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

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#51 Posted by Byshop (10965 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.

I apologize for my part in that. I don't mind differing opinions (in fact I welcome them because if everyone agrees then the discussion is boring), but when people admit to just deliberately trying to stir things up (i.e. trolling) that it gets on my nerves. But you're right, no amount of logic or reason on my part will change someone's behavior if that's their only goal. Best to just ignore someone if they choose to behave that way.

@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.

The review's criticism was more based on a number of factors. There was a discussion about this in another thread in which we were discussing the distinction between a story being ractist versus it having racist characters. The example I would use often is your average Quentin Tarrantino movie, where pretty much every movie he has made has racist characters but the movies themselves don't necessarily re-enforce these racist ideas. In Res Dogs, Mr Pink casts a negative comparison to the team's dissolution to how a team of n-words would act, but that's the opinion of the character. At no point does the movie actually portray black people acting like Mr Pink's character described.

Carolyn's review, by comparison, was more about multiple elements. Billboards had ads in them with slogans like "smell like a bitch" and radio ads made jokes about using a woman as a urinal among other things. These go beyond the opinions of just a couple of characters

Virtually every female character in the game fell into some stereotype (shrill harpy wife, slutty celebrity obsessed daughter, ruthless and heartless corporate climber, etc). None of these were enviable or even very likable characters. Not every video game that comes out has to be a step forward for the rights of women everywhere, but when you only portray a particular group as a negative stereotype it's kind of a different story. It would be almost like if they had Franklin running around with a dozen kids out of wedlock while eating fried chicken and watermelon.

When you add all this together, it starts to sound kind of compelling. Now, wether or not the game is actually sexist is subjective so it's up for debate. Some say it is, some say it isn't, some say it is but they don't care, some say it is but tha'ts ok because the game itself is a parody of the more negative aspects of our culture. Honestly whether the game is sexist or not isn't really the issue. The issue is Carolyn out of bounds for pointing out that she thinks its sexist. Personally, I think the answer is no and that this is fair game because for all the gamers on this forum who clearly aren't bothered by it, there are a lot of gamers out there who might be.

-Byshop

#52 Posted by Bigboi500 (28804 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.

This. You wanna throw in your political two cents? Fine. Just don't add an insignificant number next to your criticisms. You wanna discuss how a game makes you feel? Fine. Just don't add a judgmental number next to it.

If the point of reviews are to describe and explain the contents of a game, the score is unneeded. Let's all be honest here and admit that the score is there for the sole benefit of the review site. Something to grab attention for all the wrong reasons.

#53 Posted by Jacanuk (3622 posts) -

@Lulu_Lulu said:

@ 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.

Eh? why would you bring up another person.

Honestly if any person leaves you can be 100% sure that its not because Lulu or anyone else is posting here, its probably because they found other things to do than hang around a forum that mainly consist of personal blogs, shitty advertisements for youtube crap and half arsed posts about how much someone hates a game.

#54 Posted by Byshop (10965 posts) -

@Lulu_Lulu said:

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.

This. You wanna throw in your political two cents? Fine. Just don't add an insignificant number next to your criticisms. You wanna discuss how a game makes you feel? Fine. Just don't add a judgmental number next to it.

If the point of reviews are to describe and explain the contents of a game, the score is unneeded. Let's all be honest here and admit that the score is there for the sole benefit of the review site. Something to grab attention for all the wrong reasons.

And it allows for trending (i.e. you can easily see the decline of a game series over time by looking at the average scores each of its installments get) as well as allowing you to aggregate multiple reviews (i.e. how metacritic works). You can't do a data aggregate without at least a "good vs bad" grading system. I don't agree that the score is just to the benefit of the review site because I'm a reader and I get use out of it. I like the idea of being able to quickly scan the top rated games for titles I might not have heard of. The problem comes from people trying to make the score something it's not. It's nothing more than a numeric representation of how much the reviewer liked the game or how well they thought the game accomplished what it set out to do. People misunderstand the point of the number when they get bent out of shape because Gone Home gets a 10 while GTA5 gets a 9 because they think that means that Gamespot is saying that Gone Home is a better game overall.

-Byshop

#55 Posted by Lulu_Lulu (8570 posts) -

@ Jacanuk

You Defended my Honour ! ! ! :D

#56 Posted by Bigboi500 (28804 posts) -

@Byshop: Even when used simply as a glance gauge they fail imo. After many years of playing games and comparing websites' scores to my personal opinions, they rarely if ever align.

More often than not, a highly hyped game will receive a higher score just because it's in a popular series, or an established developer.

#57 Posted by Byshop (10965 posts) -

@Byshop: Even when used simply as a glance gauge they fail imo. After many years of playing games and comparing websites' scores to my personal opinions, they rarely if ever align.

More often than not, a highly hyped game will receive a higher score just because it's in a popular series, or an established developer.

This is kind of my point. I've participated in threads where people complained about "journalistic integrity" in reviews for including something that they didn't think should be in the review, or threads where the scoring system is considered imbalanced or biased, or some other such complaint about how the site or critic is reviewing games wrong. Every time I get into this discussion, it almost always boils down to the same point which is "I don't agree with what I read, ergo the system is broken". Just because you don't agree with some or even most of the scores you read, that doesn't mean that scoring as a concept is broken. I mean nothing against your opinion, but I wouldn't expect your or my opinion to necessarily agree with all or even most scores on a given site. The score, just like the review, is the opinion of the reviewer and nothing more. It's not an objective grading system or gospel of game quality, it's a tool that you can use to collect the information to make your own decision.

And I don't know that I agree with this whole bandwagon idea. Carolyn's review of GTA5 (the original subject of this thread) certainly didn't jump on any bandwagon when she gave it an -almost- perfect score, and it was the -readers- who jumped down Gamespot's throat for not giving the game a 10 like everyone else. Batman Arkham Origins was a very highly hyped game in a series that consistently scored high, but it got the lowest score of the series across multiple sites. The Call of Duty series has been in an overall decline since Modern Warfare 2. The latest Final Fantasy game got a 5 in the main review on GS.

-Byshop

#58 Posted by Bigboi500 (28804 posts) -

@Byshop: If gamers like myself (who lean towards Japanese games) can't trust Western review scores to be even close to accurate, then they are virtually useless. We can't use them as a gauge for quality, or even a guide towards a potential purchase. All that's left is a link for traffic to a website as an advertisement.

If it was just me, or just a few random games you could say it's as simple as a minute disagreement, but that's nowhere near the case. A lot of these reviewers are young and inexperienced when reviewing Japanese games, and a lot of them have strong preferences to Western franchises.

There's something clearly wrong with the current formula, especially in regards to specific types of games being reviewed incorrectly on a massive scale. If you did away with the numbers, at least in that scenario, personal opinions would be easier to swallow, but as they are, they become branded with such numbers, which in turn affects sales.

#59 Posted by Ariabed (1094 posts) -

What about if different aspects of a game are scored like;

Gameplay

Graphics

Story

Sound

Maybe that would give a bit more depth to the scoring system.

#60 Posted by Lulu_Lulu (8570 posts) -

IGN makes Summaries of Reviews at the, Gamespot gives short Descriptions at the Beginning.

I wonder what affect this has on readers and if all the publications did this instead of using the score, how would Metacritic Adapt.... I think they would Aggregate All the Adjectives in the Review Summaries and Rearrange them From which Adjectives Reoccur the most. I think that would be a sweet temporary solution :).

After All, an Ajective (no matter how ambiguous) is better than a Number. The numbers only opperate in a single Spectrum between two opposing Adjectives Good and Bad.... And thats not enough.

#61 Posted by Metamania (11955 posts) -

@Jacanuk said:

@Metamania said:

@Lulu_Lulu said:

@ 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.

Eh? why would you bring up another person.

Honestly if any person leaves you can be 100% sure that its not because Lulu or anyone else is posting here, its probably because they found other things to do than hang around a forum that mainly consist of personal blogs, shitty advertisements for youtube crap and half arsed posts about how much someone hates a game.

None of those reasons are valid for why they left. None.

#62 Edited by loafofgame (370 posts) -
@Articuno76 said:

It is still political. That is, a response to one's personal beliefs rather than a response to the game.

So? Are you trying to say that games can't be political? Games are cultural products; they are formed out of convictions and ideas based in reality. They reflect, imitate, exaggerate, distort and/or reshape reality. Petit's argument had everything to do with the game. It discussed the portrayal of people in GTA V. Are these portrayals not part of the game? Are players not subjected to these portrayals? Do players not care about these portrayals? I'm sure she guessed that her argument wouldn't appeal to the perceived majority, but she didn't let that influence her. Isn't that what you want? She wrote about what she thought about the game. And her feminist ideals didn't even compromise her overall appreciation.

Also, on a sidenote, I would like to point out that feminism exists in several forms and not all of them are of the 'women are better and should conquer everything that is owned by men' kind.

