PixieJenni talks GamerGate with both 'sides'

Objective Game Reviews (part 6)

on October 6, 2014

Answers have been cut if they misunderstood question – ie, if the answer to 4 was referring to what they linked in q3, rather than the quote given in q4.

Some answers may have been merged – ie, where I’ve been given the same link/article/answer multiple times, I will just include link with a note of how many people answered with this in the format: [article](x5)

Some answers may not be included if they misunderstood the question – they may instead have moved to ‘bonus’ as a section. Will highlight if that is the case.

People are anon if they didn’t explictly say “call me x”. Email me again if you want to change that 🙂Anon referencing consistent within this topic, but not with others.

1. When you say “objective game reviews”, what do you mean?

Anon61: “Basically, a review that describes the game without involving the author’s personal opinion on it. Gamers rely on games journalists to tell us what upcoming games are like so we can decide for ourselves whether or not we want to buy them. A review should simply describe the game’s setting, what the player does, what sort of mechanics are involved, things like that. The person reading the review should be presented with facts about the game and allowed to make their own decision.”


Anon62: “While I don’t think an entirely objective review is possible given that games are a creative medium, I want to see a review that actually looks at the various aspects of the game and takes the time to examine each component. I’ve seen a number of reviews which rate a game highly just because it matches their interest in story themes (or penalise it because it doesn’t), without looking at the quality of the other aspects of the game at all (e.g. does it have interesting mechanics). I do not agree with people who say that you can’t truly be objective, so you shouldn’t even bother.”


Anon63: “For me it simply means avoiding writing about people that you may be biased in favor of, so avoiding writing about people whose rent you’re helping pay, are roommates with, or romantically involved with. And if it is necessary to have a person with such a person write from a biased position to have some notation made in the article/posting about what the relationship is between the writer and subject.”


Anon64: “I believe that reviewers should try to be objective were possible. Reviews should have comments on not just on their opinion, but on tangible facts. For example, many modern games have had major bugs during launch, and these must be mentioned in coverage.”


Anon65: “A review attempting to remove bias to a reasonable degree so for example having someone who actively hates shooters reviewing one won’t go down well. Or someone who actively hates MMO games reviewing one. To an extent you want someone who represents those who would enjoy that genre of game and or has history with the series or genre. E.G. Dynasty Warriors fans would trust Jim Sterling more as to if the next Dynasty Warriors game is worth playing than they would say Max Scoville”


Anon66: “we don’t want objective reviews those will always be subjective. we want objective previews and reviews free from bias. don’t judge it until its finished if games are an art. Directors and artists need to be free to create even if some might find it offensive. Lately there have been a lot of pieces condemning games for trailers show out of context like Dragons Crown Hotline Miami even including the new Tomb Raider who most agree had a good feminist character.
The most important thing for the review though since you asked are
Is the game fun?
Is the game Worth what their asking for it?
does the game have ridiculous amounts of dlc that need to purchased to get the full experience?
After those questions have been answered then feel free to talk about the social political implications of funny shaped armor or how cliche the story is.
Most of all if your a personal friend of someone who made the game or were given some kind of promotional swag or if your giving them money or if they are giving you money or your sleeping with them Disclose or recuse yourself. there are more that one reviewer at these websites
[PixieJenni note: this was in q4 but it fits up here] As i said once you have the basic three thing a reviews needs then you are free to write however or whatever you feel about the game. The main point is we want the reviewer free of bias, not necessarily the review. if your a technical reviewer. talk tech. if your more about story, talk story, If you don’t really like games but are trying to push an agenda find a new job!
    That goes whether you are a male, female, sjw, mra or whatever. As long as you love games your passion will shine through even if you want to talk about how silly molded breast plates on female characters are or how few minorities are in games, or the problems exclusive to men. All of that can be included in the discussion of games, the more viewpoints the better.
    The problem with these sjw in game sites is that they are so transparent you can tell they never held a controller before in their life. They talk about things in the trailers of games and almost never follow up when the game is released because you know they couldn’t be bothered to play the thing that was so offensive to them at e3 or when they do follow up its about how wonderful the thing they wrote 500 articles decrying is.
    Worse still is when they take innocent or stupid things said in an interview and turn that into a story. David Jaffe, (for example) like him or hate him a joke made to a female reporter is not an admission that he is a rape apologist and has nothing to do with his games. If she had a problem  with his joke she should of addressed him there not written a story about him later saying awful things to hurt his career and if there was a story there, then she should not have written it because she did have a clear bias and was part of the story.”


