The Responsibility of the Journalist

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Posted by clockworkengine (192 posts) -

I don't know how to say these things without being labeled a hater, so I'll just say it outright. First, let me clarify that I have many friends who don't share my sexual orientation. This isn't a matter of disapproval of someone's lifestyle. I wish it to be known that I support any sexual orientation a person feels they are aligned with. That is the end of the coddling; if you read on from this point and still choose to believe this is a hate post, I don't care.

This is a games website, and it should always be about the games. The Gone Home review is a prime example why sexuality has no business on a games site (where, for the record, children of all ages gather). My experience of the game, as well as that of virtually every Gamespot member who has posted a review, is that the game is nothing more than entertaining. No disrespect to Caroline Petit intended, but I feel the sole reason Gone Home received the score Caroline gave it was because Caroline identified with the sexual aspect of the game. If I were the editor of a news site, I would be sensible about who I assign game reviews to. If a member of my staff repeatedly cited sexual situations as the impetus for review scoring, I would start assigning the games that raise sexual flags to another reviewer and give the offending reviewer simpler, less complex games to review.

I'm directing this straight to you, Caroline. I find you to be a thoughtful, intelligent person with a lot to offer regarding how you look at games. Often I listen to your reviews and marvel at how similar your view is to mine with regard to certain feelings such as nostalgia. I've been a member of gamespot for 12 years. I've come to depend in part on the service for determining which games to spend my money on.

I'm asking you as a reader and a fan of Gamespot to leave those personal aspects in private and stop judging video games (the most unsexual art form on the planet) on the merit of sexuality. I'll cite the GTA V review in closing. Caroline spoke at length about the misogynistic aspects of the game, referring to them as crude, hateful, and politically incorrect, but ignored the encouraged murder of innocent civilians, drug trafficking, bank heists, and many other, much more undesirable, sociopathic, and destructive behavior perpetrated by the characters of the game. This is obvious personal bias toward sexuality over other more merited focal points of the game that should have been discussed. Honestly, I don't want reviews based on morality of any kind, whether its the way characters treat one another or whether or not there are gay, lesbian, or straight people in it. Everyone knows that GTA is about gangsters and unsavory people, and everyone knows the game is in a constant state of self-parody. Giving it a negative review based on the behavior of its fictional characters is as useful as giving Home Alone negative reviews for being a Christmas movie.

Please restore the integrity of Gamespot and help Caroline and other reviewers get on board about what is important in games: fun, plot, and play control. Once more, I apologize to anyone who is offended by this blog. I just thought it was time for me to add my opinion to the ongoing situation we have here.

#1 Posted by IndianaPwns39 (5037 posts) -

Carolyn shouldn't be forced to avoid reviewing a certain game since it contains elements that may be personal to her... How would they even go about implementing such a system? Carolyn was one of the first to play "Gone Home" and wrote her review based on her own personal feelings. You're implying someone should play the game, review it, to see if their reviewer will review it without any personal bias?

Carolyn's personal life style and position as a game journalist should be celebrated instead of coddled or tucked away. Personally, I've disagreed with some of the scores she's handed out in the past but it never hampered my personal enjoyment, or dissatisfaction, with any game she's reviewed. However, there are many out there that may relate to Carolyn's own opinions who find her reviews important. Who's to say someone similar to Carolyn wouldn't have had a similar response to playing "Gone Home".

Having more varied opinions on certain aspects of games is a good thing. The line "help Caroline and other reviewers get on board about what is important in games: fun, plot, and play control" is ridiculous because you cannot dictate what a single individual, or even the entire industry, finds important.

#2 Posted by clockworkengine (192 posts) -

Hey, that's what you want, not what I want. I want games reviews, not sexual and social commentary. Don't make this about lifestyle; it isn't. It's about reviewing a game, not the sexual attitude of the characters of the game. Your response was essentially "don't state your opinion because opinions vary". Well, I don't fall for that.

#3 Edited by Jacanuk (3636 posts) -

@clockworkengine said:

I don't know how to say these things without being labeled a hater, so I'll just say it outright. First, let me clarify that I have many friends who don't share my sexual orientation. This isn't a matter of disapproval of someone's lifestyle. I wish it to be known that I support any sexual orientation a person feels they are aligned with. That is the end of the coddling; if you read on from this point and still choose to believe this is a hate post, I don't care.

This is a games website, and it should always be about the games. The Gone Home review is a prime example why sexuality has no business on a games site (where, for the record, children of all ages gather). My experience of the game, as well as that of virtually every Gamespot member who has posted a review, is that the game is nothing more than entertaining. No disrespect to Caroline Petit intended, but I feel the sole reason Gone Home received the score Caroline gave it was because Caroline identified with the sexual aspect of the game. If I were the editor of a news site, I would be sensible about who I assign game reviews to. If a member of my staff repeatedly cited sexual situations as the impetus for review scoring, I would start assigning the games that raise sexual flags to another reviewer and give the offending reviewer simpler, less complex games to review.

I'm directing this straight to you, Caroline. I find you to be a thoughtful, intelligent person with a lot to offer regarding how you look at games. Often I listen to your reviews and marvel at how similar your view is to mine with regard to certain feelings such as nostalgia. I've been a member of gamespot for 12 years. I've come to depend in part on the service for determining which games to spend my money on.

I'm asking you as a reader and a fan of Gamespot to leave those personal aspects in private and stop judging video games (the most unsexual art form on the planet) on the merit of sexuality. I'll cite the GTA V review in closing. Caroline spoke at length about the misogynistic aspects of the game, referring to them as crude, hateful, and politically incorrect, but ignored the encouraged murder of innocent civilians, drug trafficking, bank heists, and many other, much more undesirable, sociopathic, and destructive behavior perpetrated by the characters of the game. This is obvious personal bias toward sexuality over other more merited focal points of the game that should have been discussed. Honestly, I don't want reviews based on morality of any kind, whether its the way characters treat one another or whether or not there are gay, lesbian, or straight people in it. Everyone knows that GTA is about gangsters and unsavory people, and everyone knows the game is in a constant state of self-parody. Giving it a negative review based on the behavior of its fictional characters is as useful as giving Home Alone negative reviews for being a Christmas movie.

Please restore the integrity of Gamespot and help Caroline and other reviewers get on board about what is important in games: fun, plot, and play control. Once more, I apologize to anyone who is offended by this blog. I just thought it was time for me to add my opinion to the ongoing situation we have here.

First everyone can call themselves a journalist so its not like its a superduper title that proves that you have a superior "skill" then your average joe couch.

Also despite you being right in that Gone Home received so high praise is because it dealt with a subject that is almost never in games unless its a bioware game, and they just do it because they think it will sell. reviews are personal opinions nothing more and therefore if homosexuality appeals to a largely San Francisco based Gamespot, well cool its their site and their opinion CBS pays for not you, me or any readers.

So Gamespot didn´t lose anything by the Gone Home Review, Carolyn gave a opinion and like with French movies, what appeals to "critics" rarely hits home with Joe couch and Mrs. Potato.

Also if you want a response from Carolyn you should either email it, post it on the profile page or go to Neogaf. Gamespot staff dont use their own forums at all.

#4 Edited by IndianaPwns39 (5037 posts) -

Hey, that's what you want, not what I want. I want games reviews, not sexual and social commentary. Don't make this about lifestyle; it isn't. It's about reviewing a game, not the sexual attitude of the characters of the game. Your response was essentially "don't state your opinion because opinions vary". Well, I don't fall for that.

What I want is varied reviews and opinions from multiple people instead of the same, recycled "journalism" that gaming is plagued with. If one has a personal, emotional response to the sexuality or social stigma found in a game, so be it. Why does it bother you that a single critic out there wrote their opinion on a game?

"It's about reviewing a game, not the sexual attitude of the characters of the game" is ridiculous. Review the game, just ignore how it makes you feel. Review the game, just ignore the characters. What?

My response was not "don't state your opinion because opinions vary", however, your initial post is essentially that idea. You're asking Carolyn, who possesses a different opinion than you, not to voice those opinions. You go as far to say "I would start assigning the games that raise sexual flags to another reviewer and give the offending reviewer simpler, less complex games to review" which is absurd. You say it isn't about lifestyle, and to you, it isn't, and that's fine. However, not everyone feels that way and it's insulting to think the opinions of those in the industry should be shuttered just because you think the medium is only capable of producing meaningless fun and not something with significant impact on one's life.

I think we've cornered gaming into what it should be. Yes, fun, excellent level design, fantastic worlds we can explore with our leisure/imagination create the cornerstone of this industry. But why do we so often discredit games that do something different? Why did Journey get attacked by gamers because of it's simplistic nature? Why is Gone Home being belittled because it made someone feel something personal? This doesn't mean these games have to appeal to you or everyone, but to dismiss one's opinion or ask them only to focus on reviewing what makes up a traditional game is just regressive in nature.

#5 Posted by clockworkengine (192 posts) -

@clockworkengine said:

Hey, that's what you want, not what I want. I want games reviews, not sexual and social commentary. Don't make this about lifestyle; it isn't. It's about reviewing a game, not the sexual attitude of the characters of the game. Your response was essentially "don't state your opinion because opinions vary". Well, I don't fall for that.

What I want is varied reviews and opinions from multiple people instead of the same, recycled "journalism" that gaming is plagued with. If one has a personal, emotional response to the sexuality or social stigma found in a game, so be it. Why does it bother you that a single critic out there wrote their opinion on a game?

