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Topic: Why do gamers go on about "bias" in games reviews as though it's a bad thing?

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Bankai

1. Posted:

This really does confuse me. Constantly I see gamers on N4G and NeoGAF go on about reviewer "bias" (or "subjectivity" if it's a more verbose gamer) as though it's a dirty word in games criticism.

And yes I do realise that both those communities are filled with dimwits, but stay with me, because I see similar arguments made by smarter folks too, so evidently it's a pervasive train of thought, and I'd like to figure out where it comes from.

Why do so many fail to realise that a game review is a piece of criticism, which by nature is subjective? It's an opinion piece, not a factual statement. It's especially strange to me when people go on about "biased reviews" being "bad journalism" when, if you do a journalism course, one of the first things you'll learn is that opinion pieces are subjective.

It's like gamers expect every critic to be writing every review to suit their own.. "biases".

Is it really that hard to simply go and find a critic whose opinion you like/ respect, and simply read their reviews? And why has the media industry been so bad at pointing this out to the community?

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Morphbug

2. Posted:

Because it goes against their own bias....es?

Edited on by Morphbug

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Hokori

3. Posted:

I guess it depends on how the reviewer sounds... I mean you wouldn't respect a reviewer who's a jerk 24/7

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RancidVomit86

4. Posted:

Thing I always tell them to remember is that reviews are just opinions and each will have their differences that its got nothing to do with being bias.

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WesCash

5. Posted:

I completely understand and approve of the fact that all reviewers (and people) appreciate different characteristics of games. Otherwise, all reviews would be the same and there would be no reason to read more than one. Heck, you might as well just read the Wikipedia page if all you are interested in is facts.

But at the same time, I do think there should be a certain amount of objectivity to reviews. Generally, I read reviews to determine whether or not a game is worthy of my time. If I see one site award a game a score of 7 while another gives out a 9, I'm fine with that. That can be explained by a difference of opinions. However, when a game is earning 4/10 or 5/10 from some sources and 9/10 from other sources, I have to scratch my head.

Opinion or not, I expect some agreement between reviews. I for one cannot stand fighting games like Mortal Kombat or Street Fighter. I recently played the new MK and I would give it no less than an 8 out of 10. Objectively, it's a great game. I can acknowledge that. I don't ever want to play it again though.

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Odnetnin

6. Posted:

Well, I suppose if you hate racing games, maybe it would be hard for you to review a racing game without letting your prejudice against them get in the way of providing a fair review. A good reviewer should be able to still judge whether it was a well-made racing game despite disliking the genre, IMO.

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Hokori

7. Posted:

It's not too hard to give an unbiased review to genres you hate, I give COD games a 9/10
If I hated Metroid Other M I'd give it a 7/10 not a 2/5 for being sexist

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Bankai

8. Posted:

WesCash wrote:

But at the same time, I do think there should be a certain amount of objectivity to reviews. Generally, I read reviews to determine whether or not a game is worthy of my time. If I see one site award a game a score of 7 while another gives out a 9, I'm fine with that. That can be explained by a difference of opinions. However, when a game is earning 4/10 or 5/10 from some sources and 9/10 from other sources, I have to scratch my head..

Why does that matter, as long as the critic has argued his position well? Surely if one critic comes up with a solid and justifiable analysis and ends up with a 4/10 and the other comes up with a solid and justifiable analysis of 9/10, that would be a better source of information to you than two critics that score 7 and 9 and don't really give you any reasons for the praise of the game?

Gamers should care more about whether the critic has defended his opinion well or not, and less about whether the critic has a right to an opinion or not.

This is a different discussion, but too often people look at the scores and use that as justification for hating/ liking the review. Argue for/ against the content of the actual review, not the score.

Well, I suppose if you hate racing games, maybe it would be hard for you to review a racing game without letting your prejudice against them get in the way of providing a fair review. A good reviewer should be able to still judge whether it was a well-made racing game despite disliking the genre, IMO.

I dislike FPSers with a passion, and I will, in reviews, explain why I don't like them. If the reader doesn't agree with the reason that I give for not enjoying the FPSer, then that's fine, but they don't need to pay attention to my review.

