I was reading the March issue of Game Informer for the Reader Recap (oops, is that a spoiler?) and saw the letters complaining about review scores. To me, those two letters seemed tongue-in-cheek, though maybe they were serious? I don't know. Anyway, the editors' response was that they are still receiving letters about their review scores, even after the whole Dark Souls reader debacle.

Really, people? Is this still a controversy? Especially after I revealed the *real* conspiracy behind Game Informer reviews?

I can't believe we're still talking about this subject, but the idiots out there keep bringing it up.

(Thanks to The Extraordinary Team blog)

Seriously, folks. This subject has not only been beaten to death, but the horse has zombified, had a bullet put through its head, and is still alive.

What is it with people? Do they have the rational thinking ability of an amoeba? ("Hmmmm, I think I'll split and procreate today." Which is also something that Charlie Sheen might say)

Reviews are, by definition, opinions. They may not be of the same opinion as you. You know what? THAT'S OKAY! The world is better when people have different opinions on things. It makes things interesting. It makes it so there can be actual discussion, debate, or...ok, open warfare too. But that's just the extreme.

Without different opinions, what would the world be like?

(Scene: Standing at the water cooler at work, two guys avoiding work)

Guy #1: "I think that song "Friday" that was all the hit on Youtube is really cool."

Guy #2: "I agree. I really enjoyed it."

Guy #1: "You know what? I think we should have more people shoot videos of themselves in their underpants playing guitar badly and singing so shrilly that my cat's head exploded."

Guy #2: You know what? You're right! I totally agree!"

How boring would that be?

One thing that I think has been totally lost in our society is exactly what a review should be, and how it should be read. A review should be well-written enough so that, even if the reviewer gave the game/book/movie a bad review, a reader should be able to glean from the review whether or not *they* would like it. It should tell exactly why you're giving it the rating you are giving it. The reader should be able to say "I don't agree with that rating, but I can certainly see from his/her review why he/she gave it that rating." And then realize that even though the reviewer may not have liked it, that doesn't mean the reader won't. 

Sometimes I wish that reviews didn't have to have scores, though I realize it's almost expected now (I think the Indie & Mojo show a few eps back talked about this topic, almost inspiring a blog except I was in a writing funk at that time, and they mentioned that a couple of sites don't give scores, or didn't). Sites like Metacritic can be good, because they are giving an average review ranking, and many voices are a better indicator than just one. However, they are not a perfect indicator, especially when the number of reviews used is still small (I think Rotten Tomatos uses a pretty sizable review base for its movie ratings).

You know what saddens me most, though? And I think (or I've heard rumours, anyway) that game companies are just as bad as the general idiotic public, tying bonuses to higher review scores.

The "grade inflation" of games. It's a problem in Higher Education, but it shouldn't be a problem in game reviews. But it is. Except in the other direction.

The average grade in a college course used to be 75%. Nowadays, the average is up in the 80s, and for some courses even higher. (I'm pulling these stats out of my ass, but the concept is true. Average grades have skyrocketed in the last 10-20 years)

In game reviews, we're coming at it from a different angle. The reviewers themselves aren't artificially inflating game scores. But the expectation of scores has moved higher. An "8" used to be considered a great game. Not outstanding, not perfect, but still very highly recommended.

Now? An 8 is the bottom end of the scale. If a game gets an 8, it's been panned mercilessly. The reviewer obviously hated it, just this side of despising it to the point of the reviewer wanting his/her money back.

An 8.5? Barely acceptable. It's not too horrible, but it's way down there.

Don't get me started on 8.75.

Jaime, in the latest Game Informer, complained that a game got a 9.5, saying it was TOO LOW. (Yes, I realize that, above, I said these letters may be tongue in cheek...I seriously hope so).

What have we become, where we have these kinds of expectations?

It's bad enough that people have these expectations. It's even worse when they spin these weird conspiracy theories to justify their disagreement with the review score. How out to lunch is that? Are we going to hell in a handbasket?

That being said, seriously Kollar? Only an 8.0 for Kingdoms of Amalur? The rival game company must have gotten to you first.