Dear Adam Sessler – It’s because we viewers have to BUY the games… and I don’t have all day.

imageI was watching a podcast rant by Adam Sessler from G4TV called “I Hate Numbers”whom I have a tremendous amount of respect for by the way for his energy, passion, intellect, and capacity for introspective thought – and he was raving, once again, about how he hates summarizing games into a rating from 1-5.

His rant revolves around what he considers the near impossibility of trying to be objective about something he considers art, the difficulty of comparing one genre to another, and the need to declare one game ‘better’ than the other in some sort of competition.

But he never mention the intent of the reader.  During his diatribe about the art of gaming, the inanity of summarizing reviews into a number, the difficulties of violating his principals, how a “little part of him dies”, etc. etc. he never once mentioned that the whole reason people read G4TV’s reviews is to answer the question…

IS THERE A POSSIBILITY THAT I SHOULD I SPEND MY HARD-EARNED, LIMITED QUANTITY, CASH ON THIS GAME?
Let’s say I can buy only one game this month.  There’s 8 amazing titles out there that I’m interested in.  Should this game be in the running? 

  • Are the controls flawed? 
  • Is everyone saying the game plot is boring? 
  • Are there bugs in the game play?
  • Is it an unoriginal carbon copy of another game I already have?

Before these questions are answered, I couldn’t care LESS about art, genres, and principles.  It’s my dollar and I’m depending on industry experts to tell me if I’m dropping cash on something that the rest of the world – in general – thinks is crap.  Metafilter, G4, IGN, and other sites are just tools to help me understand that quickly & at a glance because I’m a gamer – not a reviewer – and all I want to spend time on is knowing “MAYBE” or “NO”.  And even after this I need to then ask…

WOULD THIS GAME ALIGN WITH MY TASTES?
After it passes the “is it broken” test, then it’s possibly about art & subjective opinion.  But even then, there are factors that allow a viewer to make an

  1. ONE VOICE, ONE OPINION
    A reviewer’s voice doesn’t represent everyone’s.  Only theirs.  And that’s fine.  For example, I don’t listen to the movie critics from the Los Angeles Times.  I think their opinions do not reflect my opinions AT ALL.  If people don’t find that G4’s opinions aren’t in alignment with theirs… they’ll simply disregard it.
  2. WE NEED TO KNOW HOW THE GAMES BREAK DOWN
    Breaking down a game into its facets and analyzing them is something any reviewer does.  This needs to be done because the rest of us don’t have the game yet, and this is the only feedback we get.  For example:  for many, the VATS autolock system in Fallout 3 is heinous because it diminishes the FPS elements of the game… for others, it’s glorious because it keeps the focus on the rest of the gameplay & story.
  3. LIMITED TIME, LIMITED MONEY
    Viewers are not in the business of gambling with our dollars & we don’t have an infinite amount of time.  Like it or not, people make BUYING DECISIONS based on opinions of reviewers and they need to make those decisions quickly.  Why?  Because we don’t have all day.  Gaming is supposed to be a recreational task – not some arduous critique of “one company’s ART versus another’s”.

I have more to say about this but the bottom line is this:

As a viewer, I have a very limited budget, and a very limited amount of time.  I respect Adam Sessler’s opinion & think that it likely reflects much of my own tastes – otherwise, I wouldn’t bother watching X-Play or G4 or Sessler’s Soapbox or whatever the hell he’s on. 

So do I want a numeric score for each game reviewed?  HELL YEAH.  Is it meaningful?  HELL YEAH.  Does it make Adam cringe when he has to summarize games in this way?  MAYBE.  But that’s the job & that’s the way it’s done & that’s what I need as a viewer. 

So quit your bitching & suck it up, review boy.  Now get back to work.
Smile

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