Game Reviewers' 'Seven Deadly Sins'

You guys are so mean to game reviewers. In sincerity, though, as games themselves seem to be creatures of far more depth than they once were, the role of the game reviewer has come under increasing scrutiny. I like to think that we're all trying to do the best, most ethical and most useful work we can, and so there's been a lot of talking amongst ourselves in the games press about what the ideal way of doing our jobs is.

Gus Mastrapa posits in his column at GameDaily that writing really well is the game reviewer's highest calling, and he goes on to point out what he feels are the reviewer's seven deadly sins - Measure, Dullness, Doubt, Diplomacy, Forgiveness, Purposelessness and Obsession.

For example, the sin of "Measure" indicates when a reviewer has to apply a score or rating, and factors in the aggregate as he or she does so:

It's tempting to aim for the middle and grant a score that'll best conform to popular opinion, but to do so is tantamount to handing your guns over to a corrupt sheriff. It's better to score like you mean it and use the numbers, letters or stars to make a point.

I often feel like I'd prefer to do away with scores altogether, as we've done here at Kotaku, but I can also see the merit in needing a quick-hit evaluatory number, after we're so habituated to it.

Another one of Gus' points that jumps out at me is the sin of Diplomacy - worrying about the reaction, the reviewer is often tempted to try to please everyone:

In a post about Metal Gear Solid 4: Guns of the Patriots Tycho from Penny Arcade pointed out a bit of game review weaseling that I myself have been guilty of. "Most reviews I have read," he said, "can be simmered down to 'If you like Metal Gear, you'll like it.'" This kind of wishy-washy language is, itself, unforgivable. It's a way of avoiding the fight that should be at the core of your review. If you don't like Metal Gear you should be illustrating the series' weaknesses and the way they materialise Metal Gear Solid 4. Reviews are no place for peacemaking. Make your arguments and back them up.

A fight at the core of a review, huh? Often, it seems reviews cause fights even when you try to be as genteel as possible.

So, Kotaku readers, what do you think are the worst things reviewers do - and how can we do better?

Media Coverage: The Seven Deadly Sins of Video Game Reviewing [GameDaily via GameSetWatch]


    I think reviews need to become more appropriate for who the game is actually targeted at. How often do you see party games or games aimed at a younger audience reviewed by people who are more into action or RPG games, thus giving them a worse review than someone who was actually into that genre, or in fact age group who the product was aimed at, would give it? This even goes for what the fan boy thinks of a title versus someone who is just reviewing it. Objectiveness should be what it's all about.

    To me u have to give the review to some1 who enjoys that certain genre of gaming. Because those are the reviewers who will give strong opinions on how they feel about the game.

    If u hand a game like MGS4 to a reviewer who doesnt enjoy MGS4 games or that certain genre which is stealth action, u arent really going to get a fair review because first off, that certain reviewer doesnt enjoy this genre of games. Second off is that certain person is prolly going to nitpick at things due to never ever playing the series or even enjoying the game in the first place. I dont blame the reviewer, I blame the staff who makes that certain reviewer review the game, and is why I pointed out the reviewer from eurogamer because of his closing statement of MGS4, where he quoted.

    "We love you, Snake. Don't come back."

    That statement alone showed this reviewer was not a fan of the game and sounded like he just wanted to get this review over with, which obviously lead to the 8 score. Dont get me wrong 8 isnt a bad score, but this a game most reviewers are calling a masterpiece, and one of the greatest games of all time, and is the best game to come out on any next gen system, so when u hear more then 50 reviewers saying this, its quite obvious the reviewers who are underrating this game are either reviewers who dont enjoy this certain type game or they are fanboys.

    Not only this but these reviewers who scored MGS4 lower then most reviewers have had the worst reasons why they docked points from MGS4.

    This is why I think they should have a reviewing system like IGN has where they have seperate reviewers who review only 360 games, and another seperate team that reviews all wii games and another seperate team that reviews all ps3 games. This is a more fair way of reviewing games. Because u have to remember, a review is for the certain croud who enjoys that certain game. So when u get a reviewer who just enjoys rpg games to review an fps game, the outcome wont be what fans will have been anticipating from the review, unless that reviewer has a strong arguement and proof why he lowered the score.

    I have to agree with above statements the reviewers should be familiar with the genera of games the they are reviewing. Or learn to be a little more objective, reviewing the game out side there own personal feeling toward the game. It would be like reviewing a horror when you do not like horror. I would feel you have no right to even open your mouth about it let alone give a review. plus with all the power that seems to be behind reviewer I feel they need to start proving that they can hold some kind of discipline. After all we are talking about a billion dollar industry.

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