The Responsibility of the Journalist

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#51 Posted by Jacanuk (11591 posts) -

@Black_Knight_00 said:

@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?

This is impossible to archive and also if that is what you seek, a read on the back of the cover would pretty much give you what you need, unless you want to contradict your own words. Also its not possible for anyone to be objective in weighing a game even if the scale is set to Industry standard, also who will decide what industry standard is without being subjective?.

Any Critic is and always will just state their opinion and you ask what are they good for? well nothing unless you are one of those people who cannot make up their own mind and need help.

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#52 Edited by clockworkengine (227 posts) -

It might seem impossible to you to create an acceptable standard, but it once seemed impossible to fly as well. Or to transmit messages over the air. I don't think it's helpful to avoid finding a standard just because you don't think it's possible. News flash- just because you can't conceive of it doesn't mean it can't be done.

Personally, I think people should quit trying to play cards like -phobia and intolerance. It's stupid when you don't have hatred in your heart but you're labeled as a hater anyway just because someone wants to use the social platform to prevail in the discussion.

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#53 Posted by loafofgame (1742 posts) -

@Black_Knight_00 said:

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.

I don't think we are. What I said before directly relates to:

@Black_Knight_00 said:

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.

For the third time, we can agree on classics and on certain industry standards, but 1) the quality of the implementation and adaptation of these standards cannot be expressed in undeniable and singular terms. 2) These standards function in a context of other standards/mechanics/features (not only within a single game, but also as part of the experience a reviewer has with other games), which can influence the appreciation of a game. 3) Not all aspects of a game have clearly delineated industry standards or there are several standards, which leaves their quality open for debate.

These points (and I'm sure there are more) at the very least problematise the ideal of an objective and unbiased review (even if I define the terms 'objective' and 'unbiased' as loosely as you appear to be doing). They all point towards personal experience and preferences influencing the evaluation of the quality of a game. I have repeatedly said this and you have not addressed these arguments, so I see no reason not to repeat them again.

@Black_Knight_00 said:

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"?

The "common good" directly contradicts the idea of an unbiased and objective review. If you want reviews to be objective and unbiased they should not adhere to the majority. Unless you think the majority defines what is objective and unbiased, in which case I suggest you use different terms. But let me try and answer your question: we should actually tolerate a lot less, because right now I don't see any indications of GS doing badly or being punished because of Petit's and McShea's reviews (at this point and in the future). So I'd say these reviews are perfectly in line with the "common good".

@Black_Knight_00 said:

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.

Not discussing the mission in your example wouldn't make the review less subjective (as pointed out above) and focusing on the aspects that the majority of readers find important is not objective and unbiased. I think that answers the first question. As for the second question, I suppose you mean the reader that represents the majority? Again, being relevant to that particular reader is not objective or unbiased.

To add to that, 'we' (but really, I think the majority doesn't care) apparently want objective and unbiased reviews, but at the same we are completely unwilling and/or incapable of judging the present reviews in any unbiased and neutral way. We are incapable of separating different parts of the reviews and separately judging their relevance to our tastes. We cannot disregard this apparently meaningless argument and move on to see if there are perhaps more useful aspects in the review or in other reviews. And when we see aspects being discussed that we have defined as wholly irrelevant we can only see it as wasted space/personal bias, instead of being considerate towards a minority it might appeal to (and realising that what we find important might actually be biased too). In my opinion, that excluding attitude wouldn't even be understandable if GS was the only gaming website on the internet and if reviews were the only thing that could possibly help us decide whether or not to buy a game. Looking at this 'objectively', all this bias you don't like is completely harmless when looking at the bigger picture and more importantly, and this killed the discussion before it even started, the majority doesn't care.

@Black_Knight_00 said:

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?

I refer to what I said in response to your first example. It would be just as valuable, because we are able to put reviews into perspective and context, and because we can compare with other reviews, with gameplay videos, with preview material, with past games. And because we should realise that the majority of aspects judged in a review are influenced by personal experience and preferences. If a reviewer claims that the controls of "game x" have improved compared to other games from the same franchise or similar other games, then you are still none the wiser. It might seem like an objective observation, but you will always find a significant amount of people (also among reviewers) disagreeing and pointing out why the controls haven't been improved or are merely matching the standards.

@Black_Knight_00 said:

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?

Their use is that they can provide different perspectives on games that might enhance our appreciation of a specific game or games in general (offer insights that we might have missed ourselves). Their use is that they can open the door to people other than the readers' majority, but who are still just as passionate about games. Their use is that across the board they can provide something useful for everyone, without hurting the 'majority', because that majority is perfectly capable of making up its own mind and determining the value of different sources for their personal taste (because they have the privilege of multiple sources).

If keeping a spreadsheet brings you to a reviewer who you think is actually objective (which, if you define objective strictly, you'll never find), then by all means do. But my point was that you shouldn't expect that everything is handed to you in one single review or even in multiple reviews (even if they adhere to your definition of objective). And my point is that judging the moral, sexual or social aspects of a game isn't necessarily more subjective than judging controls, cameras or graphics. The reason the former things are also discussed is because videogames are continuously appealing to a larger and increasingly more varied audience.

I feel I have addressed everything you mentioned in your reply (and I feel that I did that most of the times I replied to you), but I can't help but get the feeling you are being very selective in what you want to discuss when it comes to my replies. You're free to do whatever you want and I can understand that my replies are a bit excessive, but you are not questioning my main arguments.

@clockworkengine said:

It might seem impossible to you to create an acceptable standard, but it once seemed impossible to fly as well. Or to transmit messages over the air. I don't think it's helpful to avoid finding a standard just because you don't think it's possible. News flash- just because you can't conceive of it doesn't mean it can't be done.

I already suggested we start discussing an acceptable standard and I also said why your 'being objective' criterium doesn't cut it in my opinion. I shall admit up front that I think finding such a standard is only possible when you're not being objective, but that said, I have never tried it, so who knows...

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#54 Posted by Jacanuk (11591 posts) -

@clockworkengine said:

It might seem impossible to you to create an acceptable standard, but it once seemed impossible to fly as well. Or to transmit messages over the air. I don't think it's helpful to avoid finding a standard just because you don't think it's possible. News flash- just because you can't conceive of it doesn't mean it can't be done.

Personally, I think people should quit trying to play cards like -phobia and intolerance. It's stupid when you don't have hatred in your heart but you're labeled as a hater anyway just because someone wants to use the social platform to prevail in the discussion.

I don't think you understand, it is not impossible to create a industry standard but it will be a subjective standard where the people you choose to make this will use their subjective opinion to pick area´s.

What is impossible and here i mean impossible is create a objective industry standard, unless you want it to be a list of things like this game is a pc game , you can use controller and it is a "platformer" etc.

This whole debate has taken on a style that is insane, because talking about making objective reviews and doing it by looking at industry standards is just so out there that i question if people even know what objective and subjective means.

And the last comment i have no clue where come from? a hater? who are you directed that at? i haven't seen one person say anything about phobia/intolerance or that anyone is a hater. What have been said that reviews a subjective opinions and that it is not possible to give a review objective, a objective "review" is whats on the back cover off the box and says its a PC game, has controller support etc.

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#55 Edited by ReddestSkies (4087 posts) -

@clockworkengine said:

It might seem impossible to you to create an acceptable standard, but it once seemed impossible to fly as well. Or to transmit messages over the air. I don't think it's helpful to avoid finding a standard just because you don't think it's possible. News flash- just because you can't conceive of it doesn't mean it can't be done.

I must take a moment to laugh at the comparison between the subjective reviewing of a subjective medium and concrete engineering feats.

Let me rephrase your thought process: if we can build airplanes, why can't we all agree to have the same opinions about video games?!

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#56 Posted by Black_Knight_00 (20886 posts) -

@loafofgame: If I seem to be selective in my replies it's because your posts (though interesting) are very long and I try as much as possible to keep mine brief. Since we disagree on the basic purpose of a review there is no chance for us to agree on this topic: you want a reviewer to tell you if he liked a game, I want to know if the game is good and have no interest in his personal appreciation of it. I believe there are clear parameters to determine whether a game is good, you believe the line is too blurry.

