The Importance of Reviewing - Part 1

Recently, I have read several articles about the importance of video game reviews. They all seem to have popped up at the same time, with vastly differing opinions. For example, these two articles at Infendo and Intendo. Basically, the Infendo article argues that numerical scores for games should be more marginalized, and the Intendo article is a rant against the writer of the first article, saying he's just a Nintendo fanboy. I thought I'd add a new angle that hasn't been touched on yet.

Specifically, I want to mention the importance of the specific reviewer. It's vital that you know a reviewer's general philosophy and outlook towards games before reading their latest review. Reviewers, no matter how objective and unbiased they're supposed to be, are inevitably inclined to like and enjoy some games better than others. For example, shooters over RPGs, or strategy games over sports games. I personally enjoy RPGs and platformers the best, and absolutely hate sports games.

As one related, but different, example, my favorite movie review website is Reelviews. For the most part, the reviewer, James Berardinelli, and I share similar tastes in movies. So maybe around 85% of the time I trust and agree with his review. But there are some problems with this comparison of movie and game reviews. First, very few game websites can have just one reviewer to provide some continuity to the reviews. Games are always significantly longer than movies and several reviewers are required just to keep up with all the new, lengthy games that come out every week.

Second, I find that individual game reviewers rarely state their background, personal game interests, or reviewing philosophy. This kind of information is important to know where the reviewer is coming from. For example, what constitutes a perfect game for a particular reviewer? Sure, some websites post standards by which their reviewers are supposed to operate, but you can't expect those to be accurately followed by every reviewer in every review.

What's the point here? Try to find out a reviewer's background before getting too involved in their review. It's necessary to understand where they're coming from. Next time - do numerical scores actually matter for reviews?

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