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Do you take video game journalism and reviews seriously anymore? [roundtable]
Generally, I've given up on game reviews. A lot of them seem biased, pushing a specific angle. And who knows how many are bought off forthe reviews of "AAA" games. I'm much more interested in fellow gamer impressions than some PR-esque review babble.

Journalism has lost its integrity as well. It's hard to find a preview or a decent article that is unbiased or discusses an original premise with well thought-out arguments. Journalists are on the payroll of a lot of game companies, I think it's pretty clear.

With recent review quotes like these:

IGN review of Halo 4 said:
"Halo 4 is a masterstroke everyone can and should celebrate, and its two guaranteed sequels instantly make the next-generation Xbox a must-own system, with Halo 5 its most anticipated title."

Hardcore Gamer review of Assassin's Creed III said:
"Assassinís Creed III is one of those rare games conceived to be revolutionary from the beginning. Games like this only come around once in a generation. One of the most, if not the most, ambitious titles ever created. An inspiring testament to what can be accomplished with unbridled devotion, itís possible that nothing of this magnitude will ever be attempted again. Itís a truly definitive event that will be looked-back as a crucial step in gaming evolution."

and this:

...do you still take video game journalism seriously?

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Posted: 11/01/12, 17:12:41
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Those quotes are pretty hilarious. I admit when I really get into a game I get kind of overly excited at times, and probably some of the games that I have reviewed some would say I "overrated". But I'm not sure that I have ever claimed that a game on one console is so good that you should buy another console just because it will get the sequels, or that nothing of that magnitude may ever happen again... EVER.

Still, I do admit, I like Gamerankings and I think when all is said and done, it helps temper some of the lunacy. For instance, reading the reviews you posted above would give you the impression that Halo 4 and Assassin's Creed 3 are THE BEST GAMES EVARRRRR, whereas on Gamerankings they are sitting at around 90% and 87%, respectively. Great scores, no doubt, but not generation defining scores, and probably a bit more "accurate" as to their respective contributions to gaming. Of course, the flipside is that the tempering effect can make you miss out on some of those unique games that reviewers don't know how to review and end up with reviews all over the place, but no one should ever rely on any review source, single or meta, as their sole purchasing.
Posted: 11/01/12, 17:26:18  - Edited by 
 on: 11/01/12, 17:33:57
I agree! And I don't really trust mainstream reviewers, no. I still do read/watch some reviews though, because I trust a few people. The main problem in my opinion is that reviewers look at games as technical machines and not entertainment products. It's like there's a circle of "gaming rules/expectations", games inside that circle are good, and games outside are bad. And fun and intelligence fit nowhere in the equation. Games shouldn't have to follow strict rules or meet certain demands, they only have to be enjoyable. People who complained about Dead Rising's single save file and Pikmin's time limit completely missed the point. And seriously, why would anyone dock points off a game because it doesn't have online?

You read an IGN review and they dock points for the silliest things. It doesn't matter how smooth the framerate of a game is, unless you need to point it out because it made the game less fun to play. I want to know what the experience was like, what the game made you feel and in the end if you recommend the reader to purchase it. It seems reviewers follow a strict procedure that they apply to every review ever, and I don't like that. Video games are super advanced now.
Posted: 11/01/12, 17:31:45  - Edited by 
 on: 11/01/12, 17:36:50
The question implies that I ever took game journalism and reviews seriously. It's always been more of a form of advertisement than anything else. Which is fine, it's easy for me to ignore and it's not like hard hitting journalism about video games would really add much to society.

Reviews are inherently biased. The tactics that some companies use to get in reviewer's good graces are definitely going to color their opinions in some way, but so will any manner of things like whether the reviewer just broke up with his girlfriend. As long as you take them for what they are and use your own judgment for your ultimate decision making (which people naturally do all the time), then they can still play a useful role.
Posted: 11/01/12, 17:38:52
I am playing Assassin's Creed 3 and that quote from the OP is so far off it is hilarious. Nothing I have played so far about it would indicate that quote to be the slightest bit true.

The Halo 4 line is suspect as well but there were way funnier ones to take from that review:

IGN said:
Amazingly, Halo 4 is not only a success, but a bar-raising triumph for the entire first-person shooter genre.

I will wait to play it but do you think that this might be a bit of an oversell? I like Halo and have been following 4's development very closely. Everything I have seen puts it as being a traditional Halo game with a new adversary thrown in to the mix, more of a focus on the franchise's fiction, and refreshing the multiplayer to adhere to more modern archetypes.

How is that raising the bar for the entire genre? By all means, praise the game if you feel it deserves it but words have a certain meaning. You cannot expect people to take you seriously when you say it is raising the bar for all FPS in one paragraph but then describe the graphics as 'monitor melting' in another. It starts to read like an advertisement instead of an informed opinion.
Posted: 11/01/12, 18:05:31
That's the thing though, these things probably are advertisements by this point. If not officially, I'm sure there is at least a subtext, like "don't be too hard on the game from that publisher we are receiving massive advertising dollars from".

...but here at Negative World, we can write whatever we want, because game publishers don't even know we exist! Yey!
Posted: 11/01/12, 18:16:41  - Edited by 
 on: 11/01/12, 18:17:17
I like game reviews but mainly use them as a way to kill 5 or 10 minutes. I pretty much have my gaming habits set in stone these days and already know which games I am going to purchase regardless of a review. Hell If I bought based on reviews I would be called a dude bro and would have missed out on some classic games.
Posted: 11/01/12, 18:24:48
warerare said:
Hell If I bought based on reviews I would be called a dude bro

A fate worse than death
Posted: 11/01/12, 19:07:06
I used to hope the gaming community would get its own Lester Bangs. Now I would settle for a Les Nessman.