"It's about reviewing a game, not the sexual attitude of the characters of the game" is ridiculous. Review the game, just ignore how it makes you feel. Review the game, just ignore the characters. What?

My response was not "don't state your opinion because opinions vary", however, your initial post is essentially that idea. You're asking Carolyn, who possesses a different opinion than you, not to voice those opinions. You go as far to say "I would start assigning the games that raise sexual flags to another reviewer and give the offending reviewer simpler, less complex games to review" which is absurd. You say it isn't about lifestyle, and to you, it isn't, and that's fine. However, not everyone feels that way and it's insulting to think the opinions of those in the industry should be shuttered just because you think the medium is only capable of producing meaningless fun and not something with significant impact on one's life.

I think we've cornered gaming into what it should be. Yes, fun, excellent level design, fantastic worlds we can explore with our leisure/imagination create the cornerstone of this industry. But why do we so often discredit games that do something different? Why did Journey get attacked by gamers because of it's simplistic nature? Why is Gone Home being belittled because it made someone feel something personal? This doesn't mean these games have to appeal to you or everyone, but to dismiss one's opinion or ask them only to focus on reviewing what makes up a traditional game is just regressive in nature.

You say it's insulting to think the way I do but didn't you notice all the preemptive apologies I provided with this blog entry? It's clearly my intention to provoke discussion and not to offend, and yet you still find my thoughts insulting. Hmm, I find that highly interesting. Don't be insulted by random people's opinions. That's the power of self-esteem.

You say it's 'regressing in nature' to ask a game reviewer to provide unbiased opinions of a game in a way that would appeal to the reader rather than to the crusading journalist. I suggest you consult Google on the meaning of regressive. These reviewers aren't up there making political statements to each other and to themselves. They're not here to advance their own agenda. They are here for the targets of their ad revenue, and many of us aren't happy with the injection of personal beliefs and lifestyles into the equation.I hate to get down to the numbers here, but you seem to think they're on a poetry and philosophy parade up there in reviewerland. They aren't. Their job is to provide facts and relevant *repeat- relevant* opinions to help people decide what to buy.

You say I discredit and belittle Gone Home because it appealed to someone. Firstly, I thought the game had many shortcomings. It was short, there was no challenge, and the story was boring. Those are the things I feel are wrong with the game. Again, it has nothing to do with someone's lifestyle. Secondly, let us discuss emotional appeal and game design for a moment. Final Fantasy VII was a game that made me feel many emotions, evoking laughter, tears, rage, and many other reactions within me. It told a hundred stories. It brought about a new era in video gaming, it played the single largest role in the Playstation platform's rise to dominance, and it pushed the envelope of what a game could be. The game provided roughly 70 hours of content. Gone Home was a slightly enjoyable 45 minute walk through a house full of notes and game cartridges learning about a family's deep-rooted domestic issues. Period. So it tells a story about two lesbian adolescents who hung out then missed each other then hung out again. I've seen that in Beavis and Butthead too, but it didn't have any more of an impact on me then than it did when watching the final scene of Gone Home. And wouldn't you know it? Both games received the same rating. There is no logic to that, until you realize the reviewer is a very sexually outspoken person who either is or was in a state of emotional change and contemplation.

Caroline strikes me as a very contemplative person; a philosopher. I suggest, with all due respect, that Caroline may have allowed those personal philosophies to infiltrate the realm of professional responsibility, and I feel we Gamespot fans deserve to hear game reviews without such a strong personal injection. Like Carolyn said in the recent NES Remix review, and I paraphrase: you wouldn't find any value in looking at a stranger's cherished family photos. That was a metaphor for a simple truth: injecting your own personal feelings doesn't add value to information if your readers don't share those feelings. In fact, using up the review space to inject your personal feelings is eliminating space that could provide more factual information to make an informed judgment on whether or not I want to spend hard earned cash on a game. Furthermore, while the reader is entertaining the writer's personal notions, the reader is not able to fully entertain his or her own personal feelings to make a connection with the game content the reviewer is attempting to demonstrate to them. Put simply, Caroline's review style is analogous to someone trying to push a square peg into a round hole. It doesn't fit. I love Carolyn's vivid writing style, and if she could just avoid the personal saturation, she would find much more success with myself and a very large number of Gamespot users. At any rate, the sponsors are always watching.

#6 Posted by Byshop (10966 posts) -

At one point in time, games were (from a narrative perspective) 1 or maybe 2 dimensional at most. These days, games mimmick movies and TV shows in the quality of their narrative so when they fall flat in this department that's a valid complaint against the game, regardless of how good the gameplay might be.

When I read the Gamespot review, the comments on the lack of strong female characters who weren't shrill harpies or comedic charicatures -did- feel a bit forced in the context of the review. I felt like this reviewer might have been projecting their own feelings about gender roles into a game or review where it perhaps wasn't as relevant to everyone else. However, after playing the game all the way through, I felt like these comments were actually pretty spot-on.

So the question becomes, should the game's score be affected by this? At the end of the day, I don't really care. The score is always going to be subjective based on the elements that the reviewer cares more about or that the reviewing organization sets forth in its guidelines. As long as the reviewer gives a factually accurate description, I can get an idea of whether or not I'll like the game. A reviewer or site might ding a game pretty significantly for having dated graphics, but if you know that's not something you care about then a low score shouldn't prevent you from trying it.

-Byshop

#7 Posted by clockworkengine (192 posts) -

You make your points well, Byshop. But didn't it occur to you when you decided the review's comments about female caricature were accurate that you were playing a game that is itself one massive caricature? If the reviewer indicated that a game that is essentially a caricature is full of caricatures, wouldn't that effectively increase the score, since it means the game developers achieved their mark since they set out to make a caricature in the first place? Does it make sense to knock a game whose plot involves a bunch of men committing crimes because it doesn't involve a bunch of women committing crimes? Do you think GTA V was about male empowerment and female submissiveness just because the game didn't provide a foil character in the form of a woman who ran around doing all the things men did?

Let's think less of Metroid for never having a male protagonist. Nah, because Metroid is the story of the battle between two females: Samus and Mother Brain. Let's criticize Battletoads because the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles weren't offered a spot on the roster. Nah, because it's called Battletoads and it's a story about toads, not turtles. Forget all that, let's feel insulted by ALL video games because they single out three-horned jackolantern horses by never including them in the games. Need I continue? Is it absurd enough yet? It was from the beginning. Let's just forget all the life philosophy and viewpoints and focus on the facts about the game.

#8 Posted by IndianaPwns39 (5037 posts) -

You say it's insulting to think the way I do but didn't you notice all the preemptive apologies I provided with this blog entry? It's clearly my intention to provoke discussion and not to offend, and yet you still find my thoughts insulting. Hmm, I find that highly interesting. Don't be insulted by random people's opinions. That's the power of self-esteem.

You say it's 'regressing in nature' to ask a game reviewer to provide unbiased opinions of a game in a way that would appeal to the reader rather than to the crusading journalist. I suggest you consult Google on the meaning of regressive. These reviewers aren't up there making political statements to each other and to themselves. They're not here to advance their own agenda. They are here for the targets of their ad revenue, and many of us aren't happy with the injection of personal beliefs and lifestyles into the equation.I hate to get down to the numbers here, but you seem to think they're on a poetry and philosophy parade up there in reviewerland. They aren't. Their job is to provide facts and relevant *repeat- relevant* opinions to help people decide what to buy.

You say I discredit and belittle Gone Home because it appealed to someone. Firstly, I thought the game had many shortcomings. It was short, there was no challenge, and the story was boring. Those are the things I feel are wrong with the game. Again, it has nothing to do with someone's lifestyle. Secondly, let us discuss emotional appeal and game design for a moment. Final Fantasy VII was a game that made me feel many emotions, evoking laughter, tears, rage, and many other reactions within me. It told a hundred stories. It brought about a new era in video gaming, it played the single largest role in the Playstation platform's rise to dominance, and it pushed the envelope of what a game could be. The game provided roughly 70 hours of content. Gone Home was a slightly enjoyable 45 minute walk through a house full of notes and game cartridges learning about a family's deep-rooted domestic issues. Period. So it tells a story about two lesbian adolescents who hung out then missed each other then hung out again. I've seen that in Beavis and Butthead too, but it didn't have any more of an impact on me then than it did when watching the final scene of Gone Home. And wouldn't you know it? Both games received the same rating. There is no logic to that, until you realize the reviewer is a very sexually outspoken person who either is or was in a state of emotional change and contemplation.

Caroline strikes me as a very contemplative person; a philosopher. I suggest, with all due respect, that Caroline may have allowed those personal philosophies to infiltrate the realm of professional responsibility, and I feel we Gamespot fans deserve to hear game reviews without such a strong personal injection. Like Carolyn said in the recent NES Remix review, and I paraphrase: you wouldn't find any value in looking at a stranger's cherished family photos. That was a metaphor for a simple truth: injecting your own personal feelings doesn't add value to information if your readers don't share those feelings. In fact, using up the review space to inject your personal feelings is eliminating space that could provide more factual information to make an informed judgment on whether or not I want to spend hard earned cash on a game. Furthermore, while the reader is entertaining the writer's personal notions, the reader is not able to fully entertain his or her own personal feelings to make a connection with the game content the reviewer is attempting to demonstrate to them. Put simply, Caroline's review style is analogous to someone trying to push a square peg into a round hole. It doesn't fit. I love Carolyn's vivid writing style, and if she could just avoid the personal saturation, she would find much more success with myself and a very large number of Gamespot users. At any rate, the sponsors are always watching.

