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Thought of the Day: Gaming, 17 May 08

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G ??

Recently on the 360 forum, a new 360 owner asked, "What are 'gamer points'?" That's a simple question, but one that I found has a lengthy answer. NOD Grindking liked my overview, so I decided to post it here. I compiled the various materials I had written, and now, Thought of the Day: Gaming is proud to present:

"Gamerscore Guide for the Novice"

Before considering the nuances of Gamerpoints, we must first define achievements. Achievements are feats that a player accomplishes within a game. These feats vary greatly, but generally fall into three categories.

  • > Complete a section or all of a game. Example: Beat Halo 3 on Heroic.
  • > Complete a typical game action a certain number of times. Example: Capture the flag 100 times in Quake 4.
  • > Miscellaneous; execute a specific action in a game. Example: Kill an enemy with a toilet in Half-Life 2.

Achievements are worth a certain number of Gamerpoints. Minor achievements are typically worth 5 to 10 points, while high-value achievements run into the hundreds of points each.

Games have varying numbers of achievements, but they all add up to the same total value of Gamerpoints. All Xbox 360 games purchased off the shelf (like Halo 3) can earn up to 1,000 Gamerpoints. Games downloaded off Xbox Live (like Uno) are worth up to 200 points. Some games have additional downloadable content (like Oblivion) that can add up to an extra 250 points on top of the 1,000. Note that original Xbox games (like Halo: Combat Evolved) played on the 360, or Xbox Originals (like Fable) downloaded from Xbox Live are worth no points.

Gamerpoints from all of a player's games add up to a player's total Gamerscore. In theory, Gamerscores allow players to guage their relative experience level on the Xbox 360. Xbox.com defines the Gamerscore as "A cumulative score of all achievements that allows you to quickly guage and compare the accomplishments and experience of other gamers." Reality, as is often the case, is much more complicated.

Gamerscores are very nebulous, for the following reasons...

  • > Games differ dramatically in how easy or hard it is to get all 1,000 points. A typical game played on the "normal" difficulty will net about 300 points. Some games, like Perfect Dark Zero, are extremely stingy with points, awarding only 10 points for beating the single player game on the default difficulty. Some games, like Peter Jackson's King Kong, are extremely generous with points, giving out all 1,000 simply for completing the game.
  • > Most games have a split of about 75%/25% being earned offline/online, although there are obvious exceptions for games that have no online mode, like Mass Effect. Even still, all of Call of Duty 4's points are earned offline, even though Call of Duty is very multiplayer oriented. Players who do have access to, cannot afford, or have no interest in extensive Xbox Live play will be unable to earn all of many games' points.
  • > Further complicating matters is the fact that the same game will have very easy points and extremely hard points. Quake 4 has a number of points earned just for playing through the game or playing a relatively small number of multiplayer matches. However, the difficulty for similarly-valued achievements increases until it hits proportions of "Play over 5,000 matches" for the "Seasoned Warrior" achievement.
  • > Some achievements are so difficult to achieve as to be beyond the grasp of most players. The "Survivalist" achievement in F.E.A.R. requires the player to beat the entire singleplayer game without dying. Even worse is the "Number 1" achievement in Quake 4 that reads, "Reach number one on the All Gametypes ranked leader board," in effect, demanding that, the player be the best in the world in order to earn this achievement.

Knowing all the above, it becomes apparent that, with few exceptions, it is much easier to get 250/1000 in four different games, than it is to earn 1000/1000 in a single game. Given the same amount of time, a player will amass far more Gamerpoints skimming the surface of a great number of games, rather than playing a few games in depth. A player with a Gamerscore of 18,000 has not necessarily played more Xbox than a player with 15,000. Like the Pirate's Code, Gamerscores are more guidelines, rather than hard and fast rules.

G = Guidelines

Keeping that in mind, Gamerscores can be used as guidelines for gauging a player's experience based on the point value's prevalence in the Xbox Live community.

