Be Fair When You Review Video Games

Play the video game from beginning to end!

Experience all that the game has to offer.

Understand what the game is about, how one plays it and what the developers intended.

Judge the work. Tell me why it is a good game or a bad game. Be fair.

Why should I care about this video game and your review? Why is this game significant, if at all?


How do you review video games?

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46 Comments

Filed under Video Game Misc., Video Games: Reader Q&A

46 responses to “Be Fair When You Review Video Games

  1. slannxe

    Most big name game review sites like IGN feel way too stale. I like giving my reviews a sense of me. Not holding back. Using ‘I’ a lot because it is my review. It is my opinion.
    Of course you have to play everything a game has to offer to even be allowed to review it I think.

    Liked by 4 people

  2. Fair and balanced is definitely hard, as we all have opinions that shade our view of things. But I usually start with the characters and the story and spiral my way out from there. I try to be cognizant of when my inner fan is trying to come out (to praise or to criticize), too, which (usually, I hope) keeps me on track.

    Have you come across an underwhelming review or two recently?

    Liked by 4 people

  3. I try to follow these rules when reviewing games. Hopefully it shows a little bit. I know I don’t always agree with popular opinion, but I hope I get my reasons why across.

    Liked by 1 person

  4. gouldfish44

    Most certainly! Games should definitely be completed in full before reviewing. I myself, cannot blog about a game until I know the ins and outs of it.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Yes, I hope everyone finishes the game before reviewing.

      Like

      • Chris Scott

        I’m not entirely sure I agree with that line of thinking. I’ve been reviewing games/movies on the internet for a decade plus now. And while 95% of my reviews have been written after I’ve “finished” the game (or seen the credits), I have written reviews in the past of games that I quit on for various reasons (game breaking bugs, difficulty, etc…). I feel those reviews do have value because I did not hide the fact that I quit on it but instead let the reader know why I did and where that left me with my opinion of the game.

        Additionally, there have been plenty of times where I’ve played a game all the way through but at the end I know I could have written the review based on my initial take after a few hours of play because my opinion never changed. For good or bad.

        For me as long as the reviewer is honest with their experience and presents an argument backed by a starting point of giving the title a fair shot then the review has merit.

        Most people are never going to get the “full” experience of a game. For instance, I am never going to go back and play Resident Evil 7 on Hard or Madhouse difficulty but does my not experiencing that diminish my experience and opinion of the game? I don’t think it does and as long as I give you my honest opinion on the game, there is some value in it. Just as someone who only plays two hours of Resident Evil 7 and quits on it because it is too intense for them offers value to someone as well. Maybe it doesn’t offer value to me, or maybe my review doesn’t offer value to them, but someone out there will find value in it. And as long as opinions are being shared and we’re having good open discourse on those opinions then it is a good thing.

        Liked by 1 person

        • I think you make some excellent points that I did not address in my post. First, broken games are an important exception to my post, and I think you handle reviewing these games well. Second, I think you should at least be honest with you readers if you’ve “…written the review based on my initial take after a few hours…”. It sounds like you include that. Third, questions about difficulty are interesting. I’m not sure one needs to play a game on all difficulty modes to be able to complete any game and give a review. Tell the reader what difficulty you beat it on and mention there were other difficulty modes that you tried and or didn’t try.

          I think one should try to experience all the game has to offer — with some exceptions. You’ve listed some of those exceptions in your comment. In cases where these exceptions occur, I think the reviewer should inform the reader. For example, if the reviewer felt two hours of playing was enough to review the game, then the reviewer should disclose this to reader. And they should probably say if there was much more to the game.

          Liked by 1 person

  5. I will only review a game once I’ve gained what I feel to be a complete experience, and have had time to develop a full opinion on it. I don’t always play through it from beginning to end, or even complete all of the content, but I won’t fully review a game if I haven’t had enough time with it. My CoD Infinite Warfare impressions post was that way. I didn’t play it enough to give a fair review, so I posted my thoughts on it instead.

    I think the best course of action for reviews is to give the game a fair chance. I consider not only what I feel the developer was intending to create, but also what actually translates to the player. I consider the audience for the game as well; what I feel they would enjoy.

    I also think that scores can skew the results of the review, so I don’t offer them. There seems to be a disconnect in the gaming community about what marks an average score as well.

    In the end though, I see all reviews as subjective, because that’s really what they are. There’s been so many calls by people to offer objective opinions on games, which is illogical.

    Just my $0.02.

    Liked by 2 people

    • Excellent points! I agree. I think you’ve done a good job thinking about how to review games. I like how you made a distinction between reviewing a game and posting some of your thoughts on part of a game.

      Liked by 1 person

  6. I try to review games only if I have beaten them, or at the very least sunk a substantial amount of time into them. A few hours isn’t enough because who knows if something that is initially fun may get repetitive after a while. Then there is the Mass Effect 3 case were most people’s scores went down due to the finale.

    When it comes to writing up reviews I try to be concise and sum things up in five paragraphs. Not everyone has the time to read in depth reviews that exceed one thousand words. I try to sprinkle a bit of humor into reviews too. Back when I read magazines I always preferred the funnier ones over the overly serious ones.

    Liked by 2 people

    • I love that you try to add humour to your reviews. That sounds like a good approach to make reviews interesting to read. I also like concise writing, and appreciate that you strive for that in your reviews.

