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The Pointlessness of Current Videogame Journalism

Zonk posted more than 8 years ago | from the struggling-for-relevancy dept.

The Media 312

Anonymous Coward writes "TG Daily has its weekly videogaming column up, and this week the author is attacking what he terms The Pointlessness of Current Videogame Journalism. From the article: '...the formulaic, child-minded writing-for-the-lowest-common-marketing-denominator style that encapsulates 99% of the mainstream videogame press is a load of crap ... Rather than being critics who add to the industry as film and music journalists arguably did back in the heady days of the 50's - 70's... videogame journalists are mere extensions of the marketing machine, pushing even the most mediocre of games into a good light with the public in previews and then trashing them for sport to see how many good puns can be dredged out of the 500 words which the author really doesn't want to have to write.'"

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No doubt (5, Insightful)

fryguy451 (592591) | more than 8 years ago | (#14418244)

Guess that means they are on par with most other entertainment journalism nowadaze. Go Figure.

Almost got it right (5, Funny)

Alaren (682568) | more than 8 years ago | (#14418294)

Guess that means they are on par with most other journalism nowadaze. Go Figure.

Fixed that for you.

Re:Almost got it right (1)

fryguy451 (592591) | more than 8 years ago | (#14418317)

I stand corrected :)

Slashdot included (1)

Shut the fuck up! (572058) | more than 8 years ago | (#14418347)

From decent discussions on insteresting topics to Zonk spewing countless pointless stories.

Re:No doubt (-1, Offtopic)

NitsujTPU (19263) | more than 8 years ago | (#14418359)

Wow, starting at zero. Sorry you got the mod bitchslap dude.

You only have 5 posts on record, how did that happen?

The Community knows better (5, Insightful)

Saint37 (932002) | more than 8 years ago | (#14418255)

Thats why when I want to know what a game is really like, I wait for it to release and browse the games message boards to get insight on the game. In the end I trust the community alot more than the press. Yes, alot of message borads are full of crap too, but its seems to be alot easier to select the valuable posts.

http://www.stockmarketgarden.com/ [stockmarketgarden.com]

Re:The Community knows better (0)

Leffe (686621) | more than 8 years ago | (#14418308)

You evil commie!

Re:The Community knows better (2, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#14418334)

You hit an important point. When you go out and buy a car, do you believe what the magazines say, or what your friends say from experience? While your friends may talk a load of crap, it is usually easily recognizable which ones know what they are talking about. You can't say the same about the magazines.

The same rule generally follows for internet discussions. People post messages on BBS' for shits and giggles, not because they think they are going to become rich doing so. But if you come to an RPG fan website and people are saying that a certain game sucks for reasons a, b, c, ..., then it is more credible in my opinion than the Gamespy review, if you trust the people on that website.

Mainstream journalism is dieing. People now want more information, and small (or even large) journalism shops aren't going to be able to compete with the Internet as a whole.

Re:The Community knows better (5, Insightful)

radiotyler (819474) | more than 8 years ago | (#14418353)

I was going to post something very, very similar to this but you've summed that part up for me. The only addition I have is that I hold my friends opinions' in the highest regard. I play mostly FPS, and one of the things I enjoy most is playing with the same people over a select few games. If one of them buys a new game and tells me how amazing it is, and how there's one feature that makes it different from the other multi-player FPS out there (and in his/her opinion better) I can cruise over to their house with a six pack and play the game for myself and form my own opinion rather than relying on a "corporate shill" review online.

Some games have a buzz that's so fantastic that you can believe the reviews, and some just smell fishy by the them. Obviously the only way to tell for sure is to either buy the game or like I do: try it out at a friends house. With the two options being shelling over fifty bucks for a game (assuming my hardware will run it and I don't have to buy a new knuder valve) or a six pack and a night of gaming with a friend... I'll take beer and friends every time.

Re:The Community knows better (3, Insightful)

drsquare (530038) | more than 8 years ago | (#14418412)

But aren't message boards just full of whiners who moan about anything?

Re:The Community knows better (1)

ZeroExistenZ (721849) | more than 8 years ago | (#14418569)

Exactly.

Actually... (1)

i kan reed (749298) | more than 8 years ago | (#14418429)

I've found a refinment of this, which actually works exceptionally well at finding good games. you find somone who is an absolutely ravenous fan of the game and then seeing how often they spell words such as "u" or make immature arguments about other games. A 0 out of 5 randomly sampled people tends to indicate a game worth playing, assuming one tolerates the genre in the first place.

Re:The Community knows better (-1, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#14418463)

In the end I trust the community alot more than the press. Yes, alot of message borads are full of crap too, but its seems to be alot easier to select the valuable posts.

Grammar Tip for the Day

"Alot" is not word. It is two words (a lot). You wouldn't write "alittle," would you?

Re:The Community knows better (1)

JonnyCalcutta (524825) | more than 8 years ago | (#14418529)

I agree totally. I never buy a game until its been released and reviewed by the public. And I'll add that I never buy a game without reading the _bad_ comments and reviews (and I've yet to find a game without detractors in some shape or form). This is true of everything I buy - I generally get much more of an insight from the (constructive) critisism than the praise.

Re:The Community knows better (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#14418555)

You musthave never played the Freespace series.

Ha! (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#14418256)

Posted by Zonk no less.

Oh the sweet irony (5, Funny)

koreaman (835838) | more than 8 years ago | (#14418259)

Posting this on Slashdot, of all places...

Re:Oh the sweet irony (0, Offtopic)

Chowser (888973) | more than 8 years ago | (#14418416)

And posted by Zonk no less!!!

Re:Oh the sweet irony (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#14418444)

Slashdot is poorly punctuated and badly spelled blog with a huge comment section. Video game journalism, on the other hand, is corrupt right down to its black, black soul. It always has been...

I remember reading games magazines for the Commodore 64 (Zzzapp 64) and later the Amiga -- and the routine was always the same. Hype the fuck out of the game based on previews... the magazines with at least a modicum of decency would use a tiny bit of honesty when reviewing it after release. Many just lied in the reviews too.

If anything has changed, it's that these days, there are no games magazines with even a modicum of decency. They all lie... constantly because they are totally in the pockets of the games companies. Indeed, in many cases the fucking console maker is the publisher.

Linus is insecure (1)

Reikk (534266) | more than 8 years ago | (#14418261)

A recent study even proves it scientifically. Linux is 5x more insecure than XP

Re:Linus is insecure (0, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#14418399)

Hence why he carries a security blanket.

Business is business (2, Interesting)

michelcultivo (524114) | more than 8 years ago | (#14418274)

Today the world only wanna the $$$ on the pocket, why I will write a good article to publish into two weeks if I can write a poor article that is printed on every week? It's the business man, accept or leave.

