What a Reviewer’s job is Not


(This is another edition of </RANT>, a weekly opinion piece column on GameFront. Check back every week for more. The opinions expressed are those of the author, and do not reflect those of GameFront.)

It is not a reviewer’s job to boost the Metacritic scoring average of your favorite game. It has never been, nor ever will be, the reviewer’s job to do that. You’d think that was a rather obvious statement, but I’ve seen enough forum threads where gamers agonize over what a new review score will do to a game’s Metacritic ranking to know that it’s still arcane and uncharted knowledge to some people. Speaking of Uncharted, it was not Eurogamer’s job to give it a good score. Threads on NeoGAF may call the outlet irresponsible and unprofessional for its 8/10 review, but that’s only if Eurogamer’s job was to ensure Uncharted got a 90+ Metacritic average. Once more for the dullards at the back of the class — it is NOT Eurogamer’s job to do that.

Same goes for those who posted in this thread and practically demanded high scores from outlets to ensure the average rating for Sonic Generations stayed high. Those who acted almost betrayed by anybody who dared give Sonic Generations anything below an 8.0 — even pre-emptively preparing to attack reviewers who displeased them. It is the job of no reviewer to please you. It is the task of no game writer to tell you only what you want to know. By all means, wring your hands over a game’s review scores if that’s so important to you, but don’t act like a reviewer let you down if he doesn’t agree with you. Unless he explicitly promised to score the game whatever you wanted it to score, he did not betray your trust. He did not fail at his job. If the opinion was an honest description of the game and the reviewer’s thoughts, then the job was completed in its entirety. You don’t really have justification to demand a higher score. That’s not your call to make, and it’s nobody’s job to supply the scores on demand, according to an audience’s direct specifications.

Over the years, I’ve seen comments from gamers all over the Internet concerning the “rescue” of a Metacritic average. I’ve seen people whine and berate a reviewer for “dropping” an average by a point or two, like it was their duty to maintain the status quo, to ensure that a game continues to get high scores for no other reason than popularity. It should offend anybody with a brain to think that such deceit is encouraged and actually craved by a significant portion of a writer’s audience — that people would rather be lied to by a reviewer than listen to their honest opinion. That’s what they want, ultimately — if a writer didn’t like a game, it is apparently his job to lie about that, in order to placate the masses and give them only want they want rather than a personal appraisal.

At that point, what does a reviewer become? An extension of the back of a game box? A press release? Is that what people really want, a review that could have been hand-typed by the publisher itself and mailed out for outlets to regurgitate? Self-appointed “game journalism” watchdogs complain about how bloggers copy and paste press releases, but if all readers want from reviews is identical praise across the board, then I think we as a community waived the right to ever complain about so-called journalists being little more than hype merchants and PR extensions.

This goes both ways. Complaining about scores AND thanking reviewers for scores. They’re both equally entitled attitudes, really. If you thank a reviewer for giving a game the score you wanted, you’re still acting like he was employed only to confirm your own opinion, rather than share his own. You’re still misunderstanding what a review is actually supposed to be, so please don’t do that. Please “get” that a review isn’t about validating you.

When you post something like, “I can’t believe those mutherf**kers had the nerve to give Uncharted 3 an 8,” you are basically saying that the reviewer’s appointed task was not to actually review the game, but to rig its score in order to keep fans happy. Last I checked, that’s not what actual criticism is supposed to be. A reviewer’s job is not to make you happy. It’s not to make you feel secure about whatever collector’s edition you pre-ordered or make sure that the developers get nice fat bonuses on top of their paychecks. If you think I am just repeating the same argument over and over again, you’d be right — because it apparently needs to be repeated a thousand f**king times in order for some of you dipshits to actually get it.

