All this week, we’re running our Best of 2011 Awards. And while we are highlighting the voice of the community with a Reader’s Choice award that will publish later today, maybe we should be awarding the voice of the community itself.
As critics, we’re subject to much criticism ourselves. It’s been a strong topic as of late in our comments. If we give a high score, people complain that the game doesn’t deserve the high marks. If we award a game with a low score, we’re told that we should be put into a straight-jacket and tossed into the loony bin. We can’t win. Which is fine, the people making such comments have every right to their opinions. It’s only a problem when they can’t understand that so do we. If only people would focus more on the written word inside the review and less on the score itself. It’s not just a problem here, it’s an industry-wide issue that’s likely to never change, as long as the all-powerful metascores remain a focus.
For those reasons, I decided to highlight what I consider to be one of the most level-headed comments made in the entire year. PlayStation LifeStyle user Timewarp left the following comment on our recent Uncharted: Golden Abyss review.
While I respectively disagreed with PSLS’ review of Uncharted 3 (I think it was more of an 8.5/10) I still believe it was an unbiased review and the same goes for this one. I think some of us gamers – not just on the site but on the internet as a whole – have developed this very arrogant problem with reviewers. I blame the majority of this on the scandal involving game designers bribing reviewers for high scores. It’s led to this point where a lot of us feel we have to call bias for every low and high review scores or as I like to call them every review score.
Yes, Uncharted: Golden Abyss is likely to get a 10/10 and sometimes that may mean the reviewer hasn’t put in the work, but that certainly isn’t true with every single situation. I think we focus too much on the score and not enough on the content of the actual review. Sometimes we’re just hard to deal with, we moan that a game is given a low score because it’s exclusive or not exclusive; we complain a game gets a high score because AGAIN it’s exclusive or not exclusive. A review doesn’t impact our ability to play the games we like, so how about we learn to grow up and accept the reviews for what they are. Because while you may feel like your doing right by revealing the truth behind the quality of certain games, you may end up looking quite spiteful to the reviewer who may have put a lot of time to give us a balanced and fair review.
I don’t say this to mock anyone or to accuse anybody of any wrong doing. I just think we need to have more respect for the PSLS staff and the work that that they do.
Here at PSLS, we have thick skin. 99.9% of the time we take the criticism and use it constructively. But that doesn’t mean it doesn’t still sting to be told our hard work isn’t good enough for some people. Reviewing a game takes a lot of time and effort – it isn’t just play a game and slap on a score, we have to be thorough and critical. And it’s not just us, either. Reviewers everywhere are placed under intense scrutiny, and while as a critic that definitely comes with the territory, a lot of it is undeserved and taken too far out of control.
Reviews are nothing more than an opinion. If your opinion doesn’t match, that’s fine and well, too. But understand that your opinion is no better than anyone else’s.
I can’t reiterate it enough: Read the text, not the score.
Have a Happy Holiday and a Wonderful New Year.
–Anthony Severino, Editor-In-Chief