of Us gets a lower score then the majority of other gaming review sites I think the problem is in the total inconsistency. I love that the reviewers are passionate and excited about games or perhaps are playing a game they're not that excited for but when it comes time to score they need to set their personal opinions aside and really add up all the objective pros and cons of the game. I remember when I used to read/watch N64 and GameCube reviews back in the day. Even if a Reviewer pointed out the flaws of a particular game they made it clear who would enjoy it and sum up the positives and the negatives of the game and give it a fair score based upon that. (It was my impression that's how they did things, probably not 100% accurate).

The problem with modern reviews (whether they be IGN or GameSpot) is that the reviewers will take a whole point off for something that was just their personal opinion. If at least valid reasons can be pointed to that causes a game to receive the score it does will help wild fanboyism to quiet down.

You do make an accurate point that readers are at fault. To expect a game you're excited about is an automatic 10 is ridiculous, however reading a review that praises every aspect of the game and ends with a simple 8 also makes one wonder what the game would have needed to do to get a 9 or a 10. It's also true that numbers cause many a reader to ignore the words and focus on the number alone and that's not helpful. Reviewers need to review more objectively and readers need to actually read the review before reading the score and flaming the reviewer in the comments section.

Just my two cents. Good blog.

Gerstmann talked about this method of reviewing in GiantBomb podcast. There was a lot of disconnect between trying to find a objective mathematical formula for reviewing games which come down to a matter of opinion. He cited Majora's Mask which he absolutely hates as an example of this. I'd prefer reviews now, as a variety of opinions are more openly accessible instead of hiding your true feelings of a game due to a pseudo-formula telling you what the score should be.

#10 Posted by Byshop (10965 posts) -

All good and fair points, kudos for bringing this up. I do fall under the side of reviews should be opinions when it comes to entertainment (so not just games, but films, tv shows etc). There is the common issue with video game reviews where it is expected that sites will run with very similar scores and any that do not are somehow trying to wreck the games metacritic or whatever (no doubt some smaller sites may do this, I do not know, and some give 10/10 just for the name without playing the game). However, people do need to start reading the reviews and take a minute to think about what they want to respond with. I would suggest looking at the recent PAX Panel Zoey Quinn and Patrick Klepek did regarding similar issues raised against them.

Yes, I agree that reviews are opinions when it comes to entertainment (or any artistic medium) because how could they not be? If someone reads a film or tv show review they disagree with, the typical response is "this reviewer is an idiot" or "this reviewer has no taste". When most gamers read a video game review they disagree with, they tend to assume unfair bias or corruption. Unfortunately, I think this says poor things about the maturity of most gamers.

-Byshop

#11 Posted by Byshop (10965 posts) -

There is a marked difference between an opinion on a game and politics. An opinion on a game is the player's response that a game informs, whereas politics are a players' response to a game that their baggage informs. One is actual game critique, the other has about as much relevance to the review as what you ate for lunch that afternoon.

To stick with that lunch example: Consider a review for the latest Cooking Mama game. The reviewer calls it out for having a small number of recipes. That's a legit criticism (and as with any criticism, is subjective). If we take the Carolyn approach the review, the reviewer would criticise the game for making them feel ill because it includes a Salisbury Steak recipe; something the reviewer had for lunch and threw up.

Since that baggage is extremely personal it shouldn't be in a review unless you know full well you speak for the majority of your audience; for example if you take issue with the way gamers are portrayed in a game as spotty nerds; it is safe to assume the majority of people reading a game review would identify as gamers and have the same issue, but not everyone ate that Salisbury Steak and you would be insensitive or self-absorbed to think they did.

To use Carolyn's review of GTA as a specific example, I would hardly call pointing out that a game has content that might offend and alienate an entire group of gamers "personal baggage". Even if not a single male gamer's enjoyment of the game might be affected by sexist content in a game (a statement I don't agree with), you're still talking about roughly half the gaming population according to the ESA that might think that information is relevant.

