[A brief public service announcement first. For some reason (we honestly don't quite understand why) Mercurio has gone and signed up for twitter. If you want to see more of his vitriolic hatred of various things to do with the internet, you can find him at MSilverESQ.]
Morons of the internet, gather round! I made certain to book an extra large room today, I know how many of you cretins litter the various tubes of our electronic kingdom, but if it’s a tight fit I apologise.
That word is very distasteful to me. I don’t use it often being, as I am, always right by point of fact. I use it today to make a point, to direct this little lecture for you. Today’s lecture will be entitled (for those of you that need a brief vox-pop for any semblance of concentration): Dear Internet, shut the hell up.
It seems that the laypeople of the internet, the cyber-cattle, have started gathering in unwashed, spotty hordes and attempting to quantify the purpose of a games review. I’ve been noticing this for a while in various places, commonly called “forums”, and today realised that these people need setting straight.
If there were to be a manifesto of how to review something it would, by the nature of its existence, be written by the reviewer or the reviewee. However, a review is ultimately a written piece and, as such, is entitled to the freedom of any written work. I will concede that, in some professions, ethics (irrelevant as they are) and other factors may come into play. Doctors and the police, they’re the people who need ethics. Not games reviewers.
I can hear your tinny mooing rising to a crescendo: What of the audience of the reviews? They want a scientific breakdown of the merit of the product! They don’t want a corporate shill vomiting press-packaged reviews in order to sell games! They want the truth! You must give that to them!
Let me tell you now that you’re wrong.
I understand that such a brusque statement may have confused you, you are simple after all, so I will endeavour to explain it for you.
What is it that you expect of a review? You want honest and unbiased and objective journalism, someone to deconstruct the game in question and tell you which springs work, which sprockets gleam with polish, and which nails hang loose and bent from the woodwork. You want a check list of the merits. What you want is a robot to review your games.
Up until recently, I always assumed that the world was aware of the humanity of reviewers, God knows they don’t try to hide it. Reviews are almost always written in the first person, or contain first person passages, detailing their experience with the game. I thought the world at large understood that.
I’ll sum that up in a sentence for you before I continue: Reviewers are people.
What does this mean? It means that they are reviewing things in a medium they enjoy, and as such their scores will be based upon how that particular product impacts upon their enjoyment of the medium. A very simple scoring method would be either: A) It makes me feel good about my medium, or B) It makes me feel bad about my medium. That, of course, isn’t enough for the nebulous audience, they demand quantification of merit. Three Sartres of profundity out of five, sir.
The scoring system offends me in general, so don’t think I’m merely focused on the laypeople today, oh no. The scoring system will no doubt get its own rant before too long, probably after I’ve finished deciding whether the one employed here is any better or not.
Back to today’s topic, however. If we accept that reviewers use grades of merit for products, we then move onto the prime point of contention: content of a review. Everyone seems to start their little list of what they want a review to say with the words “I want…”. This is as pure an indicator as any that everyone who isn’t me had bad parents.
When I was a young boy, a sprightly lad, my parents would often inform me that “I want” never gets. Did no-one inform you? You’re not in a position to demand, you’re detached from the production of said work. You are allowed a modicum of input with the comment boxes, but never be deluded into thinking that anyone reads them. Reviewers can’t provide objectivity no matter how many times you bitch and moan, the human condition prevents it. They could provide you with a check-list review, a systematic breakdown of everything that, well, broke down, but that would read like a patch log. Reviews are meant to be interesting, surely?
I’ll leave you to ponder on this, if your brains can actually ponder without starting to steam. You’ll probably disagree with me of course, and that is your right. If you want to be wrong then I can’t stop you from disagreeing with me, but there is one thing you must consider:
Reviews are meant as guidance, if you follow them to the letter without thought then you are an idiot.
Good day, morons of the internet.