Before I begin, I know. It has been a while since I have updated this blog. I have excuses. Just know that. I have them. It’s really just that I have had a hard time getting out of bed lately, let alone do anything productive. Really what it was is that I hit the doldrums part of unemployment, where things in general seem hard to do. However! It seems I have come out the other side and am ready to get back to writing. While I have been sitting around, staring at the ceiling, I have been thinking a lot about review scores from video game outlets. I read a few sites regularly, with what seems to be very different review philosophies. They also follow different scales, which represent different things. Some are on a 1-10 scale, some on a 1-5, some even have a yay or nay system.
It’s not odd to me differing outlets have different scales. This has been the norm for the longest time in a variety of places. Movies, TV, music; they have always had their varying systems. What is weird to me is how several places could use the same numbers in a scale, but those numbers mean something different to each outlet. Some places, a middle of the road game will score a seven out of ten, where others a middle of the road game will be a five out of ten. In the former case, where middle of the road games get sevens, it seems to take a truly horrible game for this outlet to dip into those low numbers. This does often lead to a higher sense of impact for those outlets when it comes to bad games, as those lower numbers are seen so rarely. However, this quagmire happens for the larger scales that actively use less numbers; as what really is the difference between a 7/10 and an 8/10? It’s hard to figure out as the lower numbers have less meaning. However, that other publication that will use more of the full 1-10 scale will seem harsher by comparison, but each individual digit means something more obvious. The difference between the 5/10 and an 8/10 sends a clear message about the quality of the game. However it seems to a large degree you run into a similar problem with the other type of 10 point scale as the difference between a 7/10 and an 8/10 is really murky. Both mean “good” in that case, but really what is the difference. It gets even worse as you get to the half-point issues. 7.5/10 and 8/10…what is the difference? These thoughts have been bothering me lately, and it not only affects how I read certain publications, but how I approach the idea of my own game reviews.
I recently started to assign scores to games when I actually get around to doing reviews. I adopted a 10 point scale in which I was dedicated to using the entire scale. Although I do believe stuck with that idea, I really do think maybe moving to a 5 point system would be a lot better. While the difference between a 7/10 and an 8/10 is not that large, a 3/5 and a 4/5 speaks volumes. At least to me, especially if you stick with using the whole scale. While I think I am going to do this for me, I still find myself wondering why different places do things so differently. This has led me to thinking about Metacritic, as really this is where all the scores go to die. However, my issues with Metacritic is probably the subject of a different blog. However, probably not too soon as I really struggled with writing this one. It is a lot of thought I have had on the subject, and it is a complex issue that really sits at the heart of how people write about video games.