-Byshop

#12 Edited by o0squishy0o (2754 posts) -

The scoring on this site went downhill when they took away the 0-100 score. Or was 0-10 but with decimal increments? The point being, an 8 game now covers the ground of 80 to 89, which to my mind can help to describe an issue such as frame instability which would dock some points. I don't believe giving something a 4 out of 5 or 8/10 is the best way because I think for something that has many different areas such as techincal perfomance, art style, graphics, sound, gameplay, story, multiplayer etc the various degrees you can mark a game is (in my opinion) to vast for the current system.

A good example would be that TitianFall for the Xbox360 is as good as TitanFall for the xbox one and PC if you were to look at the score. The review however notes that it is techinically inferior. Not just textures but performance. Why is that not reflected in the score?

Also people need to remember that GameSpot has to draw traffic to its site. If it can create a buzz around it for "bad" reviews of a zelda game for example, then its good for the site in the long run.

#13 Edited by BranKetra (47481 posts) -
@Starshine_M2A2 said:
Whether or not you agree with what he wrote, you simply cannot accuse someone who gives one of the most lauded games in recent history a negative review of being biased. You just can’t.

I do not mean to be too forceful here.

Actually, I can. You seem to be merging the word bias with the definition of political (or in this situation, "social")bandwagon.

#14 Posted by GreySeal9 (23927 posts) -

Reviewers>forum posters for the most part.

#15 Edited by wiouds (4977 posts) -

Both side are biased. I would say the reader are much worse.

#16 Posted by Renouncereality (84 posts) -

@Starshine_M2A2: People definitely bring their own bias in when they read and comment on anything. Carolyn only receives so much hate because so many people on the internet are closed minded and can't handle anything outside of the norm.

@geniobastardo: Totally agree, just make it simple I recommend it or I don't and maybe which type of players would enjoy it more than others.

#17 Posted by Jacanuk (3636 posts) -

@wiouds said:

Both side are biased. I would say the reader are much worse.

And how did you come to that? after all the reader isent being paid and is usually just defending their own opinion.

Imo its bad when a critic cannot separate their own agenda´s from a review and uses it as a way to get their views out there.

#18 Posted by Pedro (20990 posts) -

I would say it again and again. If sites continue to use a numerical system to rate something that cannot be evaluated numerically, then they deserve all the flak that they receive over and over again. They would NEVER be able to justify their score because it simply has no real basis. All reviewers have biases and Gamespot is no exception. They mostly state their opinions on a game and in the end they slap some arbitrary number based on their feelings towards the game. This the core logic for most review sites.

#19 Posted by Byshop (10965 posts) -

@Pedro said:

I would say it again and again. If sites continue to use a numerical system to rate something that cannot be evaluated numerically, then they deserve all the flak that they receive over and over again. They would NEVER be able to justify their score because it simply has no real basis. All reviewers have biases and Gamespot is no exception. They mostly state their opinions on a game and in the end they slap some arbitrary number based on their feelings towards the game. This the core logic for most review sites.

Yes, a numeric scoring system of a game review is arbitrary but just because it's not based on a quantifiable mathematical formula that doesn't mean that it's worthless. It's intended as a quick summation of the review so that the reader can get an idea of what the overall quality of the game is according to that reviewer. Just because the number is an opinion just like the content of the review, that's no reason to not use a numerical score.

-Byshop

#20 Edited by ddlcpc (837 posts) -

Reviews Aren't Are Biased, Readers Are

#21 Posted by wiouds (4977 posts) -

@Byshop said:

@Pedro said:

I would say it again and again. If sites continue to use a numerical system to rate something that cannot be evaluated numerically, then they deserve all the flak that they receive over and over again. They would NEVER be able to justify their score because it simply has no real basis. All reviewers have biases and Gamespot is no exception. They mostly state their opinions on a game and in the end they slap some arbitrary number based on their feelings towards the game. This the core logic for most review sites.

