A Rumination on Pseudo Objective Review Discourses

The babby fauxkok, hard at play, blissfully unaware ... ...

After a lifetime of dealing with people you would have thought I’d inured myself to the occasionally baffling concepts they are sometimes wont to throw up, but no. Several weeks ago I linked on my Facebook wall an editorial that I thought to be a fairly decent critique of Fable III, only to have Lusipurr.com’s own NATE LILES suggest that the argument was void due to the fact that the author had used the word ‘retarded‘ to describe one of Fable III’s many mongloid features. I must admit to some initial surprise, this is after all Fable III we are talking about, yet on reflection I was forced to concede that this line of argument constitutes a fairly widespread mindset, predominant among all walks of gamerhood; I refer of course to TEH BIAS.

This is the notion that anyone upfront enough to submit a firm opinion on a game, and then argue that point passionately and incisively with the occasional passage of colourful language, is somehow an inherently untrustworthy authority on gaming. Thus you have people dismissing out of hand the legitimate criticisms of reviewers like Yahtzee, Jim Sterling and indeed the author of that Fable III critique, as though having an opinion about something can somehow invalidate the point they are trying to make.

LUSIPURR.COM PROTIP: just because a reviewer hides their personal bias ‘neath a superficial facade of impartial language, doesn’t mean that they do not have one, it simply means that they do not have the confidence in their own judgment to be able to assert it. Is it really more accurate and useful to exclusively read reviews written by journalists who lack sufficient intellectual courage to take ownership of a well argued partisan opinion? Is it really the case that someone is inherently untrustworthy for asserting their position in no uncertain terms? It seems to me that it would be easier to discern the extent to which a review meets my needs if the reviewer is open about the stance they are taking, rather than burying it beneath reams of inane waffle. Instead individuals brave enough to go against the grain of the sycophantic herd are branded as unprofessional review trolls for not buying into the vacuous INDUSTRY back-scratching BS that passes for game journalism at present.

... ... Of danger lurking near by. Enter Peter "fingers" Molyneux. Watch out babby Fauxkok ... ...

There seems to be a pervasive school of thought festering within the heart of INDUSTRY reporting that if everyone awards a perfect score to the newest Call of Duty game, and then you in turn score the game as anything less than 9/10, then that makes you a bad reviewer. The blissful zombies in this conga-line of retardation will not look kindly on anyone who forces them to confront the fact that they’ve been pressured or passively led into heaping praise upon yet another insipid porridge of a game, thus shattering the illusion. Yet this is the only chance there is of breaking their dozy stupor. Call of Duty is not objectively awesome, it is objectively adequate (more or less), and the only reason that we do not see a fuller picture of gamers many varied responses to the title, is because most gaming journalists are either too frightened or too easily led for them to be able to have their own unique opinion on the game.

Perhaps this is why a film critic like Roger Ebert is unable to take gaming seriously? If the surrounding literature is penned by sheep, then what could this possibly say about the product? The vast majority of film critics certainly could not be accused of intellectual cowardice. They do not look to pander to studios or their peers for fear of bringing to the attention of the common herd, the fact that they are people with ideas and opinions about things. If one were to look at a selection of this year’s most critically well received films, then they could bank on the certainty that each and every one of them would have a uniformly lower review aggregate than their gaming counterparts. It would seem that it is possible to have a dissenting opinion in the field of film journalism without the arse falling out of the world in a maelstrom of angst, bile and bullshit of butthurt fanboys who feel vicariously slighted at having their favourite franchise deemed to be as worthless and banal as they are themselves. So yes, given the inherent lack of maturity among gaming journalism and gamers in general, I can see how Roger Ebert and his ilk might come to view Video Games as children’s fancies, and not something deserving of respect.

... ... Our warning comes too late!

Thus we gamers find ourselves in a toilet of a debased fanboy culture, built around the copy/pasted inane platitudes of people too frightened to have opinions, who are not only able to get away with penning this intellectually bankrupt dross, but are also able to convince the general population of gamers that doing so is a virtue! Gamers are not interested in reading incisive critiques of video games, they just want a review which will validate the scaffold of unreasonable expectations they have constructed atop the foundations of a forthcoming franchise game. Should a reviewer stick his neck out by virtue of having an original thought, gamers will attempt to paint their criticism as void, due to some of the most arbitrary and arcane reasoning made this side of religious fundamentalism.

And so I put it to you dear readers; should the judgement of a reviewer really be considered unsound if they openly express their personal stance on a game? Or is it better for a “good” review to contain the inherent variation and personality of a Big Mac?

"Fly my pretties, to the Chateau du Molyneux!" *fap, fap, fap, fap, fap*

12 Comments

  1. Lusipurr
    Posted 2010.11.16 at 12:12 | Permalink

    This may be one of my favourite posts ever.