  • > A Gamerscore under 5,000 is unimpressive, and is very common.
  • > A Gamerscore between 5,000 and 20,000 is in the marginal-to-decent bracket, and also common. Most dedicated gamers fall in this group.
  • > Gamerscores over 20,000 indicate a great deal of playing time, and are less common.
  • > Gamerscores over 30,000 are quite rare.
  • > Gamerscores over 50,000 are exceedingly rare.

Handily enough, Gamerscores do more than function as "experience points." Gamerscore achievements prove that a player has accomplished certain things in a game. For difficult achievements, these can be a source of pride to players, such as the infamous "Mile High Club" achievement in Call of Duty 4. Even more poignant, achievements be used to show what a player has not attained. Presented below are two scenarios.

  • > A forum troll makes numerous complaints about the gameplay in Gears of War, and describes at length various bogus scenarios that annoyed him in the game. A quick check of his Xbox Live profile reveals that he does not even own Gears of War.
  • > A forum idiot states that he easily beat Halo 3 on Heroic with the Iron Skull. Checking his profile shows that he's only beaten it on Normal, and that he doesn't even have the Iron Skull.

Xbox Achievements are a tremendous boon to voices of reason on gaming forums, who love nothing more than to expose liars and braggarts for what they are. With that thought, Thought of the Day: Gaming's "Gamerscore Guide for the Novice" will wind down. In conclusion, Gamerscores attach an element of accomplishment and permanence to one's gaming. This author applauds Microsoft's inclusion of them with the Xbox 360.

See you on Xbox Live.

Thought of the Day: Gaming, 16 May 08

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No blog is complete without a forum debate. You may think I'm being cocky throwing this up here. Let me assure you, dear reader, that had you seen this level of stupidity, you would have done exactly the same thing, possibly better than I did. I just happened to be there at the time.

Recently, someone started a thread on the Xbox 360 forum, stating that he thought Japanese games were falling behind graphically compared to Western games.

This guy responds...

Here in America someones looks are what get them noticed the most and so that ideaology transfers over into our entertainment. Where as in Japan substance is over glamour. Western made games have amazing graphics and sub-par stories and it's the opposite in Japan.

ceells87

!?! I'm not going to let that fly!

Oh gee, that's not going to annoy anyone. What's a good way to be racist and criticize all western games? See above...Ever hear of painting in overly broad strokes?

Palantas

Ceells fires back:

1) your gonna have to explain to me where you got the feeling that I was being racist from?

2) I didnt critizie anything. I just gave a valid point. Lets go through some of the top games from here in America. Halo, COD4, Gears of War and Assassin's Creed to name a few. All look amazing visually yet lacked the kind of story and feeling that games like the Final Fantasy 7-9, Resident Evil, or Lost Odyssey.

So think before you speak, especially when you decide to troll someone who not only knows what they're talking about but also didn't say anything to warrant your bad mouthing.

ceells87

Challenge accepted.

Fight!

At this point, Zero, a prolific poster, comments on Ceells:

you name some of the most casual games as your proof that western games don't have good stories? :lol: you don't know what you're talking about.

zero9167

I agree. While Zero unloaded on Ceells, I wrote a lengthy post, presented below for your enjoyment.

All right, let's get to work here.

[QUOTE="ceells87"]

2) I didnt critizie anything.

Palantas

Western games...have sub-par stories.

ceells87

I barely need to comment, because the contradictions are so obvious. You actually think that saying all Western games have subpar stories...is not being critical? (Speaking of contradictions, this is coming from the same ceells87 who gave a 10/10 to Mass Effect, which was developed by a Canadian studio.)

You go on to elaborate, defining "Western games" as shooters and other action titles. I'm sure I don't have to point out what's wrong with that, and someone beat me to the punch anyway:

you name some of the most casual games as your proof that western games don't have good stories? :lol: you don't know what you're talking about.

zero9167

Moving on...