Yes, a numeric scoring system of a game review is arbitrary but just because it's not based on a quantifiable mathematical formula that doesn't mean that it's worthless. It's intended as a quick summation of the review so that the reader can get an idea of what the overall quality of the game is according to that reviewer. Just because the number is an opinion just like the content of the review, that's no reason to not use a numerical score.

-Byshop

The numeric is their opinion and is at most three character long while the rest of the review is the justification of the opinion. You can take out the number because they are the least important part of the review.

#22 Posted by Byshop (10965 posts) -

@wiouds said:

@Byshop said:

@Pedro said:

I would say it again and again. If sites continue to use a numerical system to rate something that cannot be evaluated numerically, then they deserve all the flak that they receive over and over again. They would NEVER be able to justify their score because it simply has no real basis. All reviewers have biases and Gamespot is no exception. They mostly state their opinions on a game and in the end they slap some arbitrary number based on their feelings towards the game. This the core logic for most review sites.

Yes, a numeric scoring system of a game review is arbitrary but just because it's not based on a quantifiable mathematical formula that doesn't mean that it's worthless. It's intended as a quick summation of the review so that the reader can get an idea of what the overall quality of the game is according to that reviewer. Just because the number is an opinion just like the content of the review, that's no reason to not use a numerical score.

-Byshop

The numeric is their opinion and is at most three character long while the rest of the review is the justification of the opinion. You can take out the number because they are the least important part of the review.

The number is part of the "Executive Summary" of the review. No, it doesn't state anything that's not also said elsewhere in the review, but it's still useful because it gives the reader the ability to tell at a glance how much the reviewer liked the game. It's a helpful piece of data for reference.

-Byshop

#23 Posted by Lulu_Lulu (8574 posts) -

@ Byshop

The Number is only usefull once you've read the Review.... Wana guess how often people read the actual review ? :)

The Numeric system is hurting games which inturn is not good for the consumer.

#24 Posted by Byshop (10965 posts) -

@ Byshop

The Number is only usefull once you've read the Review.... Wana guess how often people read the actual review ? :)

The Numeric system is hurting games which inturn is not good for the consumer.

No, it isn't. It's nothing more than a simple grading of the game as a whole. AGAIN, this is something that's commonly used in reviews of TV shows, Movies, Films, etc. but for some reason gamers don't grasp simple concepts like this. A grading system allows sites to aggregate data from multiple reviews quickly, among other things. If I see that a new game has gotten over a dozen 2/10s, I probably don't need to waste my time reading all of those reviews to know that it's probably not a great game. Sites like Metacritic rely on a grading system to come up with their ratings as well.

There's nothing inherently wrong with grading something in a review. If readers try to make the number something it isn't, then that's the fault of the reader and not the system.

-Byshop

#25 Posted by Lulu_Lulu (8574 posts) -

@ Byshop

The Problem is not the System... Its the people around it. Those who write the reviews, those who read the reviews. Its just another case of humans ruining logically sound concepts as humans are known to do.

Theres also the problem of grading Aesthetic concepts, the problem being that you can't grade it.

Also with the current trend of genre splicing, some score related criteria needs to re-evaluated.

#26 Edited by Byshop (10965 posts) -

@ Byshop

The Problem is not the System... Its the people around it. Those who write the reviews, those who read the reviews. Its just another case of humans ruining logically sound concepts as humans are known to do.

Theres also the problem of grading Aesthetic concepts, the problem being that you can't grade it.

Also with the current trend of genre splicing, some score related criteria needs to re-evaluated.

Congratulations. You literally just described yourself as part of the problem.

-Byshop

#27 Edited by Lulu_Lulu (8574 posts) -

@ Byshop

Thanks ! Its good to finaly get some recognition ! :) you're sweet.

#28 Edited by Byshop (10965 posts) -

@ Byshop

Thanks ! Its good to finaly get some recognition ! :) you're sweet.

