I really like how Gamespot is always pushing the boundaries of video games, even in the sense of how they're graded.
If you think about how other, more established forms of art are reviewed, Gamespot is bringing our medium into that class of assessment. Take for example, how movies are reviewed. How many movies have you seen on Metacritic that have gotten higher in 2011 than an 80? Than a 90?? Not many. I personally can only think of one 90+ movie that was released last year.
Take a look at Kingdoms of Amalur: Reckoning, which in part inspired this blog. The gave got a 7.5 for consoles. Is this a bad rating? Some might say so. But what does 7.5 mean? It means "Good." Some get so riled up because their hopes were wrongfully dashed when their game didn't receive 90+ marks. The problem with our rating system is that if a game isn't in that 90+ range, too many of us discard it as trash. [If I, personally, saw that a move had received a 75 on Metacritic, I would have no problems giving my money to that movie, likely without even having to know barely anything about it.]
And it's for the very reason that game critics are simply too easy on games, and this because our form of entertainment is an emerging one. And being one that earnestly desires acceptance from other forms of art, it wants to treat all of its products as ones equally as deserving as products from other forms of art that are well received.
But this isn't how we're going to be accepted as legitimate forms of entertainment by critics of other types of expression. For us to be taken as serious critics, we have to act like serious critics, not adoring fans chugging down filth from the hype machine and lovingly depositing glowing scores onto each game in efforts to bring about some sort of approval.
No; until we grow up and start viewing our own games as art, and start grading those forms of art based not simply on how much we enjoyed them (otherwise, we would likewise fall into the pit of obsessing over every Michael Bay movie released), but rather in how well those products display themselves as art -- as a single, united, coherent piece, whose universe fits together and whose gameplay creates a fluid, immersive world that draws the player in and, not through mindless power-leveling and false character attachment, makes him forget that he is simply interacting with an advanced computer and believe, if but for a moment, that he is truly a part of the world in front of him -- only then will our medium become art worth experiencing.
PS: I am not in any way speaking out against Kingdoms of Amalur: Reckoning; I am simply trying to explain Gamespot's reasoning here. 7.5 is not a bad score. But until we as a gaming community cease to blindly shower our love onto every game we purchase, until we actually treat the products of this medium like mature, experienced critics treat their forms of art, our industry will not give us that kind of art. And I applaud Gamespot for taking the first small steps to usher that age of maturity into light.