Last month, popular gaming youtuber Videogamedunkey released a video slamming game critics. Sites like IGN were called out for being inconsistent and lacking when it comes to building a case for why they reviewed a game in a particular way. Many critics even took to twitter to express their dissatisfaction with the video, claiming that Dunkey “hated them” and put many of their jobs in jeopardy. In reality, the video is exactly what the industry and it’s writers needed to hear, as it does an excellent job at grounding the idea of a definitive score.

It’s easy to misinterpret the video as simply an attack on game critics for the sake of doing so. However, there’s much more to it. The real meaning of the video is stated right from the start: the only difference between a popular gaming critic and a random youtube commenter is that one of them gets paid to share their opinion. In a way, it validates the fact that your opinion is just as important and meaningful as the critic’s opinion. People can easily fall into the misguided impression that a review score carries a certain authoritative value when in reality it’s just a made up number by someone who had an opinion.

The validity of a “review score” is also brought into question by Dunkey. He cites an example of how the language of IGN’s New Super Mario Bros. U review doesn’t really reflect the score it was given. The critic makes tons of negative remarks towards the game during the course of the review, yet he ends up giving it a 9.1/10. This isn’t the only inconsistency pointed out in the video either. He claims that it’s harder to meaningfully follow the reviews of massive gaming websites because they are all done by different people. These different people are bound to have different opinions. Following the individual rather than the site itself gives the readers a better picture on what types of games this person enjoys. However, sites like Opencritic have made it easier to follow certain reviewers if there is one you feel matches your own personal tastes.

The reaction from popular critics perfectly sums up the narrative here. Instead of recognizing the fundamental faults of the industry itself, they immediately go on the defensive. For example, reviews for popular games tend to be pushed out way too quickly in order to be one of the first on Metacritic with their “score.” Instead of contributing anything meaningful to the discussion, they simply dismiss the video and pretend not to care about it. Perhaps the critics themselves aren’t very good at taking criticism?

So what does this mean for me as a writer? What does this mean for you as a player? It means that my verdict on the quality of a game is just as important as yours. You don’t have to echo the opinions of critics, as they are nothing more than an opinion with a number attached to it. Don’t let the all-important “score” of a game determine whether or not you will allow yourself to enjoy it. It’s best to think of these review scores as simply another gamer’s opinion rather than an official decree of some sort. That’s what we all are at the end of the day.

Zack Rezak

  • Gabriel Cavalcanti

    I’m always shocked when people give too much attention to review scores, says the guy who’s been doing a bunch of harsh reviews lately (that is, me).

    But seriously, reviews and their scores never kept me from playing something. I rather use them to have an idea of what I’m getting into instead of a definitive verdict. I’ve never been a huge fan of scores, but developers and publishers seem to live for those. If anything, it helps them with promotion more than it helps playerswho shouldn’t be basing their entire opinion on a number set by someone they don’t know, as you said.