Were you even trying to make a point or were you just being deliberately annoying?

-Byshop

#29 Posted by Lulu_Lulu (8574 posts) -

@ Byshop

You read too much into these things. Maybe I was genuinely being sincere.

#30 Edited by The_Last_Ride (68892 posts) -

my issue isn't the number, it's the lazy bias reviews. Gamespot has become bad, there is no denying it

#31 Posted by Byshop (10965 posts) -

@ Byshop

You read too much into these things. Maybe I was genuinely being sincere.

I've noticed you often have little to nothing to say so you just troll. I suppose it's less embarrassing to simply not try than to continually try and fail.

-Byshop

#32 Posted by Lulu_Lulu (8574 posts) -

@ Byshop

You're reading too much into things again. And why would I be embarrassed ? This is the internet and I don't know anybody here, I feel no shame in appearing stupid. Nor should you, only insecure people would make a big fuss over such small things.

#33 Posted by loafofgame (370 posts) -
@Byshop said:

but for some reason gamers don't grasp simple concepts like this.

Will they grasp it at some point, though? Scores might be useful for people who understand the concept, but right now it seems that a lot is riding on these scores and that can't be a good thing, no matter how convenient they might be. Scores shouldn't dictate sales as much as they appear to be doing and while the reader might be at fault here, if that reader doesn't learn, then it might be better to change the system...

Let's go down the list, first off there's Kevin who scores PC games a lot higher than his Console game reviews. Example his Guild Wars 2 review which he gave the game a 9 when the game had a lot of bugs and glitches, he was even playing a Nercomancer which was one of the buggiest classes in the game (fyi I was in the guild he was in when he was reviewing GW2). So why does he give games on one system a free pass when there's bug and glitches a pass and not the other?

Look, I'm not going to deny your claim, but your argument sounds rather meaningless if you can't back it up with anything more than an incidental example. If you make such claims you should be able to back it up with verifiable numbers. Otherwise it's just speculation based on personal experience...

game journalists

You tend to refer to reviewers as journalists and I would like to suggest that in the context of reviews they should be referred to as critics. This is important, because calling them journalists would imply that their work should adhere to the journalistic code of ethics. Reviews can't adhere to journalistic standards, since they are value judgements. Any idea of the neutral distribution of information does not apply. Reviewers often work within a journalistic context and might have journalistic tasks, but I think the reviewing of a game is no such task.

I also do not agree that reviews are not biased. Bias is a very broad concept that can be affected by countless factors and I feel that in the context of game reviews it's impossible to convincingly determine whether judgement was fully impartial. The simple fact that you can never consider all elements of a game within the word limit of a review shows that the reviewer has to make choices about what to include, already compromising impartiality at a basic level.

Petit's argument about misogyny in GTA V arguably wouldn't have been there if it wasn't for her personal convictions and ideals. That said, this particular bias was absolutely harmless, because there were countless other reviews to turn to, because it didn't dominate or compromise the rest of the written text (or Petit's appreciation of the game) and because it offered a valuable alternative view and reached out to a potential but significant minority that might value such information. I cannot fathom the need and desire to attack Petit for a harmless footnote in a sea of reviews. A harmless footnote that caused a meaningless discussion about whether the argument in question justified subtracting a point from a, in my view, meaningless score.

#34 Posted by Starshine_M2A2 (4057 posts) -

@loafofgame said: You tend to refer to reviewers as journalists and I would like to suggest that in the context of reviews they should be referred to as critics. This is important, because calling them journalists would imply that their work should adhere to the journalistic code of ethics. Reviews can't adhere to journalistic standards, since they are value judgements. Any idea of the neutral distribution of information does not apply. Reviewers often work within a journalistic context and might have journalistic tasks, but I think the reviewing of a game is no such task.

This is an excellent point. I'll make a note for the future.