A preemptive apology means nothing if you're just going to go on and say something insulting. If you ever hear the phrase "not to sound racist but..." you're about to hear something racist. Don't discredit my disagreements simply because you already apologized.

Even then, if this was just a matter of your opinion I wouldn't necessarily care or find it insulting. My issue is that you continue to dictate what makes a game, what should be considered relevancy, and you're not refuting these points you're just repeating them as some sort of fact. You clearly missed the point of my last paragraph in my previous entry, so I'll go into further detail on my opinion on the matter.

Let's start with your second paragraph.

By saying a reviewer has to adhere to a certain criteria when reviewing a game is removing their humanity. A review is based on the critics own enjoyment and personal response to the game, in other words, their opinion. You say many users dislike the personal injection put into game reviews, and you're probably right. However, this doesn't mean everyone feels that way. There are plenty of people that appreciate these more personal reviews, myself included. I do agree with you that their job is to provide relevant information, but what one considers relevant varies person to person. It's unfair to discredit Carolyn's review as irrelevant since it matters to her, it matters to people with similar taste, and she's hardly the only journalist that praised the game for similar merits.

Your third paragraph directly relates to what I was saying in my last post that you completely ignored. You cannot dictate or demand one game receive a higher score based on your personal criteria. Gone Home is short in comparison to a massive, AAA RPG, so what? Gone Home and Final Fantasy are completely different games, and the length, challenge rating, and so on shouldn't be directly compared. This is the medium expanding, and there are likely many people that find something like Gone Home much more intriguing or interesting than Final Fantasy VII. Personally, I'll always prefer games like FFVII and the sweeping, huge epics with loads of content. But a game that elicits emotion on a personal level, the very reason Gone Home was created, may be well loved by those that it spoke to. It doesn't matter how short it is, how easy it is, that's not why it was built. Its high rating doesn't mean they should be directly compared, they're completely different, made for different reasons, and so on.

Furthermore, just because Gone Home didn't get a reaction from you doesn't mean everyone else shares the same opinion. Carolyn makes it very clear in her review that it was an emotional, rather simple game. If you picked it up and responded to it negatively because of the lack of content or heavy, slow moving story focus, you clearly didn't read the contents of the review.

Finally, I just don't feel Carolyn needs to cater to a broader audience as I don't think she's doing anything wrong. Reviews are simply opinions, and relevant detail, again, shouldn't be dictated by a single person's own criteria. I enjoy reading Gamespot's reviews, even if I disagree with them, simply because these are people with personalities that showcase a strong love for the industry.

As gaming becomes broader, reviews are going to become more personal. Like books, games like Gone Home will attract certain people and turn off others. That doesn't mean one opinion is wrong or the other is right, it just means it's a more polarizing experience. Your complaints seem less to do with professional integrity and more that you just didn't enjoy the game and are angry someone else gave it high marks. Carolyn felt the game deserved a high score, gave her reasons, and there's nothing stopping you from doing the same. To say she isn't professional because she wrote about her personal response to a purposefully emotional game is wrong, but that's just my opinion.

And yes, the sponsers are watching. Though in this instance, not sure they're going to care that Gone Home received high marks when it received the same score pretty much everywhere else.

#9 Posted by Gargus (2147 posts) -

#10 Posted by LJS9502_basic (149475 posts) -

Reviews are opinions. One should always be aware of reviewer bias. It's the rare person that can post accurately about something that they have a bias toward/against.

I look at the review to see if a game is broken. That is all the review is going to help anyway. Plus...always get multiple sources. I don't find GS to be the best source for reviews to start with. This is one of the reasons why. it's not about the game anymore but about what statements.

#11 Edited by ReddestSkies (4087 posts) -

Game reviewers are never, and can never be objective. There is no such thing as an objective video game review, and trying to dictate what parts of a game should be analysed is not only pointless, but quite frankly ridiculous.

And I'd also like to take a moment to say that writing a wall of text to complain about a score doesn't make that complain any less ridiculous. Scores don't matter, please stop caring.

Edit: and a game reviewer is not a journalist. A journalist reports news, and game reviewer tells you his opinion. His biased, subjective, nurtured opinion.

#12 Posted by Metamania (11955 posts) -

@Gargus said:

Apparently, you did since you posted. Good job!

#13 Posted by Byshop (10966 posts) -

You make your points well, Byshop. But didn't it occur to you when you decided the review's comments about female caricature were accurate that you were playing a game that is itself one massive caricature? If the reviewer indicated that a game that is essentially a caricature is full of caricatures, wouldn't that effectively increase the score, since it means the game developers achieved their mark since they set out to make a caricature in the first place? Does it make sense to knock a game whose plot involves a bunch of men committing crimes because it doesn't involve a bunch of women committing crimes? Do you think GTA V was about male empowerment and female submissiveness just because the game didn't provide a foil character in the form of a woman who ran around doing all the things men did?

Let's think less of Metroid for never having a male protagonist. Nah, because Metroid is the story of the battle between two females: Samus and Mother Brain. Let's criticize Battletoads because the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles weren't offered a spot on the roster. Nah, because it's called Battletoads and it's a story about toads, not turtles. Forget all that, let's feel insulted by ALL video games because they single out three-horned jackolantern horses by never including them in the games. Need I continue? Is it absurd enough yet? It was from the beginning. Let's just forget all the life philosophy and viewpoints and focus on the facts about the game.

Ah, I see. The problem here is that you completely missed the point of the review's complaint about the game.

If the review had complained about a lack of female protagonists or female empowerment, then you are absolutely correct. It's unrealistic to think that every game that ever comes out is going to be a step forward in the representation of females in video games or contain female role models that little girls can look up to. Hell, GTA5 didn't even have any male role models.

But that's not what the review was complaining about. It complained about billboards with juvenile double entedres like a slogan of "smell like a bitch" on a perfume billboard or describing using a woman as a urinal in a satirical radio ad. This, combined with the fact that virtually every significant female character in the game is some collection of negative female stereotypes (Michael's abrasive, new-age, cheating, goldddiger wife, his TV reality-whore daughter, and even the Linsdey Lohan analog on the paparazzi missions) all paint a negative picture of women in general.

It's one thing to not include a group of people in the narrative of a game, but it's quite another to include them in an extremely negative light. If you made a game that didn't happen to have any black characters in it, I doubt a lot of people would complain as long as that absence didn't seem curiously conspicuous based on context (i.e. if you had set it in Africa, then that would be weird). However, if you -do- include black people, but only as jive talking, big lipped, fried chicken-eating, criminals then you are very likely to get some well deserved criticism for your game. This game is not guilty of the prior, it's guilty of the latter.

-Byshop

#14 Edited by ZZoMBiE13 (22911 posts) -

Damn that Roger Ebert, telling me about the craft of filmmaking. I just want to know if this movie has 'SPLOSIONS or not. How dare he waste my time after I sought out his opinion, clicked a link to go to his site, and read his words and feelings on a piece of art.

#15 Edited by clockworkengine (192 posts) -

@ZZoMBiE13: Cute, but I don't recall asking for an opinion on misogyny. I wanted an opinion on relevant issues regarding the game.

#16 Posted by Black_Knight_00 (18059 posts) -

This is what happens when this mentality that reviews are "just someone's opinion" takes over. What happens is that there no longer is a benchmark for what constitutes and good review and what doesn't. A review should be useful for everyone: it should tell you whether or not the game is well made, functional and well written, whether it offers a good value for the price and whether the developers achieved what they were trying to do.

When you let your personal tastes and opinions seep into the review, and worse: affect the final judgement, you end up making criticisms that are only relevant for people who share your very specific personal views, and irrelevant for everyone else.
If a reviewer feels the need to write about his or her personal feelings, maybe they should be writing blogs instead of reviews. Bloggers are just as respectable as reviewers and are welcome to speak their mind the way they see fit.

#17 Posted by loafofgame (370 posts) -

This is why I visit these forums. Because sometimes discussions are not about gameplay, mechanics and fun, but about the social and cultural aspects that are part of videogames. I side with @Byshop and @IndianaPwns39 on the matter. To adopt the words of @clockworkengine: as a reader and fan of Gamespot I ask for more varied personal views on games, because there are so many aspects left undiscussed. These are relevant aspects that pertain to how gamers and non-gamers view videogames, to the broadening of the gaming audience, to the development of gaming culture. Things I find very interesting, but I understand others might not like them so much. Still, I think these issues are important to discuss. But I'm not going to repeat what has already been said. I just hope this continues and that at some point I can add something new (right now I can't really think of something that hasn't already been said).

#18 Posted by ZZoMBiE13 (22911 posts) -

@ZZoMBiE13: Cute, but I don't recall asking for an opinion on misogyny. I wanted an opinion on relevant issues regarding the game.

No, I know what you want. You want your opinion validated and never challenged. You want to be catered to specifically. You want status quo across the board. How dare someone upset the apple cart by offering a different view that falls outside of your own myopic gaze.