Re:Business is business (1)

genrader (563784) | more than 8 years ago | (#14418384)

But!!! It is not that the businessman is trying to do what seems more capable of intelligent insight--he is simply doing what people are demanding.

Re:Business is business (1)

click2005 (921437) | more than 8 years ago | (#14418389)

You forgot that posting favourable reviews of a game (the intro movie, screenshots & some photocopied specs/notes/advertising) gets them the next game beta a few weeks early. And whichever magazine, website or tv show has the first review of the next big game will get more sales/viewers.

The only way to find out if a game is any good is to try it for yourself. If they dont release a proper demo, download it for a few days and try it. If you're still playing it after 2 days, buy it. If not, delete it.

Re:Business is business (2, Insightful)

fireboy1919 (257783) | more than 8 years ago | (#14418426)

Today journalists only want money in their pockets. Why would I write a good article published every two weeks if I can write a poor article that is printed every week? It's the business, man, accept it or leave.

You're a journalist I take it?

Sorry, dude. I don't even consider badly written Slashdot comments acceptable. There's no way I'm going for bad journalism for which I have to pay. It better be fairly well written, and it better be honest, or I'm not spending a dime on it, and I'm not buying anything from the ads.

There's probably a fair number of others like me. Magazines don't make "$$$" that way. They make "$" - possibly even less.

Considering. (3, Funny)

cornface (900179) | more than 8 years ago | (#14418276)

My first exposure to gaming magazines was Nintendo Power and Sega Visions when they first came out. Now _that_ was marketing influenced games journalism. hehe.

Re:Considering. (1)

jozeph78 (895503) | more than 8 years ago | (#14418403)

Nintendo Power? You nub! No Nintendo Fan Club? :D

Re:Considering. (2, Funny)

Cutterex (787660) | more than 8 years ago | (#14418611)

I remember the moment when I decided to let my Nintendo Power subscription lapse. I had never really connected the dots until I opened to the "letter of the month", and the entire thing was:
"Mario for president!!!!!"

Video game "journalism" as bad as Moto"journalism" (5, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#14418278)

Those geeks who motorcycle as well as play video games know the story of the "every column inch stuffed to the gills with advertiser propoganda" magazine very well. So-called moto"journalism" is basically utterly shameless pandering to the major motorcycle manufacturers. The magazines basically say whatever the bike makers want, and will only very infrequently mount any kind of serious criticism. Those that do are quickly wiped off the map for financial reasons. In short, remember this: Even if you subscribe to them, your subscription doesn't come close to paying for the cost of the content in those magazines; the product manufacturer's advertisements do. And thus it is no surprise that the moto rags are transparent mouthpieces for the industry, and have little interest in the reader beyond shoving shiny game ad of the week down their throats.

And the situation is exactly the same with game review magazines.

Don't expect it to change; it's not going to. Until the flow of money is massively re-arranged to come far more from the readers than the manufacturers, the magazines will continue to be shameless advertising and little more.

Re:Video game "journalism" as bad as Moto"journali (1)

TubeSteak (669689) | more than 8 years ago | (#14418424)

What's your point? Every industry has its magazines that are nothing more than repackged advertising. In some industries, that is actually a good thing. People buy certain magazines for the adverts.

I'm not sure how or why you're comparing PC Games with Motorcycles.

You can get a full experience of (most) PC Games with several days of dedicated play.
How can you expect a comparable review of a motorcycle?

Off the top of my head, the best reviews I can recall are where Caranddriver takes a car and makes it a daily driver for x0,000 miles.

Re:Video game "journalism" as bad as Moto"journali (1)

Dun Malg (230075) | more than 8 years ago | (#14418580)

You can get a full experience of (most) PC Games with several days of dedicated play. How can you expect a comparable review of a motorcycle? Off the top of my head, the best reviews I can recall are where Caranddriver takes a car and makes it a daily driver for x0,000 miles.

FWIW most biker rags tend to review only the aspects of bikes that can be figured out in a couple hours of riding, and then only because that's what their readership is interested in. Unlike cars, bikes tend to be a luxury purchase rather than transportation. Riders are generally more interested in 0-60 times, weight distribution, maneuverability, etc. They don't care how the bike will be in 20K miles because they're probably going to sell it after 10K.

Video game reviews give me heebie jeebies (3, Insightful)

saskboy (600063) | more than 8 years ago | (#14418285)

I've never enjoyed TV video game reviews. Back in my teens when I was playing Gameboy and computer video games, I'd buy magazines and read hint books. Now when I see something come on like Tech TV, I shudder and jump to the remote to change the channel. The reviews are little more than ads for an industry I care so little about these days. Perhaps my priorities have changed too much to enjoy video games like I once did, but do we really need entire channels devoted to advertising video games? Do children even read anymore?

Re:Video game reviews give me heebie jeebies (1, Insightful)

DesiGuy421 (782201) | more than 8 years ago | (#14418473)

As bad as G4 is, you still have to give props to X-Play. Their reviews of video games are always about showing the game for what it really is. Very rarely, they give games 5/5 ratings, let alone 4/5 ratings. And the ones they give 3/5, they chew out like no other on what it lacked. And besides, you gotta admit that Morgan Webb is freakin hot, ;)

Is this new? (5, Insightful)

hackstraw (262471) | more than 8 years ago | (#14418287)

Rather than being critics who add to the industry as film and music journalists arguably did back in the heady days of the 50's - 70's... videogame journalists are mere extensions of the marketing machine.

Emphasis added for stoners :)

So, is this new? Look at any niche market journal like for stereo equipment, cars, or anything, and tell me how much negative press there is in them.

I'm a recovering audiophile, and I remember when I would read the magazines of the trade, everything they "reviewed" was excellent or at least very good compared to their multi-tens of thousands "reference" system for the money.

Re:Is this new? (2, Funny)

SIGFPE (97527) | more than 8 years ago | (#14418298)


I'm a recovering audiophile

So it's curable then? That's good to know. May your recovery be a complete one.

Re:Is this new? (2, Insightful)

carlislematthew (726846) | more than 8 years ago | (#14418438)

So it's curable then? That's good to know. May your recovery be a complete one.

It's 100% curable. The treatment involves enjoy the music, as opposed to the sound.

Re:Is this new? (1)

TubeSteak (669689) | more than 8 years ago | (#14418451)

everything they "reviewed" was excellent or at least very good compared to their multi-tens of thousands "reference" system for the money.
Doesn't that partially have to do with the audio industries extreme fear of (double) blind tests?

Can you think of any 'magazines of the trade' that actually had a blind testing policy?

Re:Is this new? (1)

hackstraw (262471) | more than 8 years ago | (#14418565)

Can you think of any 'magazines of the trade' that actually had a blind testing policy?

Car magazines tried it for a while, but it got too expensive and risky to drive brand new cars while blind.