Anon67: “I think most of us mean unbiased.  It’s pretty obvious that in the cases of previews and reviews people are going to have opinions on the matter and that isn’t necessarily a bad thing.  To a degree, though, people previewing or reviewing items should be able to differentiate between a good game in a genre that just isn’t their cup of tea and a game that is also legitimately bad from that same genre.”


Anon68: “When I say an “objective” review, I mean a review that is based in more fact than opinion. A review that accurately portrays the quality of a game. The current state of the industry does not always allow this. One needs to look no further than Jeff Gerstmann’s firing over his Kane & Lynch review to realize that. He wrote an objective review that accurately portrayed the game in a bad light, but he was fired at the request of the devs due to them threatening to pull their ads, and their money from Gamespot. Arguably, Greg Miller of IGN also wrote a subjective review of Uncharted 3, granting the game a perfect score, with the bias of being a fan of the franchise looming over him. With those two examples shaping my opinion of reviews, I can safely say that my definition of an objective review is a review that is written by someone who A) Enjoys the genre of game being reviewed. If they enjoy the genre, I believe they can paint an accurate picture of the game they are reviewing. B) Is not a huge fan of the franchise of the game they are reviewing. This leads to bias, and hurts objectivity. C) That advertisements of the game being reviewed are pulled a certain amount of time before and after the review has been posted. This will remove the pressure of advertisers from the review by disassociation of advertisers from the review websites.
Of course, this is not a perfect solution. A reviewer from point A who enjoys turn-based strategy games might enjoy Fire Emblem more than XCOM. The reviewer from point B might not understand what makes an installment is a franchise a good installment of that franchise. Point C might cause advertisers to pull ads entirely after reviews are handed down, causing sites to lose money. None of my points fix the fact that reviews are, at their core, opinion pieces. Critics hate Michael Bay’s Transformers films, but I had a blast seeing the latest one with my niece. Ultimately, reviewers should strive to be as objective as possible, but true objectivity is unattainable in reviewing.”


Anon69: “Fair game reviews that are not influenced by an agenda, bribes, favors, or any other influences other than the journalist’s true feelings about the game, how it works, how it’s written, etc.”


Anon70: “Standard stuff anyone who takes a media criticism class and journalistic ethics class would learn. Reviews are mostly Op-Eds and thus are not objective but your objectivity is more important than being objective.”


2. Do you think reviewers with very obvious biases against certain genres – ie, like Yahtzee  + MMOs – have a role in game reviews?

Anon61: “Not really, at least not in “objective reviews”. I’ll admit that objective reviews are boring, but they’re important. Biased reviews like Yahtzee’s are entertaining, but there needs to be room in the industry for both. Other journalistic sources, like newspapers, make this distinction already; articles on current events are kept unbiased, presenting only the facts about an event so the reader can make their own decision, while opinion pieces are kept in a different part of the paper and clearly labeled as such.”


Anon62: “I think Yahtzee is bad example, given that his approach is comedic and mostly aimed at negative aspects. Reviewers who specifically don’t like a particular genre are probably a bad fit for a review, given that they are unlikely to have a solid base of experience (e.g. the various options, design choices available) within the genre itself… I don’t think many people would voluntarily continue to play multiple games in a genre they dislike at a genre-level enough to build that knowledge. I do think there is a space for more neutral reviews (neither liking nor disliking a genre), to look at games from the point of view of an “outsider”. Those who are unfamiliar with the particular genre need an entry point, or at least cross-comparison with other genre games. I do not enjoy the MOBA genre as it stands, but a new game within that genre may be different enough to break out of that pre-conception.”


Anon63: “Yes. People like Yahtzee mention what bias they have so you know what you’re getting when you see their reviews.”