The personal preferences and beliefs of the perceived majority are not the universal norm. Even if they were, they will be questioned and challenged more and more as videogames broaden in content and become more popular. The fact is that everything Petit discussed related to the game. And the fact that she's part of a supposedly mainstream website is pretty irrelevant in this case. Gamespot's audience gets all content free of charge and whatever Petit or any reviewer should do is dictated by the employer. What Petit did was most certainly not unacceptable, given that she wasn't fired. Also, in the context of the perceived majority her argument was meaningless, insignificant and harmless. It compromised nothing that wasn't already compromised in the eyes of a critical minority.

By the way, calling Gamespot a mainstream website is highly problematic, because this website doesn't focus on the games the 'actual mainstream' plays (mobile and internet games). The concept of mainstream is often randomly applied (sometimes with a positive, but often with a negative connotation) to all kinds of groups to point out some constructed dominant majority. No matter how massive the backlash against Petit appeared to be, I think the 'actual majority' didn't care, which made everything Petit did completely acceptable (and it was already acceptable to begin with).

@Jacanuk said:

its probably because they found other things to do than hang around a forum that mainly consist of personal blogs, shitty advertisements for youtube crap and half arsed posts about how much someone hates a game.

Lol, why am I still here...?

#63 Edited by Byshop (10965 posts) -

@Byshop: If gamers like myself (who lean towards Japanese games) can't trust Western review scores to be even close to accurate, then they are virtually useless. We can't use them as a gauge for quality, or even a guide towards a potential purchase. All that's left is a link for traffic to a website as an advertisement.

If it was just me, or just a few random games you could say it's as simple as a minute disagreement, but that's nowhere near the case. A lot of these reviewers are young and inexperienced when reviewing Japanese games, and a lot of them have strong preferences to Western franchises.

There's something clearly wrong with the current formula, especially in regards to specific types of games being reviewed incorrectly on a massive scale. If you did away with the numbers, at least in that scenario, personal opinions would be easier to swallow, but as they are, they become branded with such numbers, which in turn affects sales.

That western review sites don't score JRPGs to your liking is certainly a valid opinion, but it's still a complaint about the reviews themselves and not the idea of a scoring system. If I'm understanding you correctly, if you liked the scores you wouldn't have a problem with the idea of scoring games numerically. By getting rid of the numbers, you aren't addressing the problem that you are describing. You're just making the opinions that you disagree with slightly harder to find.

If anything, though, I would think that this particular problem is a reason why you'd -want- scored reviews. If you don't agree with a particular site, then aggregated scores give you the ability to find sites that might be more in line with your opinions without having to read through literally hundreds of multi-page reviews.

"There's something clearly wrong with the current formula"

I have to stop you right there, because this seems to be where people get hung up on the scores. They aren't a formula, they are a reflection of an opinion just like the text of the review. They are just the reviewer summing up his opinion as an overall judgement of quality based on how much that reviewer enjoyed the game, but it's not an objective or fixed scale. However, because when you use a number people get it in their head that there must be some objective calculation behind it and when they try to interpret it that way, of course they are going to be dissapointed. If you take away the score, the overall dislike that you say western reviewers have for JRPGs hasn't changed.

Also, I don't know that sales numbers are as affected by review scores as people seem to think. There have been games that were released to great critical acclaim across the board that weren't necessarily the gaming public's cup of tea. There are many, many factors that influence sales. COD:Ghosts preorders were lower than Blops 2, but Activision blamed that on the fact that it was coming out on 5 platforms instead of 3 which lead to indecision on the part of the consumer. I think review scores (and the reviews that are based on) tend to be more a reflection of the swath of reviewers who reviewed the game. I don't think any one score is the end all, be all, but when you take the average score of a game across many review sites I think you start to see a picture of how most people will receive the game. I think the sales are also a reflection of this, but I don't think these reviews are artificially influencing the sales in most cases. I think it's just an alignment of the data. If you give a game to 100 people across different gaming demographics and 10 of them love it, 10 of them hate it and 80 of them think it's "meh", then odds are when you give it to 100,000 people of the same group of demographics, most of them are going to think it's "meh" too even if they had no idea what that initial 100 thought.

@ariabed said:

What about if different aspects of a game are scored like;

Gameplay

Graphics

Story

Sound

Maybe that would give a bit more depth to the scoring system.

Some sites already do this. Personally, I don't know how useful it is because as low budget indie titles have been able to show us with amazing artistic creations it's the total package that people really care more about. A game like Lone Survivor is a surprisingly interesting and creepy survival horror game, but it looks like a Super Nintendo game so scoring it low on graphics for its retro style might be unfair since it's not a AAA game. If you break a game down to its component parts, then you might not be able to see when it is more than the sum of its parts. Still, there may be value in both.

-Byshop

#64 Posted by donalbane (16136 posts) -

The whole concept of assigning a numeric value to a subjective piece of entertainment/art is a fools errand. Anyone that get's their feathers ruffled over such a doomed enterprise is doing it to themselves.

#65 Posted by Ariabed (1094 posts) -

@Byshop: IMO graphics aren't that important, if the graphics are average but gameplay and story are really good then then I'll have some of that with no worries. I know not everyone thinks like that but I reckon most do. So scoring a game with just an all round score helps no one, but when you have to break it down into specifics then you get more of an idea of what parts of the game are good/not good/average.

#66 Posted by Jacanuk (3622 posts) -

@Jacanuk said:

@Metamania said:

@Lulu_Lulu said:

@ 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.

Eh? why would you bring up another person.

Honestly if any person leaves you can be 100% sure that its not because Lulu or anyone else is posting here, its probably because they found other things to do than hang around a forum that mainly consist of personal blogs, shitty advertisements for youtube crap and half arsed posts about how much someone hates a game.

None of those reasons are valid for why they left. None.

Ya, right they left because they are "person 5yearold drama queen" and couldn't handle other people posting in a public forum.

Come on not even you believe that.

#67 Edited by Jacanuk (3622 posts) -

@loafofgame said:
@Articuno76 said:

It is still political. That is, a response to one's personal beliefs rather than a response to the game.

So? Are you trying to say that games can't be political? Games are cultural products; they are formed out of convictions and ideas based in reality. They reflect, imitate, exaggerate, distort and/or reshape reality. Petit's argument had everything to do with the game. It discussed the portrayal of people in GTA V. Are these portrayals not part of the game? Are players not subjected to these portrayals? Do players not care about these portrayals? I'm sure she guessed that her argument wouldn't appeal to the perceived majority, but she didn't let that influence her. Isn't that what you want? She wrote about what she thought about the game. And her feminist ideals didn't even compromise her overall appreciation.

Also, on a sidenote, I would like to point out that feminism exists in several forms and not all of them are of the 'women are better and should conquer everything that is owned by men' kind.

The personal preferences and beliefs of the perceived majority are not the universal norm. Even if they were, they will be questioned and challenged more and more as videogames broaden in content and become more popular. The fact is that everything Petit discussed related to the game. And the fact that she's part of a supposedly mainstream website is pretty irrelevant in this case. Gamespot's audience gets all content free of charge and whatever Petit or any reviewer should do is dictated by the employer. What Petit did was most certainly not unacceptable, given that she wasn't fired. Also, in the context of the perceived majority her argument was meaningless, insignificant and harmless. It compromised nothing that wasn't already compromised in the eyes of a critical minority.

By the way, calling Gamespot a mainstream website is highly problematic, because this website doesn't focus on the games the 'actual mainstream' plays (mobile and internet games). The concept of mainstream is often randomly applied (sometimes with a positive, but often with a negative connotation) to all kinds of groups to point out some constructed dominant majority. No matter how massive the backlash against Petit appeared to be, I think the 'actual majority' didn't care, which made everything Petit did completely acceptable (and it was already acceptable to begin with).

@Jacanuk said:

its probably because they found other things to do than hang around a forum that mainly consist of personal blogs, shitty advertisements for youtube crap and half arsed posts about how much someone hates a game.

Lol, why am I still here...?

Why is any of us still here :D

But you are wrong, games have never been political at least not until the last few years, its always been about satire, comedy, having fun and not giving one side a more favorable view. Also as to Carolyn's review its a bit more tricky and the problem here is like with people who find religion late in life, they think they have to prove their "faith". So her personal agenda is so easy to see in almost all reviews and its clearly because of her "baggage"

Also how can you not know after so many GTA games that GTA is one big satirical outlook on the world and it mocks everyone, Fat, Thin, Rich, Poor, Male, Female. and honestly why should Rockstar show special concern because a person have boobs? and thats what is most infuriating about Carolyn and her feminist sisters, they have tunnel vision and cant see all the other nuances but tune in on the one thing they know "females and their alleged "oppression" in games"

So no Petit´s review does not discuss the "negative" portrayal of people, she because of her own personal opinions, tune in on the one thing that she is closest to, the females and how they are portrayed, not that men are stereotyped as much or anyone else.

