Opinions are like arses. Everyone has one, and that’s fine – but not everyone wants to see yours, and even the people that do probably don’t want it shoved in their face all the time.
Anyway, moving on from my beautiful arse metaphor, let’s just get to the point. Namely, why it’s time to chill out over videogame reviews. Seriously, overreacting to somebody’s opinion just doesn’t really lead to a good time for anybody.
Now, I’m aware that what you’re about to read is essentially an opinion, on people having opinions, on other people’s opinions – so I need to make it clear up front before we dive into this Inception mindfuck that everyone should be allowed to express themselves.
It’s just the way in that some of us express ourselves that’s kind of starting to make us gamers look a bit stupid.
You’ve probably noticed the kind of folk who take to Twitter/Facebook/comment sections to tell writers (and other commenters) that they’re wrong/stupid/don’t understand the game/whatever. Not cool at the best of times, but it’s the recent Uncharted 4 kerfuffle that really caught my attention.
Naturally, I kept an eye on the reviews for Uncharted 4 just like I’m sure plenty of you did – it’s cool to see what the critics think of a game, especially one that’s surrounded by such huge levels of hype.
True to form, Naughty Dog smashed it out of the park – Uncharted 4 was met with near universal acclaim. This didn’t seem to be enough for some people.
It started (rather humorously) with Videogamer’s review of the title. They gave the game an 8/10, which is obviously a sacrilege. I mean, if most people see Uncharted 4 as an unrivaled masterpiece, we all have to, right?
In a nutshell, reviews aggregator Metacritic apparently interpreted the review (which didn’t have a score) and assigned it a 4/10. This sparked an online petition to get the score removed from Metacritic.
Here’s the plot twist though, and something I don’t think the folk behind the petition knew: The Washington Post submitted that 4/10 themselves – it had nothing to do with Metacritic.
The Washington Post provides us with scores for all of their reviews. They assigned a score of 4 out of 10 to that review.
— metacritic (@metacritic) May 13, 2016
So to be clear, this wasn’t a fuck up resulting from Metacritic “interpreting” the review or whatever. That score has every right to be there, and it baffles me that people were (and still are) so worked up over it.
And just to prove it’s not all about the Metacrtic fiasco, here’s a small sampling of abuse that the author of The Washington Post review has received.
Here’s the thing that some people don’t seem to be getting: a review is one person’s opinion. It can be disagreed with, but nobody has the right to remove it.
There is a genuinely troubling idea that seems to be sprouting in the minds of gamers that a review should not reflect an opinion, and that it should apparently be an entirely objective piece of work (which is literally impossible).
As the U4 petition states: “A review is not about what you think a game is , its about what a game is”. Okay, but that’s wrong. And to be clear, that’s not my opinion – I’m going on what a review factually is.
Imagine for a second, you read a review of Uncharted 4 that was simply “what the game is”. It’d probably go something like this:
Uncharted 4 is the latest action adventure game from Naughty Dog. Their last game was The Last of Us. You can shoot people and climb stuff.
Okay, so you could learn what the game is on a basic level, but you’d never know for sure what it’s actually like unless somebody shares their opinion on it. If you want to know what a game is, read the back of the case. If you want someone’s thoughts on a game, read a review. Easy peasy.
A review can be many things, but I’d argue that they’re predominately there to critique, recommend, and share thoughts and opinions.
Reviews don’t exist solely to sell a game, and if every review said the exact same thing about a title – how fucking dull would that be?
It can be a lot of fun when a game you’re passionate about gets rave reviews. Similar to supporting a sports team, (although much cooler, obviously) it’s always awesome to see something you love do well, and it can be disappointing when a game doesn’t get as much love as you might think it deserves.
But we should never let other peoples opinions, have any impact on our enjoyment of a product. What’s more, we should be letting other people express their opinions without insulting or threatening them.
We have to stop getting so bent out of shape by reviews – it’s not healthy, and anyone with a lick of sense will know review scores are essentially pointless, arbitrary numbers that are basically only there to try and cause trouble.
Some reviewers award games to a decimal point. What’s the point of that? I suspect they know people are more likely to be outraged if something gets a 7.8 instead just an 8.
It’s the words that matter, and how you personally interpret and agree (or disagree) with any given review. Ignore the scores, and we’ll all have a grand old time.
It’s not as if the Metacritic fairies are gonna spot that 4/10 and steal our copies of the game while we’re sleeping. Nobody will laugh at us in the street for owning a game that has one bad review – it doesn’t matter in the slightest.
As a personal example, I adore Batman Rise of Sin Tzu and that has 63 on Metacritic. The general consensus might be that it’s a shit game, but I love it, and that’s what’s important (but at the same time I cans see why people hate it, and that’s fine).
Uncharted 4 will doubtless go down in history as one of the greatest videogames of all time, and a 4/10 or “tainted” Metacritic score will have absolutely nothing to do with that.
Videogames are fucking brilliant. As a whole, they can go to places that films, books, and albums simply can’t, and I think we should be able to debate and discuss and disagree till the cows come home in a way that doesn’t embarrass the medium.
In short, Videogames will never be taken seriously by the majority as long as shit like this keeps happening, and that’s what really sucks.
It doesn’t matter where a review has come from. It could be from a 12-year-old’s diary, us, other news outlets, anywhere – it’s an opinion, it should have absolutely no effect on our enjoyment of videogames, and anyone who does get worked up over it just needs to take a moment and chill out.
But hey, that’s just my opinion.
Ewan Moore is a journalist at UNILAD Gaming who still quite hasn’t gotten out of his mid 00’s emo phase. After graduating from the University of Portsmouth in 2015 with a BA in Journalism & Media Studies (thanks for asking), he went on to do some freelance words for various places, including Kotaku, Den of Geek, and TheSixthAxis, before landing a full time gig at UNILAD in 2016.