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Topic: Does a professional reviewer have a mandate to bring personal political biases into a review?

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DefHalan

41. Posted:

@theblackdragon
Have you watch the documentary Trek Nation. I saw it on Netflix. That documentry made me a bigger Trekkie than my wife lol, even if I have only seen about 5 seasons of Next-Gen. I still got a lot of Trek to watch

Here is a link: http://movies.netflix.com/WiMovie/70261017?locale=en-US&m...

http://dudehugespeaks.tumblr.com/post/44243746261/nickels-dimes-and-quarters
http://www.penny-arcade.com/patv/episode/why-console-specs-dont-matter
http://www.gamasutra.com/view/news/200271/Video_Don_Daglow_on_nextgen_transition_traps_and_treasures.php

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SMEXIZELDAMAN

42. Posted:

Everyone should just play Etrian Odyssey and be happy because once EO dies, gaming will die as well.

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garywood

43. Posted:

theblackdragon wrote:

aaaaahhhhh don't even go there with the sci-fi, @garywood, haha! i'm probably the hugest Trekkie here, plus I love me some Stargate and BSG. DefHalan is right about that regarding human emotion, all of these series seem to pride the human element, our sense of intuition, our emotions over all else (not so surprising since we're all human here IRL, but y'know ;))

But human emotion is ultimately the basis for all forms of art. Star Trek was so special because it was one of the only works of fiction that actually portrayed a vision of how logic and science had actually benefitted humanity greatly (which is evidently true, but almost never acknowledged- in fact the opposite tends to be suggested)

garywood

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garywood

44. Posted:

SMEXIZELDAMAN wrote:

Everyone should just play Etrian Odyssey and be happy because once EO dies, gaming will die as well.

I can't bring myself to pay that much money for so many static images! It's going in my Bravely Default account instead.

garywood

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bezerker99

45. Posted:

SMEXIZELDAMAN wrote:

Everyone should just play Etrian Odyssey and be happy because once EO dies, gaming will die as well.

I came here to say exactly this!

bezerker99

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DefHalan

46. Posted:

garywood wrote:

theblackdragon wrote:

aaaaahhhhh don't even go there with the sci-fi, @garywood, haha! i'm probably the hugest Trekkie here, plus I love me some Stargate and BSG. DefHalan is right about that regarding human emotion, all of these series seem to pride the human element, our sense of intuition, our emotions over all else (not so surprising since we're all human here IRL, but y'know ;))

But human emotion is ultimately the basis for all forms of art. Star Trek was so special because it was one of the only works of fiction that actually portrayed a vision of how logic and science had actually benefitted humanity greatly (which is evidently true, but almost never acknowledged- in fact the opposite tends to be suggested)

But we always need Emotions to balance us out or else we may become like the Borg or Cybermen. Logic and Science benefit humanity but so does Emotion and Imagination. We would not have Video Games if it wasn't for Emotions and Imagination.

http://dudehugespeaks.tumblr.com/post/44243746261/nickels-dimes-and-quarters
http://www.penny-arcade.com/patv/episode/why-console-specs-dont-matter
http://www.gamasutra.com/view/news/200271/Video_Don_Daglow_on_nextgen_transition_traps_and_treasures.php

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garywood

47. Posted:

DefHalan wrote:

But we always need Emotions to balance us out or else we may become like the Borg or Cybermen. Logic and Science benefit humanity but so does Emotion and Imagination. We would not have Video Games if it wasn't for Emotions and Imagination.

Indeed. I'd argue that video games are one of the great meeting places of rationality and imagination.

garywood

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skywake

48. Posted:

I don't think anyone has mentioned what game or review this thread is actually talking about. I assume that @garywood is complaining about a review someone gave GTAV where it was given a 9 rather than a 9.5 or 10 because someone disliked the misogyny and violence. Right? Well I don't see what the problem is. Reviews are subjective, it's impossible to avoid putting your bias into your opinion. Actually, this guy explains it better than I could (it's about music reviews but the same applies):

edit: On music I know that personally I like more along the lines of the thread topic. I know I like Rage Against the Machine and Midnight Oil more than I otherwise would because I agree with their political protest message. Social Anarchy and Environmentalism, I get that, that's a thing. On the other side I LOVE the sound of Stereo Lab and Spiritualized but I find them hard to get into because they're sometimes a bit preachy with their Socialism and Religion respectively. The same should and does apply to game reviews or any other review.

Edited on by skywake

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garywood

49. Posted:

skywake wrote:

I don't think anyone has mentioned what game or review this thread is actually talking about. I assume that @garywood is complaining about a review someone gave GTAV where it was given a 9 rather than a 9.5 or 10 because someone disliked the misogyny and violence. Right? Well I don't see what the problem is.