So again – It is not a reviewer’s job to boost the Metacritic scoring average of your favorite game. It is not a reviewer’s job to boost the Metacritic scoring average of your favorite game. It is not a reviewer’s job to boost the Metacritic scoring average of your favorite game. It is not a reviewer’s job to boost the Metacritic scoring average of your favorite game. It is not a reviewer’s job to boost the Metacritic scoring average of your favorite game. It is not a reviewer’s job to boost the Metacritic scoring average of your favorite game. It is not a reviewer’s job to boost the Metacritic scoring average of your favorite game. It is not a reviewer’s job to boost the Metacritic scoring average of your favorite game. It is not a reviewer’s job to boost the Metacritic scoring average of your favorite game. It is not a reviewer’s job to boost the Metacritic scoring average of your favorite game. It is not a reviewer’s job to boost the Metacritic scoring average of your favorite game. It is not a reviewer’s job to boost the Metacritic scoring average of your favorite game. It is not a reviewer’s job to boost the Metacritic scoring average of your favorite game. It is not a reviewer’s job to boost the Metacritic scoring average of your favorite game. It is not a reviewer’s job to boost the Metacritic scoring average of your favorite game. It is not a reviewer’s job to boost the Metacritic scoring average of your favorite game. It is not a reviewer’s job to boost the Metacritic scoring average of your favorite game. It is not a reviewer’s job to boost the Metacritic scoring average of your favorite game. It is not a reviewer’s job to boost the Metacritic scoring average of your favorite game. It is not a reviewer’s job to boost the Metacritic scoring average of your favorite game. It is not a reviewer’s job to boost the Metacritic scoring average of your favorite game. It is not a reviewer’s job to boost the Metacritic scoring average of your favorite game. It is not a reviewer’s job to boost the Metacritic scoring average of your favorite game. It is not a reviewer’s job to boost the Metacritic scoring average of your favorite game. It is not a reviewer’s job to boost the Metacritic scoring average of your favorite game. It is not a reviewer’s job to boost the Metacritic scoring average of your favorite game. It is not a reviewer’s job to boost the Metacritic scoring average of your favorite game. It is not a reviewer’s job to boost the Metacritic scoring average of your favorite game. It is not a reviewer’s job to boost the Metacritic scoring average of your favorite game. It is not a reviewer’s job to boost the Metacritic scoring average of your favorite game. It is not a reviewer’s job to boost the Metacritic scoring average of your favorite game. It is not a reviewer’s job to boost the Metacritic scoring average of your favorite game. It is not a reviewer’s job to boost the Metacritic scoring average of your favorite game. It is not a reviewer’s job to boost the Metacritic scoring average of your favorite game. It is not a reviewer’s job to boost the Metacritic scoring average of your favorite game. It is not a reviewer’s job to boost the Metacritic scoring average of your favorite game. It is not a reviewer’s job to boost the Metacritic scoring average of your favorite game. It is not a reviewer’s job to boost the Metacritic scoring average of your favorite game. It is not a reviewer’s job to boost the Metacritic scoring average of your favorite game. It is not a reviewer’s job to boost the Metacritic scoring average of your favorite game. It is not a reviewer’s job to boost the Metacritic scoring average of your favorite game. It is not a reviewer’s job to boost the Metacritic scoring average of your favorite game. It is not a reviewer’s job to boost the Metacritic scoring average of your favorite game. It is not a reviewer’s job to boost the Metacritic scoring average of your favorite game. It is not a reviewer’s job to boost the Metacritic scoring average of your favorite game.

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29 Comments on What a Reviewer’s job is Not

SupremeAllah

On October 31, 2011 at 9:36 am

How come you s gave Rage a low score? How are people supposed to buy it with you people lowering the metacritic score?

Why don’t you do your jobs?

Nozyspy

On October 31, 2011 at 9:47 am

I mostly agree, for people to insist that reviewers give a game a high score simply to make it look good is a betrayal of the whole idea of the reviewers job and is plainly rediculous.

However there are times when one particular(maybe slightly opinionated or disgruntled) reviewers opinion bucks the trend and gives a bad score for what practically everyone else recognises as a brilliant game based soley on his own opinion rather than the merits of the game, that is when i think such a score can be very unfair. A reviewer can have an opinion and express it of course, but they should always approach a game in an unbiased a manner as they possibly can. To give a game a bad score simply because they do not like the subject manner or because they had a prior opinion of it is also a betrayal of what it means to be a reviewer!

Daniel Robert Campbell

On October 31, 2011 at 9:54 am

Great rant Jim. You inspire me at times. Recently I gave a 2 out of 5 to a game most reviewers are giving near perfect scores. I also game a fairly high review to a game most other reviewers hated. I was almost starting to feel bad for the reviews I give and then you came along to show me the way.

/sweaty fat man hug

Alarahs

On October 31, 2011 at 10:00 am

I agree.

It is the reviewer’s job to tell me their impressions of a game. Putting a number on that impression is…odd. But we all expect a “rating”. I learned to pay no attention to “ratings” years ago after reading a review that blasted a game to pieces and yet got a decent review (7.5 out of 10, if I recall correctly). It made no sense. The reviewer hated the game, yet he gave it a fairly good score.