#35 Posted by Byshop (10965 posts) -

@Byshop said:

but for some reason gamers don't grasp simple concepts like this.

Will they grasp it at some point, though? Scores might be useful for people who understand the concept, but right now it seems that a lot is riding on these scores and that can't be a good thing, no matter how convenient they might be. Scores shouldn't dictate sales as much as they appear to be doing and while the reader might be at fault here, if that reader doesn't learn, then it might be better to change the system...

I get what you're saying, but I'm rarely of the opinion that the right answer is to dumb something down to cater to the lowest common denominator. Also, I don't know that any other kind of system wouldn't suffer from the same problem. Besides, game reviews are a factor in sales but they are by no means the "end all be all". I can think of dozens of games that consistently scored high across the board but sold very poorly.

Regarding video game journalists, they can still be journalists but that's a hat a person wears and doesn't dictate every action they take. I agree that when writing an article they can be journalists and when they are writing a review they are acting as a critic. The only standards they have to adhere to are those set by the organization they review for, but these standards will typically be around the quality of the content of the review itself (length, spelling, grammar) as well as touching upon whatever elements of the game they are supposed to (i.e. some review sites explicitly call out graphics or sound as categories to rate games on). So reviews can have "standards", but you're right in that they can't have "journalistic standards" because they are subjective by nature.

@ Byshop

You're reading too much into things again. And why would I be embarrassed ? This is the internet and I don't know anybody here, I feel no shame in appearing stupid. Nor should you, only insecure people would make a big fuss over such small things.

How you behave dictates how people treat you, so by your own logic if you want to deliberately act like an idiot then you really have no reason to be upset if everyone treats you like one. The internet doesn't absolve you of responsibility for your actions, it just adds a layer of amenity to insulate you from the consequences of bad behavior. "It doesn't matter what I say or do because it's the internet" is a mentality you share with the thousands of 12 year olds and maturity stunted man-children who spout racist and homophobic hate speech on services like Xbox Live. People like you (and I'm saying this with no trace of hyperbole) are the reason that Hearthstone has no voice/text chat when playing against random opponents.

As for insecurity, you've got it backwards. Insecurity is hiding behind an online persona that you can shed at will instead of sharing your actual thoughts or seriously trying to participate in a discussion. Insecurity is when someone chooses to act like a fool because deep down they are afraid that if they really showed themselves people might actually think they are a fool or would reject them.

-Byshop

#36 Edited by Pedro (20990 posts) -

@Byshop said:

@Pedro said:

I would say it again and again. If sites continue to use a numerical system to rate something that cannot be evaluated numerically, then they deserve all the flak that they receive over and over again. They would NEVER be able to justify their score because it simply has no real basis. All reviewers have biases and Gamespot is no exception. They mostly state their opinions on a game and in the end they slap some arbitrary number based on their feelings towards the game. This the core logic for most review sites.

Yes, a numeric scoring system of a game review is arbitrary but just because it's not based on a quantifiable mathematical formula that doesn't mean that it's worthless. It's intended as a quick summation of the review so that the reader can get an idea of what the overall quality of the game is according to that reviewer. Just because the number is an opinion just like the content of the review, that's no reason to not use a numerical score.

-Byshop

Its summation lacks backing and is worthless. The justification for a 8 vs 9 vs 10 is nothing but a blur. This method of rating is exceptionally subjective but tries to reflect objectivity which is nothing short of misleading. This is not exclusive to games. Also the bold and underline statement is clear indication of the absurd nature of these types of rating systems. Numbers should not represent or be used to represent opinions. Its very nature exist for the absolute opposite.

#37 Edited by Metamania (11955 posts) -

@ Byshop

You read too much into these things. Maybe I was genuinely being sincere.

People like you are part of the reason why Gram and other smart posters left.

#38 Posted by SaintsRowLA (51 posts) -

Good topic OP.

