Sunday, 27 March 2011

Reviewing Reviewers etc

 Thought I'd try this in a different style.

What issues face reviewers:
Time constraints (19 weeks for ~150 pages)
Time is the enemy of a reviewer (or any writer) as instead of tearing a game down to the very bones the have to make do with, at the very least, a single play through of the game. This isn't because they don't care about the game enough or find that one playthrough will give them the complete games spectrum of entertainment value. Most magazine companies are looking at around nineteen weeks to fill one-hundred and fifty pages worth of magazine. Due to this time constraint, a reviewer cannot be expected to attain 100%. As such they make do with what little time they have to bring a constructive review to the table.
This sometimes (often) leaves the review biased and inconsistent. Judging a game by it's sole story and not the other parts that make it up, merely commenting on them in passing.

Is an objective ranking system for games necessary:
Yes, because bad publicity can destroy a games hopes whereas good publicity can boost it over the hill. It's not essential however, as you really only need one follower to tell a friend, and then that friend tell a friend etc. If you work it around the underground and through cults you'll have a steady following already.
Like the creators of Uplink did. They spread their game around in the early stages by faking a few forum accounts and starting threads about this interesting new game. Word started to spread and money started to flow. Worked a charm.

What are your feelings about NGJ:
It's a hell of a lot more entertaining and interesting to read. As most reviews these days are almost as bad as someone reading from a list. Point, explanation, point, explanation etc.
Whereas with NGJ, they don't so much as review the game directly, but tell a story of which by the end of it, you'll have a good understanding of what the game entails. Such as 'Saving Private Donny': I had no idea what Joint Operations was, now however, I know that it is:
- A present day war game
- Multiplayer
- Has fog of war (not high spec game)
- Has friendly fire option
- Has different class options
- Vehicles

This is generally the basics of the game, it has all that. Ok, so? So, they told me the basics of the game while making it entertaining. As oppose to going in depth about every point. If I was going to buy a game I'd likely read an in-depth review but that's just for the sake of me knowing what I'm buying and not wasting my money; it's necessity, I don't enjoy reading them.

What other forms of games writing can you find:
Other than NGJ and normal reviews. The only one I can think of is not too unlike a normal review, just more rude. Zero Punctuation, by Ben 'Yahtzee' Crashaw, is a popular weekly internet-based video review using animation/frames with pop-culture references, stick men and photoshopped imagery. That's not what's great about it. What's great about it is that Yahtzee seemingly hates everything and rips the shit into every game he plays; without nitpicking. Quite a talent really as they're always funny, if you've played a game he reviews, you'll likely find yourself nodding agreement as the video goes on; regardless of whether you enjoyed the game or not.
Another such reviewer is the Angry Videogame Nerd. However, his niche is he only reviews old ass games from decades ago. NES, Atari, Sega consoles. Although I've never played any of the games, the videos are hilarious. You can lose so much time going from one video to the next. Unlike Yahtzee, however, the Angry Videogame Nerd's videos are recorded from life. With him as the focus of the review.

How do you feel about your own writing:
I would love to write engrossing and entertaining documents and seek to do that. However, as it stands, I'm not that good. I fall back on simple words, poor grammar and an inconsistent structure. I take pride when writing something, for a blog or essay etc, or have done since college and I like this new blogging thing. As one day I hope to write my own story for a game, or possibly a novel. I'm not interested in JUST being a 3D or 2D artist. I want to be a lead developer, an art director; the person whose idea it was, who tells OTHERS what's going into it.

Do you value objectivity or subjectivity:
Depends on what I'm after. As stated earlier, if I want to know about the ins and outs of a game, I like objectivity. If, however, I want to read something that doesn't bore me to death, something that will make me laugh and be happy I spent the time to watch it, likely ending up watching more; then subjectivity. All depends on what I'm after: information or entertainment.

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