Also, 1 bad review out of many has a miniscule affect on a statistically valid composite rating. It takes many bad ratings to affect a composite rating. If a game gets many bad ratings…it’s probably a bad game. Deal with it!

Aids

On October 31, 2011 at 10:10 am

This review isn’t 10/10? I’m not reading it less I only see good things

SquireZed

On October 31, 2011 at 10:10 am

I love this article, it’s so true about the way games are reviewed. Came from a good pedigree, but is exactly the same: 10/10! No one heard of this before release, new concept, creative, better than the other but no fanbase: 8/10. How does this happen?

MrRandom

On October 31, 2011 at 10:18 am

I like how the right part of the rant keeps repeating ” It is not a reviewer’s job to boost the Metacritic scoring average of your favorite game”

Alvarez

On October 31, 2011 at 10:22 am

@Nozyspy

Are you serious? Did you really say people need to be unbiased when reviewing games? If that’s the case, THEN WHY BOTHER HAVING A BUNCH OF PEOPLE REVIEW THE GAME. What’s the point of having multiple outlets review a game if not for that one specific reviewer’s biased opinion. My god man, that’s the whole idea behind reviews. You read a certain reviewer’s review because you’re interested in their bias opinion. If not then all scores would be robotic and uniform.

Blarty

On October 31, 2011 at 10:28 am

It is also, however, not a reviewers job to turn a review into an editorial who’s fundamental premise is based on the linearity of games….certainly they may create such an editorial and then refer to that within the review, but spending significant time lamenting the linearity of a game, when 99% of games are linear, (and that will include Skyrim,(side quests or not), is disingenuous as the review itself is written, and indeed scored, as a critique that is particular to that title……..

To be honest, the world would be a better place where it not for the despotism of Metacritic

derka

On October 31, 2011 at 10:28 am

Half Life 2 didn’t get a 10

If any other game gets a 10 then the reviewer is not doing their job.

Adult

On October 31, 2011 at 10:31 am

I can’t believe you get paid for writing this crap

Blarty

On October 31, 2011 at 10:31 am

Funny how it always happens to be Eurogamer though, isn’t it?

Chris

On October 31, 2011 at 10:38 am

I agree with Nozyspy, it’s not a “reviewer’s job to boost the Metacritic scoring” but there are times when they like to troll some games based on their biased preferences, that’s whats wrong.

Ongakujin

On October 31, 2011 at 11:08 am

While Chris may be right about reviewers trolling for page views by putting scores that differ from the norm, the only reason that this is effective is that fanboys will freak out that it isn’t the score they wanted and drive other people to the page. If people took reviews for what they should be, honest reports of the critic’s subjective opinion of the game, and if people considered each reviewer’s right to have his or her own opinion, then troll reviews would cease to be effective. Also, there would be fewer instances of honest reviews being accused of being attempts at trolling just because they put the “wrong” number at the end.

Personally, I think it’s far more common for reviewers to try to match the scores of other outlets even if their opinions differ than for reviewers to artificially lower a score to stir up trouble, but that’s not a fault of the raving fanboys, that’s the fault of the writers who try to appease them.

Jack

On October 31, 2011 at 11:23 am

Here’s one I read the other day that *really* bothered me.

“He’s supposed to be an unbiased reviewer! How can he be making videos like this, fascinating over a game?!”

Quit your job, Jim, because apparently the internet wants the banana to do it for you.

Ints

On October 31, 2011 at 11:30 am

Well I tend to think that review scores for BF3 were rigged. They were out before launch and most didn’t take the bugs into consideration. There are a ton of games that got their score reduced because of bugs. Why not BF3?

In general ppl like to whine they never stop. Why don’t they give it a try. Sounds like CliffyB’s idea has spread. That GOW3 should be reviewed only by GOW fans. Why? So the score is better?

I don’t buy games based on scores but what I see and read afterwards. Forums for example. If there are a lot of negative posts and ppl having crashes it means – wait for a patch. Patch comes out still not fixed? Next game please. Also no demo means no game for me. Again back to BF3 – didn’t buy because my experience with alpha/beta … wait .. albetha! Most of these problems disconnects/early deaths/animation glitches etc. STILL EXIST.

/rant over!/

Facts outpace opinions: always

On October 31, 2011 at 11:38 am

If anything, I would be horrified about myself for being employed to dull the minds of the descendants of my species for self-aggrandizement and profit.
But then again, I would have to have something for feeling the horror in the first place.