And Gamespot is a mainstream gaming media site, much like IGN, Eurogamer, Giantbomb. What is not a mainstream gaming site is sites like Destructoid, Polygon which a liberal media outlets.

#68 Edited by Articuno76 (18649 posts) -

@loafofgame said:
@Articuno76 said:

It is still political. That is, a response to one's personal beliefs rather than a response to the game.

So? Are you trying to say that games can't be political? Games are cultural products; they are formed out of convictions and ideas based in reality. They reflect, imitate, exaggerate, distort and/or reshape reality. Petit's argument had everything to do with the game. It discussed the portrayal of people in GTA V. Are these portrayals not part of the game? Are players not subjected to these portrayals? Do players not care about these portrayals? I'm sure she guessed that her argument wouldn't appeal to the perceived majority, but she didn't let that influence her. Isn't that what you want? She wrote about what she thought about the game. And her feminist ideals didn't even compromise her overall appreciation.

My concern is that her criticism has far more to do with her baggage rather than the game itself. I don't know if this is the case or not, but it if is then that is a poor review that has been compromised by absent mindedness. I don't care about her overall appreciation. She could have given the game a zero as long as she made well reasoned points. But making points that the reviewer knows full well are extremely specific to them because of their particular life-circumstances (not the game) simply isn't good reviewing practice.

Sure you are writing your personal opinion on a game, but there is a point where your personal opinion on the game is quite frankly so personal that it might well be more 'personal' than it is 'opinion' (on the game). The line looked to me like ti was crossed and I don't buy for a second that the reviewer genuinely felt that specific point was generally applicable to their readership. If they did they are extremely naive.

The review is always a balance of personal experience and extrapolating what of that experience is likely to carry over the readership; that's the point of reviews; to inform the reader about the game, not about the reviewer. A review is not a blog or diary where you just write all your thoughts and feelings - it's a piece of finely carved critique designed to resound with an audience. If Carolyn just wants to write her feelings and nothing else then I suggest she drops out of videogame journalism and takes up professional blogging instead.

If the game is making a political point or engaging the player directly with the a particular issue then it makes sense to review how the game handles the subject matter. NOT whether you agree with the subject matter.

A good example (I assume because I've never played them) would be the Bioshock games which I hear talk about issues such as religion and politics. Those games walk up to the player and say "Hey, I want to have an interesting talk about this" and the reviewer responds by stating how interesting they find that talk. This makes perfect sense.

This is completely different from taking a game that isn't making a particular point but framing it through a specific belief system. If you do that you end up with reviews that read like April Fool's jokes or way-out opinion pieces; Pokemon as critiqued from perspectives on the validity of Marxism, Phoenix Wright as a treatise on World Peace, Tetris as a rejection of Freudian Psychology etc; It's all a bit barmy.

I mean, sure none of those are entirely without merit, but I'm gonna look at those reviews, scoff and think, 'Please, what bullshit'. - and that is the normal healthy response.

I say this a reviewer with an ounce of professionalism and pride in my writing - I don't make random asides and points that don't serve my assumed readership because its fucking arrogant to do so, at that point I'm not telling them what I thought of the game, I'm telling them what they should think about it. BIG difference.

And as a reviewer I'm telling you that writing a review based on baggage rather than game content is not acceptable. Not only in criticism but in copy generally. Not one single word should be shed without serving the end goal of the article in question. Not one. Anything less than attempting absolute succinctness and clarity is nothing more than self-serving jibber-jabber. Save that for a blog.

I want to stress again that my issue with the kind of thing I'm taking issue with (not sure if Carolyn did indeed make the faus pax I'm taking about) isn't an ethical quandary; it's just poor writing/reader understanding and on the same level as doubled words, spelling mistakes, overused cliches etc; the difference is that this particular kind of faus pax reduces people in the profession to simply being the same as every other internet punter, just more 'people with opinions'.

That's sucks because we should be credited for our clarity of criticism when serving our audience; for taking a complex physically interactive experience that lasts several hours and distilling it masterfully into a passive one that lasts only minutes. <<- THAT my friend, is fucking art form. An art-form that seemingly innocent asides erode confidence in.

#69 Edited by Byshop (10965 posts) -

@Articuno76: Is Carolyn assigning her personal baggage in her review? Maybe, but everyone brings their baggage to an opinion to some degree or another. It's always a reflection of your views and how you look at the world. Even if you try to put yourself in someone else's perspective, you aren't really looking through their eyes. You're looking through what you -think- their perspective is based on your own perspective.

A couple things, though. Sure, if a reviewer gives a game a zero because it has the color blue and the reviewer hates the color blue, that's probably something that most people would agree is more about that reviewer's personal bias than the actual quality of the game. However, I wouldn't include an allegation of sexism in that category. Sexism is the degredation of an entire group of people, and while I'm not trying to push any particular morality on this point, that's considered something that most people agree is wrong. I don't think sexism is a personal or political point, esepcially when the ESA has female gamers at about 47% of the population. If you're a guy who reads that review, you might think to yourself "who cares" but if you're a woman, you might read the same review and think "how could I not care about this"?

Lastly, there are 58 reviews of this game on Metacritic, and 35 of those reviews (about 60%) think this game is the second coming of Jesus (i.e. perfect score). Even if Carolyn's opinion is a little bit left of center of her readership, is anyone really harmed by that? Personally, I welcome another perspective. Who's day has really been ruined when if you don't like the review there are 35 other reviews one can read that are probably exactly what they were looking for. If every review scored every game exactly the same then what would even be the point?

-Byshop

#70 Posted by IMAHAPYHIPPO (2536 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.

And this is where I absolutely agree. I'm not in the group of bigot's who wants to attack someone like Carolyn Petit because of who she wishes to be and what gender she identifies herself as, but something that deeply personal shouldn't be in a review dictating a game's quality. People weren't outraged that GTA V didn't get a 10 just because it was GTA V, the problem was she cited a flaw that only pertained to her personal experience and had nothing to do with the quality of the game.

#71 Posted by Archangel3371 (15140 posts) -

I like review scores and don't ever want to see them go away. The score is a quick and easy way for me to guage what the reviewer thought about the game regardless of if I agree with it or not. I certainly don't want to simple "buy" or "don't buy" type of review as I find it incredibly vague and too general, I like something that allows for more variance and the 10 point scale is my starting point of preference.

#72 Edited by Byshop (10965 posts) -

And this is where I absolutely agree. I'm not in the group of bigot's who wants to attack someone like Carolyn Petit because of who she wishes to be and what gender she identifies herself as, but something that deeply personal shouldn't be in a review dictating a game's quality. People weren't outraged that GTA V didn't get a 10 just because it was GTA V, the problem was she cited a flaw that only pertained to her personal experience and had nothing to do with the quality of the game.

You don't think that if the game is sexist that might be soemthing that the 47% of gamers who are women might care about? That doesn't seem like a small, personal preference to me.

-Byshop

#73 Posted by IMAHAPYHIPPO (2536 posts) -

@Byshop said:

@IMAHAPYHIPPO said:

And this is where I absolutely agree. I'm not in the group of bigot's who wants to attack someone like Carolyn Petit because of who she wishes to be and what gender she identifies herself as, but something that deeply personal shouldn't be in a review dictating a game's quality. People weren't outraged that GTA V didn't get a 10 just because it was GTA V, the problem was she cited a flaw that only pertained to her personal experience and had nothing to do with the quality of the game.

You don't think that if the game is sexist that might be soemthing that the 47% of gamers who are women might care about? That doesn't seem like a small, personal preference to me.

-Byshop

Not when the game is a work of satire that attacks far more than just women. Pointing out how the game is politically incorrect is completely ignoring the narrative tone, and if you're going to point out how GTA is misogynistic, then you have to point out every other inappropriate and asinine message present, or you're not really being fair, are you?

#74 Edited by Byshop (10965 posts) -

Not when the game is a work of satire that attacks far more than just women. Pointing out how the game is politically incorrect is completely ignoring the narrative tone, and if you're going to point out how GTA is misogynistic, then you have to point out every other inappropriate and asinine message present, or you're not really being fair, are you?

It does lampoon other groups, but when it's a gender or a race it's kind of a different story and women is the only one of either of those categories. I get that the game is a work of satire in many ways (as does Carolyn I'm sure), but the question is does that make it OK? What if it were racism instead of sexism? What if Franklin walked around with a bucket of friend chicken and watermelon all the time? Would the satire argument absolve the game of responsbility?

