Quick Quotes: Game critics should cut their teeth on “below average” games

Saturday, 16th July 2011 19:13 GMT By Stephany Nunneley

“Below-average games are not being reviewed as often as they once were and, partly as a result, critics have not honed their skills at assigning scores from the lower end of their grading scales. The question of exactly how bad a game has to be to merit a 1 score instead of 2 on the 10 point scale, for example, is not being contemplated with as much experience, care and precision as the 8 versus 9 consideration.

“Even though enduring a 10-15 hour game that has been thrown together must be an excruciating experience for the game critic, picking that game apart in a review with the degree of care and precision that he or she would employ when reviewing a brilliant AAA game would absolutely help to better define a publication’s full scoring scale, making every subsequent score more meaningful.” – Metacritic founder Marc Doyle to GamePro.



  1. Erthazus

    thats actually is another problem of general review sites. Most of them want to be so fucking famous so they just review Battlefield or Call Of Duty or another tripple AAA title.

    but small niche games out there left in the dust. Some of them are pretty bad and people buy them.

    #1 3 years ago
  2. sb319

    Fair point. Also no one even seems to review average games anymore – the common sort of movie tie-in for kids on DS (etc) that fill store shelves and do actually find large audiences. The breadth of the gaming spectrum does exist beyond the AAA blockbusters, but since when have games journalists ever cared about what their audience wants?

    #2 3 years ago
  3. DSB

    That’s the most retarded comment yet (from Marc Doyle).

    Whether people know their job or not, has absolutely nothing to do with the games they choose to review. A reviewer isn’t defined by his material, he’s defined by his own merits.

    If you don’t have enough experience, passion or references to fill a position reviewing games, then leave that job for someone who’s actually capable.

    You have to be fed games by a magazine before you’re capable? That’s about as nonsensical as you can get.

    #3 3 years ago
  4. VancouverBlade

    As a former journalist I used to love reviewing bad games because it gave you an opportunity to write a very different style of review. It’s easy to review Tomb Raider but much tougher to review (unnamed game) if it’s terrible as you have to find a way to explain why it’s so bad without falling into the simple criticism of “this game sucks.”

    #4 3 years ago
  5. DSB

    To me it’s always been about the angle. Anonymous material is definitely the worst. If an album is a cliché, then all you’re left with is clichés, and that’s just no fun.

    I mostly enjoy writing about albums that measure up relatively well, because it drives me to be even more critical and in depth with regards to what works and what doesn’t. Making the hard calls is what makes it fun in my opinion.

    That’s a big problem with games reviewing, because often games that end up on the same shelf ratings-wise don’t actually belong there. Two games in the same genre might both be good, but in most cases they’ll have decisive things that differentiate them from one another, and those are very rarely considered in the ratings.

    That’s a huge problem in so many games getting 9′s and 8′s and 10′s. It isn’t because, as Marc Doyle would like to think, that all the games coming out are so great that that’s all they can get, it’s more likely to be because reviewers refuse to make the hard calls. Either they aren’t good enough to differentiate, or they don’t have enough spine to do it publicly in a lot of cases.

    And even if all the games getting reviewed would tend to be in a league of “super duper great!”, then the level for what qualifies as an 8 or a 9 would still naturally need to be so much higher than it is right now, to qualify.

    #5 3 years ago
  6. Freek

    There’s a finite amount of resources a magazine or website has, those resources are better spent convering games the readers actually care about and not random “shitty license game”.
    It’s why I go to sites like Giant Bomb. You get a sense that they actually care about what they write about. You get to know the taste of the reviewers and editors so what they say about a game matters more.

    Reviewing a game should be more then just trying (and failing) to aply some sense of objectivity to what will always be a personal opinion. Don’t fight that, embrace it. Bring the personality back into it and make it shine. It means the resulting opinion caries some context that makes it more usefull.

    It’s Meta critic that the most pointless, scores don’t mean anything without context and an “avarage” score means even less.

    #6 3 years ago
  7. Jerykk

    I don’t think reviewers need to start putting more effort into reviews of crappy games. I just think they need to use the rating scale accurately. 5 is supposed to be average, but it isn’t. 7 is considered average by the vast majority of reviewers. That skews the whole scale. As a result, reviews are really based on a 5 point scale. 6 and below = utter crap, 7 = average, 8 = good, 9 = great, 10 = awesome. There’s really no reason to have 1-5 when 7 is considered average.

    #7 3 years ago

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