So it’s not that I couldn’t understand, it’s just that you are some weird creature and I am not.

Josef

On October 31, 2011 at 1:10 pm

I would high-five you through my monitor if I could.

GameSpot had the Kane & Lynch debacle which ended up with them firing a man who did his damn job.

EA just pulled this with BF3 – only review outlets who gave overwhelmingly favorable previews to the game were given review copies on schedule.

A game reviewer with any integrity is an endangered species today.

Ben

On October 31, 2011 at 1:40 pm

You hit the nail on the head with this one. At the same time, I find myself utterly depressed that these things even need to be said. The common attitude towards reviews and games reporting makes absolutely no sense to me either.

aseddon130

On October 31, 2011 at 1:42 pm

@1 They probably gave Rage a poor score because it was a crap game, once you look past the flashy (and damned impressive) visuals it was quite a dull game, no real story to speak of and it did nothing original, especially since it was hyped up to death. Plus the PC version is (was?) broken, the texture pop-in was bad on all three versions, i get that they gotta do cutbacks or tricks to keep the framerate up on the consoles, but the PC version should have been more customisable and shouldn’t need these ‘tricks’

Mark Burnham

On October 31, 2011 at 2:07 pm

@SupremeAllah For any who were confused, SupremeAllah’s comments were sarcastic.

At least I think so.

JosephPS3 Herman Cain 4 Pres

On October 31, 2011 at 2:29 pm

I’ve carefully read the article twice and so…..is it the reviewer’s job to boost the Metacritic average score of my favorite game?

Darkraidor

On October 31, 2011 at 4:04 pm

its my beleive that some people want to see high scores across the board because of the fanboy inside of them that wants the game to seem good.

Example: a battlefield player who hates COD and joins in the flamewar wants all reviews to be high for BF3 so that it seems better than COD.

G.A.R.B.A.G.E

On October 31, 2011 at 4:16 pm

WOW I can’t believe this mutherf**ker had the nerve to say that “It is not a reviewer’s job to boost the Metacritic scoring average of your favorite game.” TIMES INFINITY lol

No, really keep’em real! The good, the bad and the ugly. Praise where its needed for getting it right and criticism where its needed when they get it wrong, and all in the same review if its needed!

Garyn Dakari

On October 31, 2011 at 6:40 pm

@CHoedy: Chill out, dude.

SupremeAllah

On November 1, 2011 at 9:19 am

This whole ordeal reminds me of when Halo 3 came out.

Reviewers already knew they were going to be giving it 10′s across the board long before they had their hands on the game. That’s a fanboy mentality that has no place in this review business. People gave that Halo 3 perfect scores, despite it being initially an Xbox game that was ported to the 360, that didn’t even run in 720p fully, let alone 1080. And people were nutting in their pants over the graphics and all this other stuff, when in reality it was the 360 version of a regular Xbox based game. Things like this shouldn’t happen.

Though since someone else mentioned Rage, I probably would have given it a lower score. I personally enjoyed Rage, I thought it was fun to play. But graphically it should have been way better, especially for being ID’s Tech5. When you can’t tell too much of a difference between Tech4 and Tech5, you know ID ed up somewhere. That fact was further illustrated when we find that Carmack apparently wants to suck console penis rather than stroke the long dong of PC’s which is how he made his life what it is today. Rage felt incomplete as a game, but maybe that’s due to ID leaving out a bunch of content to try to sell as DLC down the road.

Either way, Rage was basically a letdown, and Duke Forever could have been as great as Duke 3d, and while it was also somewhat good in my eyes, it was a letdown. And the reviews showed it. However on the opposite side of the spectrum, Duke was a game that reviewers did the opposite on: They hated it before getting their hands on it.

Kristian

On November 2, 2011 at 8:25 am

I mostly find that many (Bioware, Bethesda)games get a way better score than they deserve. Many of these games have issues that doesn’t show in the final score, but other games (with less PR, money budget)will have their score lowered..

Falconer

On November 2, 2011 at 8:39 am

I’m not sure what the point of this article is. I’ve been reviewing games for over a decade and been part of the community for even longer. I’ve never seen any of the things mentioned here.

Nozyspy

On November 2, 2011 at 11:56 am

@ Alvarez – I read reviews for information, so i can make my own mind up on whether i like the sound of a game, not to have my mind made up by someone else. ;)

Nozy