Anon64: “I believe that, as long as these biases are known, and acknowledged, then such reviewers can be quite helpful. I would be more interested in a recommendation from a detractor than a fan. I believe that being aware of one’s own biases is vital to good journalism.”


Anon65: “Well Yahtzee is more of an entertainer. I would say it is possible for people to review a genre they hate but they have to be a reviewer that people already know about and know that persons tastes. So in the case of Yahtzee reviewing an MMO if he enjoyed it then it would most likely mean far more to outsiders of the genre but depending on the changes might mean less to people who are fans of the genre.”


Anon66: “A reviewer with a obvious bias about game genres shouldn’t be the main reviewer although they could point out something that others might of missed in a sidebar or op ed piece.”


Anon67: “Depends on the style of the review. Yahtzee can get away with it since he’s a lot more like entertainment than journalism. He may be reviewing a product, but people are really viewing for his style of presentation. I’ve watched plenty of his videos for games I would personally never consider buying.”


Anon68: “I tend not to think of Yahtzee as a reviewer. The colorful metaphors and cartoon characters he employs in his videos paint him as more of a roaster than a reviewer. He does not provide scores at any point in his videos and is clearly very subjective in his presentation. In short, he has less a role in game reviews than he does in games comedy, on the same level of Cinema Sins. Some, myself included, just find nitpicking to be amusing. “


Anon69: ” If they have a bias against certain game genres, they should not be the ones to review those games; instead, a different journalist should review them.”


Anon70: “Yes. Yahtzee is ethical about hating MMOs. The draw to be unethical is displayed here too though. I don’t really care for Yahtzee’s MMO reviews because I know he is biased, thus I don’t watch them.”


3. Can you give me an example of what you consider to be an “objective game review”?

Anon61: “Do you mean an article that currently exists that fits one? I’m not personally aware of any. Just as an example though, you could have an article that boils down to something like “Super Mario Bros. is a sidescroller where you play as a mustachioed Italian plumber on a quest to save a princess. The player collects coins and power-ups that allow them to grow in size or hurl fireballs as they progress through eight different worlds, but lose them if they touch an enemy.” Obviously a full review would be longer and more in-depth, but this would be the general tone. A simple rundown of the plot of the game and a description of what the player does in it, ideally with a gameplay video or two to give the reader a better idea of what it’s like.”


Anon62: “Unfortunately I do not recall anything I would claim to meet my ideal (which may be more down to my memory than their non-existence), though generally I appreciate the reviews done by Eurogamer.net.”


Anon63: “I actually would call Yahtzee fairly unbiased even. He points out what his general opinions are about genres and so you know what you’re getting with him.”


Anon64: “Unfortunately, I’m not sure I can.”


Anon65: “Angry Joe reviews Rambo the game: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=CFFi3PHp5qM


Anon66: “Disney infinity
is it fun yes
is it worth it no
does it have a ridiculous amount of dlc yes in the form of plastic figure and play sets
this is where id put my experience with the game if id actually played it and this weren’t an example
finally as a full disclosure Disney interactive flew me to Walt Disney resort and gave me way more figurines than would come with the starter set to play this game”


Anon67: “Unfortunately not, I haven’t read any reviews in probably more than 5 years”


Anon68: “As I stated above, I would cite Gerstmann’s review of the Kane & Lynch to be an objective game review. He gave the game the score he felt it deserved based on its merits as a game, and that is part of an objective review. “


Anon69: No answer given.


Anon70: “Most video blogger reviews are objective in the sense that the reviewer doesn’t generally have an agenda. Angry Joe is actually pretty good at maintaining objectivity despite receiving benefits (mainly early access) from developers.”


4. Do you think that this is a neutral/objective statement about a piece of media, or an example of bias and opinion? Explain why please. “The most novel thing about [this piece of media] is how lumpy, labored and relentlessly episodic its narrative is.”

[PixieJenni note: this line is an extract from Godfrey Cheshire’s review of The Notebook via www.rogerebert.com. The paragraph it’s taken from in full is:

“The most novel thing about “The Notebook”…is how lumpy, labored and relentlessly episodic its narrative is. If one went into it knowing nothing of its origins, the film’s lack of dramatic structure might suggest a singularly inept screenwriting exercise that somehow made it into production. In fact, it’s close to impossible to imagine this movie being made had it been based on an original screenplay rather than a well-regarded novel, “Le Grand Cahier,” by Agota Kristof, a Hungarian who writes in French.”]

