#1 Posted by Abendlaender (2867 posts) -

So I never really pay much attention to Metacritic (although I do use it to get a feeling how the "broad public" feels about games I like) but I payed even less attention to the movie section of it. Out of curiosity I went there today and was kinda surprised that Elysium, a movie I heard a lot of good things about, only has a 60 score. So I browsed the site a bit and found out that all the movies that are out now have extremly low scores....in video game score terms. There is only one movie out that has a score above 70 which, let's be honest, is not a great score if you think in video game score terms.

I also looked at the "best scores this year" just to realise that I have never heard of any of the movies mentioned there. I have never heard of "Inside Llewyn Davis" starring Justin Timberlake and John Goodman but apparently it's a 100% movie....when it comes out in December I guess? Whatever.

I fully admit that I have a "stupid" taste, I don't really care about "artistic" movies, I'm actually one of the "Eh, as long as stuff explodes I'm probably fine with it" kinda guys, so yeah....but still: I'm just wondering: Are movie critics harsher than video game critics (at least if you only look at the score)?

Just to get this out of the way: No, you shouldn't only look at the score and Metacritic is evil and one of your favourite games of all time has only a 60% score, but that's not really the point of this, okay? ;)

I thought about tweeting @rorie about this but since I have no idea how to say this in less then 140 characters I feel like it is at a better place here (I also feel weird bothering people with my questions cause tweeting somebody always feels like asking your doctor about medical advice on a party or something)

#2 Edited by Grixxel (769 posts) -

Most movie critics are stuck-up pricks. They have been for a veeeeeeeery long time. So yes, they are harsher and, a lot of the times, for no good reason.

#3 Posted by Kidavenger (3604 posts) -

I think the movies that are coming out now are just worse, they spend more money and take less risk, and it's been this way for so long that it seems normal now.

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#4 Edited by danm_999 (78 posts) -

@abendlaender said:

So I never really pay much attention to Metacritic (although I do use it to get a feeling how the "broad public" feels about games I like) but I payed even less attention to the movie section of it. Out of curiosity I went there today and was kinda surprised that Elysium, a movie I heard a lot of good things about, only has a 60 score. So I browsed the site a bit and found out that all the movies that are out now have extremly low scores....in video game score terms. There is only one movie out that has a score above 70 which, let's be honest, is not a great score if you think in video game score terms.

I also looked at the "best scores this year" just to realise that I have never heard of any of the movies mentioned there. I have never heard of "Inside Llewyn Davis" starring Justin Timberlake and John Goodman but apparently it's a 100% movie....when it comes out in December I guess? Whatever.

I fully admit that I have a "stupid" taste, I don't really care about "artistic" movies, I'm actually one of the "Eh, as long as stuff explodes I'm probably fine with it" kinda guys, so yeah....but still: I'm just wondering: Are movie critics harsher than video game critics (at least if you only look at the score)?

Just to get this out of the way: No, you shouldn't only look at the score and Metacritic is evil and one of your favourite games of all time has only a 60% score, but that's not really the point of this, okay? ;)

I thought about tweeting @rorie about this but since I have no idea how to say this in less then 140 characters I feel like it is at a better place here (I also feel weird bothering people with my questions cause tweeting somebody always feels like asking your doctor about medical advice on a party or something)

Movies critics are not harsher than video game critics. The reason films like Elysium score a 60% and are considered 'fine' is because there's a much lower critical bar for films than video games. Basically, you can go much lower on the film rating scale than you can on the video game scale before things become intolerable.

The rating system for games is far more punishing. Always has been. It's not that movie critics are generally harsher, it's just that video game critics often seem trapped in a system where anything that falls below a 4/5 or an 80% or an 8/10 is treated as nearly worthless. But a similar score to a movie? I doubt you'll have a problem with most audiences. Movies are just a more forgiving medium for public consumption. I can't speak for myself, but I have a lot of problems with playing a game that gets a 5.5, but if my buddies are asking me to go and see a 2.5 star movie, I don't freak out as much.

And the reason for this is that there's a lot endemnic to the medium of gaming that causes higher expectations. A dumb, loud and bad movie will cost you $10 to see, and will probably take 90 minutes of your time. A dumb, loud and bad video game will, in most cases, cost you between $40-60 and require anywhere from 15 to 50 hours of your time, and it's been preceded at some point by a prerequisite of some expensive hardware. Built into that there's a whole bunch of technical issues likely to arise that might impede your enjoyment, which are never usually present in film, since video games as a medium is an infant compared to film.

#5 Edited by Pr1mus (3959 posts) -

Game reviews should probably be entirely subjective but they still have elements like graphics, sound quality, bugginess, etc. that are not and tons of reviewers out there still put a lot of emphasis on those. If you read a review of The Last of Us that does just that even if the reviewer thought the gameplay was trash if the score is impacted enough by the technical merits of the game it will still score pretty well anyway.