Agree to disagree. I leave you with one question, which should be answerable with a simple yes or no: do you think it's possible for you to hate a game, but at the same time recognize it's a good game?

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#57 Edited by loafofgame (1742 posts) -

@Black_Knight_00 said:

@loafofgame: If I seem to be selective in my replies it's because your posts (though interesting) are very long and I try as much as possible to keep mine brief. Since we disagree on the basic purpose of a review there is no chance for us to agree on this topic: you want a reviewer to tell you if he liked a game, I want to know if the game is good and have no interest in his personal appreciation of it. I believe there are clear parameters to determine whether a game is good, you believe the line is too blurry.

Agree to disagree. I leave you with one question, which should be answerable with a simple yes or no: do you think it's possible for you to hate a game, but at the same time recognize it's a good game?

Fair enough. I just think it's a shame my main arguments weren't challenged, because I'm certainly not claiming to hold the truth and I wish to be questioned. I guess I should blame myself for making my replies too lengthy. To answer your question: absolutely. BUT ;-P that's because I try to look at a game from different perspectives, not because one perspective is more objective than the other. That has always been my main point and that's why I believe all perspectives can be very useful in determining the quality of a game (at least for me). And in the end you're only determining that quality for yourself, because you might end up playing the game.

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#58 Edited by Black_Knight_00 (20886 posts) -

@loafofgame said:

Fair enough. I just think it's a shame my main arguments weren't challenged, because I'm certainly not claiming to hold the truth and I wish to be questioned. I guess I should blame myself for making my replies too lengthy. To answer your question: absolutely. BUT ;-P that's because I try to look at a game from different perspectives, not because one perspective is more objective than the other. That has always been my main point and that's why I believe all perspectives can be very useful in determining the quality of a game (at least for me). And in the end you're only determining that quality for yourself, because you might end up playing the game.

See, that's an argument in favor of objective quality for me. Different interpretations. At least we agree on giving a game the benefit of the doubt even if we dislike it, for instance: I loathe Bayonetta and Borderlands, but I understand that they are exactly what their developers intended for them to be and my distaste derives from personal preference and not by them being objectively dysfunctional or lacking.

On the other end of the spectrum, you'd be surprised by how many people subscribe to the "if I don't like a game it means it's bad" mentality and don't understand the concept of "it's a good game, but I hate it".

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#59 Edited by Byshop (18217 posts) -

@

@ReddestSkies said:

@clockworkengine said:

It might seem impossible to you to create an acceptable standard, but it once seemed impossible to fly as well. Or to transmit messages over the air. I don't think it's helpful to avoid finding a standard just because you don't think it's possible. News flash- just because you can't conceive of it doesn't mean it can't be done.

I must take a moment to laugh at the comparison between the subjective reviewing of a subjective medium and concrete engineering feats.

Let me rephrase your thought process: if we can build airplanes, why can't we all agree to have the same opinions about video games?!

Yeah, pretty much. Clockworkengine is saying "acceptable standard" for reviews but what that essentially means is "reviews I agree with". This entire thread is just another "I don't agree with a review and I want to explain why I'm right and the reviewer is wrong" thread, and it is not a new type of thread on this forum.

-Byshop

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#60 Posted by loafofgame (1742 posts) -

@Black_Knight_00 said:

See, that's an argument in favor of objective quality for me. Different interpretations. At least we agree on giving a game the benefit of the doubt even if we dislike it, for instance: I loathe Bayonetta and Borderlands, but I understand that they are exactly what their developers intended for them to be and my distaste derives from personal preference and not by them being objectively dysfunctional or lacking.

On the other end of the spectrum, you'd be surprised by how many people subscribe to the "if I don't like a game it means it's bad" mentality and don't understand the concept of "it's a good game, but I hate it".

Haha, ok. I don't want to start this discussion again, but I really do not agree with your use of the word 'objective'. It implies that one of these interpretations is actually superior and a universally accepted one, which I think is a dangerous, highly unproductive and unrealistic attitude. Plus, the strict definition of 'objective' doesn't allow for the assessment of quality, only for the description of characteristics. But I made that clear already. Yes, we agree on giving a game the benefit of the doubt even if we dislike it, but I think we pretty much disagree on everything else. ;-) But that's fine.

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#61 Posted by Byshop (18217 posts) -

@Black_Knight_00 said:

See, that's an argument in favor of objective quality for me. Different interpretations. At least we agree on giving a game the benefit of the doubt even if we dislike it, for instance: I loathe Bayonetta and Borderlands, but I understand that they are exactly what their developers intended for them to be and my distaste derives from personal preference and not by them being objectively dysfunctional or lacking.

On the other end of the spectrum, you'd be surprised by how many people subscribe to the "if I don't like a game it means it's bad" mentality and don't understand the concept of "it's a good game, but I hate it".

I get what you're saying, but I wouldn't call that objectively judging a game's quality because I don't think there is ever an objective way to determine "better". I can also look at a game that I dislike based on my personal preferences and recognize quality, but I still don't think that's me being "objective" exactly. I'm still judging the game subjectively, but I'm doing so from the perspective of someone who enjoys that type of game more than me. "Good" and "Bad" are still entirely subjective measurements.

Gone Home is a great example. A ton of reviewers gave it a perfect or near perfect score, while tons of GS users insist that it's a pile or garbage. If it's possible to objectively judge the quality of a game, who is right when the community is so polarized?

-Byshop

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#62 Edited by Black_Knight_00 (20886 posts) -

@loafofgame said:

Haha, ok. I don't want to start this discussion again, but I really do not agree with your use of the word 'objective'. It implies that one of these interpretations is actually superior and a universally accepted one, which I think is a dangerous, highly unproductive and unrealistic attitude. Plus, the strict definition of 'objective' doesn't allow for the assessment of quality, only for the description of characteristics. But I made that clear already. Yes, we agree on giving a game the benefit of the doubt even if we dislike it, but I think we pretty much disagree on everything else. ;-) But that's fine.

As I said, agree to disagree.

I guess the current mentality is derived from the "drop in the sea" factor the internet has brought by, with hundreds of credited and uncredited reviewers posting about a game, what the game is actually worth will inevitably come out even if this or that reviewer acts unprofessionally: Tom McShea gives a 7/10 to Zelda or a 4/10 to Bioshock Infinite because he didn't like the plot? Who gives a rat's ass, he's a guy in hundreds, right?

Call me old, but when I was a kid (way before the internet) we had like 4 gaming magazines to pick from and they were the only way to know whether a game was good or bad before buying it, we had no demos, no videos to watch, just a few blurry screens on a magazine. Plus, games were expensive: there were no online stores or Steam running sales and discounts all year long, and mail order shops were small, with limited supplies and couldn't lower prices half as readily. The reviewer back then had to stick to facts, because he was the one thing standing in between thousands of gamers and as many bad purchases, and a bad purchase meant months of savings down the drain for the average kid and most places would only accept returns in case of defective material.

Guess that's where my utilitarian outlook on reviews comes from. "Just a dude's opinion" just doesn't cut it for me, as it sure didn't cut it then.

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#63 Posted by Jacanuk (11591 posts) -

@Byshop said:

@

@ReddestSkies said:

@clockworkengine said:

It might seem impossible to you to create an acceptable standard, but it once seemed impossible to fly as well. Or to transmit messages over the air. I don't think it's helpful to avoid finding a standard just because you don't think it's possible. News flash- just because you can't conceive of it doesn't mean it can't be done.

I must take a moment to laugh at the comparison between the subjective reviewing of a subjective medium and concrete engineering feats.

Let me rephrase your thought process: if we can build airplanes, why can't we all agree to have the same opinions about video games?!

Yeah, pretty much. Clockworkengine is saying "acceptable standard" for reviews but what that essentially means is "reviews I agree with". This entire thread is just another "I don't agree with a review and I want to explain why I'm right and the reviewer is wrong" thread, and it is not a new type of thread on this forum.

-Byshop

Exactly Byshop. This time tho its a actual debate and not just the usual "Gamespot is a dick, fire the whole team"

Even tho the core message is the same.

