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Sessler's Soapbox: The Science of Game Reviews

Posted: July 6, 2010
Sessler's Soapbox: The Science of Game Reviews
http://www.g4tv.com/videos/47288/sesslers-soapbox-the-science-of-game-reviews/
http://images.g4tv.com/ImageDb3/244515_LGST/sesslers-7-6-10.jpg
Video_47288
Adam discusses a recent study that attempted to determine if reading a review first can affect your enjoyment and opinion of a game.

Comments are Closed

  • j69cook

    Notice Adam didn't deny receiving any publishers money in exchange for a better review.

    Posted: July 7, 2010 9:20 AM
    j69cook
  • R0cker95

    This was a great soapbox, a real standout for me (not that they aren't all great adam) because you really delved into the whole reviewing thing. It opened my eyes to things that I didn't know. That is when you're at you best adam, thanks.

    Posted: July 7, 2010 8:48 AM
    R0cker95
  • dfalken

    I do get his point about the nuber score, but I don't want to see it disappear. It's VERY handy for those of us who might be in a hurry, and want a quick assessment of a game's quality. A game with a 1, we can ignore, a game with a score of 5 deserves further attention. It's a tool. Gamers shouldn't rely on this one tool alone, but it combined with the complete reviews, word of mouth, etc. is very useful for the gamer who can't afford to make bad purchases.

    Posted: July 7, 2010 8:33 AM
    dfalken
  • EntropyMu

    The question you can ask yourself might actually be, are your reviews skewed? The same psychological effect of a review framing the way someone approaches a game can be applied to reviewers. You guys don't come across games in a vacuum. Does going to E3 and conferences, or even just discussing games with other game professionals skew your review of the game when it comes out? The worrisome consequence of this is that publishers really can influence reviews, and not in the traditional "they pay you" conspiracy theory - but can generate that "this game is probably going to be good" framework for you.

    Posted: July 7, 2010 8:30 AM
    EntropyMu
  • lowkevmic

    There is a problem with reviews. Because games have been afected by the score they get based on the person who played the game. Which almost raises the point going back to a old Soapbox Adam did about is video games art. All of the characteristics are there to call it art, including how a game is looked at from person to person. Example Darksiders. That was probably one of the most debated game reviews I've read on G4. Abbie Heppe did the review and she pretty much hated the game. Only to find out that she is a pretty big Zelda fan, so instantly you can tell there would be some sort of prejudice towards a game like Darksiders, only because the expectations of a Zelda game was there and wasn't met in her opinion. But as for me, I never like Zelda, nor did I ever get into the franchise. So I knew little to nothing about the gameplay style that it was based off of. So to me it felt like a brand new experience and a great game, while Abbie and others felt like it was a bad rip off.

    Another example is Dante's Inferno. Now to the people who know and love the God of War franchise, they felt that the game was lacking a lot of the awesome things offered in God of War. This again was another game I never really took interest in during it's hype, so I looked at Dante's Inferno from a new gamer point of view, and loved the game overall. So it comes off a little naive to think that reviews don't really effect the success of a game. Because let's be honest here, If G4 and other sites never raved over such games like Halo, Gears of War, God of War, Infamous, Uncharted, and Mass Effect. We wouldn't see sequels and trilogies from franchises like these. Yes, games sell themselves, but reviews help sell more copies and determine if we would see a part two or three of potentially great games.

    Posted: July 7, 2010 8:27 AM
    lowkevmic
  • guyfromtrinidad

    For some strange reason I kept focusing on Zuma all the while Adam was talking.
    But aside from that it was a great video, would love to debate video games with you some time Adam.

    Posted: July 7, 2010 8:18 AM
    guyfromtrinidad
  • MartiansfromUranus

    One thing you have to understand is X-play has a very personal dislike of 3D underwater swimming levels, and the Sonic franchise.

    I had no problem with the swimming in Super Mario Galaxy, yet X-Play still hates it because they want to.

    I like most Sonic games. Granted Sonic and the Black Knight SUCKED (It was only like, 3-4 hours long) But Sonic and the secret rings and Sonic Unleashed were good (3 star worthy) Yet X-Play only gave S.U. a 2. X-Play even said Tails was the most annoying sidekick ever! Not true. At all. In my opinion, Navi and Slippy are WAY more annoying than tales. Yes, Tales is probably gay, and he probably wants Sonic to be his boyfriend, but just except him for who he is and realize he is way more helpful than annoying.

    You can trust X-Play reviews for the most part, but when it comes to Sonic, just ignore them.