I just gave a valid point. Lets go through some of the top games from here in America. Halo, COD4, Gears of War and Assassin's Creed to name a few. All look amazing visually yet lacked the kind of story and feeling that games like the Final Fantasy 7-9, Resident Evil, or Lost Odyssey.

ceells87

Do you understand the difference between a "valid point" and your personal opinion? I personally find the stories in most Japanese games to be either juvenile, incoherent, or both. However, I recognize that a great many other people (like you) enjoy these stories. I don't consider them "lacking feeling." I recognize that my preference for one type of storytelling doesn't make it better than any other.

So think before you speak, especially when you decide to troll someone who not only knows what they're talking about but also didn't say anything to warrant your bad mouthing.

ceells87

You know what you're talking about? Do you know what an appeal to authority fallacy is? Usually when you make an appeal to your own expertise in an argument, it's accompanied by some reason why I, or anyone, should accept it.

Here's a good way to do this: "I know what I'm talking about, because I've been playing Eastern and Western games for 20 years, and although I'm an American, I lived in Japan for eight months. Furthermore, I'm a post-graduate student in sociology and anthropology, so I know what I'm talking about concerning the differences between Japanese and American culture." See, that's an appeal to your own authority that someone might actually believe.

Here's a bad way to do it, "I know what I'm talking about, just because."

1) your gonna have to explain to me where you got the feeling that I was being racist from?

ceells87

Well, it might have been this:

Here in America someones looks are what get them noticed the most and so that ideaology transfers over into our entertainment. Where as in Japan substance is over glamour.

ceells87

If all the other nonsense wasn't enough, you go on to say that the reason Western games have subpar stories is that American culture is not concerned with substance. Yeah, that's kinda offensive. It would have been just as offensive as if someone said, "The reason the graphics in Japanese games aren't as good as Western games is that Japanese culture is artistically lacking." That's wrong.

This guy's pretty stubborn, so he keeps it going, and responds to me, saying:

once again your gonna have to point out where i defined "ALL western games as shooters" giving that I gave assassin's creed as an example. And im glad you spent 8 months in japan. 've spent 4 months there, three in germany and a year in england. So i can say without a sliver of doubt that american soceity tends (read that closer Mr. Sociology, I said TENDS because I want to make sure you dont spin my phrasing around to suit your little spat) to focus on how something looks rather than anything else. I NEVER said ALL western games have sub-par stories. Yes I'll admit that my phrasing and sentencing easily left myself open for you to use that as a little rant but i'll squash that right now. And for you last little rant about the rasicm, there wasn't anything offensive about that in the least. If your that easily offended my a little remark on the appeal system to people in the country thats just sad and i feel sorry for you and for your kids (if you have any) cause they'll get the same uber-patriotic freakshow of views as you.

Also : "The reason the graphics in Japanese games aren't as good as Western games is that Japanese culture is artistically lacking." is probably the worst way to try and prove a point. for one it's not rasict but it is insulting to the fine people in japan who produce top grade stuff and two it's a contradiction to itself in a sentence.

ceells87

If I were Ceells, I would have conceded before this. He didn't, so I struck back.

Finish Him!

I'm back from the gym, and surprise, surprise, this is still going. On the details of your last post...

[QUOTE="ceells87"]

once again your gonna have to point out where i defined "ALL western games as shooters" giving that I gave assassin's creed as an example.

Palantas

You defining "all western games as shooters" was not at all the point here. But I'll get back to that. Since you seem to be the nitpicky type, let's look at some statements here:

...top games from here in America. Halo, COD4, Gears of War and Assassin's Creed to name a few.

ceells87

You go on to elaborate, defining "Western games" as shooters and other action titles.

I

Emphasis mine. So you see, I never implied you defined all Western games that way. I made a very clear point of that. In case you didn't see that up there, again: "action titles."

As I mentioned just recently, that wasn't even the issue here. The issue was well put by Zero, when he said...

...theres a lot of "top" western made games with good stories (ESPECIALLY if you're going to go back as far as FF7)

zero9167

Picking a selection like Gears, Halo, and Assassin's Creed (action titles), and comparing them to Final Fantasy in terms of story quality is incredible sophomoric. That's bad even when discussing one's preference in games. I've already mentioned this, and I think you just ignored it:

Do you understand the difference between a "valid point" and your personal opinion?

