Bladesfist (User)

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The issues with gaming journalism.

Bladesfist | 1111d ago
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I’m sure we all know that there is a problem with gaming journalism. Just looking at N4G you can see a load of top 5 lists and cheap titles designed to gain hits. Recently I started thinking about this. I tried to identify the problems of gaming journalism and why it was this way and I managed to break it down to a few reasons that I can break down into categories.

The first and probably biggest problem with gaming journalism is sensationalism. Journalists write articles that tell us that everything is wonderful with the biggest games. This is why game reviewers seem to only review games on a scale of 7-10 and try to not mention flaws in the game for fear of being labelled as nit-pickers or fan boys or some other ridiculous insult. This gets a lot worse when you are dealing with a huge game such as Call of Duty: Modern Warfare 3 or Battlefield 3, two games that I see massive flaws in however none of my concerns were raised by any sites and the games were given amazing amounts of praise and near perfect scores. However can we blame journalists for doing this, I don’t think so. We as the readers seem to get upset every time a less than perfect review comes out for a game we enjoy. A lot of people seem to want to bury their heads in the sand and pretend that everything is perfect. We look to these articles as a way of justifying our purchase and if it gets a perfect score it’s a perfect game. Sadly this is not the case and for things to improve we should give journalists a little room to believe and understand that are view on a game is not universal.

The second problem I identified was a lack of any standards. Every journalist rates their game out of a number of their choice. Is a 47 identical to a 4/10 or a 5/10? What is the difference between a game with a 47 or a 48? Which brings me onto my second issue with standards, some games are scored down for say a lack of innovation where as others are given a free pass. Can games really be judged by journalists that can’t even keep a little integrity between reviews? Do journalists need a template of some sort which allows them to break down a review into smaller topics such as innovation, art style, world design and gameplay?

This brings me onto game awards that are judged by the public. We turn everything into a publicity contest instead of judging the games themselves. The only games that are nominated for these awards seem to be high profile and the only games that win are normally the highest profile in there category. That pretty much sums up everything I wanted to say but I would love to hear what you guys think about the topic.

christheredhead  +   1111d ago
Reviews are very much sugar coated. Seems every one is scared to tell the truth for fear of backlash. Like you said, its the readers who ask for this sort of style. No one wants a site to rip apart a game or franchise they have personal attachment to. Even when they do, which is rarely, people quickly dismiss those opinions as "false", further feeding into the cycle. Everyone already has a preconvieved notion that should be met and anything other than that doesnt exsist.

For the most part, reviews lack depth. Its more obvious on the larger sites where two or three paragraphs of praise are enough to suffice. Honesty is the key and is also what is lacking.

Same goes for the score. What is truly the difference in one number from the other? Ideally there should be a sort of template, but anyone and everyone can write a review so you have very wild opinons across a wide range, which is good in a way. At least you can see the majority across a broad view. You do bring up a good point where one might adjust score for bugs and one might not. One might adjust score for certain mechanics and one might not.

The whole review implantation is so far beyond mangled and destroyed that there wont ever be a central meaning. Its pretty much a complex mix up of thoughts and opinions translated into numerical numbers to be sized against each other for the sake of justification. "My game is better than your game argument." Even though, 90% of the time a gamer has no idea why their game has the score it does. They just agree or disagree with the number. Mainly using the score for an already preconceived notion of clarification.

Great post though. Its one of those never ending, always debated topics.
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Paragon  +   1111d ago
Hm, interesting post!

Regarding the 'Gaming Journalist' around here... Getting site hits always seems like the main priority. Now I don't mind Video Game sites posting something popular... But usually (and from a few sites that keep popping up) it's ALL about the hits. For example, and I'm making this specific example up:

Article title: "Kevin Butler HATES the PS3!"

Article itself: "It seems the infamous PS3 spokesperson doesn't like the PS3 as much as you might think. In a recent Tweet, he said he was, 'Going to the mall to grab some awesome.' Shouldn't he be premoting Sony's Console or Handheld? Perhaps he'll be fired? Stay tuned for more info!"

Things like this are just stupid and overall misleading. And I remember reading an article a while back that was listing the "Top 5 worst genres" and basically named all the genres of games - and even those that get touched on a lot. I remember seeing 'Stealth games' on the list. I mean, stealth games? Really?

