Why reviews should never, ever be objective

Digitally Downloaded writes: "There's this idea among a certain part of the community that a game review should be entirely objective, and that a game critic is not there to analyse, but rather state nothing but facts when writing about a game. I believe this to be nonsense, and I base that belief on my educational background in art criticism, my years of experience as a professional journalist and writer, and the very definition and purpose of criticism."

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admiralvic1193d ago

I think the author is taking the statement "reviews should be objective" way too literally when I believe most people just mean that the review shouldn't be overly subjective. This is an important distinction because sometimes games get unfairly criticized. WARNING! This is my standard Spelunker rant, so don't keep reading if you've heard it or don't care about my love of this game.

One game I always felt got an unfair shake was Minna de Spelunker or Spelunker HD in the West. This amazing title has a pathetic 56 on Metacritic, with a fair number of inaccuracies in the various excerpts. Heck, lets look at a few of the reviews.

PlayStation Magazine said it had bad game design, which is objectively untrue. What is true is that the game design to be challenging (some parts require near pixel perfect moves to do correctly) and is completely possible to beat if you know how to time things out. A great example of this can be seen here ( ) and mind you this segment is harder than anything the reviewer saw.

Gaming Nexus and Eurogamer both have interesting reviews on the game. Mostly because they start to hit the point where they're being more subjective than anything else with little to no regard to being objective, the target market or what matters to people outside of their bubble. These are all important factors as how many people failed the first level of Demon or Dark Souls because you were doing it wrong? Now how many people that beat the first level of Demon or Dark Souls would agree with a review where I spent a number of paragraphs rambling on about how the game is cheap, you have no options, the controls are crap and it's simply unenjoyable to play, leading to score like 2/10?

This is one of the problems with using a completely subjective or at least largely subjective approach. Instead of critically analyzing what the game was going or at least distinguishing the difference between being bad at the game and the game being bad, a multitude of problems are addressed, even though a fair amount of them come from simple misunderstandings or the reviewer being at fault. This is one reason why I love to use Spelunker as my example, since it's such a stark contrast to the Souls series, even though they're both esoteric games that require a bit of trial / error and skill to master.

Anyway, thats what I believe people typically mean when they use the term. Instead of writing the review for the reviewer, people want a more critical analysis that moves past petty feelings and tries to give the game a fair shake.

MattS1192d ago (Edited 1192d ago )

A game critic can be as subjective as he or she can support through informed debate and defensible argument. This is what I meant when I wrote this article.

If you have an issue with a game review it's not because it was "biased" or "subjective" or whatever word you want to use. It was because you don't agree with the thesis and argument. Now perhaps the critic didn't do a good job defending their argument. Perhaps you simply don't agree or care to listen. Whatever, it's irrelevant. The problem isn't whether it's objective or subjective, the problem is simply that you and the critic don't agree.

When you like a game review, conversely, it's not because the critic has been "objective" or "unbiased," or whatever. It's because the critic has written an opinion you like or agree with. Or alternatively he or she has argued his or her point of view strongly enough that you can agree to disagree with it. It's still completely and utterly subjective.

Perhaps if the entire community (critics and consumers alike) was more precise about the words they used and more accurate in their arguments, we wouldn't have nearly as many problems.

Game reviews are subjective and should always be subjective. When they're "bad", they're simply not *defensible*. Different words, entirely different meanings.