Shooting the Shit A More Positive Outlook Reply To: A More Positive Outlook

POSTED BY elheber on Jul 18, 2016

Agreed with sn0w. It’s definitely not weird trying to make your review also be an interesting read. Man cannot live on bread alone. Put some butter on that loaf.

Review scores is a topic I could write an essay on. Not a particularly good one, mind you, but a very long one that would bore the teacher into giving up half-way through and just grading me just on the half he did read. If I had to deliver the short and sweet of it:

There’s a difference between accuracy and precision. Scores are accurate but not precise, written analysis is precise but not accurate. If you asked me to score a cocktail I just drank on a scale from 1 to 10, I can do it. Score the cuteness the puppy that just walked by, yes I can do it. The pain I felt when I stubbed my toe, damn right I can. Chances are you and anyone else can do it too. Our brains are just so damn good at scoring things. This is a point that was more eloquently made by Brandon Jones (of GameTrailers and Easy Allies) in defense of review scores. Scores don’t tell you why you felt a certain way, but they do tell how you felt that certain way overall. On a ten point scale, you enjoyed so-and-so game at about 6/10. This was easy for you to enumerate. It took you maybe a minute to define it, but you’re comfortable with that number and I can trust that’s how you felt.

On the other hand, writing is hard. Even the best, most highly paid critics struggle with it too. You can get downright surgical with how you describe the pros and cons with the game. However, you can’t write about every pro and every con; there just isn’t enough room. You have to trim, and you have to pick and choose, you have to omit. Because of it and other limits, oftentimes the idea you’re trying to get across doesn’t land the same way. You’ve probably noticed it yourself: a review whose score doesn’t match the tone of the written critique. If the critic had omitted/hidden the overall score, you may never have noticed that your idea of the game didn’t match his intention. You COULD chalk it up to the review being so good that you came out understanding you would enjoy it more/less than the reviewer did… But if that were the case, how would you even know how much he enjoyed it himself? You’d have nothing to compare it to. To you, the review sounded like a 9/10 so you just assume that’s how he felt. Interpretation is such a monstrous concept. In fact, how do you know you didn’t only hear what you wanted to hear?

In a world where reviewers strive for pure objective critique and readers expect reviews to be purely objective, the fact that they’re actually so subjective and easily misinterpreted gives people a false sense of accuracy. I don’t believe Uncharted 4 is a 99/100 or 97/100 game, but I damn well believe you and sn0w earnestly came out of the game feeling that way. And, hey, both of your reviews sounded exactly like 99% and 97% scores (a sign of great writing). Except they didn’t list all the things that bothered me when I played it… Things that would have caught me by surprise if I took your written reviews as absolute truth. Scores are so obviously subjective and we know it almost by instinct. We can see that fact as plain as day when we see the same game get varying scores from different sources. BAM, easily identifiable subjectivity. In contrast, we can’t as easily read 10 full reviews to find the same conclusion.

I don’t think scores are for everything, nor even for everyone. I think there’s places they don’t belong. Heck, I even asked sn0w permission to not use the individualized “graphics/story/gameplay/sound” scoring because I don’t believe in it. But scores are a very useful tool in the critic’s bag.

"A closet intellectual, he acts dumb to impress women."

"A closet intellectual, he acts dumb to impress women."