Doesn't that partially have to do with the audio industries extreme fear of (double) blind tests?

I've actually seen double blind tests before for amplifiers with statistics, significant differences, confidence intervals, and everything. I've seen a number of double blind codec and media tests, especially for lossy formats like ATRAC, MP3, ogg, and whatnot.

Re:Is this new? (1)

jokestress (837997) | more than 8 years ago | (#14418538)

Bad entertainment jounralism is nothing new. Frank Zappa once said (I'm paraphrasing) that rock journalism is writers who can't write, writing about musicians who can't play, for readers who can't read. I'm sure there's a clever version of this for video game journalism...

Halo 2 (5, Insightful)

RickPartin (892479) | more than 8 years ago | (#14418291)

Am I the only one who felt blatantly lied to about this game? Every video game publication or TV show hailed this as having an amazing single player campaign. When I sat down to play it I found it to be a boring rehash of the last game. There were many problems with the game that normally would make their way into reviews but these were strangely absent. Clipping and other graphic glitches, horrendous story, repetitiveness, and probably the worst end level I have ever seen. I swear there was some sort of massive pay off made somewhere to game reviewers.

I wish I could elaborate more on what was wrong with Halo2 but it's been awhile since it came out. I can't be the only one to think the single player was poo though.

Re:Halo 2 (1, Insightful)

akhomerun (893103) | more than 8 years ago | (#14418326)

what happens is the reviewers get caught up in the fact that they've been anticipating the game forever and really want it and really review it based on the merits of the first game + the hype of the second one, instead of truly reviewing it as its own, original game.

in cases of movie adaptations/comic adaptations, etc, as long as the game plays OK the reviewers will give it a great score based on the fact that they like batman or whatever.

Re:Halo 2 (1)

Doc Scratchnsniff (681952) | more than 8 years ago | (#14418491)

Somehow, the movie adaptation portion of this comment doesn't seem to ring true.

I checked xbox.ign.com, ps2.ign.com, and ps.ign.com. I don't think IGN has a reputation for unbiased reviews, but it has a nice searchable database which goes back several years. I found a total of 6 Batman games: Batman & Robin, Batman Beyond, Batman Vengeance, Batman: Rise of Sin Tzu, Batman: Begins, and Batman: Dark Tomorrow.
Only Batman Vengeance received what would be considered a "good" rating (8.0 and 8.2 for PS2 and Xbox, respectively). The 2.2 for Batman: Dark Tomorrow is the 12th lowest score ever for an XBox game. Batman Beyond is tied for 9th lowest score ever (2.0) for a Playstation game (though it is tied with a large number of other games for that dishonor.) The rest were in the 5's and 6's, generally considered to be "bad game" territory.

While you might argue that the games were actually worse than that, does it really matter? Once we recognize that a game is bad, do we really demand that reviews quantify the exact amount of badness present?

Replace with Half-Life 2 (-1, Flamebait)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#14418357)

Replace with Half-Life 2. That game I found to be a story lacking slightly above average FPS. Halo 2 on the otherhand, I think deserves the praise it got.

Re:Halo 2 (5, Interesting)

ProudClod (752352) | more than 8 years ago | (#14418490)

I can speak with first-hand experience on this matter. The contents of this post come from my experience as Sub Editor at Gamers Europe when Halo 2 was released.

The problem is that the first wave of reviews - the most important in terms of ensuring people believe the hype - are from publications/websites that received preferential treatment in the form of early code. In addition, the publishers embargo all reviews until a certain date, forcing all outlets to generally release their reviews at the same time unless they want to appear to be "beaten to the scoop". This also prevents would-be-critics (or at least unimaginative ones) from seeing

At Gamers Europe, we received some of the first batch of code. This came as something of a shock, as it was generally only the conglomerate-owned big guns (IGN, Gamespot etc.) who had this privilege. However, thanks to our links with Microsoft Ireland, we were included too - so we sent our man Piaras to review the game, and he and I made sure that we too were ready to go live by the embargo date. So that night, along with all the other sites posting their 9+/10 reviews, we released our review - a large volume of copy, tinged with disappointment that whilst the game was a decent FPS, it didn't scrape the heights of its predecessor. This was topped with a score of 8.0/10 - we only reviewed the single player campaign as the European Live servers weren't yet up; I'm still perplexed as to how other sites were able to test the game online...

Anyway, the fanboys went absolutely batshit (the writer received at least one death threat), Microsoft were not best pleased (but to their credit, have continued to send us code - the relationship we have remains essentially unchanged), and by the end of the day we found ourselves as the only review of Halo 2 online that offered any criticism.

So in short: there was no pay off that we observed - there was a launch party a few days after the reviews went live that journos were invited to, but this is pretty standard with big titles, and doesn't amount to a substantial bribe - nevertheless, given the difference between our views and that of every other publication, our man in attendance found it quite an uncomfortable experience.

What there was, was a co-ordinated schedule for reviewing the game, effectively set by the publisher. All the big, important reviews were concentrated into a single blast of hype a few days before the launch date, with no opinion seeping out beforehand. Looking at the first day sales figures, and your own conceptions of how the game was critically received, you can draw your own conclusions as to the effect that had on the gamebuying public.

[Apologies for the slight incoherence of this post - I'm currently feeling a little out of practice!]

Re:Halo 2 (1)

Schickie (941317) | more than 8 years ago | (#14418631)

In other words, you hyped less than most but the game is/was really a 5 or 6 ... sorta middlin' good. Shouldn't the 8's and 9's be reserved for the 1 in a 100 that really is brilliant, and a 10, well, once in a lifetime? Ninety percent of game reviews seem to be at either extreme.

Having said that, will somebody please mod the ProudClod post up?

(Cheech, somebody just did)

Re:Halo 2 (0)

JonLatane (750195) | more than 8 years ago | (#14418492)

I'm afraid I have to completely disagree with you here. The only graphic glitches in Halo 2 were the texture loading problems on some Xboxes (i.e., when scenes changed, the textures would be solid for a fraction of a second while they were loaded), but in my opinion that was worth it to make sure there were no load times. It's not really a problem, but a necessary compromise. And about it being a "boring rehash of the last game," isn't that what is expected of a sequel (assuming the word "boring" is a matter of opinion, which it is)? I mean, would you have been more satisfied if they made it Halo 2: Extreme Skateboarding featuring Master Chief? They did what you're supposed to do with a sequel, which is take the basic gameplay mechanics that I think all but the most jaded among us would say are some of the most fun in the world, and improve upon them by making them more fluid and adding new weapons and dual weilding - which in itself made the game more than a rehash, but a completely different experience! That and the Arbiter missions where, especially on hard difficulties, you're forced to use your invisibility extremely effectively.

