Blog / On Criticism

A critic’s job is not to reflect the public opinion, but to inform it.

Art may be judged by how well it achieves what it sets out to do.

Ratings should be meaningful and distinct. The difference between each rank of the rating system should be obvious to the reviewer and the reader.

The last sentence is my main criticism of video game reviews. Since game reviews originated in magazines, which sold to American school age children, who are used to 100 point grading schemes, there’s an implied 100 point scale. Even when someone uses a 10 point scale they’re not giving the game a meaningful and distinct score.

Try it yourself: read the entirety of a game review that uses a 10 point system and imagine the final score was one point higher or lower. Would that new number seem unusual or conflict with what you just read? If so it’s not a meaningful rating.

My preferred system would be a four star scale with no half stars. A four star review doesn’t mean it’s perfect, just that it’s the best it can be at the time. 10 point scales tend to hang on to that 10/10 rating like it’s a stack of Elixirs at the end of a Final Fantasy game.

Think of your favorite, best game. The apex of its genre. Breath of the Wild, Witcher 3, Disco Elysium, Metroid Prime, etc.

Imagine it received 3/4 stars. Seems wrong, doesn’t it?

Now imagine it received a 9/10. Seems like it happens all the time, doesn’t it?