I don't criticize the reviewers. I value their review and their video review. Everyone is a little biased by default and has their preferences. I don't criticize or make accusations of being bought out or threats or any of that stuff.

I don't base my liking for a game based on everything they say. I don't base my liking of a game based on one review or reviewer.

I like the narrative and the big picture that the game reviewer has to offer. Sometimes small criticisms they give are "making a mountain out of a mole hill" or seem that way. Sometimes they're wrong. Sometimes they don't alert you to how boring the game can be in between the fun parts, e.g, Skyrim and GTA V.

It takes money and advertising to support a website or the website and the personalities won't be here. That's a given. A little preferential treatment, but done honestly, is a given.

People who make death threats and hate mail over one comment or because the reviewer didn't like a game is pathetic and way over the top--IT'S VIDEO GAMES--your well-being isn't being threatened.

Put things in perspective--there are homeless people living on the street with no possibility to make any future for themselves and people are making death threats and giving hate mail over a video game review.

#39 Posted by loafofgame (370 posts) -
@Byshop said:

I get what you're saying, but I'm rarely of the opinion that the right answer is to dumb something down to cater to the lowest common denominator. Also, I don't know that any other kind of system wouldn't suffer from the same problem. Besides, game reviews are a factor in sales but they are by no means the "end all be all". I can think of dozens of games that consistently scored high across the board but sold very poorly.

Fair enough. I wouldn't consider removing scores to be 'dumbing down', though. One could even argue that the presence of scores contributes to the dumbing down of critical thought, by offering a quick and easy way to determine quality. I suppose any system that summarises the overall quality as expressed in the review might support that determination process, but at least a 'yes' and 'no' or a 'thumbs up' and 'thumbs down' system wouldn't motivate people to solely or primarily rely on those indications as much.

And I never said review scores are the only thing that drive sails. But well, you read some articles and comments here and there and it seems that scores influence people's purchasing behaviour more than they should (although I could only find one article that did some actual data research, so I wouldn't know how much scores actually influence sales). And at that point I start to wonder how much the pros outweigh the cons (regardless of whether the cons are a characteristic of the system itself).

@Byshop said:

Regarding video game journalists, they can still be journalists but that's a hat a person wears and doesn't dictate every action they take. I agree that when writing an article they can be journalists and when they are writing a review they are acting as a critic. The only standards they have to adhere to are those set by the organization they review for, but these standards will typically be around the quality of the content of the review itself (length, spelling, grammar) as well as touching upon whatever elements of the game they are supposed to (i.e. some review sites explicitly call out graphics or sound as categories to rate games on). So reviews can have "standards", but you're right in that they can't have "journalistic standards" because they are subjective by nature.

This would all be a little bit more comprehensible if I could find GS's code of conduct. They had one before the site changed to the new format (and it clearly stated their principles, standards and review policy), but after the switch I haven't been able to find it.

#40 Posted by Lulu_Lulu (8574 posts) -

@ Metamania

Gram left right around the time gamespot changed, I doubt how I made fun of his favourite game had much impact since that was months before the change. I get it, when he didn't return it made a gram shaped hole inside your heart, I can sympathize with that, but it wasn't my fault. He just didn't love you enough to stay and grace us with his vocabulary.

@ Byshop

So quick to judge... My only Experience on the internet was Playing Gears Of War online and that only lasted about a week, it just wasn't fun, I do all my multiplayer locally. You wana scapegoat me ? Be my guest, its much better than dealing with the actuall problem isn't it ? We've all been there.

And Insecurity is actually both, not caring or caring too much about your online interacions online.

#41 Posted by Byshop (10965 posts) -

@Pedro said:

Its summation lacks backing and is worthless. The justification for a 8 vs 9 vs 10 is nothing but a blur. This method of rating is exceptionally subjective but tries to reflect objectivity which is nothing short of misleading. This is not exclusive to games. Also the bold and underline statement is clear indication of the absurd nature of these types of rating systems. Numbers should not represent or be used to represent opinions. Its very nature exist for the absolute opposite.