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#64 Posted by Jacanuk (11591 posts) -

@Black_Knight_00 said:

@loafofgame said:

Haha, ok. I don't want to start this discussion again, but I really do not agree with your use of the word 'objective'. It implies that one of these interpretations is actually superior and a universally accepted one, which I think is a dangerous, highly unproductive and unrealistic attitude. Plus, the strict definition of 'objective' doesn't allow for the assessment of quality, only for the description of characteristics. But I made that clear already. Yes, we agree on giving a game the benefit of the doubt even if we dislike it, but I think we pretty much disagree on everything else. ;-) But that's fine.

As I said, agree to disagree.

I guess the current mentality is derived from the "drop in the sea" factor the internet has brought by, with hundreds of credited and uncredited reviewers posting about a game, what the game is actually worth will inevitably come out even if this or that reviewer acts unprofessionally: Tom McShea gives a 7/10 to Zelda or a 4/10 to Bioshock Infinite because he didn't like the plot? Who gives a rat's ass, he's a guy in hundreds, right?

Call me old, but when I was a kid (way before the internet) we had like 4 gaming magazines to pick from and they were the only way to know whether a game was good or bad before buying it, we had no demos, no videos to watch, just a few blurry screens on a magazine. Plus, games were expensive: there were no online stores or Steam running sales and discounts all year long, and mail order shops were small, with limited supplies and couldn't lower prices half as readily. The reviewer back then had to stick to facts, because he was the one thing standing in between thousands of gamers and as many bad purchases, and a bad purchase meant months of savings down the drain for the average kid and most places would only accept returns in case of defective material.

Guess that's where my utilitarian outlook on reviews comes from. "Just a dude's opinion" just doesn't cut it for me, as it sure didn't cut it then.

Hmm, not sure i understand where you come from Black Knight, because even back then reviews were still just a opinion, yes they were a lot more serious and most magazines hired actual journalists and not just English majors or former bankstaff who thought it would be fun to change careers. But in the end it was just a opinion

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#65 Posted by wiouds (6233 posts) -

A review is not just a person opinion. In fact the writer's opinion is one of the smallest and least important part of the review. A review is more about justifying your opinion with good and reasonable ideal from the the games.

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#66 Posted by clockworkengine (227 posts) -

@Byshop: I don't understand why you keep trying to put words in my mouth. It seems YOU are the one who demands people agree with you, otherwise you accuse them of just demanding people agree with them. Quit using circular logic and get with the program. My argument is just as valid as yours.

Anyway, how bout this: as a reviewer, if you go to make a point and upon consideration realize that the opposite of your viewpoint might greatly offend you, leave it out. For instance, some people might say GTA V didn't have enough woman-bashing in it. But I am fairly certain if that opinion were stated, it would get a little haywire.

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#67 Edited by Black_Knight_00 (20886 posts) -

@Jacanuk said:

Hmm, not sure i understand where you come from Black Knight, because even back then reviews were still just a opinion, yes they were a lot more serious and most magazines hired actual journalists and not just English majors or former bankstaff who thought it would be fun to change careers. But in the end it was just a opinion

Pretty sure that post explains in great detail where I'm coming from. Also reviews were less professional (though more entertaining to read). The difference was the purpose why they were written in the first place: providing a buyer's guide as opposed to simply rating games.

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#68 Posted by Jacanuk (11591 posts) -

@Black_Knight_00 said:

@Jacanuk said:

Hmm, not sure i understand where you come from Black Knight, because even back then reviews were still just a opinion, yes they were a lot more serious and most magazines hired actual journalists and not just English majors or former bankstaff who thought it would be fun to change careers. But in the end it was just a opinion

Pretty sure that post explains in great detail where I'm coming from. Also reviews were less professional (though more entertaining to read). The difference was the purpose why they were written in the first place: providing a buyer's guide as opposed to simply rating games.

And that's the problem you keep referring to reviews as something that can be objective, well it cant. Its impossible for something that contains a human and decisions to be objective. Also if you say reviews back in day were less professional then today, then it really doesn't make any sense what so ever.

But we are just going in rings here so it doesn't matter and its not like reviews on gamespot or anywhere else are going to change.

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#69 Posted by clockworkengine (227 posts) -

Objectivity is a matter of degree. We WANT the opinions of the reviewers regarding the gameplay, music, and story. But we do not want a philosophical interpretation. Philosophy is highly personal, and therefore its inclusion is counterproductive when aiming for objectivity.

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#70 Edited by Black_Knight_00 (20886 posts) -

@Jacanuk said:

And that's the problem you keep referring to reviews as something that can be objective, well it cant. Its impossible for something that contains a human and decisions to be objective. Also if you say reviews back in day were less professional then today, then it really doesn't make any sense what so ever.

But we are just going in rings here so it doesn't matter and its not like reviews on gamespot or anywhere else are going to change.

Of course it is possible to be objective, or at least make an effort to be so. It simply requires looking at things in perspective instead of stopping at one's own point of view. Just ask you "why" you like and dislike something and you are starting to look at things objectively.

#2: Reviewers were less stylistically professional, they often were written in first person, with less attention to flow and syntax, they contained more humor and puns. They were entertaining reads on top of being informative. What we are moving towarsd today are stylistically impeccable, and yet dry and formulaic blogs, which is why I seldom find myself reading them anymore.

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#71 Posted by Jacanuk (11591 posts) -

@clockworkengine said:

Objectivity is a matter of degree. We WANT the opinions of the reviewers regarding the gameplay, music, and story. But we do not want a philosophical interpretation. Philosophy is highly personal, and therefore its inclusion is counterproductive when aiming for objectivity.

Ok, so you make up your own interpretation of objective, no wonder its hard to get what you guys mean.

Objective is besides being a grammatical term "(a person or their judgement) not influenced by personal feelings or opinions in considering and representing facts."

So what you actually want is a person who is SUBJECTIVE (based on or influenced by personal feelings, tastes, or opinions.) and is intelligent enough to see all sides and weigh what is important for someone reading the piece. And here we agree 100% but this is not what Gamespot and Polygone is about and they have mentioned this a bunch of times recently after the GTAV review, their reviews are 100% subjective meaning that persons opinion is what is being written. They do not care what the readers might like or not like.

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#72 Posted by clockworkengine (227 posts) -
Nah, thinking only in 2 dimensional absolutes is why you don't understand what we are saying. We don't seek 100 percent objectivity. We seek objectivity within an opinion- judge the game based on game play, music, and story. Not your sexual orientation. Not your life philosophies. Shall we go in circles again?
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#73 Edited by Jacanuk (11591 posts) -

@clockworkengine said:
Nah, thinking only in 2 dimensional absolutes is why you don't understand what we are saying. We don't seek 100 percent objectivity. We seek objectivity within an opinion- judge the game based on game play, music, and story. Not your sexual orientation. Not your life philosophies. Shall we go in circles again?

Making up definitions is not speaking/thinking/doing anything but gibberish

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#74 Edited by loafofgame (1742 posts) -

@clockworkengine: Yes, please. I'll try to keep it short this time, so that people might actually read and consider everything I post. I think the first and foremost problem in this discussion is the definition of objective. I know it seems like nitpicking, but I think this problem is vital if we want to get anywhere. I've seen 90% of these discussions die because both sides just shouted 'objective' and 'not objective' at each other.

Both sides use different definitions of objective. I can see two main definitions circulating on the internet: "uninfluenced by emotions and personal prejudices" or "based on observable phenomena; presented factually". I think the conflict of applied definitions that we're witnessing in this debate lies primarily in the first definition, which allows for some speculation. I have always applied objective in the strict sense: the only way to be objective is to describe and not attach any value to that description. "This is a videogame", not "this is a good videogame"; "this game has controls", not "this game has better controls compared to game x or y". Using the word objective when discussing reviews appears to me as implying that quality is something that can simply be observed, that it can be crossed off a list, that there exist some natural laws that define inherent and undeniable quality. Those attitudes are not only highly questionable, but, seeing how videogames are made and consumed, they also still don't adhere to the strict definition.

I think that in this case, when there's a demand for a review standard, the strict definition should be applied, otherwise the core of this standard ideal is already compromised, because it is based on an interpretation of a definition. And you simply cannot guarantee strict objectivity if you judge the quality of something. Therefore the use of objective in this context seems highly unrealistic and confusing. In my honest opinion, there are only different levels of subjectivity.