Anon61: “I would say that it’s not very objective. The author should state why they think it’s lumpy, labored, etc. rather than stating it as a fact, then let the reader make their own decision based on that info.”


Anon62: “I would say that while the language is probably a bit more elaborate than needed, it is trying to convey a narrative style that has bad “flow” to it. From that I would understand it is badly written, and possibly constrained by other game design elements (quest mechanics, episodic game releases, poor pacing). The use of “novel” is there to convey that the rest of the game is no better, or at least fairly generic.”


Anon63: Answered with reference to q3.


Anon64: “As presented, I would consider it a neutral opinion, until qualified by evidence. Unfortunately, narrative can be one of the most difficult things to judge. “


Anon65: “I’d say fairly objective as it appears to be discussing the pacing of the plot being rather un-even.”


Anon66: Moved to q1.


Anon67: “I’d say that’s not an example of bias, but is an example of opinion. See Q1 for why.”


Anon68: No answer given.


Anon69: No answer given.


Anon70: “This is in every way subjective but objectivity is more important than objective.”


5. What would you like to see covered in a review ie gameplay, mechanics, story, music, fun, narrative, etc.

Anon61: “Like I said above, since the point of a review is to tell people about a product so they can decide for themselves whether they want to buy it, a review should cover what the game is about and what you do in it. A video of gameplay would be very beneficial as well. “Fun” is subjective; although it should be the number one reason a person wants a game, there’s no guarantee that the person writing the review shares 100% of their readers’ ideas of fun. Letting the readers decide on their own whether the game looks fun or not is much better than a single person deciding for them. Additionally, a review should also cover technical issues with the game itself; if the game crashes when you talk to a certain NPC or if the framerate drops to single digits when there’s more than three objects on the screen you’d probably want to know about that before you buy it.”


Anon62: “Gameplay is foremost when I look at games. I appreciate a good story, but if it comes wrapped in a fairly generic platformer or FPS, I may as well watch a book or a film (or a Let’s Play). That is not to say I don’t rate story highly, but bad gameplay can easily disrupt the telling. An “un-fun” game would seem to imply a game I would rather put down, than finish. “Fun” can easily include thoughtful ideas or an engaging story, as much as flashing lights and ascending high-scores. Music, story can vary depending on the genre of the game. Games like Tetris exist completely free of story, and many games do well to let you listen to your own music.”


Anon63: “Anything that affects the game could be appropriate to mention. If someone doesn’t see the point in mentioning something you can’t really fault them though. If you ever listen to Kermode and Mayo (British radio show where movie reviewer Kermode speaks) you’ll find some fantastic commentary on movies, but not often commenting on the actual cinematography all the time, as the it wouldn’t seem necessary for getting his opinion on the overall quality across. So there’s no way to really make a blanket statement about such a thing.”


Anon64: “All of the above, and certain facts that relate to the game(price, release date, etc) but each covered in the correct way.
Price, release date, requirements (for PC), availability and any extra’s required to play (eg. Kinect or any subsription, or other online requirement) should all be readily available near the top of the article.
Then descriptions of gameplay, mechanics, story, music, narrative, performance, as objectively as possible.
Then any opinion-based or personal observations.”


Anon65: “Those pretty much and on PC if the port is good and options are there. Also maybe a mention about accessibility options such as if it has Subtitles, If those subtitles are merely spoken word or full closed caption. If the game offers colourblind options. Even though I’m not the target audience for them. Oh and if the title is playable on an SD TV or if that impacts playability (though I can undertand this not being present or being phased out in the future)”


Anon66: ” It depends on the genre being reviewed and the sites audience a site like gather you party has a mostly family centered audience and would be more concerned with age appropriateness. whereas the escapist is more enthusiast based and would be more concerned with story or mechanics. Forums like neogaf where lots of developers hang out would be more concerned with technical specs does it run 60 fps and the like. it really is just knowing your audience and not just moralizing to them constantly.”