-Byshop

#75 Posted by IMAHAPYHIPPO (2536 posts) -

@Byshop said:

@IMAHAPYHIPPO said:

Not when the game is a work of satire that attacks far more than just women. Pointing out how the game is politically incorrect is completely ignoring the narrative tone, and if you're going to point out how GTA is misogynistic, then you have to point out every other inappropriate and asinine message present, or you're not really being fair, are you?

It does lampoon other groups, but when it's a gender or a race it's kind of a different story and women is the only one of either of those categories. I get that the game is a work of satire in many ways (as does Carolyn I'm sure), but the question is does that make it OK? What if it were racism instead of sexism? What if Franklin walked around with a bucket of friend chicken and watermelon all the time? Would the satire argument absolve the game of responsbility?

-Byshop

You can make the same argument about the game being racist. This feels like the Isaac Hayes situation all over again. It's okay to make fun of everybody else, but you can't make fun of me. You want a fair playing field? Then accept a fair playing field, because GTA V -- regardless of how offensive -- plays fair with its message. It attacks everyone. Women aren't being singled out here.

#76 Edited by Articuno76 (18649 posts) -

@Byshop said:

@Articuno76: Is Carolyn assigning her personal baggage in her review? Maybe, but everyone brings their baggage to an opinion to some degree or another. It's always a reflection of your views and how you look at the world. Even if you try to put yourself in someone else's perspective, you aren't really looking through their eyes. You're looking through what you -think- their perspective is based on your own perspective.

A couple things, though. Sure, if a reviewer gives a game a zero because it has the color blue and the reviewer hates the color blue, that's probably something that most people would agree is more about that reviewer's personal bias than the actual quality of the game. However, I wouldn't include an allegation of sexism in that category. Sexism is the degradation of an entire group of people, and while I'm not trying to push any particular morality on this point, that's considered something that most people agree is wrong. I don't think sexism is a personal or political point, especially when the ESA has female gamers at about 47% of the population. If you're a guy who reads that review, you might think to yourself "who cares" but if you're a woman, you might read the same review and think "how could I not care about this"?

Lastly, there are 58 reviews of this game on Metacritic, and 35 of those reviews (about 60%) think this game is the second coming of Jesus (i.e. perfect score). Even if Carolyn's opinion is a little bit left of center of her readership, is anyone really harmed by that? Personally, I welcome another perspective. Who's day has really been ruined when if you don't like the review there are 35 other reviews one can read that are probably exactly what they were looking for. If every review scored every game exactly the same then what would even be the point?

-Byshop

It's not having a different perspective I take issue with, it's poor reviewing etiquette.

If she wants to talk about things she knows full well don't reflect her audience (and lets be honest, you, me and Carolyn herself know who that audience is even if we can't define it. Those ESA figures are extremely dubious when applied to the AA/AAA game audience that Gamespot is courting) then she should write an opinion piece. Not an opinion piece with a score attached to it. That's not the same thing as a review - but that's a complex topic for later.

Again, I can't say for sure that Carolyn did make the reviewing faux pas I'm talking about as I haven't read the review because GTA is a series I don't play.

#77 Edited by loafofgame (370 posts) -
@Jacanuk said:

But you are wrong, games have never been political at least not until the last few years, its always been about satire, comedy, having fun and not giving one side a more favorable view.

If you release something into the world for other people to interact with it runs the risk of becoming political. This isn't about intention; this is about how other people interpret that product. As soon as there's an audience involved, as soon as anything can be related to reality (which it always can) there's the risk of it becoming political. Satire and comedy are prime examples of this and they're all about taste. There's no universally agreed upon line that separates satire from insult.

@Jacanuk said:

Also as to Carolyn's review its a bit more tricky and the problem here is like with people who find religion late in life, they think they have to prove their "faith". So her personal agenda is so easy to see in almost all reviews and its clearly because of her "baggage"

Also how can you not know after so many GTA games that GTA is one big satirical outlook on the world and it mocks everyone, Fat, Thin, Rich, Poor, Male, Female. and honestly why should Rockstar show special concern because a person have boobs? and thats what is most infuriating about Carolyn and her feminist sisters, they have tunnel vision and cant see all the other nuances but tune in on the one thing they know "females and their alleged "oppression" in games"

I will never deny that Petit was being selective and that her personal 'baggage' was clearly present. There's also no question GTA V makes fun of everyone and everything. The problem is there's no universal verdict on when something stops being funny. There's also no concession on the degree of satire a target is subjected to, relative to another (or that all satire is the same). One would have to make an in-depth analysis of the entire game to see which group might be worse off and then one would have to find out if the potential audience experiences it as such. Sure, the male characters might be just as flawed as the female characters, but you don't get to play female characters. These male characters, despite their flaws, might still be seen as cool, because the player can control their actions. Female characters do not receive this additional positive feedback. That's just one aspect to consider and I'm sure there are also ones that contradict the example I just gave.

The point is, regardless of how selective Petit has been, her claims can raise issues or trigger discussions that are far broader than just misogyny in GTA V. This goes beyond the direct complaints she has. And those issues might not interest a significant amount of people, but I'm pretty sure it's valuable to another significant amount. And they can all be related to how someone experiences or enjoys a game, so, to me, they have a place in a review. Petit never hid her bias, she didn't ignore it to please some touchy minority and she managed to not let it compromise her overall appreciation or dictate her review.

I just don't get why it's so 'infuriating' to so many people. Criticising her conduct is valid, but I don't understand all the emotions involved. In the end, in the context of the 'majority' audience and reviews as buyers' guides, what she did was insignificant and harmless. I'm trying very hard not to, but I feel that a lot of these emotions were the result of an unjustified sense of entitlement (and maybe also the misplaced idea that Petit was directly attacking players).

@Jacanuk said:

And Gamespot is a mainstream gaming media site, much like IGN, Eurogamer, Giantbomb. What is not a mainstream gaming site is sites like Destructoid, Polygon which a liberal media outlets.

I never said Gamespot isn't a mainstream site; I'm just saying it's problematic, because people apply the word mainstream to all kinds of groups, just to point out something supposedly caters to some vaguely defined dominant majority. So calling something mainstream can mean a number of things.

@Articuno76 said:

My concern is that her criticism has far more to do with her baggage rather than the game itself. I don't know if this is the case or not, but it if is then that is a poor review that has been compromised by absent mindedness. I don't care about her overall appreciation. She could have given the game a zero as long as she made well reasoned points. But making points that the reviewer knows full well are extremely specific to them because of their particular life-circumstances (not the game) simply isn't good reviewing practice.

I thought it was relevant. I thought it related to the game. I think I can say Byshop thought the same and I've seen several people claim similar things. I'm not a woman or a feminist. Perhaps more importantly, I've seen a significant amount of indifferent people. Do these people not count? It might not have resonated with a lot of people (myself included), but as I have said above, it raises issues that go beyond her direct claims. It requires little effort to broaden the subject toward discussing the general portrayal of people in videogames such as GTA V. Where does satire end and a sense of responsibility begin? When does satire stop being funny? 'Particular life-circumstances' are part of a videogame experience and Petit can only relate to her own. What her claims might teach someone is not just that this game is potentially misogynistic, but that the game might flirt with a line where satire stops being acceptable or funny, that the portrayal of people (not just of women) might be questionable or challenging and that that is something you've got to look out for.

@Articuno76 said:

The line looked to me like ti was crossed and I don't buy for a second that the reviewer genuinely felt that specific point was generally applicable to their readership.

@Articuno76 said:

If she wants to talk about things she knows full well don't reflect her audience (and lets be honest, you, me and Carolyn herself know who that audience is even if we can't define it.

This doesn't fly, in my opinion. We can't define the audience, yet we have to strictly cater to them? If there's no clear definition, there's room to wiggle. This is why people connect the idea of the general audience to their own personal preferences, which makes relying on the argument that a reviewer should please the general readership highly questionable. Besides, do you think the majority of the audience actually cared? I personally don't think so. Nothing was compromised here. This is a peripheral discussion. This is one minority facing another minority.

@Articuno76 said:

The review is always a balance of personal experience and extrapolating what of that experience is likely to carry over the readership; that's the point of reviews; to inform the reader about the game, not about the reviewer. A review is not a blog or diary where you just write all your thoughts and feelings - it's a piece of finely carved critique designed to resound with an audience. If Carolyn just wants to write her feelings and nothing else then I suggest she drops out of videogame journalism and takes up professional blogging instead.

Ok, I seriously suggest you read the review now. Petit's argument was one paragraph in an otherwise pretty standard review. You've already made it clear that you think that is also unacceptable, but right now you're painting a far too extreme picture, as if the review was solely about GTA V being misogynistic.

@Articuno76 said:

This is completely different from taking a game that isn't making a particular point but framing it through a specific belief system. If you do that you end up with reviews that read like April Fool's jokes or way-out opinion pieces; Pokemon as critiqued from perspectives on the validity of Marxism, Phoenix Wright as a treatise on World Peace, Tetris as a rejection of Freudian Psychology etc; It's all a bit barmy.

