Wed Mar 4 19:33:21 UTC 2009

games, and the journaling thereof

So I finally got around to reading the RPS Symposium on review scores, (only took me two months) and by Science it was interesting. The money quote comes from Tom Chick.
As for how much and when I think about scores, I think about them all the time. I think about how much I hate them and how much damage they do to the state of videogame discourse. Scores are an end run around saying anything meaningful. I hate when someone says (almost always on the internet), "I liked your review, but I would have given it an 8 instead of a 7". Because that’s an unborn conversation that will never happen. If I didn’t have to come up with that insufferable 7, the comment would have had to go as follows: "I liked your review, but I disagree with what you said about it being too hard" or "I liked your review, but I disagree with what you said about the graphics being too much like Fable" or "I liked your review but I disagree with what you said about the ending feeling out of place" or even "I liked your review, but I liked the game more than you did". Those are all starters for at least a line of thought and at best a conversation, and in either instance, we can both be the wiser for it.

Review scores are for the lazy, the unengaged, and the inarticulate. They’re for stickers on boxes and press releases. They’re understood differently by different people, and they’re applied differently by different publications. They’re an attempt to inject some sort of science into someplace it doesn’t belong and the sad irony is that they mean nothing. I don’t know if games are art, but so long as we’re branding numbers into their flanks, they’re certainly consumer products.

This gives me an amusing idea for a New, Old, New Games Journalism magazine. Something published quarterly, or even bi-yearly, rather than monthly. No previews, no screenshots, and a minimum word count of five thousand. No restriction on spoilers, so the writers can go in-depth on the plot. Platform-agnostic, so every game of interest can be addressed.

A Consumer Reports for videogames, a kind of print version of Rock Paper Shotgun, Brainy Gamer, Tom Francis, and Shamus Young. Hell, add the guys from the Symposium, who have already proven themselves willing to go into extraordinary depth about pointless things; and you'd have a kind of A-Team of gaming writers.

This sounds like it would be enormously unprofitable. You've got a target audience of what, twenty people? And don't all these people already have blogs?



fuck you, clown

Getting away from the topic of untenable business ventures, a throwaway comment by somebody gave me a neat idea for a score metric. Viz; $worth/$cost, where the first number is how much the game was worth, and the second number is how much it cost. $9.99/$59 for a crappy AAA title, $-100/$0 for Trackmania Nations Unlimited, $10,000/$10 for World of Goo, etc. Completely subjective, fundamentally weird, and impossible to integrate into metacritic. Brilliant!

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