A while back I

I'll try again: Do you understand the difference between saying "I prefer Japanese game stories" versus "Japanese game stories are better"?

You tend to ignore these things, like when I asked:

Do you know what an appeal to authority fallacy is?

I

And you go on to say:

So I can say without a sliver of doubt that american soceity TENDS to focus on how something looks rather than anything else

ceells87

You backup your argument and your appeal to your own authority...by another appeal to your authority. This is like arguing with a Creationist who "proves" the Bible is true by quoting verses saying the Bible is true. A question like, "Is America overly concerned with appearances?" is a question that a real academic could spend decades, or even their entire career answering. For you to come to a conclusion on an issue that big based on a few years abroad and your own "gut feeling" is insulting to real thinkers and scientists.

Moving on, this bothered me:

You...spin my phrasing around to suit your little spat.

ceells87

This has nothing to do with the larger argument, but I get annoyed when I'm accused of dishonest debating. I haven't spun your phrasing one bit. Every reference to you or anyone else in this thread by me has been in the form of quotes. I'm especially annoyed at someone accusing me of being dishonest, when: 1) You say something wrong, 2) Everyone jumps on you for it, and 3) You insist that what you said in the first place wasn't what you "meant" to say.

I wanted to get that off my chest. Back to real issues here, let's look at something in my last post:

[QUOTE="ceells87"]

2) I didnt critizie anything.

I said you

Western games...have sub-par stories.

ceells87

So, instead of just admitting "Hmm...I guess I did criticize something," you go on to say:

I NEVER said ALL western games have sub-par stories.

ceells87

Let's contrast that with your full statement I already quoted.

Western made games have amazing graphics and sub-par stories.

ceells87 before that

?

I'll be interested in seeing the explanation for this one. When you said "Western games have subpar stories," did anyone reading this thread think you actually meant "Only some Western games have subpar stories"? Your argument here is that you didn't use the word "all"? Christ... If you're having difficulty with clarity, I'll rewrite your original post, removing the social pseudoscience and the ALL/some issue:

Let's look at it this way. In American games, designers put great effort into graphic design, and sometimes the narrative suffers, although there are many causes for both of these issues. On the other hand, Japanese developers take great care in crafting the stories of their games, which ads up to a rich experience for myself and many other gamers, who don't care as much for graphical flair. I prefer the storytelling in Japanese games, and I prefer purchasing them over Western titles.

ceells87 should have

See, that would be a way of expressing your opinion in a concise fashion, without offending people, or resorting to your bizarre theory of American cultural issues leading to poor game narrative. I'll tell you what, if you don't like my rewrite, why don't you rewrite your original post yourself, since you've accused about everyone in this thread of misunderstanding you?

Oh boy, this gets worse...

If your that easily offended my a little remark on the appeal system to people in the country thats just sad and i feel sorry for you and for your kids (if you have any) cause they'll get the same uber-patriotic freakshow of views as you.

ceells87

You feel sorry for my kids? I don't have any kids, but that's still a weird thing to say. You post up a bizarre argument that gets attacked by several people, and you won't admit it's wrong... But I can't say I particularly feel one way or the other about you, or anyone else on this board. Hmm...Legolas_Katarn and MsCortana have nice blogs, I guess...

In America someone's looks are what get them noticed the most...whereas in Japan substance is over glamour.

ceells87

I'm uber-patriotic because I don't like it when someone implies my culture is lacking substance, or that another culture has greater substance? Speaking of patriotic, I like how you use the terms American and Western interchangeably. American superficiality...leads to poor game narratives in the Western world. I'm surprised some of the European and Canadian members of the forum haven't gotten annoyed with you yet. Anyway, Please, please, go to a university, and write papers about how some cultures have more substance than others. Then when your professors and everyone else within earshot calls you a racist, you can point out that you were misinterpreted. Speaking of that...

