What a Reviewer’s job is Not

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Published by Jim Sterling 7 years ago , last updated 1 month ago

(This is another edition of , 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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