That's how I approach objective. Please explain how you approach it (and let me know if my replies are still too long).

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#75 Edited by clockworkengine (227 posts) -

@loafofgame: I, too, agree with using the first definition. I'm glad to see at least one person here is aware of the definitions of words, and is interested in actually finding some truth around here.

I'll start with a simple example in the interest of brevity. Game A and Game B both have the same controls. Game A's onscreen characters react fast and accurately to the player's input, while Game B's characters have a more gradual turning procedure when the player attempts to change direction. There is a clear, quantifiable difference between Game A and Game B with regard to control. Where objectivity comes in is where some people prefer one to the other for purely arbitrary reasons. A reviewer cannot speak to the preference of his or her readers, so therefore it is best to simply describe how the controls function.

That was an example of something that is easy to objectify, and therefore obviously belongs in a review. Then we get to philosophical matters. I'm tired of singling out reviewers so I'll create a hypothetical situation: The game in question features characters who behave liberally, and the review is assigned to a typically conservative reviewer. The difference between liberalism and conservatism is arbitrary, and therefore any cognitive dissonance the reviewer feels toward the political aspect of the characters should be left out of the review. If a person is biased toward and feels strongly about a particular way of life, he or she should voluntarily avoid reviewing a game whose characters represent the opposite end of that spectrum, unless that reviewer is capable of leaving personal feelings on the matter out of the review.

You might be tempted here to plunge us into another circular argument by suggesting that what makes up a game is itself completely subjective. But, consider the argument that the core components of video games that are unique to the medium should be the only factors that truly make up what a game is: gameplay, graphics, and story. You can derive other game elements by combining these three or even introducing others. No immutable system can truly solve these conundrums, therefore it comes down to the responsibility of the journalist. The journalist should know what elements are necessary to review the game and should leave out polarizing elements that don't necessarily make up the core component of the graphics, gameplay, or story, such as some in-game characters or organizations' sexual, political, and philosophical viewpoints. Any journalist that fails to adhere to a certain level of responsibility is going to suffer from a highly polarized consumer response. That's simply what happens when you inject too much of your non-game related beliefs onto people who simply came for a consumer product review. Make no mistake, Gamespot is in the consumer product review business, not a philosophical outreach program.

What do you make of all this, loafofgame?

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#76 Edited by Jacanuk (11591 posts) -

@loafofgame said:

@clockworkengine: Yes, please. I'll try to keep it short this time, so that people might actually read and consider everything I post. I think the first and foremost problem in this discussion is the definition of objective. I know it seems like nitpicking, but I think this problem is vital if we want to get anywhere. I've seen 90% of these discussions die because both sides just shouted 'objective' and 'not objective' at each other.

Both sides use different definitions of objective. I can see two main definitions circulating on the internet: "uninfluenced by emotions and personal prejudices" or "based on observable phenomena; presented factually". I think the conflict of applied definitions that we're witnessing in this debate lies primarily in the first definition, which allows for some speculation. I have always applied objective in the strict sense: the only way to be objective is to describe and not attach any value to that description. "This is a videogame", not "this is a good videogame"; "this game has controls", not "this game has better controls compared to game x or y". Using the word objective when discussing reviews appears to me as implying that quality is something that can simply be observed, that it can be crossed off a list, that there exist some natural laws that define inherent and undeniable quality. Those attitudes are not only highly questionable, but, seeing how videogames are made and consumed, they also still don't adhere to the strict definition.

I think that in this case, when there's a demand for a review standard, the strict definition should be applied, otherwise the core of this standard ideal is already compromised, because it is based on an interpretation of a definition. And you simply cannot guarantee strict objectivity if you judge the quality of something. Therefore the use of objective in this context seems highly unrealistic and confusing. In my honest opinion, there are only different levels of subjectivity.

That's how I approach objective. Please explain how you approach it (and let me know if my replies are still too long).

You are hitting the nail right on the head here.

The problem here is that some allow for some subjective interpretation and still call it a objective review..

I do not share this and for me when something is objective it is objective and is a cold statement of facts, This is a videogame and have controller support.

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#77 Posted by Byshop (18217 posts) -

@clockworkengine said:

@Byshop: I don't understand why you keep trying to put words in my mouth. It seems YOU are the one who demands people agree with you, otherwise you accuse them of just demanding people agree with them. Quit using circular logic and get with the program. My argument is just as valid as yours.

Anyway, how bout this: as a reviewer, if you go to make a point and upon consideration realize that the opposite of your viewpoint might greatly offend you, leave it out. For instance, some people might say GTA V didn't have enough woman-bashing in it. But I am fairly certain if that opinion were stated, it would get a little haywire.

If you agreed with the review we wouldn't be having this conversation, so yeah I think that's a factor.

There is no objective "acceptable standard" and there never will be. Individual sites and mags will each have their own standards based what they think matters and what will please their readers and reviewers who write for them will have to conform to those but those standards are just as subjective as individual standards. The idea that "just because nobody has come up with one yet, that doesn't mean nobody will" is laughable for a number of reasons. You could say the same thing about a perpetual motion machine, but knowledge of the laws of thermodynamics demonstrate why such a thing is likely impossible. Similarly, there will never be an "objective standard" that everyone can agree on, only a subjective standard that you agree with and that others who think like you agree with. This is, of course, just an opinion, but it's one that's backed up by literally thousands of years of art history since there is no artistic medium where a universal standard for review has been agreed upon.

If a reviewer writes something like what you describe, more power to him, but what I said earlier about game developers getting to create whatever game they want applies. If you write something openly misogynistic or racist then be prepared for the inevitable backlash.

I want to form my opinions -based- on reviews, not have my opinions told to me by reviews. If I don't think I am getting any useful information from a review (i.e. your example), then the opinions I form may be about the reviewer instead (i.e. this guy is an a-hole), but I absolutely do not want to tell reviewers what they can and can't say in their reviews because that just hurts us. What's the point if every review has essentially the same content, if only a slightly differing opinion on the score? To do so would cut us off from awesome content like Zero Punctuation reviews and Extra Credits game analysis. I don't agree with Tom McShae's reviews like... ever, but I'm not going to call him "journalistically irresponsible". I prefer to read a review that might make me think about something that I otherwise might not have considered. As a thinking human being, I can entertain a thought without necessarily agreeing with it.

And if you think commenting on perceived sexism in a game is not relevant, I can give you about half a dozen reasons why I think it is so again, where is this "acceptable standard" that we can all agree on?

-Byshop

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#78 Posted by clockworkengine (227 posts) -

Well, we won't ALL agree on any standard. But most GS users want to hear about the game, not someone's outlook on sexuality. Byshop, I don't believe you represent the majority of gamespot users with your outlook on all this. If you doubt that, just look at all the user reviews of the game and compare them to the official GS review. I realize you don't agree, and you don't seem interested in trying to see my point, so I'm done with trying. But the mathematics speak for themselves, and given your ironclad, two-dimensional definition of objectivity, even you should realize that you cannot argue with math.

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#79 Edited by loafofgame (1742 posts) -

@clockworkengine said:

@loafofgame: I, too, agree with using the first definition. I'm glad to see at least one person here is aware of the definitions of words, and is interested in actually finding some truth around here.

I didn't say I use the first definition, I said the current conflict lies in the first definition. I apply both definitions strictly and by doing that I come to the conclusion you cannot justify calling a review objective. Now, that doesn't mean there can be no objectivity in a review, because you gave this example:

@clockworkengine said:

I'll start with a simple example in the interest of brevity. Game A and Game B both have the same controls. Game A's onscreen characters react fast and accurately to the player's input, while Game B's characters have a more gradual turning procedure when the player attempts to change direction. There is a clear, quantifiable difference between Game A and Game B with regard to control. Where objectivity comes in is where some people prefer one to the other for purely arbitrary reasons. A reviewer cannot speak to the preference of his or her readers, so therefore it is best to simply describe how the controls function.

