On every problem with game reviews ever.

For reviewers, assigning a game a score can be a sticky situation. The very act assumes that games are quantitative objects whose qualities can be cut into pieces and weighed, like a pig before a butcher. Start looking at a game too closely and the reasons you like it fall apart. Converting feelings about a game into a number can get messy.

Case in point: A rambling dialog between Manveer Heir and Patrick Klepek on the purpose of criticism and game reviews. Here are some of the highlights:

Heir: when we give those criticisms a score, we do something else. We make the criticism the focus of the entire product. 

Heir: Shouldn’t a game that is trying to be a linear piece of Hollywood blockbuster be rated against how those types of games typically play and the expectation of the audience? Shouldn’t a review tell me if this piece of work is worth my time or not?

Klepek (On Skyrim): I want to read the review from the one guy that fucking hated it, the guy who wants to make the argument about why it’s actually terrible. 

Klepek: “Well,” so the argument goes, “they gave Skyward Sword and Fruit Ninja Kinect a 4/5, so they’re both of equal quality.” 

Klepek: I can only hope to string together a series of words and sentences that allow them to see why I came to my conclusion, and how they might draw another one. 

Heir: if a site disagrees with its reviews being used on Metacritic, it should get them pulled from the site or make changes to how its scores are interpreted. 

Klepek: If someone can tell me what the difference is between a 72 and a 73, I’d love to know.

Klepek: Games For Windows Magazine… dropped review scores for a short period, hoping to force readers to spend more time contemplating the text. They ended up ditching this plan, as people stopped reading the reviews as much.

Heir: there is tons of criticism that does indeed belong inside a review.

Klepek: that we’re even having this conversation proves the value of criticism. 

That conversation makes me even gladder Kill Screen did away with review scores.

-Jason Johnson

[Giant Bomb]