Anon67: “Gameplay, mechanics, story, music, narrative would all be good. More how the experience stacks up against its peers in the genre, what specifically makes it better or worse than other examples, also if there are any technical problems and whether the review is being completed on the same build that will be the retail release.”


Anon68: “In a game review, first and foremost should be the gameplay, and all that goes along with it. Level design, controls, game mechanics, how it feels when you successfully sneak through a well-guarded area, level up, or blow an enemy to bits. Fun, often going hand-in-hand with solid gameplay, comes next. Music third, along with sound effects, because you’ll only be hearing them for the entire game. Things like story and graphics should come at the tail end of a review, and definitely should not be the whole focus of one. Graphics and narrative do not affect the quality of a game the way the mechanics or even the music do. They are simply the icing on the cake. “


Anon69: ” In a review, I would like to see gameplay, mechanics, story, music, narrative, replay value, and fun based upon how the journalist felt about it after playing it.”


Anon70: “I am a huge mechanics nerd. I like to take things apart and see how they work, so I really like them to go into way too much detail on that front. I get however that most people don’t care about these systems and want the gist of the experience. “


6. What do you think the difference between an op-ed and a review is (if any?)

Anon61: “A review of anything (games, movies, books, dragon dildos) is and always has been to inform people about the item in question so they can decide if they want it or not. An op-ed is a person stating their personal opinions on a subject; there’s nothing wrong with it, but people need to understand that it only describes the subject from the perspective of a single person who might not have all the information needed to see the subject as it actually is.”


Anon62: “A review is a break down of the aspects of the game, and how it works within its context. How it compares to similar games, or games from the same series can come into it. An op-ed may run in parallel with a review, putting forward a more abstract idea, or commentary spurred by industry events.”


Anon63: “Reviews generally concern the quality of a particular product whereas an op-ed concerns someone’s opinions on a subject, but you often will find op-eds from more distinguished publications will strive for actually proving why their opinions are correct rather than just saying that there opinion exists concerning a subject and so it just is right (omitting actual evidence to prove their point). For an example of a poor op-ed: Anita Sarkeesian’s (sp?) pieces on depictions of women in video games is essentially an op-ed, in that it gives her opinions on a subject. Which I would consider poor because she actually provide evidence to support her points, like referring to a study, a scholarly paper, or an instance in a game (the Hitman issue in her latest video being so absurdly out of context it’s a joke). But then op-eds are a generally fuzzy issue since it is just opinions in the end, so the only thing I would think any video game news site should do concerning them is point out that it is an op-ed if they’re going to include them.”


Anon64: “Op-eds are opinion pieces on a subject, whereas reviews are supposed to inform readers of facts and opinion, relating to a product/service/site etc.”


Anon65: “A review is: is it worth playing for the enjoyment
An OP-ED is : Is it worth playing for the message and themes alone”


Anon66: “The main difference is that you would not need to play the game in question to write an oped piece but it wouldn’t hurt. It shouldn’t be painfully obvious that you haven’t play it if your writing a review give me the three basics of the review first then go wild.””


Anon67: “An op-ed is an purely an opinion piece. IMO, an op-ed would not be the place for content related to a specific game, but perhaps trends in certain aspects of games, maybe?”


Anon68: “Simple. An Op-Ed piece is like many of the dozens of articles that I’m sure you’ve at least heard about since this all started. Gamers are dead pieces, and other “clickbait” articles are generally op-ed pieces. A review is a valid criticism of a piece of art, be it a book, a game, or a movie. To me, a review is not an op-ed piece simply because one’s opinions factor into it.”


Anon69: “I believe that an op-ed is merely the opinion of the journalist, ex. “This game is a piece of crap.” vs. “This game feels like time and effort was put into it, but it’s not my type of game.”, and a review is basically how the game is compared to the past experiences of the journalist reviewing it.”


Anon70: “A review, as I have been taught, is an op-ed piece where a critic examines any form of artistic work and tries to examine it through a critical lens. They vary in how they go about this based on the personal theory of the critic but they straddle the line between an opinion based argument an a formal academic evaluation.”


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