I can agree with this. But what you did there is refraining from judging the quality of the controls. You described them. And the current conflict lies in the fact that claims were made that quality can be objectively determined. In your example assessing the quality of the controls is left to the reader. Also, when this method was to be applied to all aspects of the game review there should be no score or conclusion about whether or not the game is worth your money. That should be left entirely up to player. And I don't want to whine, but characterising controls as 'fast', 'accurate' or 'gradual' can be wholly dependant on someone's experience with other games (which is a biased experience). So I'd still refrain from calling this example objective, but I can see why people might label it as such. I know you are more skeptical towards Jacanuk, but I think he has a point when he says:

@Jacanuk said:

The problem here is that some allow for some subjectivity and still allow for it to be called objective.

I think that is indeed the main problem here. I think using terms like 'balanced' or 'considering multiple perspectives/interpretations' is more realistic and will still get your point across, without driving away the significant amount of people who apply a strict definition of objective. Again, if we want to discuss a review standard which adheres to a particular group of people (and with which we cannot all agree, as you say), it's important to drop the word objective, because that word implies that this standard is unanimously agreed upon (not just by a potential majority, but by everyone involved).

@clockworkengine said:

That was an example of something that is easy to objectify, and therefore obviously belongs in a review. Then we get to philosophical matters. I'm tired of singling out reviewers so I'll create a hypothetical situation: The game in question features characters who behave liberally, and the review is assigned to a typically conservative reviewer. The difference between liberalism and conservatism is arbitrary, and therefore any cognitive dissonance the reviewer feels toward the political aspect of the characters should be left out of the review. If a person is biased toward and feels strongly about a particular way of life, he or she should voluntarily avoid reviewing a game whose characters represent the opposite end of that spectrum, unless that reviewer is capable of leaving personal feelings on the matter out of the review.

This is where we will disagree on the matter. I think these personal ideals can have a place in reviews. Ideally the reviewer is capable to put that personal ideal into perspective. If you don't mind I'll use a concrete and obvious example. If Petit had said "I understand my misogyny argument might not appeal to the majority, but misogyny is there and it bothered me, which doesn't mean this game isn't an amazing experience" there really isn't much reason to not put that argument in there (and I personally believe that if you read the review that phrase can easily be implied). I read a significant amount of comments either agreeing with or understanding her point of view, which I think is very valuable and useful (for both those commenters and for Petit, and even for the people who disagreed).

@clockworkengine said:

You might be tempted here to plunge us into another circular argument by suggesting that what makes up a game is itself completely subjective. But, consider the argument that the core components of video games that are unique to the medium should be the only factors that truly make up what a game is: gameplay, graphics, and story.

Story isn't unique to the medium. I'd say 'character' is much more unique and important, because you play as or with that character (as opposed to movies and books). So a character either has to answer to desires and preferences of potential players or be different enough to be interesting to play as or with. Anyway, both characters and stories are the most subjective elements of videogames out there. It's all about identifying with, relating to and enjoying characters and events. It's in these elements that most of the bias in reviews lies. That's where political, philosophical and sexual ideas come to the surface, because those elements are often part of those characters and stories. And it's those elements in reviews that you should never trust, no matter how neutral someone might appear. If you want to 'please' everyone either don't discuss story or characters or simply describe them. But I personally think that would be a waste, because I like to read about how people experienced the story and characters.

@clockworkengine said:

Any journalist that fails to adhere to a certain level of responsibility is going to suffer from a highly polarized consumer response.

What's the problem with that? Highly polarized responses actually highlight the fact we can't agree on the quality of a game and that it's important to present different perspectives. The whole debate about Infinite proves that aswell. That game (not the reviews) completely divided opinions among both reviewers and users. I don't think either side is right or wrong in that matter.

Now I can fully understand why people might object to my attitude, but I can only look at this from my own perspective. I've never read a review in which I had the feeling I was being misled or that someone was on a mission to convince me of their personal ideals. I've never read a review that completely adhered to all the things I wanted to know about the game in question or conversely, contained nothing useful. I've never been in a situation that I couldn't find enough relevant information to be confident about choosing to purchase a game. Those experiences lead me to conclude that in my particular case all these personal ideals that are part of reviews are harmless and not detrimental to making an informed choice. I can only see them as broadening my perspective on videogames, which I consider a good thing, and that is why I will defend their presence. That might be a bit selfish, but I think a lot of people share that opinion (just as there are a lot who don't).

In fact, since I see no changes in GS's review policies and no decline in the popularity of the site, I have reason to believe that the majority of people either has thoughts similar to mine or is only interested in entertainment. So from where I'm standing I'd say all these reviews actually do adhere to the majority.

Sorry again for the long text, but I really don't want to sacrifice my argument just to be brief.

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#80 Posted by Byshop (18217 posts) -

@clockworkengine said:

Well, we won't ALL agree on any standard. But most GS users want to hear about the game, not someone's outlook on sexuality. Byshop, I don't believe you represent the majority of gamespot users with your outlook on all this. If you doubt that, just look at all the user reviews of the game and compare them to the official GS review. I realize you don't agree, and you don't seem interested in trying to see my point, so I'm done with trying. But the mathematics speak for themselves, and given your ironclad, two-dimensional definition of objectivity, even you should realize that you cannot argue with math.

I see your point, but I think you're wrong and you are illustrating my point perfectly.

Byshop, I don't believe you represent the majority of gamespot users with your outlook on all this.

This is exactly what I'm talking about. My viewpoint differs from yours, and of course yours seems like the normal way to think to you just as mine seems like the normal, logical way of thinking to me. That is not objective, that is subjective. If you think the word objective means something else, then that just demonstrates a lack of understanding of the English language. Objective literally means "to judge based on facts rather than feelings or opinions". How do you not get that judging how much fun something is or its artistic merit is based entirely on feelings so the idea of "objectively" judging a game's value is a fundamentally flawed premise?

You can make up your own definitions for words all you like, but I'll stick with the ones in the dictionary, thanks. On that note, 5+5 = 11. Sure that might seem off to you, because of your "ironclad, two-dimensional definition" of the value of "5", but in my definition 5 can also mean 6. If I told a math professor that, would he consider me a genius or an idiot? How do you think an English professor would respond to your statement?

When you and black_knight_00 say "objective", what you are really describing is "subjective, from the perspective of what I think is the majority" and those are two wildly different things. "Majority rules" does not make something intrinsically right, and thinking that it does is a dangerous way of thinking for a lot of reasons (i.e. mob mentality).

Here's some more math for you: Of the dozen people who replied to this thread, eight disagreed with you (including myself), two didn't express an opinion on the topic, one seemed on the fence and one person agreed with you. How's that for a compelling majority? Once you saw this, did you immediately realize the error of your ways and reverse your position? No? Is that possibly because you still think you're right even if your opinion doesn't necessarily mesh with the opinion of the majority? Wow, what a crazy thought. :P

-Byshop

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#81 Edited by Grieverr (2835 posts) -

In my opinion, reviewers for any game site need to convey their thoughts of how much they enjoyed the game. Period. They are not supposed to write a piece on their philosophies, beliefs, and social commentaries.They can write a personal blog if that's what they want to communicate.

Yes, in the process of writing why they liked certain things, I expect some insight into the reviewer's thoughts and feelings. But I expect that to be kept strictly to how those thoughts/feelings helped them to like or dislike the game.

For example, I'm ok if Caroline enjoyed the lesbian theme of the game, but I wouldn't be ok if she spent time and space talking about her feelings towards homosexuality. There's a difference between "I think the gay theme really propelled the emotional context of the game" and "as a lesbian, I feel this game is a positive reflection of the struggles of gays and therefore this game is important and must be played by everyone." I'm not saying that's what she said. I'm just trying to demonstrate what I believe the difference is in commenting about the game and airing personal thoughts.

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#82 Posted by loafofgame (1742 posts) -
@Grieverr said:

In my opinion, reviewers for any game site need to convey their thoughts of how much they enjoyed the game. Period. They are not supposed to write a piece on their philosophies, beliefs, and social commentaries.They can write a personal blog if that's what they want to communicate.

Yes, in the process of writing why they liked certain things, I expect some insight into the reviewer's thoughts and feelings. But I expect that to be kept strictly to how those thoughts/feelings helped them to like or dislike the game.