Movies are 100% subjective because all they have is a story and acting. Unless reviewers started writing 3 paragraphs about how great or poor the special effects are in each review but you're never going to see this because they know better. SFX, cinematography, sound editing and the likes are at most mentioned in passing in almost every reviews.

And then there's all the other more sinister aspects that gaming media like to ignore and jump on people who dare mentioning them. Like the fact that almost every gaming publications and sites are kept alive by ads from the very industry they cover and are also stuck with a very toxic community at large that gets outraged by any score outside the norm to a level that even the most angry movie review readers are not approaching. Most movie reviews are from newspapers or magazines that don't focus exclusively on movies.

#6 Edited by MikkaQ (10331 posts) -

Probably because movie reviews numbers aren't as terribly inflated as games are.

@pr1mus This doesn't make sense, all reviews for everything ever are completely objective.That's how reviews work, it's all based on opinion.

#7 Edited by Hailinel (25203 posts) -

Harsher? No. In general, they are more thoughtful and analytical in their critique, don't write reviews that read like glorified instruction manuals, and use score scales that are actually useful.

#8 Edited by TheManWithNoPlan (5902 posts) -

No, I think they're about the same. The environment in which they work and the merits they have to judge when critiquing are fairly different though. One real big difference between them is the scoring system. The scoring system for games being in a state of unnecessary inflation. The general perception from the gaming community is fairly warped as far as this goes. Movie critics use the entire scale, while game critics are stuck on the higher end from 6 to 9. 6 being the worst of the worst and 9 being a general success.

#9 Posted by Apparatus_Unearth (3215 posts) -

@hailinel said:

Harsher? No. In general, they are more thoughtful and analytical in their critique, don't write reviews that read like glorified instruction manuals, and use score scales that are actually useful.

Define useful. I feel like GB's five-star scale is an excellent indicator.

#10 Posted by Hailinel (25203 posts) -

@hailinel said:

Harsher? No. In general, they are more thoughtful and analytical in their critique, don't write reviews that read like glorified instruction manuals, and use score scales that are actually useful.

Define useful. I feel like GB's five-star scale is an excellent indicator.

Giant Bomb's star scale is in the minority. Many game websites still use the outdated and skewed ten-point decimal scale where anything below a seven is garbage.

#11 Posted by GERALTITUDE (3511 posts) -

Because movies are 2 hours long. They're more disposable and easier to damn. Music is this x 10.

#12 Posted by jimmy_p (278 posts) -

I also looked at the "best scores this year" just to realise that I have never heard of any of the movies mentioned there. I have never heard of "Inside Llewyn Davis" starring Justin Timberlake and John Goodman but apparently it's a 100% movie....when it comes out in December I guess? Whatever.

Journalists/critics get advanced screenings... If theres a 100% score there probably werent too many ratings. Also, its a Coen bros movie, they get slack. Actually, I dont like when "critics" just slap perfect scores on movies. Some of these idiots have no integrity.

#13 Edited by Nicked (257 posts) -

It's hard to compare them 1:1, but something I've observed is that the critics' responses to films don't have as much weight attached to them. A film that reviews really badly won't necessarily fail at the box office. Good reviews won't result in bonuses paid to the film crew (to my knowledge). In practical discourse, movie reviewers tend to allow more for dissenting opinions, whereas game reviewers are excoriated for e.g. not giving The Last of Us a perfect score. So I think movie reviewers have more room to be harsh. Game reviewers also need to address functionality as well as content, which makes things trickier.

#14 Edited by thomasnash (586 posts) -
@pr1mus said:

Game reviews should probably be entirely subjective but they still have elements like graphics, sound quality, bugginess, etc. that are not and tons of reviewers out there still put a lot of emphasis on those. If you read a review of The Last of Us that does just that even if the reviewer thought the gameplay was trash if the score is impacted enough by the technical merits of the game it will still score pretty well anyway.

Movies are 100% subjective because all they have is a story and acting. Unless reviewers started writing 3 paragraphs about how great or poor the special effects are in each review but you're never going to see this because they know better. SFX, cinematography, sound editing and the likes are at most mentioned in passing in almost every reviews.

And then there's all the other more sinister aspects that gaming media like to ignore and jump on people who dare mentioning them. Like the fact that almost every gaming publications and sites are kept alive by ads from the very industry they cover and are also stuck with a very toxic community at large that gets outraged by any score outside the norm to a level that even the most angry movie review readers are not approaching. Most movie reviews are from newspapers or magazines that don't focus exclusively on movies.

And lighting, and editing, and staging, and score, and cinematography....