You want a product review like Consumer Reports would do for a DVD player and not an honest artistic critique. You want your toys and to be left alone in your sandbox. I know you said you don't want to be labeled a hater and you've said it all in a very polite and eloquent way, but what I basically see here is a person asking to keep the girls out of the playhouse. And I don't mean gender, I mean ideas and open discussion of real issues. Just because they don't affect you doesn't make these issues unimportant and unworthy of discussion.

Ask Gamespot to restore its integrity? I assure you, no one ever improved their integrity by silencing someone. That might appease a few fans like you, but at what cost? One of the few voices out there not afraid to say "Hey, this made me uncomfortable" is not a bad thing. It should be celebrated. I mean is that really all you want games to ever be? Childish fantasy violence? And is that all the critique you feel they deserve? "Does this appeal to my masturbatory need to blow shit up"? I'm genuinely asking, this isn't an attack. I want to understand how you think things will be better by keeping down a person who speaks their mind.

There is a whole emotional spectrum and games have a unique ability to engage us in new ways. But the only way they can ever reach their potential is to embrace that. And part of embracing that is to allow open discussion about all issues, even ones we may find uncomfortable or outside of our own experiences. "Is it fun?" was fine a decade ago. But games have grown, the audience has grown, and if something is troubling the reviewer, ANY REVIEWER, I want to know it. A game bothers to make me feel uncomfortable instead of a steady stream of rewarding chimes when I get new candy? Tell me. Please! I want what you are trying to sweep under the rug and I honestly don't see why you're so afraid to let someone discuss those feelings.

Cute indeed.

#19 Posted by loafofgame (370 posts) -

This is what happens when this mentality that reviews are "just someone's opinion" takes over. What happens is that there no longer is a benchmark for what constitutes and good review and what doesn't. A review should be useful for everyone: it should tell you whether or not the game is well made, functional and well written, whether it offers a good value for the price and whether the developers achieved what they were trying to do.

That can't be achieved. There is no universal standard for 'well made', 'functional', 'well written' or 'good value for price'. It's why people have all these heated debates. Because they all disagree on what 'well made' means and at the same time they keep thinking there's somehow some general quality law we can all agree with. Everybody plays games in vastly different ways and everybody has very specific preferences. Reviews will never be useful for everyone.

#20 Posted by clockworkengine (192 posts) -

@ZZoMBiE13: You make far too many assumptions, and you're far too aggressive and confrontational. Plus, you're short-sighted and I can tell you're young and don't understand how the world works. I don't think I'll continue talking to you. Try to limit the names you call me down to two or three per post and I might change my mind.

@Black_Knight_00 said:

This is what happens when this mentality that reviews are "just someone's opinion" takes over. What happens is that there no longer is a benchmark for what constitutes and good review and what doesn't. A review should be useful for everyone: it should tell you whether or not the game is well made, functional and well written, whether it offers a good value for the price and whether the developers achieved what they were trying to do.

That can't be achieved. There is no universal standard for 'well made', 'functional', 'well written' or 'good value for price'. It's why people have all these heated debates. Because they all disagree on what 'well made' means and at the same time they keep thinking there's somehow some general quality law we can all agree with. Everybody plays games in vastly different ways and everybody has very specific preferences. Reviews will never be useful for everyone.

Loafofgame, you make a good point, but realize that you can easily achieve a well made, functional, etc review system for games by judging the things about the game that are unique to the medium of games. For instance, play control, etc. I'm sure you'll agree that that still won't cover what needs to be covered, and that a little more context is needed for an informed decision. I'm sure also that you recognize the difference between commenting on storyline stupidity or bad music compositions vs commenting on the sexual orientation and sexual attitudes of characters in the game. These things are highly personal, and as Black_Knight_00 said, a reviewer should make every effort to appeal to as many people as possible while alienating as few people as possible.

Regardless of what everyone's opinion is on the matter, I am fairly certain that if things continue as they currently are, the people who watch Gamespot's bottom line are going to come down and shake things up, and I doubt very seriously some of the reviewers here will make it through the changes.

#21 Posted by Byshop (10966 posts) -

This is why I visit these forums. Because sometimes discussions are not about gameplay, mechanics and fun, but about the social and cultural aspects that are part of videogames. I side with @Byshop and @IndianaPwns39 on the matter. To adopt the words of @clockworkengine: as a reader and fan of Gamespot I ask for more varied personal views on games, because there are so many aspects left undiscussed. These are relevant aspects that pertain to how gamers and non-gamers view videogames, to the broadening of the gaming audience, to the development of gaming culture. Things I find very interesting, but I understand others might not like them so much. Still, I think these issues are important to discuss. But I'm not going to repeat what has already been said. I just hope this continues and that at some point I can add something new (right now I can't really think of something that hasn't already been said).

Thanks. I think part of the problem with this particular game and review is that people look at it and think "yeah, but it's GTA, what do you expect? Why slam GTA for being GTA?". The problem with that thinking is that I think people are just more okay with something being sexist than they are with it being racist, particularly when it comes to video games.

To be clear, I don't care if the characters are racist or masagonistic in a video game. That's not what the complaint is about. Look at any Tarantino movie (Res Dogs, Pulp Fiction, Django, etc) and you'll find characters who have no regard for women whatsoever and characters who drop the N-bomb specifically as a racial slur. However, the -movies- themselves are not racist. Their stories and world of those movies do not present the opinions of these characters as fact, and that's the difference. The sexist attitudes in GTA go beyond the behavior of the male characters and extend to how the female characters behave, as well as much of the game's humor (radio ads, billboards, etc).

-Byshop

#22 Edited by clockworkengine (192 posts) -

@Byshop: Let me ask you one question, then: Do you think that a story about misogynistic men and dumb or subservient women should be forbidden from video games?

#23 Edited by Black_Knight_00 (18059 posts) -
@loafofgame said:

That can't be achieved. There is no universal standard for 'well made', 'functional', 'well written' or 'good value for price'. It's why people have all these heated debates. Because they all disagree on what 'well made' means and at the same time they keep thinking there's somehow some general quality law we can all agree with. Everybody plays games in vastly different ways and everybody has very specific preferences. Reviews will never be useful for everyone.

People have heated debates because of personal taste. You can "like" or "dislike" anything and people can't get it into their heads that just because you personally don't like something it doesn't make it objectively bad.

"I don't like this game=it's a bad game" is one of the dumbest, most asinine things that a human can profer.

#24 Posted by Byshop (10966 posts) -

@Byshop: Let me ask you one question, then: Do you think that a story about misogynistic men and dumb or subservient women should be forbidden from video games?

No, I don't think -any- topic should be forbidden or taboo. To do so just hurts the credibility of video games as an entertainment medium or art form (i.e. the idea that games shouldn't be too violent because video games are primarily for children). My complaint comes when the -game- it misogynistic and not just the characters. It's one thing to have a sexist character in your games, but it's another when every aspect of your game universe re-enforces the idea that sexism is ok. See my previous post and the comparison to the sexism/racism in Tarantino flics.

Take the Deadpool game, for instance. The reviewer of that game on GS claimed that -it- was misogynistic, which I wholehearted disagreed with. The character Deadpool, obviously, is a sexist, adolescent assclown, but I didn't find the -game- to be sexist at all. Every other character in the game reacted to Wade like a real person would, with a "hey Deadpool, we need your help and... goddamnit what the hell is wrong with you?!?!" All the other characters played straight man (or woman) to Deadpool's juvenile objectification of women and his behavior in the game was not rewarded. Even the "sexy pool party" portion of the game was just a halucination of Deadpool's and even then if you listen to the "bikini babes" long enough they start making 4th wall breaking comments like "OMG, aren't we just such obvious bimbo female stereotypes like you see in every video game?"

-Byshop

#25 Edited by Gelugon_baat (19359 posts) -

@LJS9502_basic said:

Reviews are opinions. One should always be aware of reviewer bias.

I agree with this statement to a degree. Really, a review is a piece of opinion - I very much expect the reviewer's sentiments to get into it, and I personally have no issues with that. Also, there is no unanimously agreed-upon convention that prohibits sentiments from getting into a game review.

If I want a dryly objective statement about the game, I go to Wikipedia. Perhaps that's where you should be going to in the future, @clockworkengine - don't expect change in something that you have no control or strong influence over.

#26 Edited by Gelugon_baat (19359 posts) -
@ReddestSkies said:

Game reviewers are never, and can never be objective. There is no such thing as an objective video game review, and trying to dictate what parts of a game should be analysed is not only pointless, but quite frankly ridiculous.

I am glad that someone else realizes this too. :D

#27 Posted by clockworkengine (192 posts) -

@Gelugon_baat: Well, that's your opinion, but I've been on this site as long as anyone and I happen to know what this site is about. Gamespot has never put serious issues such as sexuality at the focal point of its presentation. And I'm not talking about advertisements, I'm talking about review content. I don't think it will last, because as soon as it becomes clear to the people who sign the checks what is going on at gamespot, I think the site will be compelled to revert to a games site instead of a low-brow philosophy machine. Kirk out.

#28 Posted by ZZoMBiE13 (22911 posts) -

@ZZoMBiE13: You make far too many assumptions, and you're far too aggressive and confrontational. Plus, you're short-sighted and I can tell you're young and don't understand how the world works. I don't think I'll continue talking to you. Try to limit the names you call me down to two or three per post and I might change my mind.

I called you no names at all. I merely asked why you think a differing opinion is bad. But I will agree with you on one thing, not much point speaking with one another any further. I don't care for your way of thinking and you've no desire to answer my questions about it so you are right, there is no further point.