Using a number doesn't imply objectivity, but the problem is people interpret it that way. The number is nothing more than a simplified estimate of what the reviewer thought of the overall quality of the game. If someone asked you how good you thought your favorite game was on a scale from 1 to 10, would you answer "I refuse to answer that question on the grounds that I don't feel that any number can accurately represent how much I like a game due to the inherent objectivity that a numerical score would imply" or would you simply answer "10"?

-Byshop

#42 Posted by Lulu_Lulu (8574 posts) -

^ My Brother Asked Me Something like that once ^

he was annoyed when I refused to distill my many oppinions into a single digit number.

#43 Posted by Byshop (10965 posts) -

@Byshop said:

I get what you're saying, but I'm rarely of the opinion that the right answer is to dumb something down to cater to the lowest common denominator. Also, I don't know that any other kind of system wouldn't suffer from the same problem. Besides, game reviews are a factor in sales but they are by no means the "end all be all". I can think of dozens of games that consistently scored high across the board but sold very poorly.

Fair enough. I wouldn't consider removing scores to be 'dumbing down', though. One could even argue that the presence of scores contributes to the dumbing down of critical thought, by offering a quick and easy way to determine quality. I suppose any system that summarises the overall quality as expressed in the review might support that determination process, but at least a 'yes' and 'no' or a 'thumbs up' and 'thumbs down' system wouldn't motivate people to solely or primarily rely on those indications as much.

And I never said review scores are the only thing that drive sails. But well, you read some articles and comments here and there and it seems that scores influence people's purchasing behaviour more than they should (although I could only find one article that did some actual data research, so I wouldn't know how much scores actually influence sales). And at that point I start to wonder how much the pros outweigh the cons (regardless of whether the cons are a characteristic of the system itself).

Well, the reason I like scores is that I rarely look at one opinion when deciding if I'm going to buy a game, but I also don't have the time to read a dozen 5 page reviews (or watch poorly produced and overly long videos) every time a new game comes out. I start with the scores, and then based on the scores I read some of the reviews to see -why- they got those scores. I tend to go for the highs and the lows to get a mix of opinions and try to figure out if what the reviewer did or didn't like about the game will resonate with me.

@ Byshop

So quick to judge... My only Experience on the internet was Playing Gears Of War online and that only lasted about a week, it just wasn't fun, I do all my multiplayer locally. You wana scapegoat me ? Be my guest, its much better than dealing with the actuall problem isn't it ? We've all been there.

And Insecurity is actually both, not caring or caring too much about your online interacions online.

The fact that this is the internet doesn't make you any less responsible for how you act. You might not literally be one of the XBL kiddies swearing up a storm, but you do the equivilent of that on this board under the guise of "ha ha, I don't really mean it! It's just the internet! Who cares!" while you drag the entire discussion down. I'll say it again: People like you are why games like Hearthstone have no text or voice chat with random players, because some people are just out there to try to ruin the experience for everyone else. You claim it's an act, but what kind of person behaves like this? Does that sound like something a decent or worthwile individual would do? Even if you don't behave like this in real life, what does it say about an invidual that the only thing keeping them from acting like this is a fear of reprisal that the internet can shield you from?

-Byshop

#44 Posted by loafofgame (370 posts) -

@Byshop
said:

Well, the reason I like scores is that I rarely look at one opinion when deciding if I'm going to buy a game, but I also don't have the time to read a dozen 5 page reviews (or watch poorly produced and overly long videos) every time a new game comes out. I start with the scores, and then based on the scores I read some of the reviews to see -why- they got those scores. I tend to go for the highs and the lows to get a mix of opinions and try to figure out if what the reviewer did or didn't like about the game will resonate with me.

I do the same thing, but I was talking about the 'greater good'. ;-) I'm willing to sacrifice that ease of use to see how the absence of scores works out. The number of thumbs up and thumbs down can still give me a general indication of how a game is generally received and I might have to read a couple more reviews, adding maybe an hour to my research time. That's fine by me.