Actually, having given this a moment's thought, I'm being totally fatuous, because you do acknowledge some of this in your post anyway. So I'll revise what I'm saying to: You're either not being granular enough and being reductive, or your being too granular by even saying that film reviews are undertaken by splitting a film into it's component parts and grading each one according to some set of criteria, subjective or otherwise.

But the individual sections of a film can largely be looked at in an objective way, I think. Certainly bad editing, staging, lighting and all those technical bits would be immediately obvious if you ever saw a film that was incompetent in those areas (they don't get seen by many people, surprisingly). Story is a bit more complicated, because obviously you can't objectively criticise a story for being the story it is; but historically there are structural standards that we like to hold stories to and against.

Of course there is still leeway and subjectivity in all of these things, and rule-bending and lowered standards can all be applied (subjectively) by a reviewer, but - and this is where the thing about being too granular comes in - it is normally measured up against how it all works in service of the total sense experience of the film. I think film reviewers (certainly the more nuanced reviews I've read/heard in my life) tend to start from a position of "did this piece work as a whole" and then work backwards to try and describe what it was that worked (ie the editing really enhances the tension of the film) or why it didn't work (the story was too heavily weighted towards the final action sequences, so I felt no emotional connection). I realise that I am still describing a subjective method here, and I would never deny that I was. I just wanted to suggest that the process might be a bit more complex than you were suggesting. That's not even to get into questions of intertextuality in films, and how a critic with a long history, who knows a lot of about films, can often get to the heart of whether and how a film works just by putting together the influences and references and getting a more complete picture of what the film wants to do (IE the lit crit part of the process).

I think this is part of why film critics seem "harsher," because being able to look at a film both as a whole and in the details allows for a lot more variation in their response to it: "I liked what the film was trying to do, but it's cinematography was too flashy for the subject matter" is a type of response you just don't see that often in games journalism, because the only real equivalent is gameplay and graphics, and graphics are measured more on their verisimilitude than their service to the plot or whatever, and gameplay is often treated as "separate but equal" to story (not necessarily incorrectly). Put simply, the stuff that can be technically bad in a game stands on its own as bad, rather than as a competent but failed attempt to do something.

But yeah, even excluding that, there is a base line of technical skill which doesn't often get criticised because you don't often see films that fail to reach that line?

#15 Posted by MariachiMacabre (7099 posts) -

@hailinel said:

@apparatus_unearth said:

@hailinel said:

Harsher? No. In general, they are more thoughtful and analytical in their critique, don't write reviews that read like glorified instruction manuals, and use score scales that are actually useful.

Define useful. I feel like GB's five-star scale is an excellent indicator.

Giant Bomb's star scale is in the minority. Many game websites still use the outdated and skewed ten-point decimal scale where anything below a seven is garbage.

This is the problem with most reviewers now. I know that Jeff and the crew have talked about it before but what's the difference between a 7.3 and a 7.4? Or even a 7 and a 7.5? It's a silly system that's almost entirely useless to the person reading the review.

#16 Edited by StarvingGamer (8470 posts) -

On Metacritic a game has to have at least a 75 to be considered "generally favorable"

A movie can go as low as 61 and still be considered "generally favorable"

#17 Edited by ProfessorEss (7469 posts) -

I don't even know anymore. I've read a lot of entertaining reviews but I can't remember the last time I read a useful one.

#18 Edited by FengShuiGod (1492 posts) -

If you read the reviews then there isn't as much difference, but there is a difference in the number attached to those reviews. If a movie only has a 50% approval rating you still might enjoy it, and it can be called "polarizing." It might even go on to become a classic or a cult hit. If a game scores below 80% it's probably not even worth looking at.

#19 Edited by Rafaelfc (1417 posts) -

No, movies are scored on a slightly more fair scale where a 7 does not mean it is a piece of shit because it really is a good grade.

The problem with movies, from what I see is that nobody wants to score a perfect 10 so you end up with tons of 9.5, 9.8 scores which is dumb.

#20 Posted by Missacre (566 posts) -

Movie critics are stuck up pricks, and game critics are all paid off, so it's all really the same thing these days. No one gives an honest, non-biased review anymore. You'd have to go to hell and back just to find one.

#21 Posted by acer51 (34 posts) -

It doesn't matter what the critics think anyway, if fan reviews are generally high it's probably a good movie/game.

#22 Posted by aspaceinvader (257 posts) -

Movie Critics are generally wanna be movie directors, who could not direct their way out of a paper bag. Its easier for them to be critical of a movie than actually take the time to go and make a movie. If they did make a movie someone would be very crititcal of it and then again it would be some artsy farty piece of shit that no one gets except the twat that made it.

#23 Posted by Tylea002 (2295 posts) -

There's some awful critics in movies and there's some awful critics in games. Conversely, there's some great critics in movies and some great critics in games. Now let's all stop paying attention to review aggregators and live a happy life.