Heh, "young". No one has called me that since I entered my 40s, but thanks.

#29 Posted by clockworkengine (192 posts) -
@Byshop said:

@clockworkengine said:

@Byshop: Let me ask you one question, then: Do you think that a story about misogynistic men and dumb or subservient women should be forbidden from video games?

No, I don't think -any- topic should be forbidden or taboo. To do so just hurts the credibility of video games as an entertainment medium or art form (i.e. the idea that games shouldn't be too violent because video games are primarily for children). My complaint comes when the -game- it misogynistic and not just the characters. It's one thing to have a sexist character in your games, but it's another when every aspect of your game universe re-enforces the idea that sexism is ok. See my previous post and the comparison to the sexism/racism in Tarantino flics.

Take the Deadpool game, for instance. The reviewer of that game on GS claimed that -it- was misogynistic, which I wholehearted disagreed with. The character Deadpool, obviously, is a sexist, adolescent assclown, but I didn't find the -game- to be sexist at all. Every other character in the game reacted to Wade like a real person would, with a "hey Deadpool, we need your help and... goddamnit what the hell is wrong with you?!?!" All the other characters played straight man (or woman) to Deadpool's juvenile objectification of women and his behavior in the game was not rewarded. Even the "sexy pool party" portion of the game was just a halucination of Deadpool's and even then if you listen to the "bikini babes" long enough they start making 4th wall breaking comments like "OMG, aren't we just such obvious bimbo female stereotypes like you see in every video game?"

-Byshop

Please describe the equation you use to determine whether a [i]game[/i] itself is racist or misogynistic. I mean, exactly how many characters would have to be racist or how many billboards would have to insult women before the game itself becomes racist or misogynistic? Which values of the equation suddenly permit the assignment of human behavior patterns to an inanimate object such as a compiled group of 1s and 0s? 10? 15? Is the game itself racist or misogynistic? Are the developers actually using their games as a platform to announce their revilement of women or their hatred of blacks or whites? Obviously, the answer is no. This is not mere rhetorical trickery; the situation is actually that absurd in truth.

If there's a billboard that says "men are pigs", its because that was something the developer wanted to represent in his story. If there's a man that says "slap a ho" all the time, it's because the story writer felt such a character was important to his story. Who are we to judge the story itself, whose merit is 100 percent purely subjective, given that it never would have existed at all without the writer? Instead, we should experience the story and review it based on how well the developer's vision was realized. Gamespot does not feature a single marquee writer on its staff, so there is no basis for the valuation of the writer's opinions using his or her name alone. That means each review must contain its own persuasion. Some GS writers are working against themselves in the name of their crusades, and they need to realize this quickly.

I was told above that it was ridiculous to expect reviewers to curtail the aspects of review they select for their presentations. But its far more ridiculous to review someone's subjective opinions (such as male or female social status, or sexual observations) on the basis that they differ from yours. Don't you think it's interesting that an obvious non-conformer like the GTA V reviewer would negatively judge a game on the basis of the fact that Rockstar did not conform the game to reflect the reviewer's personal beliefs and alignments (i.e. a deviant calls a deviant a deviant)? Since we can even ask these questions, which lead to logic loops and deadlocks, I submit that it would be far better to leave that aspect out of the review. It's just good sense, from both accessibility and artistic points of view.

Byshop, I ask you to read this post carefully and honestly answer the questions therein. If you still don't see my point, let me know.

#30 Edited by clockworkengine (192 posts) -

@ZZoMBiE13: In short, you asked that since I wanted reviewers to keep the most personal aspects of their beliefs out of the process of scoring a video game review, if all I wanted was "childish fantasy violence" to appease my "masturbatory need to blow shit up". That tells me you think that the only two options for a video game must either be a trite romance story or childish fantasy violence and blowing shit up. I don't care for two-dimensional thought, so please don't get anymore on me. Kirk out.

Edit- sorry I mistook your age. But I hope you realize that isn't a good thing for you.

#31 Posted by ZZoMBiE13 (22911 posts) -

@ZZoMBiE13: In short, you asked that since I wanted reviewers to keep the most personal aspects of their beliefs out of the process of scoring a video game review, if all I wanted was "childish fantasy violence" to appease my "masturbatory need to blow shit up". That tells me you think that the only two options for a video game must either be a trite romance story or childish fantasy violence and blowing shit up. I don't care for two-dimensional thought, so please don't get anymore on me. Kirk out.

Edit- sorry I mistook your age. But I hope you realize that isn't a good thing for you.

They were meant as generalizations rather than personal attacks. But I am sorry if they came out that way.

#32 Posted by Gelugon_baat (19359 posts) -

@clockworkengine:

@Gelugon_baat: Well, that's your opinion, but I've been on this site as long as anyone and I happen to know what this site is about. Gamespot has never put serious issues such as sexuality at the focal point of its presentation.

I had been around just as long, perhaps even longer than you, and I think that I handle change better than you do.

This is not the GameSpot that you knew anymore, clockworkengine. Perhaps it's time you move on.

@Gelugon_baat: I don't think it will last, because as soon as it becomes clear to the people who sign the checks what is going on at gamespot, I think the site will be compelled to revert to a games site instead of a low-brow philosophy machine. Kirk out.

Well, you are wearing your tin-foil hat. :/

#33 Posted by clockworkengine (192 posts) -

@Gelugon_baat: Hahaha ahaha... my man, you are broken. You don't even understand these issues enough to do anything other than become confrontational and compare your abilities to mine. Let me assure you, there is no comparison. Not even close. I think you are the one who needs to move on, for I have zero interest in debating with mentally ill people. Beyond this response i have nothing further to say to you. Good day.

#34 Edited by Gelugon_baat (19359 posts) -
@clockworkengine said:

@Gelugon_baat: Hahaha ahaha... my man, you are broken. You don't even understand these issues enough to do anything other than become confrontational and compare your abilities to mine. Let me assure you, there is no comparison. Not even close. I think you are the one who needs to move on, for I have zero interest in debating with mentally ill people. Beyond this response i have nothing further to say to you. Good day.

Ah, you are a narcissist too. I should have known. :/

Also, spare me the niceties if you are not going to be sincere with them.

#35 Posted by loafofgame (370 posts) -

People have heated debates because of personal taste. You can "like" or "dislike" anything and people can't get it into their heads that just because you personally don't like something it doesn't make it objectively bad.

"I don't like this game=it's a bad game" is one of the dumbest, most asinine things that a human can profer.

There is no 'objectively bad'. There's no consensus on what all these terms mean. If a reviewer writes that the controls in a game are smooth, then all you know is that the reviewer thought the controls were smooth. It might look like an objective observation, but that observation is based on the reviewer's experience with other games (either similar or completely different genres). To many, who have a completely different set of played games, the controls might not be smooth at all. People have heated debates because they are convinced that their observations are somehow the standard. But what they see as functional or well written is something completely different in someone else's eyes. A reviewer is not a representation of the majority of gamers (if there even is such a thing), nor can he write a review that represents the majority (it can only coincidentally turn out te be one). Look at the Bioshock Infinite reviews. Both reviewers and gamers alike highly disagree on the quality of that game. You're telling me that one side is actually right and the other is wrong...?

Loafofgame, you make a good point, but realize that you can easily achieve a well made, functional, etc review system for games by judging the things about the game that are unique to the medium of games. For instance, play control, etc. I'm sure you'll agree that that still won't cover what needs to be covered, and that a little more context is needed for an informed decision. I'm sure also that you recognize the difference between commenting on storyline stupidity or bad music compositions vs commenting on the sexual orientation and sexual attitudes of characters in the game. These things are highly personal, and as Black_Knight_00 said, a reviewer should make every effort to appeal to as many people as possible while alienating as few people as possible.

Regardless of what everyone's opinion is on the matter, I am fairly certain that if things continue as they currently are, the people who watch Gamespot's bottom line are going to come down and shake things up, and I doubt very seriously some of the reviewers here will make it through the changes.

I understand where you and @Black_Knight_00 are coming from, but I also think that the idea of appealing to as many people as possible is a questionable if not untenable attitude. Seemingly more objective game aspects, like controls or graphics, are still a matter of personal taste and experience. Judging games won't appeal to everyone, won't be useful for everyone, simply because they're experience products. There isn't a prescription of 'as many people as possible'. The danger of maintaining the ideal that reviews should appeal to as many people as possible is that everyone still has a different idea of who that majority is. There's no evidence that people are being alienated because of these personal perspectives (or that it is in any way detrimental to GS's success). I honestly think the majority of people who make up the traffic don't really care (at least not long enough) and visit this site regardless. The people vocally and extensively criticising or defending GS are a small minority. I think that in the end what you and I say won't matter. Too little people really care. That's the majority GS is appealing to. People who just look for something entertaining about games. That's the majority you and I are probably not a part of. In the end these short-lived, 'controversial' topics spark a good debate among the very, very, very, very few people who actually care enough to extensively discuss it. But I won't convince you and you won't convince me, because (I believe) you think these game aspects are too personal and unappealing to be useful for the general public and I think they broaden my view on games and touch on the cultural and social aspects of videogames that (in my opinion) are gravely underdiscussed and very interesting.

