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This week’s Lesson continues diving into industry developments and issues. On a related note, it seems a hot topic lately has been the validity and value of game reviews (ranking a game two stars out of five, for example). Game reviews show up practically everywhere – you can find them on PC game sites like Steam (“thumbs up” or “thumbs down”), console systems like the XBox (usually a star ranking), and even on department store websites if you’re purchasing a disc or a cartridge. And anyone can review or rate a game – from studio employees, to professional gamers, to your neighbor’s eight-year old son or daughter.
While the participatory angle of reviewing games can be beneficial, it is possible for a game to receive an unfair review or an unfair series of reviews, both positive and negative. These reviews could come from parents’ groups, religious leaders, educators, or political groups – or those that “spam” or “bot” the review page for a good game with many negative reviews and comments, mainly because the game might contain material that they find offensive. Even though the game may not warrant bad reviews, special interest groups can cause a negative image to be created and spread.
The same can happen with a bad game (“bad” in the sense of poor). A review site for a bad game can be spammed with positive reviews from people who possibly have a financial or personal investment in the game. These may be studio employees, company public relations departments, fans of the game, people who have never played it but think it “cool,” or have other agendas. As with those offering negative reviews, there can be ulterior motives for proclaiming a game “great.”
Lost in all the chaff, the words of the independent “pro” reviewers (notably those writing for game magazines) are often ignored or dismissed. For these (and other) reasons, many industry professionals (designers, producers, writers) as well as gamers are in favor of eliminating online reviews and review scores altogether. Read the following article for more opinions and reasons for eliminating review systems or keeping them:
After you read the article, think about your own experiences with reviews and write a post about them. Some things to consider:
Has a review ever persuaded you to purchase a game (or not purchase a game)? If so, what was the game?
Have you ever been surprised by a game review? Has there ever been an instance for you where a “good” game received a bad review score, or vice-versa?
Do you trust review scores? Why or why not? If you do not trust review scores, how do you determine whether to purchase a new game or not?
Can you think of a better review process for consumers than what is currently in place?
Any other comments or thoughts you might have…
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