Sessler's Soapbox: I Hate Numbers

Posted: October 25, 2011
Sessler's Soapbox: I Hate Numbers
Adam uses the response to his Uncharted 3 review to talk about his distaste for applying numerical values to the quality of creative works.

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  • Commanderkeen42

    Adam, first of all, you are a poet. And as I was watching this and hearing you talk about Metacritic, a site which I visit regularly to check up on what critics say about movies, games, music, tv, etc. and I couldn't help but think about just how RIDICULOUS it really is. You're absolutely right--it's like in school, you get a grade and somehow that correlates to how GOOD you are. It's pure objectivism is what it is. You give Uncharted 3 a 4/5. At first that lack of balance from a 5/5 to a 4/5 just seems tremendous, just like in school with the grading system. That's what the readers/viewers take so seriously, that lack of balance. If something has a 4/5 or a 3/5 you know it's not perfect, but you don't really think too much more of it. Again, like on Metacritic, you look at the main page and see "Oh, (Movie X) has a 73. But (Movie Y) has an 89. So I'll like Movie Y better." It's not that at all--we just want perfection, or at least to be or have what's better than the other. Adam, I really appreciate what you do on this show, on X-Play, on g4, and I definitely agree and take to heart what you've said--it's a score, and we should treat it as such, not obsess over perfectionism.

    Posted: November 29, 2011 10:36 PM
  • Mutant71

    I think Adam has lost the true center of video game critic e : to save video game lovers from the gut-wrenching feeling of paying for s POS game. Although i think X-play gets wrapped up too much in the pre-release hype- theyve done a pretty decent job of informing me what to expect when they review each game.

    Posted: November 25, 2011 2:27 PM
  • jwoolley7089

    What i dont understand about people getting so bent out of shape over a rating is the fact that it is just an opinion! I could HATE a game that my best friend loves. .Also for a magazine or web site to tell me whether a game is good or not is just stupid. I appreciate the input but i rather form my own opinion and i wish others would too. People are way too closed minded sometimes.

    Posted: November 21, 2011 7:50 PM
  • Romad

    Completely agree Adam. Right on the money about art and video games. Still, Uncharted 3 should've been a 5/5 ;)

    Posted: November 20, 2011 2:48 AM
  • diehard98

    I'm sorry Adam. I can't really imagine how difficult rating games like this must get after a while. It really does distract people from the goodness and quality some games have to offer. I just hope that this doesn't drive you to where you feel like you're unable to review anymore. I've watched and read many of your reviews ever since I was probably 11, so the past 7 years probably. Because of your reviews I feel like I can fairly compare and understand how games can be criticized. You've especially helped me see how I can appreciate them in so many different ways and see games as large pieces of artistic work and not just some lump sum of entertainment. You're passionate about what you do and that has really led me to respect you and your opinion over the years. You tend to be the main guy I look to for reviews and I hope you continue to review, as long as you can enjoy it. Try not to feel too overwhelmed with where people are taking reviews. If no one goes against the crowd to show people how they can appreciate and value games in different ways and understand them as art, then no one will. Don't give up, people are listening and people do understand. I'm sorry its so frustrating.

    Posted: November 14, 2011 2:12 PM
  • jdeamaral

    I have always enjoyed Adams review. The 4 stars do not bother me, because it`s a great game. He is not denying this. What is happening quite a bit recently, and not just with Adam, is the very fact that the uniqueness of any game is so lost, because of what he still remembers from previous sequels . His review of three was nothing more then it`s comparison to two. On a comparison level, 3 does not match up to 2. It was Return of the Jedi to Empire Strikes Back. Temple of Doom to Raiders of the Lost Ark.

    His first word was Uncharted 2. Well okay. Maybe his first two words. Adam is not stating anything other then `GREAT GAME!`

    Posted: November 14, 2011 3:35 AM
  • MurderInTheRedBarn

    C'mon up to my barn and see MY artwork. You'll give it 5/5. I guarantee.

    Posted: November 11, 2011 12:17 PM
  • Zig-Zag!

    Adam, I think you know in your heart of hearts why the gaming industry is in the place it is: gaming and gaming dollars are both evaluated under the terms and conditions of "entertainment". True, while things such as cinema enjoy both sides of the respective critical evaluation AND breezy free passes, gaming has yet to find its footing - at least in this culture's mind - as a mufti-facited form of expression. Im not saying the word "art", but I will say less than profound.