Again, I see no harm in such claims taking up a paragraph in a review, because it offers an alternative view and might trigger new ways of looking at and thinking about a certain game, which in turn might benefit the playing experience (without in any way compromising all the basic stuff I need to know). Also, GTA V is ridiculing and satirising modern society. It is very much making a point. It is consciously presenting an exaggerated version of reality. The game thrives on that image and therefore it needs to be discussed. Now, Petit was undoubtedly being selective in what to discuss, but as I said, it takes little effort to broaden the subject of discussion.

@Articuno76 said:

I mean, sure none of those are entirely without merit, but I'm gonna look at those reviews, scoff and think, 'Please, what bullshit'. - and that is the normal healthy response.

Exactly, and then you move on and leave that tiny little deviant detail to the people who do care about it. You don't grab on to that speck and claim every single discussion should appeal to me and my perceived majority audience (which looks surprisingly much like me).

@Articuno76 said:

I say this a reviewer with an ounce of professionalism and pride in my writing - I don't make random asides and points that don't serve my assumed readership because its fucking arrogant to do so, at that point I'm not telling them what I thought of the game, I'm telling them what they should think about it. BIG difference.

This is a claim I see a lot and I cannot sympathise with it. This is what YOU assign to her claims. Noone is EVER telling you what you should think about a game (not even when they explicitly say so in a written text, which was not the case with Petit). Petit was disappointed about the PERCEIVED misogyny in GTA V (which some people disagreed with), just as she was delighted about the PERCEIVED abundance of activities in the game world (which some people disagreed with). Somehow the former is an irrelevant statement that is forced on you and that compromises the credibility and integrity of the reviewer, whereas the latter is a harmless observation that you can either respectfully agree or disagree with.

What is happening is that people read reviews based SOLELY on their own preferences and ideals, but they back it up with the pretentious and unsubstantiated claim that they are part of the majority (of the 'assumed readership') and that therefore they know what should and shouldn't be in a review, or even worse, what is and isn't part of a videogame. The saddening fact is that, apart from that one argument, Petit's review arguably fully catered to the 'assumed readership'. And that is what I can't fathom: this attitude of 'either it all caters to us or it's all evil'.

@Articuno76 said:

And as a reviewer I'm telling you that writing a review based on baggage rather than game content is not acceptable. Not only in criticism but in copy generally. Not one single word should be shed without serving the end goal of the article in question. Not one. Anything less than attempting absolute succinctness and clarity is nothing more than self-serving jibber-jabber. Save that for a blog.

I'd say Petit's review was very succinct and clear and I feel it served the end goal. But well, clearly your perception of what 'based on game content' entails is different from mine.

To summarise: I will defend Petit's conduct in this particular case, because it was a harmless footnote in a library of monotonous reviews that in no way should hinder anyone in finding the right info to make an informed decision; because it relates to broader issues and discussions that can impact the game experience and appreciation for a game; because as a male non-feminist I still see value in her argument which prompts me to believe there are others who think the same (making the argument valuable and relevant); because the 'assumed readership' is an extremely vague and heterogeneous concept that therefore can't be the sole focus of a review; and because, frankly, I think the majority doesn't care about all this.

@Articuno76 said:

That's sucks because we should be credited for our clarity of criticism when serving our audience; for taking a complex physically interactive experience that lasts several hours and distilling it masterfully into a passive one that lasts only minutes. <<- THAT my friend, is fucking art form. An art-form that seemingly innocent asides erode confidence in.

You can't serve your audience. You can only serve part of your audience. And apparently that specific part needs to be served every single word. And apparently that part can't accept or comprehend any alternative view and can't see any value in arguments that do not directly relate to their interests or perspectives. And apparently that part feels entitled to every single word and sees every review as the only review in the world.

Edit: This may come a bit late, but why are you even commenting on an issue that in your eyes mainly concerns bad writing, without having read the review in question? Also, as a result of your perspective some of the things I have said might not directly apply to your arguments, so if that's the case I apologise for that. You did point out your approach, but your separate segments didn't immediately reflect that and I got carried away. ;-P Most of it still relates, though.

#78 Edited by Articuno76 (18649 posts) -

For those saying the audience is not defined. That's not true. Gamespot defines its own audience by the games it chooses to cover (and the audiences that are interested in those games). There are hundreds of games announced every month on dozens of platforms and Gamespot does not cover them all - that automatically creates a limited audience.

That 'audience' is who the reviewer is attempting to serve. It's defined at the point when you choose which game to cover, In the same way an audience exists for the PR men at the point they have a game that needs promoting. Sure, anyone could potentially read about or buy that game, but everyone involved has a tacit understanding of who they expect to read about or buy that game.

If they didn't you wouldn't see so much assumption in games writing; it's assumed you know what the term 'RPG' means without it being spelt out to you, its assumed you know what aim-correction is without it have to be explained. The writer works knowing they can assume some shared knowledge because they limit their audience accordingly. And a limited audience is an assumed one.

If Gamespot isn't working to a known audience then I have to question how they make the editorial calls on deciding which game jargon terms are safe as assumed shared knowledge and which ones are not.

Clearly they have a audience in mind - you simply cant' run a publication without one.

Exactly, and then you move on and leave that tiny little deviant detail to the people who do care about it. You don't grab on to that speck and claim every single discussion should appeal to me and my perceived majority audience (which looks surprisingly much like me).

Sorry, I can't support a paradigm where it is considered professional for a reviewer to just shit out an opinion and then be exonerated by an apathetic readership because 'who cares'. An apathetic readership is a problem in and of itself for content creators - if readers don't give a fuck about what you write then why bother writing?

And if other content creators consistently undermine your work by contributing to the white noise of 'just another opinion' then it doesn't matter how hard you to slave to bring people rich, informative content; someone else has already done the damage to the credibility of your work.

#79 Posted by Byshop (10965 posts) -

You can make the same argument about the game being racist. This feels like the Isaac Hayes situation all over again. It's okay to make fun of everybody else, but you can't make fun of me. You want a fair playing field? Then accept a fair playing field, because GTA V -- regardless of how offensive -- plays fair with its message. It attacks everyone. Women aren't being singled out here.

What other groups does it really rip on in the same way, though? There are character archetypes, sure, but what other group or race is portrayed only as negative stereotypes and also ragged on by other elements in the game as well? I get that it's supposed to be satire, but where's the joke in using a woman as a toilet? How is that "making fun" and not "degredation"? There's a billboard that reads "Smell Like a Bitch". I get that this is supposed to be satire, but the humor is mostly lost on me. How is another group in the game similarly lampooned? Is there a billboard that reads "Smell Like a N-----" that I missed somewhere? Is one funnier than the other? Also, if there were such a billboard would you still defend the game as just satire?

It's not having a different perspective I take issue with, it's poor reviewing etiquette.

If she wants to talk about things she knows full well don't reflect her audience (and lets be honest, you, me and Carolyn herself know who that audience is even if we can't define it. Those ESA figures are extremely dubious when applied to the AA/AAA game audience that Gamespot is courting) then she should write an opinion piece. Not an opinion piece with a score attached to it. That's not the same thing as a review - but that's a complex topic for later.

Again, I can't say for sure that Carolyn did make the reviewing faux pas I'm talking about as I haven't read the review because GTA is a series I don't play.

I'm not saying that 47% of the gamers who bought GTA5 are women, but even if it's 25% or 10% that's a significant chunk of the readership. Besides, even if the readership is primarily male that's not a reason to exclude something like sexism. I'm a guy and the idea bothers me, I just mentioned the women who play games as a group that's more likely to be offended or annoyed because they are the target of any perceived sexism but you don't have to be a part of the target demographic to be offended by unfair treatment of another human being. If the majority of Gamespot's readers turned out to be white, that wouldn't make racism on Gamespot suddenly alright just because most of the readers aren't necessarily bothered by it.

If you're going to complain about the review, the least you can do to be fair is read it. I read reviews for games I don't play all the time. You've taken the time to write several posts in this thread about the review so it would seem you have the time to read through it.

To both: It keeps coming down to the same point. Everyone I talk to who thinks Carolyn's review is out of bounds falls into one of two camps: People who disagree that the game is sexist or people who think that it might be sexist but don't care. In both cases, these are opinions that disagree with Carolyn's opinion. I think she makes some valid points, but even if I didn't and I thought the game wasn't sexist I would still defend her review because I think that regardless of whether or not the game is sexist/racist/whatever that these are valid points to bring up in a review. If a game is horribly offensive (and I'm not saying that GTAV is by any means), that's something that can ruin people enjoyment of it.