The reviews are... strange to say the least. They don't give us the faults of the game; for popular releases they usually just 'filter' all the bad stuff out and onto the review to preach to the masses - give particular people what they want to hear. And I hate how they give you a couple paragraphs... And not give you much about the game they're reviewing!

They lack depth. They lack... Well, truth and honesty. Sorry for the rant/ mashed up text. Early in the morning, and expressing some thoughts. XD

Good read though, I see what you mean.
Kthalas  +   1111d ago
I enjoyed reading your post. Having read it, I can take a little from it in an effort to improve my own review writing process. Namely the aspect of pointing out flaws. Or at least aspects that others might find to be flaws.

One thing about flaws and lack of innovation is that both fall under opinion for the most part. Sometimes a flaw may not be experienced by one reviewer or it may come very late in the game. Some reviewers may not get to it before their review has to be in. Such as Skyrim. I didn't get to the frame rate issues until about 80 hours into the game. Had I gotten to it long before that, I would have put that in the review. I could have changed my review, but by then, most of the people who would see it, already had.

Being a reviewer for a smaller site, I'm not in a position to review all the games out there. I have to buy my own games to review. I'm not likely to buy a game I'm not interested in, just to review it. I don't have the money to spare like that.

I'm also not a sports gamer. I don't like playing Football, Basketball, Baseball or Soccer. So any review on those would be far lower on my end, likely making a lot of fans mad.

By the same token, my preferred games also show my bias. I'm likely to forgive what I see to be a small thing than I would in a game that I don't like. It's hard to be objective.

However, I will try to keep that in mind as I write reviews and articles in the future. Thank you.
mynameisEvil  +   1111d ago
I used to write reviews fairly often last year for an assortment of smaller sites and I have to agree with you on this bias. We can try, but there's really not a single review that is unbiased. Hell, if every action a human takes has bias, reviews will.

So, people criticize reviewers such as ourselves for writing "biased" reviews, no matter the score, yet they can't show us ONE example of an unbiased review, article, etc.

I'm guilty of the "Hmm... I like this game and that was something small. Let's forget that ever happened!" thing. But, really, every reviewer is guilty of something like that...
wages of sin  +   1111d ago
The problem is there is no such thing as a games journalist.

Most of these people have never taken any type of journalism class. I'm wrapping up my BA in journalism now and there is a lot of stuff that you learn in actual study and practice (working in a newsroom really gives you an idea) that is obviously lacking in most coverage.

People have it backwards. I see myself as a journalist first, my beat is games. That's what I wanted to do so I went to school to learn it. That takes hard work, dedication and a lot of trial and error: something most aren't willing to do.
PixL  +   1110d ago
Enjoyable read: both the blog entry and comments below. I think making people aware of the current state of affairs in the industry is very important. I have no idea how it's in US but here I resort to buying printed gaming magazines. Because you pay for them, they have to take care of quality. I read the net for gaming news but I don't personally believe any online reviews from sites which rely on ads counters.

People should learn that their personal opinion as reviewers have no relation to others' reception of games nor have they any use for anybody besides the reviewer. What should be included in the review is the informative part: the game is that long (both single and multi), has those options (local coop, server browser, etc.), I've found such bugs (name them explicitly). I don't care if the reviewer likes the graphics or the story unless he's a person I know (which is very uncommon). Number scores are useless and mean nothing, just fuel stupid fanboy rants because fanboys cannot comprehend quality of games, just simple numbers.

Gaming industry would very much welcome some STANDARDS of reviewing games. I worked for PC magazines and reviewed software. They have such standards. Not to say they are all objective, but seeing a table of features neatly given in simple points helps you a lot to choose.
demophidian  +   1110d ago
Absolutely true man!!!!
Tuxedo_Mask  +   1110d ago
It seems like the lower profile games get beat up on more than the big blockbuster titles. Since not as many people care about a game like Arc Rise Fantasia reviewers can and do nitpick about it's flaws. Final Fantasy XIII on the other hand got a pass from a lot of reviewers. I own both games and I like them both, but I'm not blind enough (or deaf enough in Arc Rise Fantasia's case) to think that they don't have flaws, and I just wish "video game journalists" were more honest instead of pumping up their review for a bigger budget game.

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