No, I don't have much faith in them anymore. The companies control access too tightly, writers are too excited just to be able to participate, there's the money issue, and, frankly, I'm not aware of a single reviewer who actually writes with any style, other than 'Nintendo Power plus Sarcasm'.

I hear about games from you guys. The elusive Great Game Critic will probably never get beyond his obscure Amazon reviewer account.
Posted: 11/01/12, 19:11:50  - Edited by 
 on: 11/01/12, 19:17:25
Wow, I just have no words for those IGN Halo 4 quotes. We're reaching parody levels, here.

I don't think reviewers are "bought off" per se, most of them have trouble making ends meet since there is so much competition from paid or unpaid people providing the same "service". But they are human and their opinions can be affected by hype, by PR or by what they had for breakfast, like the rest of us.

A lot of them just aren't good writers or don't display a whole lot of critical thinking, though. I think this is what happens when you hire your editors based on personality rather than skill: you get IGN.

I think in the end I approach game journalists the same way I approach anyone's opinion: I choose who I trust and I put less weight on the opinions of people I usually disagree with or who I find to be idiots.
Posted: 11/01/12, 19:17:23  - Edited by 
 on: 11/01/12, 19:19:16
Amazing OP!!!

Journalism in general is in a bad place, but game journalism is in an even worse place. This is the real reason why Nintendo Directs must exist. No other media outlet is secure enough to cover Nintendo without a smirk on its face.

I think the whole system needs a destroy/rebuild approach.
Posted: 11/01/12, 19:59:09
From shitty sites like IGN? Absolutely not.

From sites like Giant Bomb where they take it seriously? Absolutely. Games "journalism," isn't about reviews, which is why Giant Bomb has so few of them. Reviews are boring, stiflingly silly things that only the most bland of people rely on. Giant Bomb's gaming journalism is more akin to regular journalism, where they try to dig deeper to bring you more info about games, how they were made, the struggles that go on in the industry from all points of view, etc. It's about the people you bringing the games moreso than just talking about the game itself. (Though if you want to know about the game itself they have Quick Looks up the wazoo, which are better than any review for determining if you will like a certain game.)
Posted: 11/01/12, 20:25:47
Absolutely I take it seriously. But only from a few people. Not in general, though.

Most of my gaming news comes from you guys. For example, I only trust reviews of handheld games from @Mr_Mustache and I only trust @Anand with PS3 reviews. And @Zero is my go-to guy for all things I need to know about the Xbox 360. That way I know I'm getting complete, full, and unbiased information from sources I trust.
Posted: 11/01/12, 22:06:58
@GameDadGrant You forgot to add that you look to Guillaume for all mobile gaming needs.
Posted: 11/01/12, 22:12:02
Generally I don't anymore.

I'll skim them and get the gist of them from placed like GoNintendo and I'll watch reviews at places like GameTrailers. And there are a few sites that I do trust to get my news (Giant Bomb being one of them), but for reviews? User reviews and impressions here are good enough for me.
Posted: 11/01/12, 22:26:04
I don't really give a shit about gaming journalism or the integrity of gaming journalists. Well, that's going too far. I enjoy investigative journalism when it produces a piece that's interesting to read or especially juicy. But I also enjoy Iwata Asks, which is the farthest thing from dispassionate investigative journalism. Regardless, on my list of stuff to care about (and systemic corruption to care about), this kind of thing ranks pretty fucking low. (Which is not to say that nobody else should care.) I'm already naturally skeptical of the opinions of others (especially folks like Geoff Keighley). Mostly, I just read reviews to answer lingering questions. (Like about the new Criterion Need For Speed game. It got good reviews, but the single-player experience is apparently pretty flimsy. I was thinking about picking it up at launch, but now I'll wait until it's $15.)

But I rarely get games at launch, so I can generally be patient and wait out the hype wave to see where public opinion settles. And the existence of demos means that I don't HAVE to rely on journalists who might be sucking publisher teat to publish early reviews.

If there's a reviewer whose tastes match my own (including you guys), then I will pay more attention to their opinions. And good reviews are always a nice little hype bonus when I'm already looking forward to a game. Metacritic can be a useful tool, too, though aggregated opinion will never become fact and my tastes apparently DON'T match up with the aggregate of all reviewer tastes.

tl;dr: I never really took them seriously, and gaming probably isn't important enough to me for me to care, either way.

I won't steer you wrong, buddy! Buzz all the way!

Every time I have to go somewhere and someone's like, "You haven't packed yet?", I'm all, "Got kinda tired of packiiiin' and uuuunpackin'..." And then nobody laughs.

Every time.
Posted: 11/01/12, 22:34:03
I don't care about it so much. It's a time killer for me.

I usually (at least in the past year) rely on you guys for game suggestions and reviews. I trust your judgement(s).
Posted: 11/01/12, 23:06:25
Outside of NW? No. Bridges burned.


I saw my name and thought you were being serious..before I read the context.
I'd trust you first and foremost for a handheld review, I'd hope you'd trust me about something RPG / Sports-related..

Posted: 11/01/12, 23:38:09
oh yea, Giant Bomb is very serious.....


Maybe when it comes to non-Wii games they are?
Posted: 11/01/12, 23:46:46  - Edited by 
 on: 11/01/12, 23:47:08
Zero said:
@GameDadGrant You forgot to add that you look to Guillaume for all mobile gaming needs.

Guillaume's Review said:
It's shit.
Posted: 11/01/12, 23:47:47

I'm not going to judge or anything, but you know some terrible people. Morally terrible.
Posted: 11/01/12, 23:48:57
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