    Posted: July 7, 2010 7:52 AM
    MartiansfromUranus
  • nunubx

    Well, I don't really trust reviews but there is one thing I trust more than Professional reviews: User reviews. Why, you may ask? Here's a scenario.


    A Professional reviewer is playing a game and is having a HORRIBLE time playing it. In his review, he writes that it's impossible to enjoy it this game and all copies of it should be burned. At the same time, a random dude walks into gamestop, sees the same game, doesn't know what it is and hasn't read any reviews on it but buys it anyway, takes it home, pops it into his console/PC and has a absolute BLAST playing it. In his review, he writes that this game is GOTY material and should be bought ASAP.


    A real world example of this is Sonic Unleashed. When your read the Professional reviews, they say that this game is one of the worst games of 2008. Read the User reviews and they well tell you a very, very, VERY different story. This is why I trust User reviewers because they are just like you or more me...and that gives them more power than Professional reviewers will ever have.


    So, at the end of the day, which opinion would you choose: A opinion of someone who thinks that anything he writes, say's or do's is the truth on matter what you say or do (IGN, Gamespot, Gamespy, Gamesradar, G4) or the opinion of someone who plays games because he ENJOYS them (The gaming community)?

    Posted: July 7, 2010 7:25 AM
    nunubx
  • depressoiscool

    am i the only person that was thoroughly distracted by zumba in the background

    Posted: July 7, 2010 6:28 AM
  • DeusAmbrose

    I think the title is pretty appropriate, man. Subjective value is being forced into this objective margin... with a number which ends up being something a little bit symbolic amongst 'hard-cores' rather than informative. (Can't really comment on how deeply the average consumer even looks into reviews, honestly so I can't delve into the Walmart shopper's mind... I won't even pretend to know).

    But there's no easy solution, I don't think. People are almost, like, sensationalistic in their attachment TO these numbers. I don't want to say everyone... But, I mean, there appears to be a good number that are. Looking at the discussions over reviews, I've personally noticed, at least, that more often there is some outrage over the score: it seems to be a pretty popular point of discussion, anyway, if not THE MOST popular point, especially depending on the hype surrounding the game and the controversy that entails. I've found the controversy almost always stems from the number first. But I guess next in line are these semi-moderates who actually look for little hypocrisies, contradictions, whatever, in review standards. These people will give thought to these discrepancies in detail but they still WILL NOT renounce their attachment to the score. It seems their motive is usually to discredit the score usually, or defend it. There was a debacle with Halo 3 on Gametrailers wherein its perceived unjustified score was compared to Uncharted 2 , etc. The residue from that is finally starting to vanish. Maybe you've commented on this? I haven't been following you that long...

    Haha. In fact it still sort of lingers in this little inter-communal meme over there... one could see signatures comparing the scores in the story categories of MGS4 and Halo 3, headlined by "(SOME DATE), the day GT lost all credibility..." There was a large discrepancy in those scores and Halo was the higher of the two and fans were not having it.

    And then there are all of these other variations of the semi-moderates, and there is the other extreme... which is just extracting value from the text or media itself without paying heed to the score at all. With me, I never stick around for the final score ANYWAY, so if anything, I'm a bit of an extremist in that I value subjective language in reviews, because reviews themselves are mainly subjective entities. Maybe not so much an extremist as a self dubbed extremist. I don't actually know empirically what an extremist would be in this case and I'm actually just now even giving this any thought.

    But there are really only a few practical solutions and even these are pretty unrealistic:

    - Dispense with the numbers altogether, for one. Since there seems to be an emphasis on quickly accessing information, pretty much all around really, I do not see this happening. For many it's less taxing and straight up more fun to discuss the merits of the scores themselves and rub it in the faces of their opponents like digital dirt. And who has time to read?

    - The other is the more realistic of the two but still fairly impossible, and that is to create a standard system by which EVERY media outlet reviews its games. Some kind of universal syllabus, available for public viewing... This would help suss out the infamous bias factor. But not only would writing such a ruler be difficult to do, well, impossible if one wants to reduce this nature of subjectivity into a science with no room for questions, there would also have to be some coalition between media outlets, some sort of agreement, OR some sort of (Haha) government regulation. I see NEITHER of those happening anytime soon, maybe ever.

