Thursday, September 1, 2011

Game review scoring

I've got a few reviews under my belt, but I'm sure some of you have been baffled by the scores I assign. For example, I give Descent 2 a 7 and then recommend it and say I liked it. I also give Descent 3 an 8 when I gave Descent 1 a 9, yet mention enjoying Descent 3 more. Why are such things the case?

There are a few reasons, but I will start by addressing what I perceive to be a problem with the review system of today. It seems that the scoring scale isn't really 1-10, but rather 5-10. It's like saying, "I played the game with a score higher than eight, and I probably don't like the game with a score lower." People don't care if a game gets a 1 or a 5, they won't play either. Why don't we just rate games on a scale of 1-5 instead? We're already only really using five numbers.

I do things a bit differently. As an example, I give my favorite game, System Shock 2, a 9.5. I really like this game. I mean, it's the best I've ever played. So why doesn't it get a ten? Because in my book, 10 is a perfect score. A game that got a 10 would probably kill you because your mind would be unprepared for how awesome it was. On the other end of the scale, a 1 would probably make you suddenly spontaneously combust. Granted, this is still a slight exaggeration. I may at some point give some games a score like that.

The point is this, I give a game five or more if I would play it. I give it less if I wouldn't. This way I can indicate various levels of love or hate while still having the system balanced in the middle. Quite simple, is it not?

Another thing that may baffle you, is why I would give a game I enjoyed more a lower score than a game I enjoyed less. This doesn't occur very often, but it still may happen. The reason is that I don't rate a game based solely on how much fun I had playing it. I rate it based on how much fun I think everybody else would have playing it. That is, I take things like niche markets into account. If I love shooters but know everyone else hates them, it's probably going to end up affecting the score of the game by at least a little.

You can't see the effects of some of this stuff, mostly due to the fact that I've only been reviewing games I like. I'll try to pick a few games I genuinely hate and review them sometime in the near future. ;)


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