Whilst perusing the internets for gaming content; I came across and absorbed one review video for Forza 5 from Adam Sessler, and one written review for Resogun. Both reviews gave these games a 5 out of 5 score, and the biggest reason for this (for both games) was due to how much fun the reviewer had with the game.
In the case of Forza 5 in particular, Adam Sessler never reviewed a racing title before due to the nature of needing to constantly replay the game in order to get the most out of the experience. You could clearly see however that his score for the game was reflected purely on how much he enjoyed the game, moreso than any other factor.
Adam's review of Forza 5, or more accurately his score of it, was met by gamers challenging it. The typical reason for disagreeing and challenging his score was due to the fact that Forza 5, in terms of overall content, has the least amount of content in the entire Forza series. It has the least amount of cars, tracks, visual effects such as day/night driving or weather changes are gone, the game releases incomplete and even has a mode where it can effectively play itself. None of these issues were touched upon in the review in the way these people wanted them to be touched upon.
We then look at Resogun, which has been receiving its own share of 5/5, or 10/10 scores and widespread praise. The general opinion is that it's oldschool shootemup fun and the fact that it's highly addictive means you'll play it over and over and just lose yourself in it, whilst reveling in its beautiful colours and effects. This is something I can personally attest to, as it is the game I've played the most on my PS4 thus far.
Resogun reviews have been met with their own challenges however, such as "this game is only 2 hours long?" or "there's only 5 levels" and some claiming that the scores are reflective of the fact that it's free with PS+ rather than being a good game.
Taking this even further, but in the opposite direction, we look at Knack. A game that's been tanking in professional reviews, but spoken fondly of by many in the general public and on Youtube. Reviews say Knack's story is lacking, the voice overs are poor, and the game is "too hard" for being a game marketed towards "children." When we look at how average people are talking about Knack, you have people saying "this takes me back to the good ol' platformer days of Crash Bandicoot" or "I don't understand how this game is scoring so low, I'm having a blast with it."
From all of these reviews and testimonies, we can clearly see 3 things. The first is that the professional game review scene is completely disconnected from the larger gaming audience. This is actually puzzling since reviewers are supposed to be gamers but they often don't sound like they play games for enjoyment at all. I suppose that that's just a by-product of having a job that looks like so much fun, but in actuality is nothing like you imagined it would be.
The second is that gamers have been spoiled by in-depth analyses of games, and lofty expectations that were fed to us by larger gaming studios and the business of gaming in general. These days having mindless fun with a short game is practically not allowed. You're supposed to expect games with a minimum length of 20 hours with the best possible graphics, a perfect story, flawless characters, and emotional voice overs. This is exacerbated by the gaming media as well with their inconsistent expectations for what makes or breaks a game. I'm sure we all have stories about one game being marked down for X reason while another game gets a pass for the exact same problem.
The final thing we can see is that fun can't be measured or scored. Fun is the most subjective aspect in gaming. A million people could absolutely hate a game, and you love it. The reverse is also true. Just because fun can't be measured, is no reason to make sarcastic quips about scoring a game the highest you can because you had so much fun with it. A two hour game with 5 levels may not be fun to you, but you are not the ruler by which fun is measured for everyone.
The problem with gaming today is expectations. From all sides, expectations are what will destroy gaming. We've lost that childlike ability to just pick up any game and have fun with it, not caring about the graphics or the story, or whatever. This is why the indie scene is so desperately needed. It takes us back to that moment when we were kids and were first introduced to video games. All we cared about was that we were controlling something on the screen. 1080p didn't matter, a spot on voice over didn't matter. Hell, Tetris is one of the most successful games in the world and all it is is placing blocks in order to make lines. If Tetris were released today, it would have to be a free game or else it would be blasted to hell and back.
It's fine to love seeing how far games can go, to see how epic they can get, but we have to manage our expectations or that very thing will be the end of gaming. We need to reclaim fun, and be able to be ok with games that are mindlessly addictive fun without dissecting them down to the last pixel and complaining that the story isn't Shakespearean, the graphics aren't photo-realistic, the music isn't a symphony orchestra, and the voice acting isn't Morgan Freeman.
Fun can't be measured, but fun should be the main aspect of any review.