Shawn Elliott: Symposium Part Two: Review Policy, Practice and Ethics.
In part two of this excellent conversation between a great collection of some of the more thoughtful minds reviewing and covering videogames for a living (Part 1 is here on review scores) covers some great new ground. It’s very text heavy, but here are a few of my thoughts on their discussions:
– It starts off with a question of “Should a game reviewer by knowledgeable about the genre of game he/she is reviewing?” My take? Yes and no. For me it depends on the genre. For one like say role playing games, I know the genre well and know the standards by which most games are judged, so I would like in a review that I’d read about the game the reviewer to be at a similar level. Tell me about the game, what sets it apart from others in the crowded marketplace, and if it’s innovations (if any) along with it’s gameplay and story make it worth playing. In this case I value someone with a background in the genre, and their knowledge.
But take something like a more action/adventure game. I love these games as well, but I’m not as well versed in the genre. I’d like a review that isn’t about how it compares to other games (“the controls are similar to [i]Action Man 2[/i]”) and other references I may not get. Tell me what’s good and bad about the game, and why you’d recommend it or not, and I’ll go from there. I want the reviewer to be knowledgeable about the genre they are covering but their review to be written for the masses and not the genre fanboys.
– I guess what the above is really saying is that reviews really depend on the audience that is reading them. I like some of 1UP’s RPG coverage, because they are not afraid to get into the nitty gritty of the genre, but I tend to avoid their reviews about other genre’s because I am not part of the target audience for those reviews. Some sites and publications know their audience well and write to it.
– There was a brief mention of writers developing a following. I’m in agreement that if I have read a given writer enough and know how his/her tastes line up with mine, I can better judge how well a game they review will line up with my own likes and dislikes.
– I loved the idea towards the end of feature type “fresh take reviews” of people who aren’t into a type of game or don’t have the baggage of previous games in a series. I’d read one, and I’d get an educated look as to if I’d really want to jump into a game.
– One of the best bits for me was at the end. The idea put forth by Harry Allen. Gamers change. Especially with the coming of children. My genre and types of games I like didn’t dramatically change, but I find myself going for simpler games, quieter games, and games that are shorter. I still love to game, and I know I’ll play with my son, but my habits have changed, and I don’t foresee them going back for now.