I see the difference you mention, but I also think the one isn't more important than the other. If the gaming community (if such a thing even exists at this point, which I highly doubt) wants to be taken seriously and seen as a legitimate and respected cultural group then we need to accept and respect these voices that might arguably only appeal to a very small group. I think we are mature enough to disconnect the useful aspects from the elements that we might find less important. Take Petit's review of GTA V for example, it wasn't a propaganda pamphlet in which every sentence was drenched in criticism on misogyny. The misogyny argument was a clear and delineated part, which could be easily disconnected from the rest of the review. Even for someone who absolutely loathes women and doesn't want any of them in the game industry I think that's a very small sacrifice to make.

I just don't see how not discussing certain subjects is appealing to as many people as possible and I also don't understand how discussing certain subjects (not even exclusively) apparently alienates people so rigorously. Can't people decide for themselves what they find important and what not (instead of assuming that a reviewer somehow dictates what you should find important)? Reviews can never discuss everything that's important to you (whether or not they discuss these social and sexual issues), so you will always have to look further than one review. Undoubtely one of those reviews will focus on the aspects you prefer. And another one will discuss things you can't relate to at all. If you want to appeal to as many people as possible, you've got to allow for more varied voices, no matter how personal they appear to be. Again, taking Petit's review as an example, it wasn't completely useless because of the misogyny argument. It was partly useless for some people because of it. And if she hadn't discussed the misogyny part it still would have been partly (or even completely) useless for some people.

#36 Edited by Black_Knight_00 (18059 posts) -

@loafofgame said:

There is no 'objectively bad'. There's no consensus on what all these terms mean. If a reviewer writes that the controls in a game are smooth, then all you know is that the reviewer thought the controls were smooth. It might look like an objective observation, but that observation is based on the reviewer's experience with other games (either similar or completely different genres). To many, who have a completely different set of played games, the controls might not be smooth at all. People have heated debates because they are convinced that their observations are somehow the standard. But what they see as functional or well written is something completely different in someone else's eyes. A reviewer is not a representation of the majority of gamers (if there even is such a thing), nor can he write a review that represents the majority (it can only coincidentally turn out te be one). Look at the Bioshock Infinite reviews. Both reviewers and gamers alike highly disagree on the quality of that game. You're telling me that one side is actually right and the other is wrong...?

We do have a consensus on quality and that comes from industry benchmarks, those games everyone uses as landmarks of excellence in the industry. A couple decades ago, every FPS was compared to Doom, later to Duke Nukem, then Quake and then Half-Life, games that the overwhelming majority of critics and public recognize as the cream of their genre, games that move the industry forward and pioneer new ground. Sure there are people who don't like them, but what of it? Even the most heated hater must recognize that a game has introduced new mechanics that work well and improved the genre.

These games do set standards of quality and gameplay and a reviewer should determine how close the game he's reviewing comes to meeting or even exceeding these standards and then convey that knowledge to the reader who is essentially looking for advice on whether "game X" is worth his money.

Conversely, we also have standards of average games: those that do nothing but imitate and bring nothing original to the table, and also bad games: those which fail to meet the standards and even regress to flaws the industry should have ironed out. This is where reviewers may diverge on how much a game is impacted by a given flaw (that's when personal opinion is unavoidable) but the flaw itself should be pointed out by all good reviewers.

Bottom line: standards exist and personal tastes do not put a dent into them.

#37 Posted by loafofgame (370 posts) -

We do have a consensus on quality and that comes from industry benchmarks, those games everyone uses as landmarks of excellence in the industry. A couple decades ago, every FPS was compared to Doom, later to Duke Nukem, then Quake and then Half-Life, games that the overwhelming majority of critics and public recognize as the cream of their genre, games that move the industry forward and pioneer new ground. Sure there are people who don't like them, but what of it? Even the most heated hater must recognize that a game has introduced new mechanics that work well and improved the genre.

These games do set standards of quality and gameplay and a reviewer should determine how close the game he's reviewing comes to meeting or even exceeding these standards and then convey that knowledge to the reader who is essentially looking for advice on whether "game X" is worth his money.

Conversely, we also have standards of average games: those that do nothing but imitate and bring nothing original to the table, and also bad games: those which fail to meet the standards and even regress to flaws the industry should have ironed out.

Bottom line: standards exist and personal tastes do not put a dent into them.

Those benchmarks can provide mechanics that may become standard, because they're emulated or imitated by other games. We judge their relevance and classic status in hindsight. If those mechanics become standard, they're not an estimation of quality anymore. They're taken for granted. The way we determine the quality of games evolves constantly and therefore leaves plenty of room for debate. Sure, you could determine whether a game fits a particular model from a past classic, but you can't neutrally determine whether that model is sufficiently immitated, emulated or exceeded based on a previous game. That level of quality determination is subjective and personal. We might agree on some standards, but we do not agree on the implementation or adaptation of those standards. We also don't agree on the quality and relevance of newly introduced mechanics (which can't be compared to past games). Also, some aspects, like narrative or graphics (or art style), haven't really been standardised and can still count on widely varying appreciation. You can only determine whether "game X" is worth your money if you consider multiple sources (not just professional reviews, but also user reviews and gameplay videos) or if you find a reviewer that shares your preferences and approach to games.

#38 Posted by Byshop (10966 posts) -

Please describe the equation you use to determine whether a [i]game[/i] itself is racist or misogynistic. I mean, exactly how many characters would have to be racist or how many billboards would have to insult women before the game itself becomes racist or misogynistic? Which values of the equation suddenly permit the assignment of human behavior patterns to an inanimate object such as a compiled group of 1s and 0s? 10? 15? Is the game itself racist or misogynistic? Are the developers actually using their games as a platform to announce their revilement of women or their hatred of blacks or whites? Obviously, the answer is no. This is not mere rhetorical trickery; the situation is actually that absurd in truth.

If there's a billboard that says "men are pigs", its because that was something the developer wanted to represent in his story. If there's a man that says "slap a ho" all the time, it's because the story writer felt such a character was important to his story. Who are we to judge the story itself, whose merit is 100 percent purely subjective, given that it never would have existed at all without the writer? Instead, we should experience the story and review it based on how well the developer's vision was realized. Gamespot does not feature a single marquee writer on its staff, so there is no basis for the valuation of the writer's opinions using his or her name alone. That means each review must contain its own persuasion. Some GS writers are working against themselves in the name of their crusades, and they need to realize this quickly.

I was told above that it was ridiculous to expect reviewers to curtail the aspects of review they select for their presentations. But its far more ridiculous to review someone's subjective opinions (such as male or female social status, or sexual observations) on the basis that they differ from yours. Don't you think it's interesting that an obvious non-conformer like the GTA V reviewer would negatively judge a game on the basis of the fact that Rockstar did not conform the game to reflect the reviewer's personal beliefs and alignments (i.e. a deviant calls a deviant a deviant)? Since we can even ask these questions, which lead to logic loops and deadlocks, I submit that it would be far better to leave that aspect out of the review. It's just good sense, from both accessibility and artistic points of view.

Byshop, I ask you to read this post carefully and honestly answer the questions therein. If you still don't see my point, let me know.

If you're asking for a "formula" to determine whether or not a review should define a game as racist, sexist, etc, then you don't understand what a review is. Of course it's subjective and of course it's from the perspective of the reviewer. That's a given. If you're still asking about what -I- think is the difference between a game/movie that's sexist or racist versus a character in a game/movie that's sexist or racist, I already gave a number of specific examples so I'm not going to waste time rehashing that topic.

"If there's a man that says "slap a ho" all the time, it's because the story writer felt such a character was important to his story. Who are we to judge the story itself, whose merit is 100 percent purely subjective, given that it never would have existed at all without the writer?"

So we aren't allowed to have an opinion on any story because both the story itself and any opinion on the story would be subjective by nature? That's about the dumbest idea I've heard in this thread yet. Of course we are allowed to have opinions on the story, even though those opinions are (by definition) subjective. Again, I bring up the comparison between games and movies. If a movie reviewer thinks a movie is racist or mysoginistic, they sure as hell are going to say so in the review. Why on earth should it be any different with games?

"But its far more ridiculous to review someone's subjective opinions (such as male or female social status, or sexual observations) on the basis that they differ from yours."

That's a ridiculous statement because a review is subjective no matter what. Opinions are graphical quality, gameplay, pacing, difficulty, etc are all based on subjective opinions the same way any opinion on the quality of the story is. Quality of story affects enjoyment of the game for people who care about the story in their games, so it is aboslutely relevant.

What's pretty clear is that you disagree with Caroline and her review (you called her a deviant and non-conformist in one post). I disagreed with Tom Mc Shae's review of Deadpool when he called -that- game mysoginistic. Actually, I disagree with most of Tom's reviews, but I don't question Tom's right to write those reviews or include his personal opinions on elements like story because just as I don't think there's any topic that should be taboo in a game or movie, I also don't think there's any topic that should be taboo in a review of said game or movie. I'm an intelligent, thinking person and I am capable of reading the text of a review to determine whether or not I agree with the reviewer so I don't get bent out of shape when a reviewer writes something I disagree with.

I actually happen to agree with Caroline's review of GTA5, but even if I didn't I wouldn't question her right to have those opinions or put them in her review. I can read, and because of that I can decide for myself if I agree with a specific opinion on a game or if I think a reviewer is misinterpreting something or overreacting to something.