    Whilst a wholesale rubbishing of the state of game journalism at large is being made (and a pretty good rubbishing, at that) a second thread of discourse is at work in the pictures and captions, which are themselves a sort of metaphor for the nature of the relationship that now exists between journalists and developers.

    Bravo.

  2. SiliconNooB
    Posted 2010.11.16 at 13:51 | Permalink

    I went meta with this one. :)

  3. evilpaul
    Posted 2010.11.16 at 18:38 | Permalink

    I had to check, and there’s even alt text on the pictures. Brilliant! lol

    The big names in english language games journalism seems to be basically emulating what they cry foul over Famitsu doing. Which is just awarding a game the score they know their readers want it to get. Is the new Kingdom Hearts game rubbish? Who cares! It’ll sell five million copies and the readers want their love for the series validated by 35/40 (or whatever). Aside from their use as a touchingly pathetic emotional crutch for those in need of such things I have no use for such outlets. Well, I guess their screenshots/gameplay/trailer videos are OK. I’m not sure how anyone can take a website seriously that’s fired a wroter for giving a negative review to a game.

    I also appreciate the over the top hilarious trashing of bad games by Yahtzee, Spoony, and various other people. TGWTG also has more serious video reviewers who I’ll take seriously. When I see reviews here I know it’s an honest opinion and not kissing game publisher ass for junkets.

    As far as franchises go I used to be a fan of quite a few (*cough*anything Squaresoft*cough*), but there’s few left that I can refrain from openly ridiculing. I’ve mostly liked the SMT games from Atlus recently. Nothing else is coming to mind. Meh.

  4. Lusipurr
    Posted 2010.11.16 at 18:45 | Permalink

    Serious game journalism is dying.

    But that seems appropriate. Serious gaming is dying.

    I foresee a future of Farmville and Fawning.

  5. SiliconNooB
    Posted 2010.11.16 at 18:50 | Permalink

    Edge actually give some fairly tough reviews, and I don’t mind Destructoid. Cat Fancy are often hard markers as well, though I think my sensibilities are too far removed from most of their reviewers for the reviews to mean much to me.

    Basically you just want to look for any review site which uses the full marking scale, when appropriate. For all my enjoyment of reading RPGFan, they only seem to use three points of their ten-point scale … that speaks volumes to their judgement.

  6. Lane
    Posted 2010.11.17 at 00:30 | Permalink

    Numbers systems are the problem. They give an expectation of some sort of quantifiable criteria. It’s not; games are subjective, but we can (mostly) all agree that there are some things that just plain suck: graphical glitches, tearing, sound mix-ups, sound cutting out, repetitive, boring gameplay, etc.

    Then again, gamers are geeks, and the geek social fallacies are in full effect. Goring a gamer’s sacred cow, whether justified or unjustified, always results in petty tribalism.

  7. Kenjujuu
    Posted 2010.11.21 at 13:13 | Permalink

    Replying a week late – on Oliver Motok time once again!
    To be honest, I do like reviews to have some objectivity. I don’t think they should lack the reviewer’s own personal insight, but sometimes that can really effect your opinion of a game you would otherwise like – and even vice versa (I’m sure had Lusipurr said Sims 3 was amazing, instead of just me and Ginia, the whole site would play it.) That’s why I think NATE LILES’ reviews are ideal – they tell you exactly what you’ll be getting, so you don’t have to rifle through all the nerd rage or fangasms.

  8. SiliconNooB
    Posted 2010.11.21 at 14:14 | Permalink

    I would argue that there is no such thing as objectivity, not in a field as subjective as gaming anyway. The most a review can hope describe is how a particular game meets the reviewers expectations. If you only want a game description you may as well just read Wikipaedia.

  9. SiliconNooB
    Posted 2010.11.21 at 15:14 | Permalink

    Also, I don’t think you need to worry about Lusi endorsing the Sims, and even less for the rest of the site following his advice … though I could totally see Ginia following his recommendations. :D

  10. Kenjujuu
    Posted 2010.11.21 at 16:08 | Permalink

    There might be no such thing as objectivity, but we should still strive towards it, right? And just so you know, one day us Sims players will own the world. Because that will be the Sims 4.

  11. SiliconNooB
    Posted 2010.11.21 at 21:59 | Permalink

    Not particularly. It can be done, but this is what it looks like:

    http://www.destructoid.com/100-objective-review-final-fantasy-xiii-179178.phtml

    Every contention must be backed with reasoned argument, but ultimately everything comes back to opinion, because NO gamer quantifies their enjoyment of a title using objective measures. That is a profligate misconception used to tear down people with dissenting views.

  12. Kenjujuu
    Posted 2010.11.22 at 16:09 | Permalink

    Quote from article “You can save the game if you want sometimes.”

    Point taken.