For example, I'm ok if Caroline enjoyed the lesbian theme of the game, but I wouldn't be ok if she spent time and space talking about her feelings towards homosexuality. There's a difference between "I think the gay theme really propelled the emotional context of the game" and "as a lesbian, I feel this game is a positive reflection of the struggles of gays and therefore this game is important and must be played by everyone." I'm not saying that's what she said. I'm just trying to demonstrate what I believe the difference is in commenting about the game and airing personal thoughts.

Do you feel like there's a negative trend in that regard (that a significant amount of reviews are turning into personal blogs)? Or are most reviews acceptable in your opinion?

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#83 Edited by clockworkengine (227 posts) -

@Byshop: That's the problem with your end of this discussion. You're fighting for what's 'right', and calling me 'wrong'. Right and wrong is subjective, as is each of your argumentative points. I'm fighting for the majority, and that's a matter of mathematics. And mathematics are not subjective. It's not that I am inventing definitions, it's just that you don't understand these definitions. There is a difference between reading and comprehension.

Let me be clear: I don't think I'm "right", because in arbitration there is no "right". I just think I feel the way the majority of GS users feel. And let's be clear on what majority means, since you seem to think that every GS member has commented on this thread. I'm talking about the majority of the site, not the majority of this thread. If you want to see real numbers, look at user reviews of certain controversial games and compare them to the official reviews. THAT is how you begin to understand the majority opinion. Stop trying to adjust the scope of the mathematics to suit your arguments.

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#84 Posted by clockworkengine (227 posts) -

@loafofgame: I know you weren't asking me, but I do think most reviews are acceptable. Except for the idiotic reviews that spoil the ending of a game right of the bat (I'm looking at you, McShea).

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#85 Edited by Jacanuk (11591 posts) -

@clockworkengine said:

@Byshop: That's the problem with your end of this discussion. You're fighting for what's 'right', and calling me 'wrong'. Right and wrong is subjective, as is each of your argumentative points. I'm fighting for the majority, and that's a matter of mathematics. And mathematics are not subjective. It's not that I am inventing definitions, it's just that you don't understand these definitions. There is a difference between reading and comprehension.

Let me be clear: I don't think I'm "right", because in arbitration there is no "right". I just think I feel the way the majority of GS users feel. And let's be clear on what majority means, since you seem to think that every GS member has commented on this thread. I'm talking about the majority of the site, not the majority of this thread. If you want to see real numbers, look at user reviews of certain controversial games and compare them to the official reviews. THAT is how you begin to understand the majority opinion. Stop trying to adjust the scope of the mathematics to suit your arguments.

Care to elaborate on how you assume to be speaking for the majority of GS users when so far in this thread, as Byshop pointed out you are in a minority.

Also its actually a pretty stable minority who actually care enough to make their own review about a game when you compare that to how many that visit Gamespot on a regular basis.

Avatar image for Byshop
#86 Edited by Byshop (18217 posts) -

@clockworkengine said:

@Byshop: That's the problem with your end of this discussion. You're fighting for what's 'right', and calling me 'wrong'. Right and wrong is subjective, as is each of your argumentative points. I'm fighting for the majority, and that's a matter of mathematics. And mathematics are not subjective. It's not that I am inventing definitions, it's just that you don't understand these definitions. There is a difference between reading and comprehension.

Let me be clear: I don't think I'm "right", because in arbitration there is no "right". I just think I feel the way the majority of GS users feel. And let's be clear on what majority means, since you seem to think that every GS member has commented on this thread. I'm talking about the majority of the site, not the majority of this thread. If you want to see real numbers, look at user reviews of certain controversial games and compare them to the official reviews. THAT is how you begin to understand the majority opinion. Stop trying to adjust the scope of the mathematics to suit your arguments.

I'm not calling what you're asking for wrong because of what you are proposing reviews should be because that is your opinion and while I don't agree with it you are entitled to it. I am calling you wrong for the hyperbolic use of words that you don't understand to try to lend credibility to your argument. The definition of words in the English language is not subjective, but at least you are now (finally) acknowledging that these are your opinions. When you use words like "journalism" and "objectivity" you imply a degree of factual interpretation that your position simply doesn't have. I literally gave you the definition of "objective", explained how it was contradictory to your usage of it instead of actually answering you just continue with "bah, you just don't understand". Saying that the other guy is wrong over and over without backing up does not qualify as a counterargument.

You -might- feel the way most GS users do, but your logic is still pretty skewed. There are a little over 3000 user reviews of GTA5 and a little over half of them give the game a 10. Gamespot is one of the most viewed sites on the internet when it comes to video games with daily traffic in the MILLIONS so please explain to me how 1700 users is a "majority" of GS readers. I'm sure you'll just redefine what you mean by "majority" in response to this rather than admit that the group you are talking about is nowhere near a majority.

Even if those 1700 did represent a majority of GS readers, you haven't read all of those reviews. You are making a big logical leap as to the reason why those reviews gave the game a 10. From the subset I read, some people agree with you that Caroline's complaint doesn't belong in the review, while others actually supported her position while still scoring the game differently. Most of them that I read didn't even comment on Caroline's review. Just because 1700 users gave the game a 10 instead of a 9, that doesn't mean that 1700 people agree with you.

My opinions are not based on what I think the majority thinks because I'm capable of thinking for myself. I'm 37 years old, I have a wife and two kids and a full time job as an IT Consultant that involves travel. That's the perspective I'm coming from. My opinions are based on what I think is best for the site and gaming as a whole. I want to see gaming reach the same level of acceptance as media such as movies and television and be recognized as art. I disagree with what you propose, because I think that's a step in the opposite direction. No topic should be taboo in a game or movie nor do I think that any topic should be off limits in a critique. I think sexism in video games is absolutely relevant because one of the things that has barred video games from mainstream acceptance is the perception that they are either "toys for children" (hence the rampant attempts to regulate violent games) or that they just cater to adolescent males and man-children. If we are going to get away from the latter perception, then games with two-dimensional female characters and DOA jiggle physics need to not be the norm. Every game like BMXXX just gives video game opponents more ammo.

At the end of the day, I don't give a rat's ass what the "majority" of GS users want and I never claimed to. The difference is I recognize that my opinion is subjective and I try to back it up with reason and examples rather than just saying "well, it's what everyone else wants so it must be the better way". When GS relaxed the TOU to allow rampant flaming on the forums, it was what the majority of the users wanted, but can we honestly say that it made the forums a better place?

-Byshop

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#87 Edited by loafofgame (1742 posts) -

@clockworkengine said:

@loafofgame: I know you weren't asking me, but I do think most reviews are acceptable. Except for the idiotic reviews that spoil the ending of a game right of the bat (I'm looking at you, McShea).

That's cool. I asked because I wasn't completely sure how to interpret @Grieverr's opinion. By the way, if my latest reply to you was too long, could you at least react to the first part, up until my comment on what Jacanuk said? I mean, you don't have agree with it, but can you at least see how it might help you get your point across without having to discuss the whole objectivity issue?

@Byshop said:

I want to see gaming reach the same level of acceptance as media such as movies and television and be recognized as art. I disagree with what you propose, because I think that's a step in the opposite direction. No topic should be taboo in a game or movie nor do I think that any topic should be off limits in a critique. I think sexism in video games is absolutely relevant because one of the things that has barred video games from mainstream acceptance is the perception that they are either "toys for children" (hence the rampant attempts to regulate violent games) or that they just cater to adolescent males and man-children.

Yeah, I pretty much feel the same way. I can understand why people criticise the discussion of themes they deem completely irrelevant or out of place (which doesn't mean I agree with that attitude). But for me personally no review has ever even come close to being uninformative or too unreliable to use in making an informed decision about a possible purchase. And I don't think reviews will ever become like that. And even if they did, there'd still be so many other options to make a well-informed choice. I really don't see what could be so threatening about these instances of taboo discussion. It reaches out to those people who are on the fence about videogames, showing that gamers are willing to at least debate about these issues. When I (27 years old) meet people I feel that playing videogames is often still considered to be a questionable hobby. And I agree that discussing topics like this (topics that to a lot of people might seem out of place, but for others are of the utmost importance) is vital in making videogames more respectable.