And hey, the story wasn't that bad. I like the idea of the Covenant coming to Earth and there being many other Halos and stuff. It broadens the scope of the original but keeps everything in perspective. Well, except maybe for the little shop of horrors thing. If he had taken some other form maybe I would have been happier, but he doesn't ruin it by any means.

I won't argue with you that the "ending" sucked, because it did. But I think this is causing you to miss the fact that the campaign mode is still damn fun! Play through it again and instead of being critical, just enjoy the game. I mean, come on, that's what it's for! I'm often in situations where I can't access Xbox Live, and in those situations I'll often go in for campaign mode, or if I've got a friend, I'll often take co-op over Slayer.

Lie? Difference of opinion. (1)

sarge apone (918461) | more than 8 years ago | (#14418523)

Am I the only one who felt blatantly lied to about this game? ... When I sat down to play it I found it to be a boring rehash of the last game.

That's called a difference of opinion, not being lied to. Ebert & the other guy don't lie to you when they say an artsy movie is excellent, but you found it to be a rehash of an anime movie in your collection.

... Clipping and other graphic glitches ....
This could be the problem with video game journalism: story/fun-factor vs technical issues. If I give 4 stars to a low budget movie with a good story, great acting and an obvious amateur look and feel, does that compare to a 4 star big budget movie with a good story, great acting and a professional look and feel?

How many of your favorite all-time games had a great story and very poor graphics?

They've always been crap (1)

Average_Joe_Sixpack (534373) | more than 8 years ago | (#14418297)

There were some rare exceptions like the Die Hard gamer and some of the PC gaming magazines, but for the most part they've always been crap.

has it always been this way? (5, Insightful)

j1mmy (43634) | more than 8 years ago | (#14418302)

Nowadays, you can download demos and watch videos of just about any game online. The reviewer isn't doing much that you can't do yourself, though it might take you slightly longer to download such content. I'm not sure the problem is the writing, I think it's the need. Is game reviewing even necessary? Were reviews this bad back in the early 90's and 80's when gamers didn't have the access to the kind of preview stuff that's out there today?

Re:has it always been this way? (1)

cliffski (65094) | more than 8 years ago | (#14418391)

really?
Let me know what you think of the demo of Black and White 2. And the Sims 2 demo. And the Movies Demo.
Youll have to code them first, because they dont exist. Ditto the Half life 2 demo.
There is a worrying trend amongst big developers and publishers to not 'bother' with a demo these days. And I've heard it explained to me from the companies themselves, they think that if they spend enough on marketing, people will buy the game anyway, why sully the issue by letting them try before they buy?
In some ways this suits me fine, as an indie game developer, its another thing that separates me from them.

Re:has it always been this way? (3, Funny)

Tim Browse (9263) | more than 8 years ago | (#14418610)

Youll have to code them first, because they dont exist. Ditto the Half life 2 demo.

You're so right. Luckily I'm a fucking red hot coder and have put together a Half-Life 2 demo for you here:

http://www.ati.com/halflife2/index.html [ati.com]

Don't mention it.

Re:has it always been this way? (1)

cliffski (65094) | more than 8 years ago | (#14418623)

sure, released long after the main game so all the fanboys had already bought it based on hype.

PQ, Gamespy et al. (3, Interesting)

mfh (56) | more than 8 years ago | (#14418411)

I remember back in the early days of Planet Quake [planetquake.com] , when Bastard (Basty) was running the site. This was of course before Gamespy [gamespy.com] transformed from being a little ping tool, into a giant marketing juggernaught. Quake lovers like myself would collect in #planetquake and chat about the latest mod, hang out on servers and submit news to contribute to the (then) growing online Quake community.

I did a lot of mods myself. Some I would have liked to have finished, but the ones I did finish all collect dust now. (and some of them collected dust THEN)

At the same time Bluesnews [bluesnews.com] was also a great place to find out awesome insights to the whole Quake scene.

Look at these two sites now, and all you can see is marketing.

They both, arguably, sold out. I don't know why... maybe they like affording new computers from Alienware [alienware.com] , or maybe they just like the concept of selling their souls. Another person who sold out bigtime was Dakota, the CTF guy that some of you might remember as the founder of Captured.com [captured.com] (which is now closed). He joined Gamespy and is running a large part of that company now. He used to post amazing CTF news, mods, tourney info and stuff.

Vid journalists all get bought up by the industry.

But the games changed, too. It used to be a lot of fun to play Quake or Thunderwalker on servers, but then other games came along and stole the show, thus putting an end to the tight-knit community. Each new game fractured the core community until, for quite a while, there was no cohesion.

All good things come to an end, and I think that is how we really know they were good.

No, it's not always this way (1)

cbreaker (561297) | more than 8 years ago | (#14418439)

Some reviews are good. The ones done by journalists that have some experience in the general field of journalism. They know how to write something interesting and meaningful.

The problem with "Internet Journalism" is that for the most part, you don't need any of those qualifications. You can pretty much just pick up a keyboard and write and article. I'm surprised at the loads of junk you find on the "big" game review sites to tell you the truth - you'd think they would want people that can write well. But I guess they don't really care, as long as people come to the sites.

I believe that most game reviews are childish, boring, redundant, and seemingly written by high school kids. While a review is, by it's very nature, an opinion piece of sorts - many of these game reviews are simply too opinionated and biased to be considered anything but a weblog. Unfortunately, they're not presented as such.

Even the hardware review sites like C|Net are really horrible at accurately reviewing anything. They'll get facts wrong, they won't figure out a feature so they say it's not there, etc.

Just like anything else, you just need to understand the source and know that anything published online should be viewed with a level of skepticism.

Re:has it always been this way? (1)

lustforlike (867068) | more than 8 years ago | (#14418469)

That's not a viable option for consoles or handheld game devices, though. Regardless of what has been said about the state of game reviewing, I don't know of a better way to decide whether the latest console game of choice is worth spending money on.

Besides which, even if a review is blatant advertising, it is possible to read the review critically and get some amount of actual information about the game in question; you just can't get away with reading a review and not using your own critical thinking skills.

then you have... (1)

User 956 (568564) | more than 8 years ago | (#14418303)

You have Videogame Journalism (IGN, Gamespot), and then you have Journalism that occasionally touches on Video Games. I don't know that anyone takes those sites seriously, since most games never score below a 7.

I think the latter is much worse, as a lot of the time mainstream news coverage of video games is simply exploitive fear-mongering (take *any* coverage of Grand Theft Auto, for example).

I like GameFaqs and P-A (3, Informative)

Twid (67847) | more than 8 years ago | (#14418304)

Personally, I get most of my game info from GameFaqs [gamefaqs.com] , which has user reviews and nice overall scoreboards for magazine reviews. The user reviews are sometimes dumb, but you can get a general flavor for a game by looking at the magazine reviews and user reviews. I've still been burned once or twice but at least looking there first can help you avoid the real stinkers.

