Saturday, 10 December 2011

The Sum Of Its Parts

Jason Schreier has written an article at He's done a commendable job at explaining not only the appeal of an often baffling genre of video games, but also sheds a light on shady reviewing practices. Namely, how we dissect and rate each individual aspect of a game in a shallow checklist.

You know:


When I review a game, I will go into specifics, but for me it's about the overall experience. What condition the product as a whole left me in when it was over. I find my writing isn't very helpful to those who aren't familiar with how to operate them. And to that I say... GOOD! 

A movie critic's job is not to explain how to sit down, or how to open your eye-lids in front of the large screen. A literature critic does not waste precious words detailing how to turn a page in every single book review. Yet so many game reviewers feel they have to carefully explain the basic control setup. This is a pointless waste of time. New players would rather read a review to find out if you thought it was any good. Either they'll want to learn on their own, or they'll look at the instruction manual or online guides for assistance. And for long-time gamers, you're just delaying getting to the point.

Certainly one must touch on individual aspects of note, but the rating at the top or bottom of the review is bad enough. Do we really need to know how many stars you feel the Sound Design deserves? Does that matter? Is it any wonder video game magazines are dropping like flies? If we wanted numerical judgment and schematics, we don't need GamePro(may it rest in peace).

A critic's function is to explain, as clearly as he can, what you can expect from a purchase. He must also present his case for why a game failed to enrich his life, or why it did. Or why it did not affect him in the slightest. He must also understand the type of person who might read his work, for whom the product is intended, and whether or not it works along any standards.

It his not his obligation, nor to anyone's benefit when a critic sees the forest only for the trees. Perhaps this is why I'm more forgiving to JRPGS. They understand that what's more important isn't the individual components, but how they work together. Hell, it might also explain why I hold the original Halo to a higher regard than its descendants. Sometimes weird or meager elements co-operate and compliment each other. Sometimes all of the weird ingredients combine into the right recipe.

Like Voltron (and not that stupid vehicle one either.)



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