P.S. Not to segway the conversation, but the Isaac Hayes situation may have had more to it because I listened to a radio interview in which he said that he absolutely couldn't care less that they made fun of scientology because they made fun of everyone. Then after his stroke, his agent came back and said he wouldn't return to the show because of religous differences and Matt and Trey never actually got to speak to him directly. I'm not a fan of Fox News as a rule but here's an article about that: http://www.foxnews.com/story/2006/03/20/chef-quitting-controversy/.

-Byshop

#80 Posted by Articuno76 (18649 posts) -

If you're going to complain about the review, the least you can do to be fair is read it.

I've not once complained about the review. It's upholding the principle that I care about and it sounds to me like the review didn't; something that is very worrying. But even if it didn't make the mistakes many attribute to it, I still would take issue with writing a review in that way.

I'm sick of the flippant 'oh it's just an opinion, ignore it' comments out there because that reduces the quality and value of all reviews to the same low level tripe that any fanboy could spit out. Making the issue impossible to ignore. And no, I'm not okay with that.

#81 Edited by Byshop (10965 posts) -

I've not once complained about the review. It's upholding the principle that I care about and it sounds to me like the review didn't; something that is very worrying. But even if it didn't make the mistakes many attribute to it, I still would take issue with writing a review in that way.

I'm sick of the flippant 'oh it's just an opinion, ignore it' comments out there because that reduces the quality and value of all reviews to the same low level tripe that any fanboy could spit out. Making the issue impossible to ignore. And no, I'm not okay with that.

Just read it if you'd like to discuss it. Then you can form your own opinion of it rather than echoing the opinions of others.

-Byshop

#82 Posted by loafofgame (370 posts) -

For those saying the audience is not defined. That's not true. Gamespot defines its own audience by the games it chooses to cover (and the audiences that are interested in those games). There are hundreds of games announced every month on dozens of platforms and Gamespot does not cover them all - that automatically creates a limited audience.

Which is still way too vague to base any speculations about pervading and dominant preferences on. Besides, that suggested audience does not explicitly express any coherent preferences or ideals. It is dangerous and unrealistic to suggest that Gamespot's readership is a homogeneous whole that speaks with one voice. Besides, minorities are just as much part of that audience and appealing to them is not only valuable, but in this case also harmless (and this case seems to be the 'worst' one around).

That 'audience' is who the reviewer is attempting to serve. It's defined at the point when you choose which game to cover, In the same way an audience exists for the PR men at the point they have a game that needs promoting. Sure, anyone could potentially read about or buy that game, but everyone involved has a tacit understanding of who they expect to read about or buy that game.

And now you're guessing what others might expect? Maybe the audience has changed or maybe it's constantly developing. Maybe the audience is too varied to be defined as a single entity. Maybe someone doesn't want to appeal solely to that single and apparently very entitled group of readers. Maybe the task of a big website such as Gamespot also lies in broadening their audiences, in discussing issues that have everything to do with videogames, but do not appeal to the supposed majority.

If they didn't you wouldn't see so much assumption in games writing; it's assumed you know what the term 'RPG' means without it being spelt out to you, its assumed you know what aim-correction is without it have to be explained. The writer works knowing they can assume some shared knowledge because they limit their audience accordingly. And a limited audience is an assumed one.

Shared knowledge isn't the same as shared preferences. I love the GTA series and I want to know about how it depicts society and about what MIGHT be problematic about it, not because I might agree with any criticism, but because it provides an alternative way of looking at a game. Whether or not there's misogyny in GTA V is irrelevant to me; it points to aspects of the game I hadn't considered. It enriches my game experience. And again, I'm not a woman or a feminist. I am part of Gamespot's audience, however, and I want these things in reviews.

Sorry, I can't support a paradigm where it is considered professional for a reviewer to just shit out an opinion and then be exonerated by an apathetic readership because 'who cares'. An apathetic readership is a problem in and of itself for content creators - if readers don't give a fuck about what you write then why bother writing?

I'm saying that a large group of people didn't care that Petit wrote what she wrote, not that they don't care about what's written or that what they read isn't valuable. I'm sorry if I didn't make that clear. The reason some people don't care is because her argument was a paragraph in a standard review and didn't dictate it, or because people took what was useful from the review and moved on (because a review is never completely useful down to the last word, at least not in my case). It was harmless for your perceived 'audience' and valuable for that group of people that apparently isn't the audience, but somehow is.

And if other content creators consistently undermine your work by contributing to the white noise of 'just another opinion' then it doesn't matter how hard you to slave to bring people rich, informative content; someone else has already done the damage to the credibility of your work.

I think you're being dramatic here. Again, Petit's argument was a harmless footnote in the context of game reviews in general. It compromised nothing and noone, except arguably herself.

I'm sick of the flippant 'oh it's just an opinion, ignore it' comments out there because that reduces the quality and value of all reviews to the same low level tripe that any fanboy could spit out. Making the issue impossible to ignore. And no, I'm not okay with that.

The 'it's just an opinion' comment is the opposite extreme of the 'it should be an objective quality report' comment. Reviews are not JUST opinions, but they are in many ways opinions. However, the discussion so far was not about defending the 'it's just an opinion' comment.

#83 Edited by Articuno76 (18649 posts) -

Gamespot is engaging in the act of guessing what their audience is and what they think. So yes, preferences are assumed. If they weren't the act of reviewing stops making sense because there would be no way to transpose one personal experience as the probable personal experience of other people!

All publications do this because they cannot function otherwise. I know you want to believe that the audience is a nebulous target that no one can nail down and therefore the idea of an assumed audience is silly - but it bloody well is not!! When you make a website like this the editors sit around and decide in excruciating detail on who their audience is, how they are going to talk to them and so on as part of shaping a publication voice.

Publications have been working the assumed audience principle for decades and this has held true for print magazines, newspapers, journals and probably even stone tablets. The presence of a minority in an audience doesn't change that; you simply ignore them maintain focus on what matters - your core audience.

There's nothing wrong with slanted or minority coverage but there are rags specifically for those, just as Gamespot is specifically for its particular audience.

Gamespot knows who its audience is, even if you're confused both that one exists and as to who they are.

Assuming an audience is homogeneous isn't 'dangerous', it's practical...even if it may not be 100% true.

Seriously, not to be an exclusive asshat here but get some publication experience and you'll understand why my approach is not only correct, but the only acceptable way to run a publication when you extrapolate the thinking behind Carloyn's review publication-wide.

#84 Edited by Jacanuk (3622 posts) -

@IMAHAPYHIPPO said:

@Articuno76 said:

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.

And this is where I absolutely agree. I'm not in the group of bigot's who wants to attack someone like Carolyn Petit because of who she wishes to be and what gender she identifies herself as, but something that deeply personal shouldn't be in a review dictating a game's quality. People weren't outraged that GTA V didn't get a 10 just because it was GTA V, the problem was she cited a flaw that only pertained to her personal experience and had nothing to do with the quality of the game.

And who talked anything about that ? what people have a problem with is that Petit show tunnel vision and a game like GTA who makes fun of everything, for instance why do you think everyone smokes or goes around with a cellphone, or you can take "selfies" and not to mention their making fun of men, dogs, thin, fat, etc. so please do tell me why women in any form should be showed special care?

Also its not like its Rockstars first GTA game so everyone knows what it is about, so again calling misognistic is just crazy and shows a lack of understanding what GTA is, also its double standard that Petit doesnt mention, the fat jokes, the black jokes or any other minority´s jokes.

#85 Posted by IMAHAPYHIPPO (2536 posts) -

@Jacanuk said:

@IMAHAPYHIPPO said:

@Articuno76 said:

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.

And this is where I absolutely agree. I'm not in the group of bigot's who wants to attack someone like Carolyn Petit because of who she wishes to be and what gender she identifies herself as, but something that deeply personal shouldn't be in a review dictating a game's quality. People weren't outraged that GTA V didn't get a 10 just because it was GTA V, the problem was she cited a flaw that only pertained to her personal experience and had nothing to do with the quality of the game.

And who talked anything about that ? what people have a problem with is that Petit show tunnel vision and a game like GTA who makes fun of everything, for instance why do you think everyone smokes or goes around with a cellphone, or you can take "selfies" and not to mention their making fun of men, dogs, thin, fat, etc. so please do tell me why women in any form should be showed special care?

Also its not like its Rockstars first GTA game so everyone knows what it is about, so again calling misognistic is just crazy and shows a lack of understanding what GTA is, also its double standard that Petit doesnt mention, the fat jokes, the black jokes or any other minority´s jokes.

And that's exactly what I said. She wasn't reviewing on a fair playing field and only pointed out politically incorrect statements that pertained to her own situation, ignoring that the game attacked anything and everything in the process.

#86 Posted by Byshop (10965 posts) -

And that's exactly what I said. She wasn't reviewing on a fair playing field and only pointed out politically incorrect statements that pertained to her own situation, ignoring that the game attacked anything and everything in the process.