Also, I love the game info posted at Penny Arcade [penny-arcade.com] . Gabe and Tycho have similar tastes in games as I do, so when they love a game it's a pretty safe bet that I'll like it too.

Re:I like GameFaqs and P-A (1)

Jedi Alec (258881) | more than 8 years ago | (#14418335)

Thomas And The Magical Words was a game I ran across due to PA. First time I ever bought a game online, and can't say I regret it. Didn't run into any drewling problems when spelling gourmet tho.

Re:I like GameFaqs and P-A (2, Informative)

Twid (67847) | more than 8 years ago | (#14418361)

Oops, I meant GameRankings [gamerankings.com] not GameFAQs. GameFAQs is good too for walkthroughs, and there's a new site called Stuck Gamer [stuckgamer.com] that is posting video walkthroughs. Appears to be down at the moment, but there are some good gameplay videos there.

Real Gamers have known this for years (5, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#14418313)

I see this every time I dare to glimpse at the gaming press. The absolute worst of the worst are the TV shows, like GamerTV, Gamesville, and that old one with the woman with the weird hair. Here's the recipe: too many futuristic "swooshing" animations, episodes repeated ad-infinitum no matter how old they become, review after review of Yet Another 3D Platformer 4, and a clichéd, useless "We give it... 3 out of 5!"-type section.

You will almost never see a game like N [harveycartel.org] , or Uplink [uplink.co.uk] reviewed, because they aren't backed by the big cartels like EA, whose latest player name update to FIFA will doubtlessly turn out to be a "worthy addition to this legendary series".

Linky (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#14418316)

May I recommend http://eurogamer.net/ [eurogamer.net]
You won't find any gaming journalism of the same calibre.

Re:Linky (1)

KDR_11k (778916) | more than 8 years ago | (#14418346)

Don't you mean EDGE [edge-online.co.uk] ?

Re:Linky (1)

FinestLittleSpace (719663) | more than 8 years ago | (#14418598)

Edge is the most beautiful tech magazine on this planet and a perfect example of absolutely top class journalism and publishing. I don't buy it nearly enough.

Shocking! Reviewers etc bending to the producers? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#14418318)

No say it isn't so. Sites and magazines wouldn't just print positive reviews of a game or piece of hardware to keep the favor of the content and equipment manufacturers. No all of them are on the up and up and look at the products with unbiased eyes. Oh what the hell am I thinking? If they say a logo is printed offcenter on something they live in fear of not getting the next piece to review. Why is this news?

Re:Shocking! Reviewers etc bending to the producer (1)

Coriolis (110923) | more than 8 years ago | (#14418541)

Oh, an anonymous coward is being intellectually lazy and cynical about an article on slashdot, whilst forgetting that it's also a site for general discussion about things that geeks care about. Colour me suprised. Why is this news?

It's not just the journalism (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#14418323)

It's the video games themselves. This references the "heady" reviews of yesteryear. Well, those heady reviews are only responsible in media that are pushing the boundaries and expanding as an art form. I'm an avid player and have many things circulating through my systems at any given time but let's be honest here, video games refuse to become a truly artistic medium. There is no real story telling. People cite RPGs as examples of great storylines but these are nothing more than melodrama. You can't make American Beauty the game. You can't make Eternal Sunshine the game. Well, you could, but no one has yet. So what we're stuck with is journalists who took hours and hours of lit. analysis in college reviewing the same damn racing game over and over.

Something had to be said... (3, Insightful)

deadb0lt (519221) | more than 8 years ago | (#14418331)

....and someone had to say it. I completely agree. The quality of videogames in general has taken a nose dive since the cream-of-the-crop 16 bit era. These days, the focus spent marketing games by the publishers far outweighs the more important focus of the developers themselves to develop a game that is actually fun to play. Time and time again, developers are touting games that drop the ball in the fun-factor court. Even 1st class developers like RARE and id are releasing mediocre games when compared to what they previously developed. DOOM 3 and PERFECT DARK ZERO are two prime examples of deleopers dropping the ball. and if you think those two games are anywhere as close to what they previously released, then you need to get your head checked. RARE and id are just two examples. Lets not forget the other 90% of videogame developers out there that nobody follows or even ponders what the next piece of crap they're going to release will be. With all that said, I have to thank Rockstar, Valve, Epic, and Blizzard. Kudos. Keep up the good work.

Re:Something had to be said... (1)

Sigma 7 (266129) | more than 8 years ago | (#14418503)

Even 1st class developers like RARE and id are releasing mediocre games when compared to what they previously developed. DOOM 3 and PERFECT DARK ZERO are two prime examples of deleopers dropping the ball.


Doom, when compared to Wolf3D, is considered better because of improved Mod support and graphics. The game was better because you could actually strafe - but it still had problems of an elementry grade FPS (with strafe-running and such).

Quake, when compared to Doom, is considered better because of improved Mod support and graphics. The game itself was just as mediocre as Doom, perhaps worse, since you could fly through the monsters much more easily. (Especially on Nightmare mode.)

Quake 2, when compared to Quake, is considred better because of improved Mod support and graphics. The game itself was just as mediocre as Quake, but at least there was a better illusion of intellegence. (Hard+ difficulty wasn't different than Hard.)

Quake 3, when compared to Quake 2, is considered better because of improved Mod Support and graphics. The game itself simply relied on multiplayer and mod support.

Doom 3, when compared to Quake 3, creates the exact same reasoning. Any expectations that came from the game was hyped by the customers, not the developers.

When was the last time iD Software released a *good* game? Not at all - they are engine developers, not game programmers. Any game released with their engine is simply good enough to demonstrate their engine so that other developers can purchase a licence and make a better product.

Epic did the same thing with its Unreal engine - some of their latest installments (UT2K3 and UT2K4) may be mediocre but the engine itself is extremely popular.

Re:Something had to be said... (1, Interesting)

Thumper_SVX (239525) | more than 8 years ago | (#14418545)

Maybe I'm just showing my age... but the cream of the crop in gaming was actually toward the end of the 8-bit era. Since there were no powerful CPU's or great graphics cards, gameplay took a front-row seat. The 16-bit era... at least at its inception... heralded a new era of graphics and incredible CPU power (for its time). Unfortunately, for many years the platforms suffered from "incredible-hardware-itis", where game makers spent more time focused on the graphics than the gameplay.

This got better; some 16-bit games toward the end of that era were great... but I still felt they lacked something from the 8-bit era. The 32-bit era (and primarily the PC) heralded even more, but delivered exponentially less. So much time these days is spent polishing the graphics and creating a marketing blitz, that somewhere along the way gameplay seems to have taken a back seat.

This has just gotten worse in recent years as "newer", "faster" and "glitzier" have become the watchwords of the game industry. The focus on adapting to the latest "cool tech" instead of spending time actually making the game fun to play.