-Byshop

#39 Edited by dvader654 (44752 posts) -

An interesting thread! My stance on this is that the reviewers work for a website, yes they are individuals, yes they have personal opinions but they still represent ONE. Website. If that website fails to adhere to some standard then what is the point of the reviews. I don't want to read a major websites to get very personal and mostly irrelevant info, I want to know in a general sense what is in this game and the level of quality it has. GS Is not Carolyn's blog, I do feel major review sites reviews have to have a more general feel to them, it's a buyers guide for everyone. Or have multiple reviewers, I always felt that would be the best way to address this issue.

That said I don't think Carolyn's reviews of GTA of gone home are that bad. The GTA complaints were mostly pointless but clearly it hardly affected her enjoyment of the game as it still got a 9. Gone home got great reviews all around so it's not just Carolyn's view point that made her enjoy it. I think gone home is garbage and not really a game so she might as well review it as a book or a movie.

#40 Posted by Black_Knight_00 (18059 posts) -

Those benchmarks can provide mechanics that may become standard, because they're emulated or imitated by other games. We judge their relevance and classic status in hindsight. If those mechanics become standard, they're not an estimation of quality anymore. They're taken for granted. The way we determine the quality of games evolves constantly and therefore leaves plenty of room for debate. Sure, you could determine whether a game fits a particular model from a past classic, but you can't neutrally determine whether that model is sufficiently immitated, emulated or exceeded based on a previous game. That level of quality determination is subjective and personal. We might agree on some standards, but we do not agree on the implementation or adaptation of those standards. We also don't agree on the quality and relevance of newly introduced mechanics (which can't be compared to past games). Also, some aspects, like narrative or graphics (or art style), haven't really been standardised and can still count on widely varying appreciation. You can only determine whether "game X" is worth your money if you consider multiple sources (not just professional reviews, but also user reviews and gameplay videos) or if you find a reviewer that shares your preferences and approach to games.

No we don't: when Wolfenstein 3D revolutionized the industry being the first fast paced first person action game, we didn't have to wait until people started copying it in order to appreciate it. Great games are great on their own merits. What you seem to be suggesting is that we are incapable of recognizing greatness until we see it emulated, which is simply not true.

#41 Posted by Byshop (10966 posts) -

An interesting thread! My stance on this is that the reviewers work for a website, yes they are individuals, yes they have personal opinions but they still represent ONE. Website. If that website fails to adhere to some standard then what is the point of the reviews. I don't want to read a major websites to get very personal and mostly irrelevant info, I want to know in a general sense what is in this game and the level of quality it has. GS Is not Carolyn's blog, I do feel major review sites reviews have to have a more general feel to them, it's a buyers guide for everyone. Or have multiple reviewers, I always felt that would be the best way to address this issue.

That said I don't think Carolyn's reviews of GTA of gone home are that bad. The GTA complaints were mostly pointless but clearly it hardly affected her enjoyment of the game as it still got a 9. Gone home got great reviews all around so it's not just Carolyn's view point that made her enjoy it. I think gone home is garbage and not really a game so she might as well review it as a book or a movie.

This is a good point, too. A professional reviewer is still beholden to their employer to adhere to the standards set forth in their guidelines. Typically these will cover the amount of required time spent with the game (i.e. beating it before you review), minimum article length, assinging it a number score, etc. In this case, I don't see that Caroline violated any GS policy with her review. We've seen instances in the past where a GS review got revised because it was later determined that it didn't meet their site's standards and/or reflect the general opinion of the staff.

-Byshop

#42 Edited by loafofgame (370 posts) -

@Black_Knight_00 said:

No we don't: when Wolfenstein 3D revolutionized the industry being the first fast paced first person action game, we didn't have to wait until people started copying it in order to appreciate it. Great games are great on their own merits. What you seem to be suggesting is that we are incapable of recognizing greatness until we see it emulated, which is simply not true.

A lot of games are great on their own merits. You came up with the standards reviewers should use to judge quality and I went with that. Part of the classic status these games have is based on how they echo in other games. That's what makes them classics and different from other great games (you said it yourself; they set certain standards). Because they were the first with a certain feature or because their model was used in later games. But fine, you can predict the influence a game might have on the industry and future games. That nuance doesn't refute my main argument though.

And also, the idea that a game can be great on its own merits partly contradicts the idea that reviewers should use the classic standards to determine the quality of a game. If both ideas apply then there's some subjective area in which we determine how much the game should adhere to past models and how much it should be good on its own merits...

Edit:

@Byshop said:

We've seen instances in the past where a GS review got revised because it was later determined that it didn't meet their site's standards and/or reflect the general opinion of the staff.

-Byshop

It's important to be specific here. Meeting the site's standards and reflecting the general opinion of the staff can be two different things. Staff members often disagree on what reviewers have written (this can often be witnessed when watching live streams). They have discussions about what they like and don't like. So I'm not sure reflecting the general opinion of the staff is actually a criterium when writing a review. That's one thing GS could be clearer about; their actual review criteria. I do believe that before the website format change, these criteria could be found, but I can't find them anymore...

#43 Edited by clockworkengine (192 posts) -

Everyone is using the subjectivity argument which makes the entire conversation moot. It is an oversimplification to state for the purposes of this discussion that everything is subjective and to leave it alone.

Of course there is no formula byshop; I was using absurd sarcasm to demonstrate that you were setting something of a threshold that makes the difference between a game that has a misogynistic character versus a game which is misogynistic itself.

The fact is there is no difference between setting a threshold that allows only a certain quantity of undesirable behavior, or banning it altogether. I believe in neither, because I do not limit art. A review is not art- it is a criticism of art, and if out of games and game reviews one must be subject to standards, I think the obvious choice is to set a standard for reviews.

#44 Posted by loafofgame (370 posts) -

Everyone is using the subjectivity argument which makes the entire conversation moot. It is an oversimplification to state for the purposes of this discussion that everything is subjective and to leave it alone.

I don't know which comments you have read, but I do not feel I'm oversimplifying things by emphasising the subjective parts of reviewing a game. If anything, the whole process becomes more complex, because it forces you to take on different perspectives, be flexible and take more initiative in judging the value of arguments. Subjectivity doesn't mean something is freed from criticism or that we should leave it at that, it simply means that you have take into consideration that not everything can be judged according to universal standards. That not all things can be resolved. That there is such a thing as nuance. And most importantly, that games can be played in several ways, some of which might enhance your appreciation of a specific game or games in general. Of course, some or most might leave you cold, indifferent or annoyed, but there might be some out there that change your perspective on what you call art.

But I'm willing to take your route. Let's be more constructive by trying to create this standard for reviews (because there doesn't appear to be a concrete example of one) and hopefully see how people from different sides react to it (although I doubt many people will react, because most of our replies exceed the tweet limit and because -as I said earlier- I think most people simply don't care enough). Where do we start...?

#45 Posted by clockworkengine (192 posts) -

The only thing needed really is to keep the reviews objective. It is a consumer product review, not an art or an expression of personality. Look at the ads everywhere. Instead of romanticism toward "video game journalism", realize that the website is basically a third party marketing tool. That's what I've always used it for- a service in exchange for revenue. The reviews should serve the viewers interest above a personal agenda and focus on the matter at hand, without digressing into paragraphs of personal philosophy. Video games. Period.

Yes we are all entitled to our opinions and this is mine- when I want to explore sexuality and philosophy, it will occur in the real world, and likely not sitting in front of my tv. Let's get on with the games!

#46 Edited by Black_Knight_00 (18059 posts) -

@loafofgame said:

A lot of games are great on their own merits. You came up with the standards reviewers should use to judge quality and I went with that. Part of the classic status these games have is based on how they echo in other games. That's what makes them classics and different from other great games (you said it yourself; they set certain standards). Because they were the first with a certain feature or because their model was used in later games. But fine, you can predict the influence a game might have on the industry and future games. That nuance doesn't refute my main argument though.

And also, the idea that a game can be great on its own merits partly contradicts the idea that reviewers should use the classic standards to determine the quality of a game. If both ideas apply then there's some subjective area in which we determine how much the game should adhere to past models and how much it should be good on its own merits...

As I said before, excellence doesn't derive from adhesion to formulas, but rather by matching standards. It's not quite the same thing. When a game invents a virtual camera that doesn't gets stuck in walls and seamlessly and unobtrusively follows the character, that feature becomes an industry standard. Every camera system failing to replicate that is found lacking and behind the times, and for good reason: the reason why videogames have gone from Pong to Crysis in less than 30 years is exactly that the bar is raised constantly with every technological and design advancement.

If Ride to Hell Retribution had come out on the original Xbox it would not have scored a 1.0. Why? Because the bar was lower: bad cameras, mediocre voice acting and clunky shooting mechanics were less uncommon back then, while by today's standards they have become objectively unacceptable.

#47 Posted by Byshop (10966 posts) -

Everyone is using the subjectivity argument which makes the entire conversation moot. It is an oversimplification to state for the purposes of this discussion that everything is subjective and to leave it alone.

Of course there is no formula byshop; I was using absurd sarcasm to demonstrate that you were setting something of a threshold that makes the difference between a game that has a misogynistic character versus a game which is misogynistic itself.

The fact is there is no difference between setting a threshold that allows only a certain quantity of undesirable behavior, or banning it altogether. I believe in neither, because I do not limit art. A review is not art- it is a criticism of art, and if out of games and game reviews one must be subject to standards, I think the obvious choice is to set a standard for reviews.