Also: "The reason the graphics in Japanese games aren't as good as Western games is that Japanese culture is artistically lacking." is probably the worst way to try and prove a point. for one it's not rasict but it is insulting to the fine people in japan who produce top grade stuff and two it's a contradiction to itself in a sentence.

ceells87 claims I

Jesus Christ, you are obtuse. What did I say?

It would have been just as offensive as if someone said, "The reason the graphics in Japanese games aren't as good as Western games is that Japanese culture is artistically lacking." That's wrong.

I actually

Emphasis added by me. Do you understand an analogy? Do you understand that I was saying that this statement was offensive? I am saying it is offensive. And you disagree with me...by saying it's offensive. Making statements about how one culture has more "substance" or "artistry" than another, and that therefore their games are more intricate or more beautiful is offensive. That's been my point all along, and you attempt to argue with me...by also saying it's offensive.

You're not quite the tactician you think you are.

Fatality!

I got a few compliments in the thread for my debating fashion, but that pretty well wraps things up. Ceells did not return. I hope you enjoyed this. See you on the forums.

Thought of the Day: Gaming, 11 May 08

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Doom is freakin' sweet!

A forum poster recently asked what everyone's favorite Xbox Live games were. Someone responded with Doom, and I quickly agreed. Doom was just a phenomenal game. Gaming historians might point to Wolfenstein 3-D or even terribly obscure titles, but for the general public and for myself, Doom created the shooter. I first played Doom in 1994, when my family's optometrist came over to show my father a new laptop. On it, he had the Doom shareware. I was simply blown away. There was nothing like it. It was fast, violent, and incredibly addictive. It had such an impact on me, that while writing the message board post that was the genesis of this article, I found that after at least a decade of not touching Doom, I could still remember cheat codes.

  • IDDQD = God mode, and your eyes start to glow
  • IDKFA = All weapons and keys
  • IDCLIP = Walk through walls
  • IDSPISPOPD = Can't remember, although I know it had something to do with a Usenet joke

I've said before that Doom started me on the path of playing shooters and other violent games, which probably contributed to my choice of career as a military officer.

Anyone who thinks about downplaying Doom's significance should consider how games today, 15 years later, still use many of its conventions. Until Halo, almost all games had health and armor stats, like Doom. Games still have this today, like Far Cry. Doom's weapons were timeless: Pistol, shotgun, machinegun, rocket launcher, superweapon. Games have added a few items to this list, like sniper rifles and grenades, but you'd be hard pressed to find an action shooter that didn't have all of these. Here, let's compare Doom's weapons with an innovative, modern shooter: Gears of War.

  • Chainsaw/Fists: Yeah, there's literally a chainsaw in Gears; Kudos for bringing it back
  • Pistol: There's pistols in Gears, two of them, and they're about as useful as the one in Doom
  • Shotgun: Gnasher shotgun
  • Chaingun: Lancer assault rifle
  • Rocket Launcher: Boomshot
  • BFG-9000: Hammer of Dawn

Finally: Doom's plot. It was nothing intricate, but the setting's good enough. Demons are invading. Kill them. It's simple. Doom's basic premise is practically identical to Half-Life's.

Speaking of Doom, it is momentously awesome that id Software is going to put out Quake III Arena on Xbox Live. I can't wait to play it. I read an article in Game Informer, where John Carmack said he believes Quake III still represents the best of ultra-fast paced shooter action. I'm not sure I'd entirely agree with that (Unreal, anyone?), but I'm still going to download Quake III as soon as it comes out. I think there's something amusing about looking forward to a game that was released nine years ago.

Thought of the Day: Gaming, 24 Apr 08

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Check this out: My Wish List. There's about 50 Xbox 360 games on there. Now, you know what would be nice? If I could prioritize them. Like, put in a number from 1 to 10, saying how much I want this game. It'd make my wish list easy to sort, and I'm sure Gamespot would find some use for such a statistic.

Thought of the Day: Gaming, 12 Mar 08

by on

Have you read Joe Dodson's new review of Army of Two? I have, and without even playing the game, there's something about the review that annoys me. I thought about posting this on games forum page, but I went to it, and the number one thread at the time was "Who's your favorite rapper in the WuTang clan?" I am not making this up.

