Critiquing Games without Critical Thinking

Hardcore Truth

Lots of people think “7” means average. So, if you took a test in school and got a “C”, that would be somewhere in the “7-7.9 or 70-79%” range. Since schools have wired people to think “7/10” is average, that’s what they believe. But here’s the thing: Schools actually use a 0-4 scale, where 0 = “Fail”, 1 = “D”, 2 = “C”, 3 = “B” and 4 = “A”. Teachers even use that in their 1-10 scales because anything under 50% basically doesn’t matter (essentially making it a zero). So their range is actually 5-10. If we convert this over to a 10-point system, a C is actually about 4-5, NOT 7.

Then we have the “full range reviewers” as I like to call them – where they typically have 0-10 or 1-10 and it is ~5 or ~6 that is average. Those are halfway between the lowest and highest scores. So now you have one group that says “5” is average if we’re truly using the entire value range and then we have others who say “average quality” is actually ~2 points higher than that. This is what screws up scoring systems.

There’s a “public perception” thing that keeps the “7 out of 10 is average” mindset alive and kicking, even if it makes no sense. Yes, if you award every “average quality” game a 7 because that’s what you believe is average, numerically the average of your scores will average out to ~7. But all you did was purposefully skew the data to make its ay what you want. One could just as easily use the Game Informer system, where a “7” to them is actually an 8.5 or 9.0 (they hand those out like crazy).

You can make “average” be whatever you want, but in all honesty, on a 10 point system, it’s dead in the middle.

Critical Thinking:

As I get older, I look at games with a more critical eye. My money may be more abundant, but my time isn’t. So a great investment for me is my time and energy, rather than cash. As a result, I don’t want to play crappy games. I could fall in love with a game world (like in Skyrim) and then be horribly let down by its storytelling/ending or lack thereof. In other games like Alan Wake, I could get hooked to its characters, world, music, voice acting and story and love every second of it. Or, I could play a game like Mario Party and wish I was aborted as a fetus so that I never had to experience such cruel torture later in life.

But a lot (if not most “professional”) reviewers do not act like this. Their reviews are simply press releases, listing off gameplay modes and what you can do in a game. It’s sad to see some reviews so lacking in content you could get the same info from the back of the game box. Thinking critically about games also opens up games for criticism and, unfortunately, a lot of reviewers and sites and magazines do reviews in an ass backwards fashion – they assign a score for the game FIRST, and THEN write a review to make the score there.

Look at all the crazy love for GTA IV – people acting like it was the best game evar. Same thing happened with Metal Gear Solid 4 that same year. Giving those games anything but unanimous praise was heresy and alienated tons of readers. But if you went back to those same reviewers/sites/mags a year or so later, they were bitching about the games’ flaws just like everyone else.

I see most game reviewers as “little chicken shits” that are too afraid to speak their minds.

While I love people like Yahtzee for absolutely gutting games (what is being a critic about if you never criticize anything!?!), even they aren’t immune to hypocrisy. In his quest to review lots of big names quickly so he can cash in on timely page views, he pulls out assy reviews like that of Monster Hunter Tri, where any person who played the game knows he spent at max maybe 2 hours playing it. Really Yahtzee? 2 hours of playtime and that makes you credible in terms of reviewing that particular game?

I typically get the best opinions on games from very obscure blogs, stuff like Amazon reviews, no-name Youtube reviews and random articles from the web. Very rarely do major sites appeal to me for reviews, because they are too afraid to criticize anything. Everyone’s gotta be so politically correct with critiquing games.

Posted by ScottCarmichael, a redditor. He has his own gaming blog @

No comments yet.

Leave a Reply