Conversely I love Otaku RPGs and generally review far higher than other critics with those games. Again, readers can use my personal preferences to determine whether my review is one they agree with.

I don't see why I shouldn't review FPSer or Otaku RPGs, though. Surely if I praise a FPSer despite not liking the genre, that should mean more than a Shooter obsessive also giving the game a high score? And surely if I slam an Otaku RPG then that's a sign that everyone should stay right away?

This goes back to my original point - gamers should spend less time criticising critics for having a personal taste in games and spend more time figuring out whether they respect a critic's opinion - whether they agree with it or not.

Edited on by Bankai

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rayword45

9. Posted:

If it's a professional opinion, there needs to be a sense of professionalism.

"Super Mario Galaxy was fun, but because the Wii sucks balls and the X360 is better I must give it a 1.5/10"

And that brings me to the other part, hyperbole. When the review is clearly overreacting about problems, it looks as if they're trying to hate the game (or the dev)

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Chrono_Cross

10. Posted:

HarmoKnight wrote:

I guess it depends on how the reviewer sounds... I mean you wouldn't respect a reviewer who's a jerk 24/7

If he knows what he's talking about, then he's muchly appreciated by me.

It's not too hard to give an unbiased review to genres you hate, I give COD games a 9/10

If you love Call of Duty so much, why do you bash on it whenever the chance is given to you?

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Hokori

11. Posted:

@chrono because I hate COD but I'm not baised, I'm not going to give it a bad score even though I hate it

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WildMan

12. Posted:

@Harmoknight It's impossible to be unbiased..

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Chrono_Cross

13. Posted:

HarmoKnight wrote:

@chrono because I hate COD but I'm not baised, I'm not going to give it a bad score even though I hate it

Hate is strong. You should say: I prefer other games to Call of Duty but appreciate its quality and success.

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Hokori

14. Posted:

Nope Hate, I hate what it's done to the gaming community and how it's made companies use less energy to create games in the past 5 years

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Chrono_Cross

15. Posted:

HarmoKnight wrote:

Nope Hate, I hate what it's done to the gaming community and how it's made companies use less energy to create games in the past 5 years

Please explain.

Also, if it's so bad, why don't reviewers ever bring this tragedy in their reviews?

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Hokori

16. Posted:

What's to explain... I already did, also reviewers don't say this because they arnt me, I can respect people who like it (that's why I gave it a 9/10) but I personally hate it and how uninspiring it is

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Chrono_Cross

17. Posted:

I would love to know how Activion's games affect Square Enix, Nintendo and every other company out there. Oh and how it has poisoned the precious gaming community.

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Bankai

18. Posted:

If it's a professional opinion, there needs to be a sense of professionalism.

"Super Mario Galaxy was fun, but because the Wii sucks balls and the X360 is better I must give it a 1.5/10"

And that brings me to the other part, hyperbole. When the review is clearly overreacting about problems, it looks as if they're trying to hate the game (or the dev)

As I said. The critic needs to defend his opinion. This is important. You're able to then agree with - or ignore - the critic based on how he has defended his opinion.

That has nothing to do with being objective or subjective, though.

@chrono because I hate COD but I'm not baised, I'm not going to give it a bad score even though I hate it

Then you're lying if you give it 9/10.

This is interesting: on the one hand gamers expect critics to be "professional and unbiased," but on the other they want is for the critics to lie, which is not only unprofessional, it's also unethical.

Unless of course the critic gives the game an artificially high score because a PR/ publisher asked them to. It's ok for critics to compromise their integrity for gamers, apparently, but it's not ok to compromise integrity for the ones that made the game.

Edited on by Bankai

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Morphbug

19. Posted:

@HarmoKnight: I don't know, but maybe being yourself and shaping your judgement on something based on what you really think about it would be considered better than trying to please the masses.

Edited on by Morphbug

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Bankai

20. Posted:

Morphtroid wrote:

@HarmoKnight: I don't know, but maybe being yourself and shaping your judgement on something based on what you really think about it would be considered better than trying to please the masses.

Bingo. In an idea would that is how games journalism would work. Problem is the moment a journalist criticises a game - any game - they're almost immediately subjected to intense criticism - often by people who simply like the game and haven't bothered to read the review.

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