It seems the author's biggest strike against the game is its nonchalant treatment of mercenary activity in the Middle East. Mr. Dodson feels that glorifying a controversial subject like this is in poor taste, and the game's review score (6.5) reflects this. Since when are games supposed to be socially responsible? I've been playing shooters for over a decade now, and Army of Two isn't the first one that's morally ambiguous. This seems so obvious that I feel sophomoric saying it, but what about Grand Theft Auto? Here's one of the more popular game franchises out there, and it glorifies being a criminal! Where was Gamespot's high-minded morality when they reviewed San Andreas? The purpose of a game is to be fun. Games do this through good gameplay and use of technology. Gamespot's job is to evaluate how well the developer's executed this, not make political statements.

In all fairness, Mr. Dodson did not make any direct statements regarding the conflict in Iraq or American foreign policy, but he did say that making fun of it is wrong. Since when is that wrong? When did Gamespot adopt this policy? Perhaps Gamespot needs to publish a length addendum to their reviewing standards, highlighting exactly what is and is not okay to make light of in a game. Maybe they could make a wiki out of it.

On the other hand, we can assume that different people have varying tolerances to their favorite world issues being mocked. We assume this, and criticize games based on irritating mechanics, s***ty graphics, repetitive gameplay, and all the other things that legitimately make a bad game bad. This is what I rely on Gamespot to tell me. This business with Army of Two could have been solved by a single statement: "Army of Two makes light of some serious issues in Iraq; if that bothers you, consider yourself warned." If I want to know whether or not a game's going to hurt my feelings, I'll go read Christian Gaming Reviews.

Thought of the Day: Gaming, 27 Feb 08

by on

Forum post of mine today, which I think works for Thought of the Day...

SmokieX says to me recently: "I'm a sucker for the limited collectors edition."

God, tell me about it. I too am a sucker for the special limited collector's legendary saga anniversary edition of a game. It's annoying, 'cause you usually get next to nothing for buying the special edition, but a bunch of useless s***. Let's think about it...

You get a larger box to take up space on your shelf. If it's a special edition, of course it has to be bigger. (Duh!) PC games, after decades of dumba**ery, finally took a hint from console games, and started making their boxes all the same size. Well, things go both ways I guess, 'cause now there's all sorts of bloated, distorted 360 game boxes out there.

Oh, and you get an art book. Yippie, I get to look at instruction manual-sized pictures of concept art that I first saw three years ago on Gamespot.

And don't get me started on the pewter figurines. Who came up with these figurines in the first place? I must have 20 of them, like some old bitty with her Hummels. I love it when they make them part of a numbered set. What? I'm going to buy multiple copies of the limited edition so I can collect all these stupid figurines? Who's gonna do that? F***ing stupid.

Sometimes you get a poster, which seems cheap, because it reminds of me of back in the day when lots of games came with posters, special edition or not.

In RPGs, you sometimes get a map of the game, maybe even a cloth map. In the old days, this was essential, since it set the basis for the 200-page graph paper atlas you were going to create over the next couple months. However, ever since Da Vinci invented the automap, there's really no reason for it.

"Special Features" disc. These usually have one or two "Making of" documentaries. These are usually kind of interesting, but again it's nothing I haven't already seen. Oh, these discs also have an art section...in case the useless art book wasn't enough.

Soundtrack disc. I'm speechless.

And finally, the least common item in any "special" edition: Extra game content.

So I don't know why I buy these. Makes no sense, no f***ing sense.

Thought of the Day: Gaming, 10 Feb 08

by on

This is annoying. There's this contest that begins on 12 Feburary, yes, two days from now. You enter, and you get a couple months to amass 1,500 Gamerpoints above your existing total. The thing is, there's different levels at which you can enter the contest, dependent upon your existing Gamerscore. The highest level is 10,000.

I am on a quest to have 10,000 Gamerpoints by Tuesday. In the past week, I've gone from around 5,500 to over 8,000 Gamerpoints. I have 2,000 more to go (obviously). I even rented Avatar: The Burning Earth as a last resort.

