Blog TheEndOfReviews

Published on March 13th, 2013 | by Christian


The End of Reviews

Welcome once again to another Wednesday update here on Gaijin Densetsu.  This week I want to do something different than what we’ve been doing since the site launched.  Instead of doing a game review, news post, or sort of a big-picture editorial, I’d like to spend some time discussing changes in the direction of the site which are going to manifest mainly in upcoming Wednesday updates.

When Peter and I started Gaijin Densetsu, we had some rough ideas about what we wanted to do with the site, but outside of making sure that the site would always get original content on Wednesdays and news on Saturdays, nothing was ever set in stone.  We had a kind of attitude that we could just post whatever we wanted, and everything would sort of work itself out.  One thing we did discuss though, was that we didn’t want to try and compete with other game sites and blogs.  There are tons of sites doing day-1 reviews, previews, and re-posting dozens of press-releases per day.  We didn’t want to do that.  It’s not that those sites aren’t valuable,  because they are. I use them all the time.  The main reason was that we were doing this as a hobby in our spare time, and that if we were going to spend our already limited free time creating content for the site, it should be original and idiosyncratic to us.

I’ve been really happy with the content we’ve produced on the site over the past two months.  It’s not easy producing posts of the length that we’ve been doing here on a weekly basis, but we’ve managed to stick to our schedule do it despite having our free time split between a multitude of other hobbies and obligations.  One thing we’ve realized though, is that we don’t want to do any more reviews.  There are a lot of reasons for this, but I’ll just lay out the big ones:

Review scores don’t matter

Unless you’re a marketer or an analyst, review scores don’t matter. Look at the comments section of any big game site that does reviews, and you’ll see basically two kinds of comments.  The first are people who are disagreeing with the reviewer’s score.  These people don’t care about reviews, they’ve already made their mind up, and have just come to the site to either affirm their beliefs or express their disagreement. The second are people who decide they either A) will buy the game now or B) will not buy the game based on the score given.  These people are fools of the highest caliber. Just because some random dude on the internet gave a game a 6/10, that doesn’t mean you shouldn’t go and play that game.  You might like it a lot more than he/she does.  Conversely, there are games that receive high scores that you might wind up hating. A good review should be objective, but often times even “professional” reviewers are obviously letting their personal biases factor into their evaluation of a game.

Reviews warp the way you look at games

Those of use who’ve been around for a while will remember times when it was standard for sites to have review scores broken down into multiple categories with sub-scores for graphics, sound, “gameplay” or whatever else kind of bull-shitty descriptors they came up with.  Games are not the sum of their parts.  Even on sites where those categories don’t exist anymore, their specter still lingers and you see it come up in the text of the review.  The medium has matured to a point where we don’t have to be interested in how technically proficient games are anymore.  As proof that we’ve come that far, just look at all the games that are deliberately going for a retro feel these days.  We need to stop judging games by archaic standards and start looking at how they make us feel, and what they have to say about the world around us.

So what’s this mean for Gaijin Densetsu?

Not to toot my own horn, but I think a good example of this is my article about Dark Souls from earlier this year.  I wrote that article for two reasons.  The first, is because I haven’t finished Dark Souls and there is a sort of tacit understanding that reviewers should finish the game they’re reviewing.  The second more important reason, is that my Dark Souls review would not have been very interesting.  You want to read my review for Dark Souls? here it is:

Dark Souls is hands down the best game of this generation. Don’t believe me? Too bad, you’re wrong. 5/5

See, that’s not very useful.  Instead, what I want to do with the Wednesday update on Gaijin Densetsu is write more articles like the one I wound up doing. Articles that look closely at a particular aspect of a game that struck a chord with me the way the personal narrative in Dark Souls did.  My hope is that articles like that will be more like the image at the top of this page: a rope bridge to a mysterious place where anything can happen, and not a formulaic bullet list you can find on a hundred different sites across the web.

I hope you’ll come back and see what some of these articles are.  I’ve already got an idea about next week’s, and I think you’ll really enjoy it, so come back and check it out!  Also, don’t forget to come by and check out our news round-ups on Saturdays, and I know the video content has not been regular, but life has a nasty habit of getting in the way of things, so stay tuned cause it will be coming back.

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