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#88 Edited by Grieverr (2835 posts) -

@loafofgame said:

Do you feel like there's a negative trend in that regard (that a significant amount of reviews are turning into personal blogs)? Or are most reviews acceptable in your opinion?

No, I don't see a trend at all. Although I have to admit I don't read a lot of reviews. And again, let me repeat, I did not read the Gone Home review. So my comments really were meant to be more general, however I took the opportunity to try and use the current conversation as an example.

In regards to an interpretation on my opinion, what I mean is that I expect a game review to be an article written specifically to convey the message of the author liking or disliking the game, and for what reasons. That is all. I can then extrapolate the points that are valid to me and can decide if the game would be of interest to me.

With that said, I believe most reviews are acceptable. And truth be told, had I read the Gone Home review, the author's personal pro-gay stance would not have affected me one bit. I likely wouldn't had thought to comment on it. But, if asked whether I thought it appropriate or not, I would answer no, with the reasoning that a reviewer should stick to discussing the game and not their personal viewpoint on matters outside the game.

Now, this is my opinion strictly on a game review. As far as discussion, yea, I believe any and all discussion is valid and should be open to everyone.

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#89 Posted by Byshop (18217 posts) -

@Grieverr said:

In regards to an interpretation on my opinion, what I mean is that I expect a game review to be an article written specifically to convey the message of the author liking or disliking the game, and for what reasons. That is all. I can then extrapolate the points that are valid to me and can decide if the game would be of interest to me.

With that said, I believe most reviews are acceptable. And truth be told, had I read the Gone Home review, the author's personal pro-gay stance would not have affected me one bit. I likely wouldn't had thought to comment on it. But, if asked whether I thought it appropriate or not, I would answer no, with the reasoning that a reviewer should stick to discussing the game and not their personal viewpoint on matters outside the game.

Actually Caroline's review made no mention of the lesbian relationship in the game. Probably not because such discussion has no place in the review, but in the case of Gone Home (where you go into the story knowing nothing and you have to slowly piece everything together) any mention of it would be a massive spoiler since you don't find out about it until halfway through the game and it largely changes the context of the story you had discovered up until that point.

And this is where review discussion gets really interesting. To me, the game didn't have a "pro-gay stance" but a lot of people reacted like it did. If a game contains a heterosexual relationship, does that make it "pro-hetero" or "anti-gay"? Of course not, but if there's a gay relationship then suddenly some people think the game is trying to push an "agenda".

This is a great example of why I don't think any topics should be considered out of bounds.

-Byshop

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#90 Edited by Grieverr (2835 posts) -

@Byshop said:

.

And this is where review discussion gets really interesting. To me, the game didn't have a "pro-gay stance" but a lot of people reacted like it did. If a game contains a heterosexual relationship, does that make it "pro-hetero" or "anti-gay"? Of course not, but if there's a gay relationship then suddenly some people think the game is trying to push an "agenda".

-Byshop

That is an excellent point and I agree 100%. Many people fail to make that distinction.

The only comment I wanted to make in regards to this topic is simply that I think a game review should focus only on the game, not the reviewer.

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#91 Posted by Articuno76 (19769 posts) -

@LJS9502_basic said:

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.

Reviews are always biased because they are written by people. What I think is important is that the reviewer shares the same biases we do (or as some would say 'have good taste') so that their reviews are useful.

Are reviews like the Gone Home one useful to people like Carolyn. Absolutely. The thing is most of us don't share the same biases as Carolyn so her reviews are kind of useless. If we wanted to read a review coloured with her particular biases we'd probably go to somewhere that wasn't GS.

Now if all of GS was coming from a similar angle to Carolyn it wouldn't be that big a deal as we could identity which biases GS has and move on (or stay if we found the insight here useful); leaving GS with a core audience of who it is really trying to speak to. But Carolyn's voice is a confused warbling amongst the rest of the GS reviewers which leaves the whole site feeling like it doesn't know who its audience is.

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#92 Edited by MirkoS77 (12498 posts) -

I agree with the TC.

Reviews should be critique based upon observations as far removed from personal bias as humanly possible. When reading a review of a game, I'm reading about the game. If someone reviewed the Godfather and went off on a tangent about how they despised organized crime and thinks it brings nothing positive into peoples' lives.....okay? So what? How is that relevant to the movie's direction, score, or script? I couldn't give a **** less about their view on such matters, and to waste space interjecting personal feelings makes a review meaningless to me. If I want such information, I'll read a blog.

Whether people would like to admit it or not, there is a degree of objectivity in everything that should be striven towards, removed from subjective elements as much as possible. People love to hide behind the word opinion as if it has the ability to immediately absolve them of any responsibility of substantiating their position based on FACTS. Reviewers included. I suspect many will disagree with me here based upon many responses, and I attribute that to the fact that I believe objective quality exists outside of personal interpretation.

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#93 Edited by Byshop (18217 posts) -

@MirkoS77 said:

I agree with the TC.

Reviews should be critique based upon observations as far removed from personal bias as humanly possible. When reading a review of a game, I'm reading about the game. If someone reviewed the Godfather and went off on a tangent about how they despised organized crime and thinks it brings nothing positive into peoples' lives.....okay? So what? How is that relevant to the movie's direction, score, or script? I couldn't give a **** less about their view on such matters, and to waste space interjecting personal feelings makes a review meaningless to me. If I want such information, I'll read a blog.

Whether people would like to admit it or not, there is a degree of objectivity in everything that should be striven towards, removed from subjective elements as much as possible. People love to hide behind the word opinion as if it has the ability to immediately absolve them of any responsibility of substantiating their position based on FACTS. Reviewers included. I suspect many will disagree with me here based upon many responses, and I attribute that to the fact that I believe objective quality exists outside of personal interpretation.

There really isn't a concept of "objectively good" or "objectively bad" because objectivity is based on fact while good and bad are always based on opinion and feelings/emotional response. I think any opinion should be backed up with reasons which are based (if not directly) on quantifiable data, but overall quality is always subjective.

Now, what a reviewer -can- do is try to write from the perspective of the opinion of the majority, but just because most people agree with a perspective that doesn't make it a fact. It's still an opinion, it's just a majority opinion and (most times) a majority opinion is only a majority if you look at it from the right angle.

Think about this:

I think it's safe to say that most people would say that the Call of Duty series' multiplayer is better than something like Tribes: Ascend. Call of Duty has sold way more copies, has a larger player base, has more realistic weapons, and is the better known franchise (advertising, market penetration). These are facts that would -seem- to support that CoD is better, but it is not objectively better because there is no such thing. If you ask a lot of competition and tournament FPS players, they would probably side with Tribes because (in their minds) it's a game that requires far more skill. The players move around the map at a much higher rate of speed and you are firing weapons over much greater distances and even shooting targets out of the air. There is no ability to rely on "noob tube" tactics or overuse explosives to make up for a lack of aiming skill, and even if you spinfusor the ground at someone's feet the splash will never kill them in one hit if they are at full health, giving them a chance to counterattack. For reasons like this, it's much harder to take down a more skilled opponent in Tribes versus CoD because you can kill anyone with a "noob tube" in CoD even if you can't aim particularly well.

So which one is correct? It could be argued that "majority rules" so the majority is "correct", but it could also be argued that that the tournament FPS players know a lot more about FPS games than the general public, so should their opinion on the topic be considered more valid?

Here's another monkey wrench to throw in the mix. FPS titles in general are not popular in Japan, at all. For some reason, it's a genre of game that never really took off over there, so when compared to 1 on 1 fighting games or RTS games, neither game will likely stack up. Does that mean that both games are "objectively bad", but only in Japan? No, because you can't say "objectively bad" but only apply it to a group of people because as soon as you say "to this group of people" then you are describing a subjective opinion. Objective facts are not subject to debate or interpretation, which is why you can't have something that's objectively good or bad.

-Byshop

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#94 Posted by anab0lic (374 posts) -

The biggest problem I have with games journalists these days is they seem to place far too much value on things that I personally dont care all that much about when it comes to a game (cinematic experiences, 'emersion' etc)... and not enough critique of things i do, like uhhh.. the actual gameplay.... This is why i tend to spend more time reading player reviews and forums with regards to how good a game is or isnt before deciding on making a purchase... finding people who value similar aspects that I do when it comes to games.