      Liked by 1 person

  7. I tend to finish those that I review, although I have written about the occasional one I haven’t completed yet if I feel it is that unpleasant to play or that there isn’t anything more the game has to show me. I do agree that seeing as much of, if not all, of a game is important.

    Liked by 1 person

  8. And leave Final Fantasy XIII alone you big bullies! *starts sobbing*

    Liked by 1 person

  9. I always finish games that can be finished before I review them. Games like Civilization don’t really have a “ending” so you can’t really play to the end. As far as people liking my reviews go I don’t care. I’m honest in everything I review and if you like that’s find and if you don’t that’s fine too.

    Liked by 1 person

  10. I like this advice and try to follow it as much as possible. I will always complete the story of a game before reviewing it and try to experience as much of the game as possible, although I may not get 100% completion on the game, which inhibits my ability to discuss some of the hidden features in the game. I also try to be fair and express an opinion based on the game I played, rather than get distracted by popular opinion or personal bias, however, there are some games I just enjoy more and prefer some genres over others. I also try to list the good and bad points of a game and explain why they are effective or useless. I should probably shorten my reviews though.
    How much of a game would you say you have to complete to be able to produce a fair review? 100% completion? Or less? Isn’t it difficult to provide a fair and balanced review of games when most reviewers have personal preferences in games? Some prefer different genres. Some reviewers like light-hearted games while others prefer serious ones. Wouldn’t this affect the review as the reviewer would not understand how a game is good when reviewing a different genre?

    Liked by 1 person

    • “How much of a game would you say you have to complete to be able to produce a fair review?” Good question. That depends on the game. I think if a game has a simple story, then one should finish it. I would think the reviewer should try to experience all the game has to offer and be attentive. One cannot just skip to the end of a game, like picking random passages from a book, and declare it was bad. Of course, the reviewer might need to adapt their method depending on the complexity and type of game.

      Some games don’t have simple stories. I think, then, the amount of the game one needs to play will change based on the type of game. The reviewer should feel like they’ve experienced enough and understand how the game plays; the technical problems, if any; the developer’s intentions, the audience, etc…

      “Isn’t it difficult to provide a fair and balanced review of games when most reviewers have personal preferences in games?”

      I’m sure it can be difficult. Of course reviewers have personal preferences. They can decide what to review and what not to review. If they decide to review something, they need to experience and understand the game before they can pass judgment — no matter what their preference. That, to me, is “fair.”

      Who would want to read a review of a book if you knew the reviewer had purposely skipped key pages and made a deliberate effort to distort the author’s meaning? What kind of video game reviewer only plays the end of the game or just reads the back of the box? Or, for example, what kind of reviewer let’s their hatred of a developer or a game’s marketing cloud their judgment? I wouldn’t want to read those pieces. Those reviewers would need to deal with those problems before they publish anything.

      We can think of many more examples.

      “Some reviewers like light-hearted games while others prefer serious ones. Wouldn’t this affect the review as the reviewer would not understand how a game is good when reviewing a different genre?”

      I think the reviewer should still try to experience and try understanding the game before judging it, even if they prefer “serious” games — if they choose to review it at all. They can’t just trash talk a “light-hearted” game or only write about parts of the game they didn’t like. What’s the point of that? I guess it could be a facetious review.

      If a reviewer dislikes an entire genre, maybe they could add a disclaimer to their review and try to keep an open mind in the future.

      Good questions that got me thinking 🙂 ! I didn’t post everything and I’m not sure if I said everything as well as I could, but I tried.

      Like

      • Thanks for the reply. I agree with your views regarding how much of the game can be completed before developing a balanced view of the game. I feel that completing the game main story should be acceptable, without needing to collect every secret item. It would also be useful to have some experience of the extra features (such as mini-games and multiplayer modes) so the reviewer can create an opinion of more of the game. I also enjoyed your ideas about a fair review. I find bloggers produce more interesting reviews than many print journalists as they understand the games more and do not see as producing another review to demonstrate heir wit

        Liked by 1 person

  11. Could not agree more! I always finish a game beginning to end before I review, unlike a lot of ‘professional’ websites

    Liked by 1 person

  12. I may have my preferences and what I think works for a game, but when I write something or make a video, I try my absolute best to view it from what I feel the creators intended to make. I try to keep the GAME the focus of the piece, not myself.

    Liked by 1 person

  13. Or they’re looking to say something (or have a headline) intentionally incendiary, knowing it might bring in clicks or hits, but lacking sincerity.

    Liked by 1 person

  14. When you say full experience that doesn’t necessarily mean the whole game. When I review, say, an assasins creed game I will spend about 10 hours with it. Try all the types of sidequests, go halfway in the campaign, upgrade a little bit. I dont think I need to finish the whole campaign and 100% it before I can give a thorough recommendation or critiscism.

    Liked by 1 person

  15. In my opinion, if the game can’t even push a player to the finish line then I think that is in itself a trait worth reviewing.

    I say just review it without any ulterior motive and you’re good to go.

    Liked by 1 person

    • “In my opinion, if the game can’t even push a player to the finish line then I think that is in itself a trait worth reviewing…”

      A very good point right here. Glad I got so many comments and heard so many different perspectives.

      Like

  16. It seems that I’m in the same boat as the rest of my fellow reviewers in the comments. I strive to finish the game first before I even type a single critical word over it. I also very much try to maintain a balance on critical writing vs. emotional writing. However, that line is sometimes crossed when a game triggers a certain emotion you just can’t ignore. Keep writing everyone!

    Liked by 1 person

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