In Which Numerical Game Review Scores Are Discussed

Alternate Title: These Are Not The Review Scores You are Looking For

 
So today, I was checking out the Halo: Reach review on Giantbomb since a) I have never really played a Halo game before, b)I was at least partially interested in the game, and c) this title has been purported to be the hallmark of the series. And (no surprise!) Jeff delivered a well-written and informative review, and I think I may go pick up the game today to check it out. 
 
Anyways, this post isn't really about the review, but rather the discussion occurring in the comments below the review. I wanted to see what others thought, and was greeted by a lot of folks who seemed rather upset about the 4/5 star rating that was attributed to the game. This led to a lot of people attempting to compare Halo: Reach to other games (in very absolute numerical terms, mind you) which had been reviewed with a 5/5 star rating, and them explaining how ludicrous this seemed in their head. I find it rather confounding that commenters were attempting to put forth arguments using a simple number as evidence, and it got me thinking about numerical game review scores, and the process as a whole.
 
It seems numerical review scores have arisen as a necessary evil in a time where people want to quickly gauge how worthy a game is of their time and money, especially by checking aggregating sites like Metacritic. It's unfortunate, though, that as a side effect, this ends up generating discussions that will ultimately go nowhere as people attempt to compare games of different genres and from different times based on a simple number. These numbers are simply a rough snapshot of a game's quality at a given time, not to be taken as any sort of ultimatum to use in the process of ranking games.
 
In a lot of cases, it seems individuals didn't even bother to read the review text, or in the worst case, they did, but completely ignored it once they say the number did not line up with the preconceived notion they had in their head. I don't think I've ever seen so many people vehemently defend something which they probably hadn't even played at the time, and are probably going to end up buying the game and enjoying it anyways, but they feel like this 4/5 review is trying to steal their joy of the game in some manner. These reviews are meant for people to read and to cause insightful discussion about the pros and cons of a game, not to be permanent benchmarks of a game's quality based on a number. Hopefully this post will also cause some insightful discussion; thanks for reading! :)
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3 Comments
Posted by beard_of_zeus

Alternate Title: These Are Not The Review Scores You are Looking For

 
So today, I was checking out the Halo: Reach review on Giantbomb since a) I have never really played a Halo game before, b)I was at least partially interested in the game, and c) this title has been purported to be the hallmark of the series. And (no surprise!) Jeff delivered a well-written and informative review, and I think I may go pick up the game today to check it out. 
 
Anyways, this post isn't really about the review, but rather the discussion occurring in the comments below the review. I wanted to see what others thought, and was greeted by a lot of folks who seemed rather upset about the 4/5 star rating that was attributed to the game. This led to a lot of people attempting to compare Halo: Reach to other games (in very absolute numerical terms, mind you) which had been reviewed with a 5/5 star rating, and them explaining how ludicrous this seemed in their head. I find it rather confounding that commenters were attempting to put forth arguments using a simple number as evidence, and it got me thinking about numerical game review scores, and the process as a whole.
 
It seems numerical review scores have arisen as a necessary evil in a time where people want to quickly gauge how worthy a game is of their time and money, especially by checking aggregating sites like Metacritic. It's unfortunate, though, that as a side effect, this ends up generating discussions that will ultimately go nowhere as people attempt to compare games of different genres and from different times based on a simple number. These numbers are simply a rough snapshot of a game's quality at a given time, not to be taken as any sort of ultimatum to use in the process of ranking games.
 
In a lot of cases, it seems individuals didn't even bother to read the review text, or in the worst case, they did, but completely ignored it once they say the number did not line up with the preconceived notion they had in their head. I don't think I've ever seen so many people vehemently defend something which they probably hadn't even played at the time, and are probably going to end up buying the game and enjoying it anyways, but they feel like this 4/5 review is trying to steal their joy of the game in some manner. These reviews are meant for people to read and to cause insightful discussion about the pros and cons of a game, not to be permanent benchmarks of a game's quality based on a number. Hopefully this post will also cause some insightful discussion; thanks for reading! :)
Posted by beard_of_zeus

Follow up: I ended up buying Reach tonight, we'll see how that goes!
 
Also, no one has anything to say about this discussion which is rather relevant to the state of game journalism nowadays? Bummer.

Posted by juanvaldes

Maybe everyone is tired of it?

Fanboys get caught up in scores and will whine when a favorite game dies not review better. Someday they will grow up and just play the games they like instead of crying on the Internet.

Scores are dumb overall but people want a quick and easy way to tell a games general quality at a glance. In that way GBs 5 star system is more effective than the "standard" 1-10 scale.

Personally I really like the tri-system 'Buy, Rent, Skip'. Then leave it up to the reviewers description to inform about the games qualities and rough edges.