I don't know what it is about Gamerpoints. I'm compelled to get them. I don't just play through a game and enjoy it. I play through doing all sorts of asinine things, trying to get Gamerpoints. Example: I played through Half-Life 2: Episode One using nothing but the gravity gun. Sound annoying? It was. Oh, but it got me 40 Gamerpoints. Yippie.

This is like a f***ing grind. I've never liked MMORPGs, but I'm playing one. The game is called Xbox Live, and instead of XP and levels, I earn Gamerpoints.

Thought of the Day: Gaming, 11 Dec 07

by on

Despite being a GameSpot reader since the Quake (1) days, I've never actually written anything in my GameSpot blog here. And I really can't think of a better issue to start with than the Jeff Gerstmann/Eidos/CNET controversy.

My GameSpot subscription ran out a month or so ago, and I haven't given them my new credit card yet, so I've been treated to a lot of ads on GameSpot recently. I never really thought about the fact that gaming review sites receive large amounts of money from the very product they're attempting to evaluate objectively. And now that I think about it, this does seem to present a bit of a problem.

I did a bit of research. I read a long article on Newsweek's blogs(which I found due to this GameSpot member), which examined amongst other things, the degree to which Internet gaming reviews affect the industry. The availability of information on the Internet, and the ease of collating that information, creates an environment where an end user can immediately determine the quality of a product. The article notes that Metacritic and Game Rankings literally determine the value of a game. Game developers therefore have an interest in influencing game reviews.

There are various ways publishers do this, for example preventing negative or mediocre reviews from coming out before a game's launch, while allowing positive reviews to be released a couple days prior. Publishers also have a history of using coercive methods, such as pulling advertising revenue from a publication, or even going to the point of falsifying reviews.

After reading all of this, I was then thinking, "Should I care?" Now, 80% of the games I buy, I already know I'm going to buy. Some of my purchases in the last six months include Halo 3, Bioshock, and Mass Effect, games I knew I was going to buy over a year before they were released. Reviews come into play with games I'm not sure of buying. It's troublesome to think that publishers are able to influence these reviews I rely on, reviews I rely on to not waste my f***ing money. It doesn't bother me that game companies try to do this, since I expect them to protect their bottom line, but it does bother me that they sometimes succeed. I've relied on GameSpot for years to create the most knowledgeable, professional reviews on the Internet.

Taking a look at this video, we find that CNET generates more than 85% of its revenue from essentially ads on web pages. User subscription fees are less than 15%. So from a corporate perspective, GameSpot's (or at least CNET's) responsibility to game publishers is substantially greater than to its users. This video also noted that over a given period, 50% of Gamespot's reviews will fall into the 7 to 9 range. Now that is a little disturbing. That's not a bell curve.

So what should I conclude from this? I could assume that "7 to 9" thing is a coincidence for the time period considered in that video. I could decide it's a legitimate issue, and conclude I should take that "7 to 9" range into consideration when I'm reading a review.

Should I continue relying on GameSpot? One GameSpot blogger noted, "If Jeff was fired for Kane and Lynch, he was fired because he REFUSED to play ball." "Play ball" in this case being, "compromise his journalistic integrity." That's a very poignant observation. Considering this, and after listening to the GameSpot staff speak on this issue, I think I can--and everyone else should--"trust" GameSpot. The GameSpot staff was very upset about losing Jeff. This incident bothered them as much as it did any of us users out here. GameSpot describes the incident as a management mistake, with said management now asking, "How do we fix this, and also how to we make sure this never happens again?"

This incident brought a lot of troubling issues to the forefront of gaming consciousness. There's a lot of conclusions one can draw from it, and ultimately, I think gamers should avoid jumping to conspiracy-theories. One conclusion I can inescapably come to is that I'm not going to buy Kane & Lynch. So wrapping this up, andall other issues aside, Jeff: 1, Kane & Lynch: 0.

On a final note, don't go complain to Eidos about any of this.