I Give Scores A 2 Out of 10
It’s a funny industry we live in. It’s relatively young and very foolish at times. The part of it I’ve spent lots of time with recently is what some would refer to as the ‘journalism’. On occasion I despair at it; I talk at people on Twitter about it and we all agree there are some things that just aren’t right (*cough*DoritosandMountainDew*cough*). Pardon me. Anyway, there’s one part of it all that’s a little less black and white and that is the use of review scores and the way we use them. Now, I’m sure this article won’t rock the gaming world, but it would be nice if TheGameJar’s little corner of it could have a chat about them.
I’m sure you’ve all seen charts like the one below for much larger sites and granted there are, at the time of writing, only a total of 44 game reviews on this site (there are two others for hardware but I’ve discounted them – if you were wondering they were both 9s) and there will be a couple more up by the time this goes out. At TheGameJar we like to think we give you honest opinions and have a fair, even score system. The first I know to be true but this graph proves the second otherwise. Now, the way I rationalise this is that there are multiple writers, all playing games and have enjoyed them, therefore have given a score they think appropriate. That makes sense to me because once a game has been played through and you think it deserves a 7 you’re not going to consider averaging that next to all the other genres and games that are on the site.
On the other hand, mathematics does say that the biggest spike should be in the middle with decreasing sized bars either side of it. Sometimes I find it difficult to give a score and spend far too much time thinking about that, when I could be writing something interesting about it for you guys!
When we talk about our reviews with other people occasionally they ‘strongly disagree’. Occasionally I have seen that no progress is made – everyone gets frustrated with each other. For example, here is a review of a building (because shut up):
“Battersea Power Station is a reminder that utility buildings can be functional and look good equally. It is a national treasure and after being featured on the cover of Pink Floyd’s album Animals it is even more so. Unfortunately after being decommissioned it has fallen into disrepair and is surrounded by rubble and broken windows. I give this building a 9/10.”
Without the context of the paragraph that came before it, the score has almost no meaning. Even with the rest of the review the score doesn’t add much because I have already learned what the person thinks of the building from the content and tone of their article.
Another problem arises from this. When a person just reads the score and thinks that Battersea is more of a 7, we haven’t learned anything from our difference of opinion – we are just arguing about numbers. I would be far more interested to know that they prefer Bankside Power Station down the Thames because it is less dilapidated.
They can be helpful as a buyer’s guide (deciding between two similar new titles etc)
It can be a good way of deciding how close the reviewer’s thoughts are to yours quickly
By making a chart like the one above we can see how even a site’s scores fair
They can get in the way of good discussion if somebody disagrees
They can be abused in many different ways (eg being paid for scores/user score bombing)
A user might just read the score and ignore the article
Sometimes I find it difficult to give a score and spend far too much time thinking about that when I could be writing something interesting about it for you guys! I rarely read a score when going to another site for their opinion.