There have been exceptions... but that's part of their problem; they're exceptions. What do I play these days on my PC? Freespace 2 still gets fired up occasionally (there are third-party updates that take advantage of newer hardware), and Independence War 2. These are good games that use the technology to advance the gameplay. Beyond that, a copy of UAE and copies of all my old Amiga games keep me occupied. I haven't seen a game in a long time I actually want to buy... I played Halo 2 on my friend's X-Box... but it was vapid. I also played Star Wars Battlefront 2 on his X-Box and found myself bored to tears after an hour or so. Is this what quality games are these days???

Politics (4, Insightful)

Quantum Skyline (600872) | more than 8 years ago | (#14418337)

Can't the same be said for newspapers with respect to political parties and politicians?

Game Journalists are afraid to burn bridges (1, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#14418342)

with Publishers and want to keep working in the field, so they write puff pieces..and the Author takes them to task for it..then doesn't name names or publications because he doesn't want to burn bridges and wants to keep working in the field?

True of most journalism try blogs (4, Informative)

Crashmarik (635988) | more than 8 years ago | (#14418352)

Heres a quick summary journalistic levels

Trade Publications : worst of the worst would be given away if the publishers were allowed to by their advertisers. Most of the articles are either written by employees of the advertisers, the rest is the lowest cost possible filler.

Review magazines: Especially true of car magazines but holds well for just about everything else. Toyota at one point asked what it would have to do be car of the year and was told buy out the issue. Its a little less blatant these days but no different. For game magazines ask yourself how every fisrt person shooter knockoff can have 4 to 5 stars or an 80% plus rating. Or how someone can select the most influential games of all time have them be 70% consolers and have half life as the rep for FPS games. Consumer reports is the exception but because they focus on so much their quality and conclusions arent as good as they could be

General readership magazines: Review space is pretty much advertising. The Stuff in stuff didn't just wind up there. The toys in t3 arent just picked at random.

Newspapers: Maybe, maybe not

If you wan't good reviews find a blog with coments, and look for it to have trashed stinkers you know about. This is good for anything. I really wish I had done that before I bought a DSM-320 network media player, it pays for hard drives and just look at all the people that own space heaters oops Intel processors.

Re:True of most journalism try blogs (1)

deathguppie (768263) | more than 8 years ago | (#14418548)

For game magazines ask yourself how every fisrt person shooter knockoff can have 4 to 5 stars or an 80% plus rating.


It's simple. Because just about every new big money game that comes out today is using the same level of technology, the same type of graphics, the same amount of work put into it.. etc. We just haven't had that big breakaway development that we had a few times in the 90's. The gaming world has figured out what people will buy and decideded, smartly to put thier money into that. No one is going to risk any huge sum of money and time on making anything over the top unless they can be sure their is going to be an equitable payoff in the end.

Re:True of most journalism try blogs (1)

Crashmarik (635988) | more than 8 years ago | (#14418628)

You know about half of everything is below average

I dont' know about you but... (1)

RyuuzakiTetsuya (195424) | more than 8 years ago | (#14418360)

... I get all my news from GAMEST, Arcadia Monthly and Famitsu. I don't see the problem.

Journalists are in for a rightous trashing. (4, Interesting)

crovira (10242) | more than 8 years ago | (#14418371)

And they deserve it. C-Net used to be honest, back when they had their TV show, but they turned into a Microsoft mouthpiece and everything was 'great, just great.'

I don't mind when things DON'T get reviewed. There are understandable limitations of time, space and money.

I DO mind when things are reviewed and it just reads like the press release from the company, and the reality is vastly different.

That's when I stop reading.

If you've nothing good to say, then say that you've got nothing good to say. Don't just blather on with the press release in one hand and the tatters of your integrity oozing through the fingers of the other hand.

And if you play something and it SUCKED, I expect to hear about why you thought it sucked and what could be done so it didn't suck so hard.

Sorry but lazy journalism is just PR work and payola.

Video Game Media Watch (4, Informative)

miller60 (554835) | more than 8 years ago | (#14418381)

If you're interested in video game journalism, check out the Video Game Media Watch [vgmwatch.com] blog written by Kyle Orland. Another good source of video game media criticism is GameDaily's weekly media column [gamedaily.com] . Also worthwhile is the International Game Journalists' Association [igja.org] .

In addition to pointing out all the bad journalism out there, these sites help identify blogs and magazines that strive to offer better writing and reviews. Visit those sites and click on a few ads. Marketing-driven articles continue to appear because game publishers pay the bills. That only changes if game mags and sites can develop business models where they are accountable primarily to you - their readers - rather than game companies.

Metacritic (4, Informative)

Laconian (578463) | more than 8 years ago | (#14418404)

For game reviews I tend to go to Metacritic [metacritic.com] . Metacritic aggregates critical scores and generates an average score number, which is a valuable indicator of critical consensus.

Poorly written, poorly edited (4, Insightful)

scowling (215030) | more than 8 years ago | (#14418409)

This was among the most poorly-written "professional" opinion pieces I've ever seen. Does TG Daily not have a copy editor? Does this McKenna kid actually get paid to write?

the formulaic, child-minded writing-for-the-lowest-common-marketing-denominato r style that encapsulates 99% of the mainstream videogame press

Encapsulates? That word does not mean what you think it means.

Starting in the most critical area of the videogame press's remit and where I have the most self-doubt about my own writings in the past

Is this English?

McKenna, I'm sure that you had point in there somewhere. From what I was able to decipher from your article, I'm pretty sure I agree with you, more or less. But I guarantee that you'd benefit from a couple of years of formal education in composition, and your work would certainly benefit from a couple of studious edits, preferably from someone else.

And for Pete's sake, lay off the parentheses, ellipses, generalizations, overuse of subordinate clauses, overuse of multiple descriptive adjectives per clause, and the like. Thankfully, you didn't use "quite" or "a tad" as qualifiers. You did, however, use "rather" several times; those three qualifiers are among the strongest indicators of amateur writing.

I'd sooner read well-written marketing copy than poorly-written criticism.

Re:Poorly written, poorly edited (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#14418434)

Encapsulates, " 1. To encase in or as if in a capsule.
      2. To express in a brief summary; epitomize: headlines that encapsulate the news." No. 2 seems to fit.

Re:Poorly written, poorly edited (1)

scowling (215030) | more than 8 years ago | (#14418467)

Doesn't look that way to me, except in the most general sense. Good writing is about precision. He is referring to a type of writing that makes up or comprises the bulk of a genre of press. By using 'encapsulate', he is reversing the composition.

Re:Poorly written, poorly edited (1)

fatphil (181876) | more than 8 years ago | (#14418440)

You forgot to add that the whole article could have been replaced with:

"""
I hate the videogame press.
So I don't read it.
"""

And _everyone_ would have been demonstrably happier.

