Reviewing User Reviews - Apozem Blog - www.GameInformer.com
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Reviewing User Reviews

As you may have noticed, I've been blogging less recently. Schoolwork is the biggest problem. Memorizing 900 terms and eight short stories doesn't leave much time for other activities. I also have been focusing more on writing reviews. After almost three years of blogging, I had few to my name. One was an embarrassingly bad glorification of Modern Warfare 2 that reads like my high school freshman literature paper.

Over the past few weeks, I've been posting in the user reviews. Judging games is a fun challenge. It forces you to organize your thoughts about a title and demonstrate its relative value or lack thereof. A review is more focused than a blog post, but similarly enjoyable.

I like doing reviews. What I don't like is the lack of feedback. Very few user reviews ever garner comments. This sucks.

I am literally this sad.

You all give excellent feedback. GIO is full of interesting, smart, intelligent people with interesting, smart, and intelligent opinions. You all have improved my writing greatly.

That's for blogging. Reviews are another matter.

It may be a problem inherent to the form. A good blog post provokes discussion and feedback. With reviews, there is no conversation. It's just one person's opinion about a game. There's no real chance for the reader to respond. What would you say? "No, this game deserves an 8.75 instead of an 8.5!" "I disagree, Bastion's graphics were terrible." To date, the only comments I get on reviews are "Nice review," or something along those lines. Again, not blaming the commenter. It's not their fault. To what are they supposed to respond?

This isn't a demand for more comments on anyone's reviews... more a reflection on why things exist the way they do. People don't interact with user reviewers. That's just how it is. I'm don't interact with them. My comments rarely venture outside blogs. I probably haven't ever given feedback to someone else's review. What is there to say?

For the record, Bastion had great graphics.

Another problem is that user reviews aren't always good (For the record, this criticism applies to myself as well. My reviews are hardly paragons of professionalism). We've all seen reviews like this one. Nothing screams "don't read me" like someone who begins their review with "although i have never played it". That makes user reviews as a whole look bad.

The biggest reason for the abandonment of the section, though, is that user reviews pale in comparison to official GI opinion. Game Informer editors write lively and unbiased reviews of the quality you'd expect from a national magazine. How do you compete with people who get paid to do this for a living?

All these roads lead to the silence that has settled over the user review section. People don't interact over there. It makes reviewing games less enjoyable. Writing without feedback is no fun. Improvement is nigh impossible without another's critical eye. Working without comments feels... discouraging.

So, to counter all those reviews, here's a discussion question for you. Do you write game reviews? If so, why? Do you get much feedback? Along those lines, do you ever read user reviews?

Personally speaking, I write reviews but rarely read them. The official GI review is my go-to source over user reviews. It's a matter of trust, really. I trust Game Informer more than anonymous users on the internet. Not to say that some people don't put out excellent reviews. It's just they don't have the regularity of GI.

How's that for irony? Writing reviews is fun, but reading them isn't. Maybe that's narcissistic. I don't know.

What do you think about user reviews?

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