    And I really think this is over simplifying it but... people want fast information, and the number is such an easy solution to that... and people want hard evidence of something's merit for comparison, and the number is such an easy solution to this as well. The number serves both these ends, frankly. This is why sites like Metacritic exist, like you said. Plus, people are reaaaaallly sensationalistic. It makes Best Game Ever discussions streamlined, which I guess is a good thing because these discussions seem to happen all the frigging time.

    Posted: July 7, 2010 5:56 AM
    DeusAmbrose
  • ajac09

    reviews have almost no effect on game sales. If they mattered we wouldn't have so many crap games out their

    Posted: July 7, 2010 5:16 AM
    ajac09
  • LeBigMac

    EVEN MAH PANTS!

    Posted: July 7, 2010 5:02 AM
    LeBigMac
  • playsbydesign

    We are all different. We all per sieve value differently and take information and either deem it positive or negative based on who we are and our own experiences. For some it may only take a flashy trailer to influence their decision. Others require a written review in detail. Others need to demo the game or see it in action themselves.

    However, I would say that the number system is a common denominator. It's simple and easily recognizable in terms of measuring personal value. It may come from societies need to place a numeric value or price to a specific item.

    A perfect still packaged vinyl of the Beatles: The White Album may or may not mean anything to some people. The fact that it's worth 3 to $4000 dollars; now suddenly everyone can identify it's worth.

    As long as consumers can identify with the number rating system, I'm afraid we will continue to see them used in reviews. Taken not as opinion but as proof of a defined value.

    Posted: July 7, 2010 4:38 AM
    playsbydesign
  • BBTheBear

    Aw crap, why'd it post it twice?... sorry about that heh.

    Posted: July 7, 2010 3:58 AM
    BBTheBear
  • BBTheBear

    I searched through my room the other day and came across a game I havn't played since I baught it back in 2008. Remembering that I didnt care too much for it I decided to check out some reviews. Come to find out it got real great reviews so I decided to try it out once more. I am now enjoying it alot putting in a few hours a day, not to sure why I didn't enjoy it a couple yars ago, but I now decid to buy a game if multiple reviews are saying that its great. Generally games that are 4 out of 5, 7 out of 10 or (God forbid) 72 out of 100 on that stupid large scale meter or higher are the sort of games that I tend to buy now. And as always great job on the Soapbox Adam.

    Posted: July 7, 2010 3:56 AM
    BBTheBear
  • BBTheBear

    I searched through my room the other day and came across a game I havn't played since I baught it back in 2008. Remembering that I didnt care too much for it I decided to check out some reviews. Come to find out it got real great reviews so I decided to try it out once more. I am now enjoying it alot putting in a few hours a day, not to sure why I didn't enjoy it a couple yars ago, but I now decid to buy a game if multiple reviews are saying that its great. Generally games that are 4 out of 5, 7 out of 10 or (God forbid) 72 out of 100 on that stupid large scale meter or higher are the sort of games that I tend to buy now. And as always great job on the Soapbox Adam.

    Posted: July 7, 2010 3:56 AM
    BBTheBear
  • Lockjaw35

    Reviews by numbers is pretty much as accurate as it gets... Unless you're too stupid to read the review or watch it. Adam, your reviews have given me many lulz over the years and also sound game advice! Keep making x-play until you're 90!

    Posted: July 7, 2010 3:16 AM
  • the_big_king_jdowg

    I base alot of my game selection on your reviews. I trust G4tv to know what good games are, and for the past five years, you all have never let me down. I also pay one hundred and fifty dollars a month to my cable company, just to get G4. I don't really care for the other channels in the package, LOL...

    Posted: July 7, 2010 2:07 AM
    the_big_king_jdowg
  • jaek

    adam great soapbox but not enough tears for me.Allright look ofcourse game reviews either from xplay or another trusted source will have an effect on what u buy.But also if ur a compulsive buyer with no friends ur gonna buy a game thats pretty and good to you. example mr.i like the game wet below.[i didnt]And yes opinions are just opinions but if u trust the person saying the opinion it often becomes fact.And we will always have the rating system for everything ,games,girls,food,really anything.

    Posted: July 7, 2010 1:39 AM
    jaek
  • jaek

    adam great soapbox but not enough tears for me.Allright look ofcourse game reviews either from xplay or another trusted source will have an effect on what u buy.But also if ur a compulsive buyer with no friends ur gonna buy a game thats pretty and good to you. example mr.i like the game wet below.[i didnt]And yes opinions are just opinions but if u trust the person saying the opinion it often becomes fact.And we will always have the rating system for everything ,games,girls,food,really anything.

    Posted: July 7, 2010 1:37 AM
    jaek
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