    Part of this is simply due to time. Interactive media is the new media on the block, and thus needs more time to grow, so say critics. Heck, there are even still famous directors who to this day will claim MOVIES aren't art.

    Yet part of the blame lies in the fact that the gaming media is a joke. Yes, there are great individuals within this collective group of people. Yes, there are even great institutions where these great people come together to be great in groups. But as a whole, long running magazines and websites havent even figured out what a statistical average score is...they are built on the foundation that 5/5 is the only thing worth playing (let alone buying), a 7.7 is worse than a 7.8, and anything less than a 8.5 is a very SERIOUS blow to the marketability of what they are reviewing. Like it or not, reviews are a form of ENTERTAINMENT which people vote on by blowing up a website when their new review for a big name game comes online. People don't pay their ad server space by dolling out abstracts...the money is in the numbers. I'm sure you realize this, and must be saddened to unfortunately have contributed a huge amount to this type of circus culture in your MANY years in the business.

    I repeat, the gaming media is a joke. Though I recognize obviously all news outlets are not without their issues, I really, truly believe this media can only be rivaled by tabloids in lack of integrity. But I am glad you at least are taking your cohorts to task. I don't always agree with your (jaded) outlooks on far too many games or trends, but Ive always admired your spot. on. conceptualization of where the gaming industry stands. Thanks for this video.

    Posted: November 9, 2011 8:42 PM
  • Shepard_Tone

    Now that I finished Uncharted 3, I can finally stop biting my tongue and say. Adam you're wrong. And even if you personally liked the 2nd one better it doesn t keep the 3rd from being an amazing well crafted game well deserving of G4's top prize of that elusive 5/5. I know a majority of the people griping about your review are fan boys. But I think there is a good majority of us see the game for what it is. That it is an absolute fantastic game that should be experienced. I can't see where the time of development becomes a detracting factor when MW3 does the same thing(and I mean it s practically the same game as MW2) and still gets a 5/5.

    We can all agree at least that we wish there was a different way to judge or rate a game. The only problem is Adam is that your opinion really matters. And as much backlash as you are getting from fans. Your review will still get more attention and influence more people than the angry internet crowd.

    Posted: November 8, 2011 11:23 PM
  • ArrenKae

    The point of the numeric score is so people can choose what to partake of with a minimal amount of investment.

    Remember that to even ask someone's opinion on a work you haven't partook of to determine if you will partake of it comes from the same desire: to economize your time. The only entirely accurate method of determining how you would respond to a work is to partake of it but you can't watch every movie, read every book and comic, or play every videogame.

    Sessler's real frustration might be the perception that other people don't value videogames enough to learn more about them then a score.

    There's no problem; it's just a difference between how people economize their time.

    Posted: November 8, 2011 2:50 PM
  • ArrenKae

    The point of the numeric score is so people can choose what to partake of with a minimal amount of investment.

    Remember that to even ask someone's opinion on a work you haven't partook of to determine if you will partake of it comes from the same desire: to economize your time. The only entirely accurate method of determining how you would respond to a work is to partake of it but you can't watch every movie, read every book and comic, or play every videogame.

    Sessler's real frustration might be the perception that other people don't value videogames enough to learn more about them then a score.

    There's no problem; it's just a difference between how people economize their time.

    Posted: November 8, 2011 2:48 PM
  • HardcoreTyler

    I'm not sure why there aren't any comments on this. I personally agree with you Adam as I've never liked review scores. I've enjoyed playing "bad" games like Too Human and hated "great" games like Oblivion. It's just personal taste, and thats why it comes down to. Now will I ever say Too Human was a good game? no, and like wise I'll never say Oblivion was bad, one was just suited for me and another wasn't.

    In Terms of Uncharted 3, after some thought and taking out the WOW factor of Uncharted 2 doing something new, I found myself enjoying Uncharted 3 more as a story-line.

    I do however rarely read a full review of a game, and generally look at the pro's, con's, numerical sore, and last summarizing paragraph of a review. I take these as someone else's opinion, and personally I'm a fan of video reviews as I've never liked reading since I was a kid, I'd rather talk and be talked to. This also brings me to another point. Me and my friends normally have discussions about games while playing them. This is a daily thing for us and we all have different opinions too. I feel a great multiplayer game can be as good as a great single player game, while I have friends who can't stand multiplayer or single player respectively.