To the author... (4, Insightful)

RoffleTheWaffle (916980) | more than 8 years ago | (#14418447)

... I say, "Thank you."

I've been telling my friends this kind of thing for a while... My opinion of the video game industry at large is already very negative, and my opinion of their bitches - yes, I said bitches, because that's what your usual video game journalist seems to be; an unwitting, unwilling bitch of a the magazine's marketing department and the 'big studios', fellating video games and companies he or she may not even like - in the press is even worse. This article sums the case up nicely. Video game magazines suck.

To restate some of the points made in the article, the average 'professional game reviewer and journalist', whose job it is to insult our taste and intelligence with their awful articles and reviews, is very juvenile and apparently unskilled in the field of journalism in general. This may or may not be an accurate portrayal of their skill as journalists - they may in fact be instructed to convey themselves as though their balls have yet to drop - but it doesn't make me think higher of them, considering that they appear to be lowering themselves to the level of mere children in order to please the marketing department. I can barely stomach most video game journalism, because it sounds like I'm listening to a pretentious, hyperactive twelve year old rave on about a new game his parents bought for him and then compliment his own 'skill' as a gamer, even though he hasn't played the game past the first level yet, and probably can't. I know the magazines are trying to relate to teens and pre-teens, because that's where the money's really at... but give me a break. This isn't 'PSM 4Kidz!'. This is supposed to be a witty, intelligent, professionally written publication, not some snot nosed brat's 5th grade English project about what video games he got for Christmas.

The reviews really get to me in particular. The previews, too, because they're so vapid and superficial, often praising only the visual elements of the games instead of telling me whether or not I'll be able to enjoy it sober, but the reviews are the best. My friends are frequently let down by the magazines, and yet they still eat it up. (Shame on them.) Each time it's the same story. They get hooked in by the hype in the previews, read these amazing reviews, and then go buy the game... And what happens? Two out of three times the game sucks ass, and they wind up feeling cheated. The reviews are, in my eyes, commercials. They're written like commercials, they flow like commercials, the pages are even set up like commercials. This is advertising, not an honest review, and it shows. Sometimes the reviews aren't even remotely accurate, falsely portraying certain elements of the games they cover to make them look better. This is why I wait to read user reviews of games online or learn about them through the grapevine. I'd rather learn about a game from somebody who has actually played it, not some two-bit hack of a journalist who's essentially being paid to lie.

Hearing this all come from a real insider - an actual video game journalist - is very refreshing, and I'm glad that he's finally coming clean about it with himself. That's the kind of honesty I'd like to see more often in the publications! Movie reviews could use a bit of that, too, but that's another story for another day. This guy really hits the nail on the head, and it's good to see a reviewer do some reviewing of his own, and take a good look at his work and what he and his colleagues have really been contributing to... It's a shame he might not have a job much longer. Maybe he'll go and start his own magazine or something...

Three words: (1)

xx01dk (191137) | more than 8 years ago | (#14418478)

Computer Games magazine. Written by adults, for adults. Go ahead, check it out next time you're at B&N or Borders, read a review on a new game, then shuffle over to PC Gamer or CGW and read a review about the same game. You'll see what I mean.

http://www.cgonline.com/ [cgonline.com]

Edge and Next-Generation (1)

clintkelly (208016) | more than 8 years ago | (#14418497)

The British magainze Edge is pretty decent. There was a US version called Next-Generation that I read about 5-10 years ago, but I don't think it sold very well and it eventually went away. Next-Generation was actually pretty stingy with their five-star ratings in their early days, and the writing was excellent.

I remember a few years ago (2, Insightful)

rylin (688457) | more than 8 years ago | (#14418499)

A couple of years ago when I was working with a big (gamespy-big, at the time) computer-game network.
We received a review-copy of a bull-riding game.
The reviewer in charge of the genre was amazed by the pure idiocy behind the game, and reviewed it VERY thoroughly - it got 4% on our review-scale.
We didn't actually believe we'd ever get another game from that publisher (ever), but lo and behold; we did.
The second time around, they scored 18% (mainly due to music by Lynyrd Skynyrd..).

My point?
There are sites writing honest reviews - most of them go offline due to financial reasons.
In other words; when you find a site you like - let their editors know, and do your damndest to keep them alive.

Great Article! (1)

jgbishop (861610) | more than 8 years ago | (#14418506)

I whole-heartedly agree with this entire article. I used to subscribe to Computer Gaming World, one of the finest computer gaming rags I was ever exposed to in the early 90s. But the writing degraded into juvenile drivel; employees were seemingly let go (Loyd Case being one fine example), and fewer and fewer staff members had to cover more and more stories. The apathy of these people was apparent, as each article got dumber every month.

So I stopped my subscription. I was unwilling to put up with the crap I was reading. Many of today's websites aren't that much better, and I only glance at reviews now (usually by zipping to the end to get the "final verdict"). Here's to hoping that someone will catch on and start writing a decent magazine (or whatever other piece of media) so that consumers can make sound, educated decisions.

Drivel (2, Informative)

mustafap (452510) | more than 8 years ago | (#14418511)

I write for a magazine, 2000 words per article each month. I wish I had this guys skill at writing absolutely nothing in 976 words. It would save me days each month

Nothing to see here, move on.

How to fix this? (1)

grumpygrodyguy (603716) | more than 8 years ago | (#14418514)

1) Create an indexed customer review structure like newegg's
2) Implement a strong moderation system like Wikipedia's
3) Find a way to compensate and reward outstanding reviewers.
4) Make this service easily accesible and simple to use.
5) ...
6) Consumers profit huge.

If a system like that became popular(and useable) it would force game publishers to hire better talent and more of it, instead of using 30% of their production budget to brainwash us into buying their 3rd rate products.

Oviously this guy does not know videogamessuck web (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#14418525)

lol

Lacks standard journalism skills (1)

rickmus (872230) | more than 8 years ago | (#14418527)

As a developer in the video game industry, every year I'm disappointed in the consistency of reviews as well as general fact checking. I've had a reviewer downgrade the score of one of my games because his cd rom drive was faulty. Recently, a review completely made up a name of a developer on the game, switched the job positions of another role, as from doing an 'interview' - well, some one wasn't paying attention. Generally, most previews of games have 'facts' that are completely made up. This later hurts us because we are now not 'including features promised'. In all, the whole video game journalism industry is a bit corrupt, in that they know that if reviews are too low, they won't get ad revenue.

PC Gamer (3, Interesting)

TubeSteak (669689) | more than 8 years ago | (#14418528)

PC Gamer recently got a new Editor-in-Chief

I'm not sure if he wrote it or not, but the first page of the reviews section was about their ratings system.