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#95 Posted by ReddestSkies (4087 posts) -

@Byshop: Very good post, and you're only covering the comparison aspect of it. But should those mystical "objective" reviews be based on what the game tries to accomplish, on what it actually does, on what it should try to do or on what the competition does?

Should I review COD based on how good I think it is as a FPS or as an all-American blockbuster? Should I punish it because it doesn't try to have a lengthy campaign? Should I review it in a vacuum, as if it was the only game I've ever played? Should I compare it to Tribes, and if I do so, on what basis (see: your post)? And if I haven't played Tribes and miss an important comparison point, is my review irrelevant?

And none of those points are going to be objective.

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#96 Edited by topgunmv (10743 posts) -

@Jacanuk said:

@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.


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.

And like movie reviews, I've seen people stop paying attention to game reviews altogether as they went into the deep end of subjectivity.

In the last few years it's been taken to a kind of gross level of being hyper subjective (people giving terrible reviews to great games because a genre doesn't appeal to them, perfect scores to broken games and proclaiming them so bad it's good). Game reviews are practically worthless at this point.

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#97 Posted by ReddestSkies (4087 posts) -

@topgunmv said:

@Jacanuk said:


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.

And like movie reviews, I've seen people stop paying attention to game reviews altogether as they went into the deep end of subjectivity.

In the last few years it's been taken to a kind of gross level of being hyper subjective (people giving terrible reviews to great games because a genre doesn't appeal to them, perfect scores to broken games and proclaiming them so bad it's good). Game reviews are practically worthless at this point.

Man, I wish we'd just go back to the golden age of reviews in which every reviewer agreed with me. :|

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#98 Posted by firefox59 (4530 posts) -

Oh look, another thread where someone is complaining that GTA 5 / TLOU didn't get a 10. "No one can have an opinion unless it coincides with my own."

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#99 Posted by topgunmv (10743 posts) -

@ReddestSkies said:

@topgunmv said:

@Jacanuk said:


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.

And like movie reviews, I've seen people stop paying attention to game reviews altogether as they went into the deep end of subjectivity.

In the last few years it's been taken to a kind of gross level of being hyper subjective (people giving terrible reviews to great games because a genre doesn't appeal to them, perfect scores to broken games and proclaiming them so bad it's good). Game reviews are practically worthless at this point.

Man, I wish we'd just go back to the golden age of reviews in which every reviewer agreed with me. :|

Scapegoat response. I have with a problem with game reviews now, so obviously their opinions must be different than mine, right?

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#100 Posted by loafofgame (1742 posts) -
@MirkoS77 said:

I agree with the TC.

Reviews should be critique based upon observations as far removed from personal bias as humanly possible. When reading a review of a game, I'm reading about the game. If someone reviewed the Godfather and went off on a tangent about how they despised organized crime and thinks it brings nothing positive into peoples' lives.....okay? So what? How is that relevant to the movie's direction, score, or script? I couldn't give a **** less about their view on such matters, and to waste space interjecting personal feelings makes a review meaningless to me. If I want such information, I'll read a blog.

Whether people would like to admit it or not, there is a degree of objectivity in everything that should be striven towards, removed from subjective elements as much as possible. People love to hide behind the word opinion as if it has the ability to immediately absolve them of any responsibility of substantiating their position based on FACTS. Reviewers included. I suspect many will disagree with me here based upon many responses, and I attribute that to the fact that I believe objective quality exists outside of personal interpretation.

I really think people aren't disagreeing as much as might appear at first sight. It's the combination of 'objective' and 'quality' that's fueling most of the debate. It's a problem you get when you use words that are part of a binary opposition. If there's dark, there must be light. If there's right, there must be wrong. If there's subjectivity, there must be objectivity. This isn't necessarily the case though. I really think the strict definition of objective cannot apply to any form of criticism or quality assessment. Basing your arguments on facts is not objective (and what do you consider a fact? Is a manageable UI a fact? Is applying the word manageable to UI objective? Who decided the UI is manageable?). Only observing without judging (simply describing what your senses take in) can be considered objective, and even then we must consider the different situations and contexts people are part of that can influence those observations. Just because the word subjective is used a lot in the context of criticism doesn't mean there must also be some sort of objective criticism (the definition simply doesn't allow for it). Terms like 'balanced' or 'considerate (of multiple perspectives)' are much more realistic and fitting.

It might appear that some people are hiding behind the word opinion, but I think most people who use the subjectivity argument want to point out that even if you take responsibility and substantiate your arguments based on facts you still can't claim any (objective) truth or factual quality. And it also means that a less factually substantiated argument can still be valuable and valid. And I also think a lot of people use the subjectivity argument just to point out that 'objective' is not the word to use in this context. But being subjective doesn't mean being freed from criticism. Arguments and motivations can always be challenged based on how they are constructed or substantiated. But saying an argument isn't objective enough is pretty meaningless, because it can never be objective. Then it wouldn't be an argument anymore, just an observation.

If people want to retain the idea of 'objective quality' they should define it in every comment they post about the issue. Otherwise they not only imply that quality can be something undeniable we all agree on (which is never the case), but they also implicitly claim that their interpretation of the definition of 'objective' is the accepted and universal one (which is at the very least highly questionable).

@Articuno76 said:

Reviews are always biased because they are written by people. What I think is important is that the reviewer shares the same biases we do (or as some would say 'have good taste') so that their reviews are useful.

Are reviews like the Gone Home one useful to people like Carolyn. Absolutely. The thing is most of us don't share the same biases as Carolyn so her reviews are kind of useless. If we wanted to read a review coloured with her particular biases we'd probably go to somewhere that wasn't GS.

Now if all of GS was coming from a similar angle to Carolyn it wouldn't be that big a deal as we could identity which biases GS has and move on (or stay if we found the insight here useful); leaving GS with a core audience of who it is really trying to speak to. But Carolyn's voice is a confused warbling amongst the rest of the GS reviewers which leaves the whole site feeling like it doesn't know who its audience is.

Just from a practical perspective, wouldn't it be possible to use a review that is not taken from your perspective and see it as being useful, because it does NOT apply to you? Gone Home apparently isn't about the gameplay or the graphics. Hypothetically, if those aspects are important to you, wouldn't you learn from this review that it might be wise not to play it? If within her bias there's actually a description of the story, couldn't you still see whether or not that story might interest you. regardless of how the reviewer felt about it? If some things were discussed that you didn't like, wouldn't that simply mean that the game itself might not be your thing?

Also, I think a lot of people are being very confident about who the majority is on this website, even though there's no data on which groups visit GS. As I said before, there seems to be no change in GS's review policies and the site's popularity also doesn't seem to decline, so there's no reason to assume GS doesn't know who its audience is. Besides, allowing for alternative voices can lead to the broadening of the gaming audience, might interest more people for games and might lead to a more general acceptance of gaming as a legitimate hobby. It'd be pretty inconsiderate, not to mention questionable, if GS would just adhere to the people who are the loudest at claiming they're the majority.

@topgunmv said:

And like movie reviews, I've seen people stop paying attention to game reviews altogether as they went into the deep end of subjectivity.

In the last few years it's been taken to a kind of gross level of being hyper subjective (people giving terrible reviews to great games because a genre doesn't appeal to them, perfect scores to broken games and proclaiming them so bad it's good). Game reviews are practically worthless at this point.

Speak for yourself. They aren't worthless to me. But I do think reviews mean less in general (when it comes to helping you make a choice, that is), because the internet landscape has changed. What a review might lack in one area can be found in one of the countless other reviews. Or a gameplay video. Or the mostly illegible user reviews. Writing a very balanced, long and seemingly neutral review is what is worthless. People don't need those anymore. They have enough resources to make an informed decision by themselves (I've personally never experienced that I couldn't find enough info). I think most people simply want to be entertained. And another group might want to read something that's a bit more challenging or different. I like your comparison with movies, because that actually seems to be a good indicator. That's how game reviews will probably turn out: an entertaining (and potentially interesting) read. And that's fine, because people don't really need them for deciding whether or not to play a game.