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Video Games:Why Video Game Scores are Useless(1)

Why Video Game Scores are Useless
 by gwjosh

There are 3 big debates that always seem to come up with video games: Console vs. PC, are games art, and 7-9 review scores. Reviewing games has been a part of the industry since its inception, and everyone has tried to figure out a way to review games. Thinking about it lately, I've come to the point to finally explain why scores don't work with video games.

Video games are like any product: They have subjective and objective parts to them, and so do reviews. No matter how you write a review, there will always be a combination of both in a review.

Some parts of reviews have to be 100% objective: You can't have a complaint in a review that a FPS was bad because you wanted driving sections for instance. With that said, a lot of objective parts of a game review are on the technical side: Are the controls responsive, does the camera system work and so on. You can also objectively point out that there are major bugs or technical issues in a game. If a game literally can't be played, then it's pretty much a 0 out of 10.

Where the subjective part comes in is how the reviewer experiences the game, and this is impossible to quantify. With other products, we can objectively rate them based on the standardized elements that make up the product. It's easy to rate a car on drivability or steering and have a measurement that works across every car.

The objective elements are the standard features of any product, and the ones that every product must get right. If you have a cleaning product that doesn't clean, then anything else about it is a moot point. With video games reviews, we have to turn to the subjective elements to truly rate a game, but this is not without problem.

How would you quantify platforming sections or how well the game handles replayability? The answer is you can't, and why the numerical scale is fundamentally broken.
The Range of Quality:

You hear this from consumers, "Why does every game get a 7-9? Why don't more reviewers use the whole scale?" The reason is that the 7-9 rating is meaningless when it comes to judging the quality of a game and is a safe bet.

For the most part, a game developer doesn't set out to make a bad game. It's horrible business to start with taking broken controls and poor design and try to sell it. There are cases of less than reputable indie devs trying to make a quick buck, but that actually proves my point.

A good game is a good game, just as a bad game is a bad game. This is why many reviewers either use the high end of the scale (7-9) or the low end (1-4), because the difference is that polarizing. No one would give a game like BMX XXX a 9 out of 10, just as no one would give Dark Souls a 1 out of 10. Either one of those scores for the respective games would ruin anyone who would call themselves a game reviewer.

Good games have universal qualities that all reviewers should be able to point out

I know someone is about to say that both those games are completely different and you can't compare them objectively, and THAT'S THE POINT. When we start trying to quantify games, the whole thing just falls apart.

The numerical rating system is just a posturing system for game reviewers or sites.

If 7-9 means that you like a game, how do you quantify that down into a number? More specifically: How do you measure how much you like a video game? Do we come up with new words? "This game is good, this one is gooder and this one is goodest."

Any attempt at assigning a quantifiable number to a game doesn't work, as there is only one measurement that a reviewer can use, "Did they like it: Yes or No?"