On the Rejection of Writing Formal Game Reviews

Being a magnanimous business owner (of videolamer Corporate Consolidated Holdings LLC), I allowed Editor in Chief Pat to take a week off for vacation with his family on the condition he return with a Panzer Dragoon Saga write-up. This means that there is no one here to make my writing less bad or to talk me out of posting short, pointless, half-formed thoughts. So enjoy this one while you can.

In this site’s first run from 2005-2011ish I reviewed some games. Being in my 20s, I didn’t put much thought into my qualifications – I had a keyboard, a poorly reasoned and loud opinion, and an internet. All the pieces were there for insightful critique, as far as I could tell. The game industry was also smaller in those days and it was possible for a single person to comprehend huge chunks of context, history, game design lineage, developer and studio formation and attrition, and so on. So I had the confidence of youth and actually knew a pretty good amount about video games and the industry. Reviews came easy.

Today, I have a closet full of games but a garage full of self-doubt. I have yet to write a proper review since our return, whatever that even means (layers upon layers of doubt) because I don’t think I am qualified. There are too many games, too many genres, and too many platforms. And so many decades of games. How could one person have enough context to render judgment on a specific game? Besides Chris and Christian, of course, they know what they’re talking about.

A rare inside look at the preparation of an objective video game review.

It’s just as well, as I have always dismissed the idea of objectivity in criticism. And who needs to read a review when they can read seemingly random personal feelings from some guy they don’t know? I think it’s called new games journalism when performed by someone with talent. Please be excited by my ongoing commitment to bring you subjective opinions on video games and long (though short compared to real new games journalism standards) posts on my life that have very little overlap with video games but will continue to be posted here as I lack a personal blog.

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2 years ago

The thing is, most of the people that do write reviews aren’t any more qualified. So don’t worry!

As for objectivity, I decided long time ago that there is no such thing when it comes to reviewing games. The really, truly objective things one can write about a video game are things like:

* The name
* The platforms it’s on
* The release date
* Who made it

… stuff like that. Anyone who whines about wanting game reviews to be “more objective”, or wants to claim that Game X is “objectively good”, or whatever, is a f*#ing idiot, because clearly they’re not interested in any of the above.

That, or they’re someone going through a severe mental crisis, and feel the need to convince others that somehow their personal reality is the closest thing to an objective one. AKA “I’m a straight white male “core” gamer, and anything or anyone that deviates from what I like and/or think is good must be wrong”.

2 years ago
Reply to  jay

That’s exactly one of the things I was thinking about.