I understand your position, but I still have the same questions:

What other groups does it (the game) really rip on in the same way, though? There are character archetypes, sure, but what other group or race is portrayed only as negative stereotypes and also ragged on by other elements in the game as well? I get that it's supposed to be satire, but where's the joke in using a woman as a toilet? How is that "making fun" and not "degredation"? There's a billboard that reads "Smell Like a Bitch". I get that this is supposed to be satire, but the humor is mostly lost on me. How is another group in the game similarly lampooned? Is there a billboard that reads "Smell Like a N-----" that I missed somewhere? Is one funnier than the other? Also, if there were such a billboard would you still defend the game as just satire?

-Byshop

#87 Posted by IMAHAPYHIPPO (2536 posts) -

@Byshop said:

@IMAHAPYHIPPO said:

And that's exactly what I said. She wasn't reviewing on a fair playing field and only pointed out politically incorrect statements that pertained to her own situation, ignoring that the game attacked anything and everything in the process.

I understand your position, but I still have the same questions:

What other groups does it (the game) really rip on in the same way, though? There are character archetypes, sure, but what other group or race is portrayed only as negative stereotypes and also ragged on by other elements in the game as well? I get that it's supposed to be satire, but where's the joke in using a woman as a toilet? How is that "making fun" and not "degredation"? There's a billboard that reads "Smell Like a Bitch". I get that this is supposed to be satire, but the humor is mostly lost on me. How is another group in the game similarly lampooned? Is there a billboard that reads "Smell Like a N-----" that I missed somewhere? Is one funnier than the other? Also, if there were such a billboard would you still defend the game as just satire?

-Byshop

To be honest, I haven't played GTA V as thoroughly as GTA IV, as I was moving across the country two days after its release. While I haven't seen anything overtly racist, the game certainly presents Franklin's world at that of the stereotypical, poor, druggie Blacks, and I'd imagine activists on that front wouldn't find the portrayal of Franklin's world all that politically correct. The game pokes fun at races, religions, and yes, none of them quite as much as women. But I think you kind of answered your own question on that front. That's because 47% of the world's population are women. 47% aren't Black, Jewish, etc... Race and religion are a minority compared to the amount of women in the world, and I think the game attacks groups of people based on their abundance. The game certainly doesn't portray men in that high of a regard, just look at two of the three main characters. Trevor's a psychopath, Michael's a gigantic asshole, man child... Other than Franklin, none of the main characters are really that admirable.

So, we come right back to the point that reviewer directed her criticisms only toward the area of the game that pertained to her, when there's plenty of room for everyone to get offended. But we don't, because the game's ridiculous. It's meant to offend, and it offends everyone.

#88 Edited by Jacanuk (3622 posts) -

@Byshop said:

@IMAHAPYHIPPO said:

And that's exactly what I said. She wasn't reviewing on a fair playing field and only pointed out politically incorrect statements that pertained to her own situation, ignoring that the game attacked anything and everything in the process.

I understand your position, but I still have the same questions:

What other groups does it (the game) really rip on in the same way, though? There are character archetypes, sure, but what other group or race is portrayed only as negative stereotypes and also ragged on by other elements in the game as well? I get that it's supposed to be satire, but where's the joke in using a woman as a toilet? How is that "making fun" and not "degredation"? There's a billboard that reads "Smell Like a Bitch". I get that this is supposed to be satire, but the humor is mostly lost on me. How is another group in the game similarly lampooned? Is there a billboard that reads "Smell Like a N-----" that I missed somewhere? Is one funnier than the other? Also, if there were such a billboard would you still defend the game as just satire?

-Byshop

I know you didn´t ask me Byshop.

But if you have played GTA , any GTA game you would know that it treats women like any other group and man in the game, they have the same rip into Fat people, in GTA they had Ricky Gervais make a stand up show as himself where he rips into fat people, midgets, Not to mention williams show.

And the cartoon on tv and the shows on tv.

Honestly if anyone claims that women are being treated worse in GTA they have either never played any GTA game or they have a personal agenda like Petit.

So i gotta ask, do you think women should be removed from the game and treated differently then any other group? and if yes, then why not remove jokes about all the other "groups" ? because i hope noone suggest that women have some kind of special right to be treated differently.

#89 Edited by Byshop (10965 posts) -

@IMAHAPYHIPPO said:

To be honest, I haven't played GTA V as thoroughly as GTA IV, as I was moving across the country two days after its release. While I haven't seen anything overtly racist, the game certainly presents Franklin's world at that of the stereotypical, poor, druggie Blacks, and I'd imagine activists on that front wouldn't find the portrayal of Franklin's world all that politically correct. The game pokes fun at races, religions, and yes, none of them quite as much as women. But I think you kind of answered your own question on that front. That's because 47% of the world's population are women. 47% aren't Black, Jewish, etc... Race and religion are a minority compared to the amount of women in the world, and I think the game attacks groups of people based on their abundance. The game certainly doesn't portray men in that high of a regard, just look at two of the three main characters. Trevor's a psychopath, Michael's a gigantic asshole, man child... Other than Franklin, none of the main characters are really that admirable.

So, we come right back to the point that reviewer directed her criticisms only toward the area of the game that pertained to her, when there's plenty of room for everyone to get offended. But we don't, because the game's ridiculous. It's meant to offend, and it offends everyone.

Franklin's not a stereotype, though. He's in a specific socio-economic sitaution, but he himself doesn't run around not paying child support on a dozen bastard children with a bucket of fried chicken under one arm and a watermelon under the other.

The point is that there's a bit of a double standard because it's generally considered OK to denigrate women. A "smell like a bitch" billboard is barely a blip on anyone's radar but a "smell like a n-----" would have landed this game on the front page of every news site in the country. Tell me if you think I'm wrong about that.

Let me ask the question a different way. If you agreed that the game were sexist or racist, would you think that information would belong in the review?

-Byshop

#90 Edited by IMAHAPYHIPPO (2536 posts) -

@Byshop said:

@IMAHAPYHIPPO said:

To be honest, I haven't played GTA V as thoroughly as GTA IV, as I was moving across the country two days after its release. While I haven't seen anything overtly racist, the game certainly presents Franklin's world at that of the stereotypical, poor, druggie Blacks, and I'd imagine activists on that front wouldn't find the portrayal of Franklin's world all that politically correct. The game pokes fun at races, religions, and yes, none of them quite as much as women. But I think you kind of answered your own question on that front. That's because 47% of the world's population are women. 47% aren't Black, Jewish, etc... Race and religion are a minority compared to the amount of women in the world, and I think the game attacks groups of people based on their abundance. The game certainly doesn't portray men in that high of a regard, just look at two of the three main characters. Trevor's a psychopath, Michael's a gigantic asshole, man child... Other than Franklin, none of the main characters are really that admirable.

So, we come right back to the point that reviewer directed her criticisms only toward the area of the game that pertained to her, when there's plenty of room for everyone to get offended. But we don't, because the game's ridiculous. It's meant to offend, and it offends everyone.

Franklin's not a stereotype, though. He's in a specific socio-economic sitaution, but he himself doesn't run around not paying child support on a dozen bastard children with a bucket of fried chicken under one arm and a watermelon under the other.

The point is that there's a bit of a double standard because it's generally considered OK to denigrate women. A "smell like a bitch" billboard is barely a blip on anyone's radar but a "smell like a n-----" would have landed this game on the front page of every news site in the country. Tell me if you think I'm wrong about that.

Let me ask the question a different way. If you agreed that the game were sexist or racist, would you think that information would belong in the review?

-Byshop

You're focusing on a single word, here. The n-word carries significantly more negative weight than the word bitch does, and you're aware of that too. You clearly spelled out the word bitch, but you knew better than to drop an n-bomb even in the everything-goes world of an internet message board. In a place where people behave in the most inappropriate and unacceptable ways, you still knew better than to use that word. Bitch has a number of different meanings, the first of which the name for a female dog, and while it's obviously not how the word is used in the game, the fact remains that it's far more acceptable to use than the n-word. That word carries a certain stigma from the days of slavery, and you're damn right it would stir a huge controversy if it was plastered across a billboard in GTA, and that's because women not being able to vote and hold a job is a hell of a lot different than being bought and sold into mass genocide, while living in clay huts and performing manual labor in fear of getting severely beaten or slaughtered like cattle.

Slavery is a whole different ballgame than the women's rights movement, and even satire has its boundaries. It's not okay to degrade women, and that's precisely why it's present in GTA V, but comparing it to slavery is meritless, and that's exactly what you're arguing -- even if you don't realize it -- when you compare the word bitch to the n-word. They are not the same thing.

#91 Posted by Byshop (10965 posts) -

@Jacanuk said:

Are you serious Byshop?

GTA doesn't treat women or men any worse then it does fat people, in GTA IV they had Gervais make a short stand up show about how he hate midgets, fat people, and about cancer not to mention their running joke on jocks, rich, thin, mexicans, asians, black, russians and a ton of other groups.