#24 Posted by MonkeyKing1969 (2964 posts) -

Film is actually simpler than games. For film there is a basic narrative structure to be followed for a typical story, and while you can go outside that arc in very artistic ways doing so requires MORE artistry and more care because you then have to make something understandably while - Temporally, Physically, etc - being re-arranged. (i.e. Memento [2002] was harder to make because it was out of sequence - that story could have be told with fewer scenes and less connective dialogue by just going chronologically forward. But, would Momento be interesting forward? )

Games are a different sort of beast because the story making sense, the dialogue being David Mamet quality, or the setting or characters being great is secondary to "does it play well OR work?" That is the difference, there is more going on in a game because it is interactive and ist has to work.

A movie = plot + story + characters + cinematography + hype
A game = (plot + story + characters + cinematography) X ((game play) X (game pace) X (menus) X (hype²))

Games cannot be understood on simple terms alonmg one train of thought, and the reviewers/critics of games rate them accordingly. Movies are like a statue of a ballerina - easily understandable as a mere object. A game are like music boxe - the music box needs to open, play music, and have the ballerina spin around to be considered successful. In other words games need to work, and that means all parts have to spin in time and in sync to be understood. The movies jsut has to play without teh projector bursting into flames.

A movie critic can afford to be harder because there are only so many level upon which to judge the work. Games need to work and be everything else a movie, a play, and a book would be as well. That does not mean game critics are smarter, better educated, better writers, or even better critics of art...it just means judging a game take more consideration and more extenuating circumstances need to be given for failures of one part or another.

#25 Posted by Akyho (1692 posts) -

I think movies are pretty crap 90% of the time, and movie critics arnt as valued as game critics. Infact Critics in film are ignored mostly.

"oh Transformers Dark side of the moon is a horrible film? it barley tells a story, and you barely see anything?.....its pulled in 3x as much money to make it at the box office? Yeah critics! we are going to listen to you?"

The movie world is a weirder place than computer games, we as shown if the audience doesn't like it you feel it, E.G Max payne 3 and Microsoft XBOne policies.

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#26 Posted by Gruebacca (562 posts) -

I think part of it is because games have not matured as much as movies. After all, movies have been around far longer than games. The games industry is still young and changing very rapidly, just as movies were in their youth. The industry is collectively solving the many currently problems across gaming, and while old ones get solved new ones arise. When we solve problems such as standardizing FPS controls and making identical ports across all platforms, we arrive with more complicated issues like ludo-narrative dissonance and the portrayal of women. Hell, I bet there's some huge problems with gaming that we won't even realize for another ten years, and when we do the way we think of today's games will change drastically. With that will eventually come some deeper critical thinking, and maybe some lower average scores.

Judging by scans of old magazines I've come across, the average review score was much, much higher 20 years ago, back when a 70 was considered poor. Times have changed, and are still changing.

#27 Posted by personandstuff (96 posts) -

Some of that probably has to do with the fact that game criticism is relatively new. There was is no long storied video game criticism tradition.

And ultimately, for most reviewers, gameplay is where it is at. A story can make up for weaker gameplay. But if it has great gameplay no one cares too much of the story sucks. And, for most large releases, gameplay is iterative. You take what's good then tweak it to try to make it better. And even if those tweaks fail, it's probably close enough that it'll just be "okay." That doesn't work as well in storytelling.

#28 Posted by Veektarius (4983 posts) -

I feel like the industry, and by that I don't mean just the developers but also critics and gamers alike, are more invested in individual games' success because the volume of good games per year is lower than the volume of good movies. As such, people who play games want a positive spin, they want a reason they can justify a purchase to themselves. Moviegoers have plenty on their plate, and I think for the most part they want to know which ones they can skip. If I'm right, those preferences would lead to a positive and negative bias in scores, respectively.

#29 Posted by RonGalaxy (3263 posts) -

It's not that movie critics are too harsh, but rather game critics are too lenient

#30 Posted by falserelic (5480 posts) -

Naw, the way people go at it when it comes to games. I think they take the title as the harsher critics.

#31 Posted by cthomer5000 (848 posts) -

@hailinel said:

Harsher? No. In general, they are more thoughtful and analytical in their critique, don't write reviews that read like glorified instruction manuals, and use score scales that are actually useful.

Agree.

And at the same time, there is a massive disconnect between film review scores and what the general public likes. People (collectively) simply don't care what the critics think.

#32 Posted by benpicko (2011 posts) -

@grixxel said:

Most movie critics are stuck-up pricks. They have been for a veeeeeeeery long time. So yes, they are harsher and, a lot of the times, for no good reason.

The opposite of this

#33 Edited by benpicko (2011 posts) -

@hailinel said:

Harsher? No. In general, they are more thoughtful and analytical in their critique, don't write reviews that read like glorified instruction manuals, and use score scales that are actually useful.

Exactly this.