They sum up readers perceptions of game ratings, like this:
  • 95% and higher Great and/or "biased"
  • 90%-94% Good, but should've been rated higher than Doom3/Far Cry/HalfLife 2
  • 80%-89% Crap
  • 70%-79% Really Crap
  • 0%-69% Total Crap and/or "biased"


I'm sure it's somehow relevant.

I totally agree (1)

Psx29 (538840) | more than 8 years ago | (#14418554)

There just hasn't been a good game magazine. Especially considering that I buy solely imports and there are no longer any magazines that offer reviews of any kind on import games. And import magazines are actually more annoying to purchase than the games in many ways...and they're not necessarily that great either. So really if I could get a band of people together and write something that actually sounds decent and has a nice layout for a game magazine I could be rich eh?

Thank goodness someone said it. (5, Interesting)

cgenman (325138) | more than 8 years ago | (#14418567)

As a person who earns his living making video games, video game reviewing has always been a sore spot.

We read all of the reviews. All of them. IGN, Gamespot, Famitsu, Edge, Joystick101, The Atlanta Herald... you name it we've read it. This is where we get our impresson of people's impression of the game. This is where we get fodder to make alterations to future games. And you know what, it's disheartening when nearly every review gets at least one thing factually wrong. It's disheartening when the reviewer clearly hasn't played more than 15 minutes into the game that you just spend 16 months creating. And it's disheartening when the reviewer keeps talking about boobies and poop and fart jokes like he was a 12 year old on the playground.

One of the most insightful pieces I've read talked about how Half-Life 2 used darkness to symbolize safety and bright, light areas as a sign of danger. But this was Game Developer magazine talking about art direction, not a reviewer talking about the game itself. Maybe it is too much to ask for a reviewer to take as in-depth a look at a game as a developer would, but there is direction to be had here. Compare and contrast with other titles, plot developments, gameplay structures, etc. Give insight into what the developers were trying to achieve and what they created. Put the game into context. Even Ebert will delve a little bit into the movie school theory behind the movies.

Even as simple sources of opinions, reviewers frequently fall down. Afraid of "offending" any publishers, they don't say anything negative about certain titles. Afraid of stepping out of line, they keep their scores in line with everyone else's. I saw a review the other day that said "X may very well be the best game available on the PS2." He then gave it a 70%, same as everyone else.

There is a lot of room for innovation and insight in video game reviews. Hopefully somebody will pick up that opportunity and run with it.

Re:Thank goodness someone said it. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#14418615)

This is a bit off-topic, but I'd be very interested in reading the article about Half Life that you mentioned. Could you post a link to it, please?

I agree with what he says for the most part (2, Interesting)

MysteriousMystery (708469) | more than 8 years ago | (#14418581)

The video game industry and media are not like other medias, this is particularly with regard to things like Previews and Reviews. As he mentions video game magazines are 1/3 or more filled with previews. Having worked in the print side of the video game media in the past I can tell you that you can't say anything negative about a product in a "preview" without being complained at by marketing managers, product managers and PR people all of whom will threaten to withdraw advertising or support from your publication if you continue to do so since the game is only a preview. Similarly relationships with game companies are always tense, generally speaking games are ranked on a scale of 5-10 not 1-10. A game rated 5 is as good as being ranked 0 since the average game (use gamerankings.com which indexes magazine and large website reviews as an example) gets around a 7. The reason this is the case has a lot to do with the fact that if a company comes back to you as a reviewer (or your editor) and says "We're upset our game was given score X" your editor can always say "Well, 5 out of ten is average" when in reality it's not.

Doom 3 and Half-Life 2 (1)

c_spencer100 (714310) | more than 8 years ago | (#14418597)

A prime example of this is Doom 3. Once some of the original preveiws gave it a luke-warm reception, it seemed that everyone of other websites had somewhat of a "copy-cat" opinion of the game. Granted the game wasn't perfect, but after so much, they seemed to be nit-picking. It really came off as the usual cheesy "cater to the crowd", and dogpile the unpopular guy.
 
An exampled on the positive end of the spectrum was Half-Life 2. Yes the game has many strong points, but it's almost as if the reviews were afraid to mention the weak ones (at least with the same strong emphasis that was put on Doom 3's shortcommings). The fact that the game was short, had server problems on launch, slight ambiguity in the storyline, and was far too easy for a $55 game was barely even mentioned, and the game was hailed as the greatest of all time.
 
My point is this: the majortiy fo the game reviews suck, because in order to truely give a good reveiw, you have to be impartial - not report what you think the public wants to hear.

The PC Gamer CIV4 example (2, Interesting)

GISGEOLOGYGEEK (708023) | more than 8 years ago | (#14418607)

PC Gamer prides itself in writing reviews when a game comes out, not waiting for patches since when you buy the game, you're stuck with it for weeks if it is a lemon until a patch finally arrives, thus encouraging publishers to not release a game til its ready.

I'm not sure when the last time they actually followed the practice was, but i'm guessing it's been years.

Take CIV4 for example.

I did them a favour of informing them of how a significant percentage of gamers could not play the game because of brutal bugs that get worse as the game progresses. And I warned them that if they ignored it, they'd loose me as a reader as well as everyone else I could pass the word on to. They obviously didn't care.

For many, excitedly buying CIV4 when it came out meant nasty graphics problems ending in a crash to desktop or bluescreen. Playing with the large map settings made the game entirely unplayable beyond the early stages with turns that took exponentially longer until the crashes happen.

For at least 2 months gamers were subjected to this bullshit with almost no word out of 'gaming god' Sid Meier's Firaxis.

Then what do you know, a miracle happened. A patch was released and the game became playable, and was finally the game we expected.

I think it was the next damn day (gee what a coincidence) that I found the PC Gamer issue with a massive review suddenly now available which expounded on what an incredible game it is, gave it a very high mark in lines with the past CIV games ... and spent only about 2 sentances describing that the game may have been released early in an 'unpolished' and 'slightly buggy' state !!!!

They mention that a few gamers had posted about problems in a forum. No mention was made about the wide spread crash to desktop problem. This game deserved a mark in the low 40's, not mid 90's.

It's total bullshit. hundreds complained on the CIV4 fansite forums. hundreds tried to find any link between their hardware and the crashes ... which there was none, it was purely buggy programming. hundreds were very pissed off that they had trusted the great Sid Meier name and been screwed over simply so that CIV4 could launch before AOE3.

So I'm sticking to my word. I'm not buying PC Gamer anymore and several of my friends are doing the same. A couple of them are serious CIV fans and will not be giving their money to Firaxis over the way they've treated their fans.

pointlessness? (1)

slunk1 (694204) | more than 8 years ago | (#14418629)

what about the pointlessness of writing about the pointlessness of gamer journalism... don't we all know this already?
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