There is no threshold and I wasn't setting one, but when I express an opinion I back it up with quantifiable points and illustrative comparisons and I called out a lot of specific facts to back up my opinion. Of course, you might disagree, but if I don't provide that information then I'm really not adding anything to the conversation. The point is not to tell you what the game is or isn't, but to help you understand my point of view when I say that -I- think the game is actually somewhat sexist.

You also seem to think that in saying the game is sexist that I'm somehow censoring or limiting it. I'm not doing that either. As odd as this sounds, I'm not even saying that the game -shouldn't- be sexist or that I would change it given the chance. It is art and the developers can make whatever game they want, but they should be prepared to deal with people's reactions if they take a sensitive topic and don't give it the respect that it deserves. Is sexism something that a game developer should strive for in their games? That's entirely up to them, but personally I think that's a bad idea.

Do I think GTA5 was sexist? Yeah, I do. Did it ruin my enjoyment of the game? No, not really. While I agree with Caroline's points I didn't feel like this was overt enough to significantly affect my experience. It came across to me as more thoughtless than deliberate.

While I don't think a review is art, I don't think there are any aspects of a game that should be considered off limits when considering it's value. I think it's fair to call out if a game is racist or sexist just like I think it's fair to call out the Assassin's Creed series for it's laughable historical inaccuracy. Now, would it be fair to significantly decrease the game's score over some of these things? Probably not, since the point of the review is to give the reader an idea of how much they'll probably enjoy the game and, frankly, most people don't really care about these things that much.

But again, Caroline -did- give the game a 9 out of 10 and the sexism wasn't the only negative element she called out so I really don't think she slammed the game unfairly.

-Byshop

#48 Edited by Jacanuk (3636 posts) -

The only thing needed really is to keep the reviews objective. It is a consumer product review, not an art or an expression of personality. Look at the ads everywhere. Instead of romanticism toward "video game journalism", realize that the website is basically a third party marketing tool. That's what I've always used it for- a service in exchange for revenue. The reviews should serve the viewers interest above a personal agenda and focus on the matter at hand, without digressing into paragraphs of personal philosophy. Video games. Period.

Yes we are all entitled to our opinions and this is mine- when I want to explore sexuality and philosophy, it will occur in the real world, and likely not sitting in front of my tv. Let's get on with the games!

You do know right that its not possible to review 100% objective, after all we are not talking about describing what a game is. It is actually pretty fun to see this thread and hear you complain about the people who doesn't agree with you, are oversimplifying things and looking at this purely subjective, well doh homer there is no other way of looking at "critics" no matter what area they are in, movies, books, games, food, music ect., they are subjective opinions and demanding that they are objective is asking something impossible. Because that is not what they get paid for.

Also the way you describe "gaming journalism" is not what a critic does, they are not journalists, they are simply people who know how to put sentences together so they sound good and who then get paid to review games.

And thats also what people the viewers want, they don't want "objective" opinions if we take a oxymoron. They want to hear someone for the most part agree with their own opinion and get angry when they don't.

#49 Edited by loafofgame (370 posts) -

The only thing needed really is to keep the reviews objective. It is a consumer product review, not an art or an expression of personality. Look at the ads everywhere. Instead of romanticism toward "video game journalism", realize that the website is basically a third party marketing tool. That's what I've always used it for- a service in exchange for revenue. The reviews should serve the viewers interest above a personal agenda and focus on the matter at hand, without digressing into paragraphs of personal philosophy. Video games. Period.

Yes we are all entitled to our opinions and this is mine- when I want to explore sexuality and philosophy, it will occur in the real world, and likely not sitting in front of my tv. Let's get on with the games!

I'm sorry, but that's too easy. Keeping reviews objective is not judging whether or not the game is good. It means describing the product. People who are opposed to the subjectivity argument use the objectivity argument just as casually to kill discussions. Being objective would mean not saying anything about quality, but just observing and describing the features of the game. What we need here is an actual list of criteria that can be applied to games in order to judge their quality. That list needs to describe all those criteria clearly and unambiguously. It needs to be absolutely clear about how it approaches the different aspects of a game.

As I said before, excellence doesn't derive from adhesion to formulas, but rather by matching standards. It's not quite the same thing. When a game invents a virtual camera that doesn't gets stuck in walls and seamlessly and unobtrusively follows the character, that feature becomes an industry standard. Every camera system failing to replicate that is found lacking and behind the times, and for good reason: the reason why videogames have gone from Pong to Crysis in less than 30 years is exactly that the bar is raised constantly with every technological and design advancement.

If Ride to Hell Retribution had come out on the original Xbox it would not have scored a 1.0. Why? Because the bar was lower: bad cameras, mediocre voice acting and clunky shooting mechanics were less uncommon back then, while by today's standards they have become objectively unacceptable.

Fair enough. I accept your extended nuance. But you're not discussing everything I said when I replied to your benchmark argument. You're just focusing on this one aspect of my argument without addressing the rest, which still stands regardless of your nuance about matching, adhering to and/or imitating standards (which I already accepted). As I said, those standards (whether they refer to industry standards or to game formulas and whether they are adhered to or matched) cannot fully determine the quality or appreciation of the game, because they are the standard. They are taken for granted. It is expected that developers at least have a basic understanding of how these industry standards work.

Besides, standards operate within a context of other standards/mechanics/features (and the level of preference for certain features determines the amount of flaws or perfections that players will accept). Lacking in some areas doesn't necessarily mean the game can't be great or amazing. Other aspects can compensate for that lack. And then there are all the aspects that are important to video games that don't have a clear industry standard.

And what I also said is that using these standards to judge the quality of games leads to a grey area where there is a debate about how much these standards are met or improved upon or eclipsed. Besides, these standards evolve. A camera system might become a standard, but it won't work in every single game that follows. It (and other standards) will have to be adapted (to game pace, environment size, amount of objects in the environment, possible distance to character, AI behaviour, cinematic ambitions, etc.) and that's where it gets harder to unanimously agree on the quality of the camera system (or other features). There are no objective terms to determine qualities like that. Regardless of the greatness that the majority recognises in classics or in introduced standards, people experience them differently and they experience the matching of those standards in other games differently.

#50 Edited by Black_Knight_00 (18059 posts) -

@loafofgame said:

Fair enough. I accept your extended nuance. But you're not discussing everything I said when I replied to your benchmark argument. You're just focusing on this one aspect of my argument without addressing the rest, which still stands regardless of your nuance about matching, adhering to and/or imitating standards (which I already accepted). As I said, those standards (whether they refer to industry standards or to game formulas and whether they are adhered to or matched) cannot fully determine the quality or appreciation of the game, because they are the standard. They are taken for granted. It is expected that developers at least have a basic understanding of how these industry standards work.

Besides, standards operate within a context of other standards/mechanics/features (and the level of preference for certain features determines the amount of flaws or perfections that players will accept). Lacking in some areas doesn't necessarily mean the game can't be great or amazing. Other aspects can compensate for that lack. And then there are all the aspects that are important to video games that don't have a clear industry standard.

And what I also said is that using these standards to judge the quality of games leads to a grey area where there is a debate about how much these standards are met or improved upon or eclipsed. Besides, these standards evolve. A camera system might become a standard, but it won't work in every single game that follows. It (and other standards) will have to be adapted (to game pace, environment size, amount of objects in the environment, possible distance to character, AI behaviour, cinematic ambitions, etc.) and that's where it gets harder to unanimously agree on the quality of the camera system (or other features). There are no objective terms to determine qualities like that. Regardless of the greatness that the majority recognises in classics or in introduced standards, people experience them differently and they experience the matching of those standards in other games differently.

We are delving into deep philosophy here and I fear we are overcomplicating a simple matter, straying too much into minutiae rather than addressing the core concern. For the sake of simplicity, I'll restate what I believe every game reviewer should try to achieve, I believe that should answer your questions:

A videogame reviewer should ideally provide an objective and unbiased description of the way in which a game meets or fails to meet the industry standards, and whether the developers have achieved what they set out to do. The review should be laid out in such a way so that every reader can determine from it whether or not the game is worth purchasing.

Provided we agree on that definition (and if not we may discuss why), they key words there are "objective" and "unbiased." My question is: considering that personal taste is one of the prime sorts of bias, how much of it should we tolerate in a professional review before we start perceiving it as too far removed from the "common good"?

I'll elaborate: say that one were to write a review of Modern Warfare 2. Say that in the review he were to express the idea that the single player campaign is to be penalized because in one mission you take part in a terrorist attack and slaughter civilians. Of course the reviewer is entitled to his views, but would this aspect be relevant to the reader? Would that particular information be "objective" and "unbiased"? I think it wouldn't: it would be a personal view which the majority of readers do not share and has no importance for them.

Another example: what if a reviewer were to completely pan the latest Devil May Cry and was later quoted saying "It was too bloody for my taste"? Would his review still retain its value or would it become worthless for the vast majority of readers looking for a judgement of merit?

If reviews are nothing but "someone's opinion", what then is their use? And if reviews do have a purpose,are we to maintain a spreadsheet with the names of all reviewers from the sites we go to, in order to remember which one has what tastes and only read the reviews of those who share our own? Wouldn't it be more productive to leave subjectivity at the door as much as possible (without demanding perfection and total austerity of course) when writing professional reviews, and save personal feelings for blogs?