    Ultimately I agree that Uncharted 3 was a 4/5 if you want to give it a score. It's better than Uncharted 2 to me which I would have rated a 5/5. The difference is it's 2 years later, Uncharted 3 felt like the continued stories of Drake and Sully (which is a good thing), and I feel if the game had of gotten a 3 year development cycle over a 2 year development cycle it would have been a much different game.

    I don't consider myself a game development expert, I've spent the last 2 and a half years of my life trying to make an indie game that hasn't come to much until recently, but I've learned a lot. As a series I consider Uncharted my favorite, with the Chrono series a close second, and finally Assassin's Creed coming in a third. Note this is for single player experiences only. Multiplayer is a different store.

    If anyone would like to discuss games, or the nature of this video further my e-mail is t.j.janke@gmail.com

    Posted: November 7, 2011 3:24 PM
  • Avaj

    It is validation. People want to be validated in what they think of something. Someone buys a game and they want to be validated that they made the right choice. Similarly if they don't like something about something else they want to feel validated by hearing that other people have had the same response.

    What simpler way is there then to boil something down to a number?

    Everyone wants to hear that everyone else was scared while playing Amnesia. Everyone wants to know that everyone else teared up near the start of the movie UP.

    Posted: November 7, 2011 11:00 AM
  • Bloodthr0e

    Then, what is the point of a review site if not to determine the value of a game before the consumer buys it?

    And Adam, if you are on twitter, you are basically asking crazy stalkers to send you hateful comments.

    Posted: November 6, 2011 11:33 PM
  • Seluhir

    Adam, I just wanted to say that if only more people involved in this discussion felt as you did, perhaps some day we could do away with numerical scores on the whole. I know a bunch of smaller websites are trying to do without them. It's just too bad that in the current situation if you don't have a numerical score it's hard to get taken seriously, so some of the smaller ones as they've started to get less small have begun to start to use them... truly sad. Have you ever thought about getting all of the g4 reviewers together and going on strike against numerical scores? ;)

    Posted: November 5, 2011 9:02 PM
  • Venom2810

    I loved and admired this response to illogical people. Not only is the numerical score outdated to hell but your review is right on. I loved uncharted 3 but compared to the events you are given in the 2nd installment of the series you do expect more then you get. What you get is a great just not a game of the year material. The contest point is excellent citizens have been bred to believe we have to compete or there is something is wrong. Uncharted and other great games aren't created to beat other people like the BF's and call of duty's they are created to be enjoyable games. People who overlook this are so ignorant and make me cringe honestly. People assumed you didn't like uncharted or other games that get given certain scores simply people there aren't a number or it isn't perfect. You even stated in the review at the end that you said it was a great game in itself but didn't seem to live up to the 2nd one, which I have to agree, come on an opening where drake is on a train hanging off a cliff... hard to beat man.

    Posted: November 4, 2011 2:07 PM
  • EarlNimbud

    Adam, you have never been on more of a soapbox than you were in this video. Truly, this was one of, if not the most impassioned monologues on gaming as not just an art form, but as a subsection of our culture I have ever heard, and I truly thank you for saying it. Without you and the people like you that take the extra time and effort to be as knowledgeable about not just the games you play and are paid to review, but also to go the extra mile to understand why they even warrant discussion initially is a truly remarkable feat, and I honestly thank you and your colleagues for doing so. Without the contribution of you and those like you, I do not think I would play and enjoy video games to the level at which I do today, and that means a lot to me.

    Thank you Sess.


    Posted: November 4, 2011 11:21 AM
  • Superchee2e

    Video games are art, but they are a different kind of art. You look at a painting and say "i think that looks cool I want it in my house." video games are more about it being something you pay money to invest time into. To make a character or be part of a story or make you're own story. You don't want to pay for something you don't want to invest the time into. I Don't like racing games so I won't spend money to play them. Simple. . . Which brings me to the rating system and fact is we are conditioned to give and receive "grades" so-to-speak. until we as a species come up with a new more critical, precise, and simple way to display a games artistic value. What can ya do??? (i.e. diamonds. We don't have a lot so they are valuable.) It's different with video games there is a supply and demand. The supply is infinint the demand is finint. So we can't judge a game based on how many copies there are. We need a universal rating system to display various traits like graphics, gameplay, replayability, controls, & other definable qualitys that make a game worth the money to invest the time. I have explained this as simply as I could.

    Posted: November 3, 2011 5:33 PM

    Speak the Truth Adam!....

    Posted: November 3, 2011 3:07 PM
  • Seluhir

    Couldn't agree more with your hatred of numerical scores.

    Posted: November 3, 2011 2:57 PM