So my question to you then is "why do women need special treatment?"

I think it does treat women worse, and I listed specific examples of why I think that. I think it's more a question of that we as a society care a lot less if something is sexist than racist.

But either way, I think the review is fair because even if i disagreed with Carolyn's review I think the topic of sexism is a fair one to make in games, just like racism or any other social issue that can affect people's enjoyment of the game.

-Byshop

#92 Posted by Byshop (10965 posts) -

You're focusing on a single word, here. The n-word carries significantly more negative weight than the word bitch does, and you're aware of that too. You clearly spelled out the word bitch, but you knew better than to drop an n-bomb even in the everything-goes world of an internet message board. In a place where people behave in the most inappropriate and unacceptable ways, you still knew better than to use that word. Bitch has a number of different meanings, the first of which the name for a female dog, and while it's obviously not how the word is used in the game, the fact remains that it's far more acceptable to use than the n-word. That word carries a certain stigma from the days of slavery, and you're damn right it would stir a huge controversy if it was plastered across a billboard in GTA, and that's because women not being able to vote and hold a job is a hell of a lot different than being bought and sold into mass genocide, while living in clay huts and performing manual labor in fear of getting severely beaten or slaughtered like cattle.

Slavery is a whole different ballgame than the women's rights movement, and even satire has its boundaries. It's not okay to degrade women, and that's precisely why it's present in GTA V, but comparing it to slavery is meritless, and that's exactly what you're arguing -- even if you don't realize it -- when you compare the word bitch to the n-word. They are not the same thing.

Wow, okay, a couple points here:

1) I didn't spell out the N-word because I'm pretty sure that would be get moderated, not because I fear using the word in the context in which I would have used it. Racial slurs (regardless of how charged the particular word is) aren't allowed on here.

2) I -strongly- disagree that use of the n-word evokes a comparison to slavery. Yes, I recognize that the word has been around since slavery but speaking as someone who is half black, if someone calls me the n-word or an "oreo cookie" or whatever, my first thought is that "this guy is a racist asshole who doesn't like me", not "OMG, a shared racial history of a hundred years of slavery is all rushing back into my head and traumatizing me". So yeah, I pretty much consider racism or sexism against -any- group equal. I'm not going to get into an argument of which group has had it worst in the past because frankly that doesn't matter.

3) If you think the history of the mistreatment of women amonts to inequal voting and and job rights, then you have some pretty big gaps in your history in this country alone. If you go worldwide, it can get pretty incredibly shitty real fast even today.

But sure, I'll agree that the word is an uneven comparison. Pick a race, though. I think any race would evoke a stronger reaction.

-Byshop

#93 Edited by loafofgame (370 posts) -
@Articuno76 said:

Gamespot is engaging in the act of guessing what their audience is and what they think. So yes, preferences are assumed. If they weren't the act of reviewing stops making sense because there would be no way to transpose one personal experience as the probable personal experience of other people!

All publications do this because they cannot function otherwise. I know you want to believe that the audience is a nebulous target that no one can nail down and therefore the idea of an assumed audience is silly - but it bloody well is not!! When you make a website like this the editors sit around and decide in excruciating detail on who their audience is, how they are going to talk to them and so on as part of shaping a publication voice.

Publications have been working the assumed audience principle for decades and this has held true for print magazines, newspapers, journals and probably even stone tablets. The presence of a minority in an audience doesn't change that; you simply ignore them maintain focus on what matters - your core audience.

There's nothing wrong with slanted or minority coverage but there are rags specifically for those, just as Gamespot is specifically for its particular audience.

Gamespot knows who its audience is, even if you're confused both that one exists and as to who they are.

Assuming an audience is homogeneous isn't 'dangerous', it's practical...even if it may not be 100% true.

Seriously, not to be an exclusive asshat here but get some publication experience and you'll understand why my approach is not only correct, but the only acceptable way to run a publication when you extrapolate the thinking behind Carloyn's review publication-wide.

I admit my beliefs are more idealistic than realistic and I will retract any suggestions I made about core audiences being vague or non-existent (although I still think that even if your core audience is clearly defined, there are grey areas you can consider without sacrificing your main readership or your professional conduct, even on Gamespot). But you're only addressing one aspect of my argument. I have presented several arguments that imply the presence of a core audience.

There's no doubt Gamespot has ideas about who their general audience is and there's no doubt that catering to that audience is an important and valuable aim, but I disagree that that audience should always be the single focus of a review and I also disagree that any sense of professional conduct is compromised when that audience isn't catered to with every single word (as I already pointed out). That would imply an extremely inconsiderate and entitled audience, not to mention one incapable of thinking for itself. The general audience is in the privileged position of being able to check multiple (free) sources, which makes a deviant, but relevant argument acceptable (especially in the context of all content being free and users therefore having no significant investment in this content, aside from a potential emotional one).

If the sporadic discussions of issues that don't cater to you really make you stop visiting Gamespot, then I doubt you were part of the general audience in the first place. If the employer and editors allowed Petit to publish this, then they must have thought the general audience would accept and/or respect it. And it turns out some of them did and some them didn't. Granted, those who didn't were often more passionate about it, but still, there was no indication that the entire general audience was disapproving of this incident. And that's the wiggle room I mentioned. You can never be 100% sure about your audience (even though this case might seem like a grave misjudgement), so you might have to test some things out to see how accepting your general audience might be or, more importantly, has become (because, well, my point that audiences can change and develop still stands).

Again, Petit's argument compromised nothing (not the profession, not other reviewers, not the other information in her review), didn't hinder the general audience in making an appropriate decision about purchasing a game, was valuable to a significant amount of Gamespot's audience and touched upon broader issues than her direct claims that still related to the game.

I cannot sympathise with anyone who thinks the 1% (I doubt it is even 1%) of information that doesn't cater to the general audience is unacceptable and a disgrace to the profession. If you think that way, then it's very hard for me not to see you as unnecessarily exclusive, regardless of how many publication experience you have. I could sympathise with such an exclusive approach when it relates to, for example, mustache combs, but not when it comes to any form of art criticism (except maybe when you're a very small website or single critic that relies on a very dedicated and small core audience). In Gamespot's context the general audience might be the most important aspect to consider when publishing something, but it's not some sort of god you should obey.

Do I not have a single point here...?

#94 Posted by Byshop (10965 posts) -

@loafofgame:

Yeah, I'm pretty much in the same camp as you loadofgame. My views may not necessarily reflect how the gaming community is, but they reflect how the gaming community should be. There's already a perception that video games are just entertainment for adolescent manchildren and teenage boys. I don't expect everyone to agree that GTAV might be sexist, but I think it says bad things about our community that people have no room for that opinion.

Is GTAV sexist? I think there are points on both sides of the argument. I hadn't really noticed until Carolyn's review pointed out several specific points, and that made me view the game a little bit differently. But the idea that there's no room for such an opinion because GS's target audience is a bunch of boys and manchildren who won't care is a terrible one.

-Byshop

#95 Edited by loafofgame (370 posts) -
@Byshop said:

@loafofgame:

Yeah, I'm pretty much in the same camp as you loadofgame. My views may not necessarily reflect how the gaming community is, but they reflect how the gaming community should be. There's already a perception that video games are just entertainment for adolescent manchildren and teenage boys. I don't expect everyone to agree that GTAV might be sexist, but I think it says bad things about our community that people have no room for that opinion.

Is GTAV sexist? I think there are points on both sides of the argument. I hadn't really noticed until Carolyn's review pointed out several specific points, and that made me view the game a little bit differently. But the idea that there's no room for such an opinion because GS's target audience is a bunch of boys and manchildren who won't care is a terrible one.

-Byshop

If only it were a bunch of boys and manchildren. I do not question the intelligence of some of the people who present an opinion that questions Petit's conduct, but I simply can't grasp some people's indignation and sometimes even disgust (not to mention the implied sense of entitlement) when considering the insignificance of this incident within their context. If only there were a handful of reviews to turn to, if only this kind of argument pervaded the majority of reviews, if only those arguments dictated an entire review; then I could understand their position. But this is so shockingly harmless in the context of all the reviews out there and, in my opinion, even in the context of a single review, that I'm having a hard time understanding what the fundamental motivation is for complaining about it, apart from an unjustifiably strong sense of entitlement (or maybe even jealousy).

#96 Posted by Byshop (10965 posts) -

@loafofgame:

Yeah, that part boggled my mind too. It's not like this is everyone's sole source for reviews. Last I looked, there are 62 GTAV reviews on metacritic and like 35 of them were 10/10. Just because a few reviews are coming at this game from a different perspective than most is no reason to freak out. I pretty much never agree with McShae's reviews at all, but if I'm fairly certain that I'll get no value from reading them I don't have to.

-Byshop