But to be fair, it'll probably never happen, so it's more realistic to wait until people get it.

#45 Posted by Lulu_Lulu (8574 posts) -

@ Byshop

You're the one dragging down the Discusion. Atleast I had the decency to remain on topic about whatever it is you found so offensive about my posts. Its very important to you that everybody hates me the way you do isn't it ? Thats sad. you couldve just PM'ed all this to me but you'd rather bore everybody else today with yet another attempt to villainize me. Oh Well.... I look foward to the Next time you bring this up. :) theres obviously no way to stop you.... And you know full well you can't stop me. :p

#46 Posted by Lulu_Lulu (8574 posts) -

@ Byshop

You're the one dragging down the Discusion. Atleast I had the decency to remain on topic about whatever it is you found so offensive about my posts. Its very important to you that everybody hates me the way you do isn't it ? Thats sad. you couldve just PM'ed all this to me but you'd rather bore everybody else today with yet another attempt to villainize me. Oh Well.... I look foward to the Next time you bring this up. :) theres obviously no way to stop you.... And you know full well you can't stop me. :p

#47 Edited by Garfield360UK (19490 posts) -

Ok lets cool it people, continue to discuss the subject but lets not go to personal attacks please.

If somebody is disagreeing with you, make points via facts gained or use them to back an opinion up. If not then just walk away, there is no point to calling each other names and it means people will not read your views about the subject but how you talk to others.

Thank you.

#48 Posted by Heirren (15969 posts) -

One quick issue is consistency. There seems to be a lack of any general objectivity surrounding the reviews. One immediate example that comes to mind is Zelda Skyward Sword and Skyrim. On one hand you've got a review that reflects potential(?) technical problems with the games control mechanism. The reviewer brings up this concern and reflects this in the score. Then, on the other hand you've got a game with game breaking bugs. These issues--the most objective aspect to a game--are completely neglected in the score.

#49 Posted by VincentAntonio (18 posts) -

I don’t say in a simplistic way that they are “sold” and the reviews “paid” (however I don’t deny either that it may happen). And it is also truth that gamers are often childish spoiled fanbois that jump at the throat of someone who doesn’t shares their beliefs and tastes.

But it is said that a company never should pick on their costumer.

We ARE NOT the costumers, we are the product, costumers are the page’s sponsor, off course in case of places like IGN or Gamespot those are the bigger game companies like EA.

So there is a clear conflict of interest there, we like it or not.

Some reviewers on Gamespot, IGN… may be good and objective, but today we have a lot of independent reviewers, some charismatic TB, Angryjoe, LGR… that truth or not people feel them free of those interests and then more trustworthy.

#50 Edited by Articuno76 (18649 posts) -

@Byshop: IIRC the review criticized the game for being misogynistic based on its portrayal of feminists. Half the population are not feminists and even if they were (in fact the majority of people I know, male and female, hate the shit out of feminists), it is still political. That is, a response to one's personal beliefs rather than a response to the game.

A review should never be about anything other than the subject of the review. Never. Not even an absent-minded joke not related to the game (even if it doesn't impact the score) is acceptable. Not even if it takes up 2 words in a 10,000 word review; it is NOT acceptable. If you are writing a review every point, every observation, every quip, pun and jive must come back to the game in question. If you can't do that you aren't reviewing, you're just rambling.

And no, it isn't an acceptable point for the reviewer to point out that 'if you don't like x than you might not like this' because at that point the reviewer is simply guessing about other peoples preferences and biases rather than using their own (as applied to specifically the game). That's actually less reliable than just writing what they think (about the game).

What if we applied our personal beliefs on violence to videogames reviews? I know there are sites out there with religious interests that do just that, but no mainstream site should.

Not that I would know, I never read the review. Just the impression I got from hearing about it.