Yep, I mentioned GTA5 on the first page. And you say "misogyny or violence"- that's exactly the issue I was raising. The fact that no-one has EVER done the same because of violence, but that this woman had a problem with the female portrayals.

skywake wrote:

Reviews are subjective, it's impossible to avoid putting your bias into your opinion. Actually, this guy explains it better than I could (it's about music reviews but the same applies):

I gave an example of how I think you CAN avoid putting certain biases into your opinion on something when you recognise them to be more personal than others. And that the disparity between user scores and critic scores for a huge number of games suggests this is indeed what happens! (so many examples of this: ME3, Simcity, Diablo 3 etc)

But unless nintendo fans are all very similar in certain regards (definitely possible), then it would appear that the only people who agree with me on this are the average gamespot and youtube commenters. And that's not the best position to be in. So I might have to adjust my expectations on this one!

Edited on by garywood

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CM30

50. Posted:

I'd say the answer is 'to a degree'.

On the one hand, if a game really is seen by them as completely tasteless and generally horrendous in every way, I guess that can be seen as something to judge a game by. Sort of like how in TV reviews, people will bring up the bizarrely bad concept used in 'Heil Honey I'm Home' as one of many reasons it's an awful show. Or how for webcomic reviews, the incredibly racist/sexist/whatever views expressed in some of the worst ones only serve to make the 'product' completely unbearable in their awfulness. Like the insane views expressed in the likes of 'Billy the Heretic' (don't look that up, it'd make you lose faith in humanity).

On the other hand, for many games, I have to wonder whether the story is much less of a concern that it is in other mediums. I mean, if you think the views and portrayals of characters in a TV show or film or book series are bad, you're pretty much gonna be unable to enjoy the product because everything depends on the story and said writing. On the other hand, in a video game it's less cut and dry. For instance, I suspect even if you hate the story in Grand Theft Auto, you can pretty much mostly ignore it throughout and just get back to the (mostly neutral) gameplay sections. So perhaps you shouldn't criticise a game too much for story related things and political views, because they're most irrelevant to the main part of the game.

All in, hard to tell. Seems like there are various differing schools of thought on whether reviews should be mostly 'neutral' politically or have the review author's political views and such actually play a part in the score.

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Magikarp3

51. Posted:

I think review scores have become too important nowadays. I guess it's in part because it's easy to just gloss over the review, check the score and then figure out why the score is like that. But what happens then is that people don't care what's in a game and believe that it's good as long as it scored high. I don't think that it'd be possible to give an objective score on how good or bad a game is, and although in my perfect world all reviews would not have scores and everyone would read the entire thing, giving a score based on personal enjoyment/agreement is a fair substitute.

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garywood

52. Posted:

CM30 wrote:

I'd say the answer is 'to a degree'.

On the one hand, if a game really is seen by them as completely tasteless and generally horrendous in every way, I guess that can be seen as something to judge a game by. Sort of like how in TV reviews, people will bring up the bizarrely bad concept used in 'Heil Honey I'm Home' as one of many reasons it's an awful show. Or how for webcomic reviews, the incredibly racist/sexist/whatever views expressed in some of the worst ones only serve to make the 'product' completely unbearable in their awfulness. Like the insane views expressed in the likes of 'Billy the Heretic' (don't look that up, it'd make you lose faith in humanity).

On the other hand, for many games, I have to wonder whether the story is much less of a concern that it is in other mediums. I mean, if you think the views and portrayals of characters in a TV show or film or book series are bad, you're pretty much gonna be unable to enjoy the product because everything depends on the story and said writing. On the other hand, in a video game it's less cut and dry. For instance, I suspect even if you hate the story in Grand Theft Auto, you can pretty much mostly ignore it throughout and just get back to the (mostly neutral) gameplay sections. So perhaps you shouldn't criticise a game too much for story related things and political views, because they're most irrelevant to the main part of the game.

All in, hard to tell. Seems like there are various differing schools of thought on whether reviews should be mostly 'neutral' politically or have the review author's political views and such actually play a part in the score.

Haha well you're the first person who hasn't outright disagreed.

You've highlighted part of what I think the issue is- it's the fact that the last 2 times this sort of thing has been highlighted, it's in cases where I feel it shouldn't really be relevant. And that seems to suggest a kind of eagerness to look for this sort of thing, which I think is worrying. If someone had deducted points from The Last Of Us because all of the women were shallow (I haven't played it but don't think this is true based on others reports), I'd say yeah, fair enough. A game that's trying to capture the nature of humanity and the interplay between various characters really should try and do its best to portray women accurately. However, if someone uses the same approach with Mario, I think we've got a problem. Not every game should have to worry about that sort of thing, just as they should be free to be as violent as they want.

garywood

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skywake

53. Posted:

@garywood
Aren't the people who turn a blind eye to it equally as guilty of letting their "biases" influence their review? I don't see how anyone could ever review a game that's potentially controversial in any way without it impacting them in one way or another. If someone reviewed Mortal Kombat would it be "unacceptable bias" if a reviewer made a point about the level of violence being uncomfortable? What if a reviewer made a point about the opening battle in Call of Duty: Black Ops II? To quote one such review about BO2:

The landscape of shooters is changing somewhat. The fact is that everyone loves playing military shooters, but we're also realising that we don't want to glorify aimless killings. A lot of games are trying to make you feel that conflict and even make you feel bad about what you're doing. But I don't think it's been handled very well here.

Is that unacceptable political bias?

I mentioned music because there is a LOT of music on all sides of the political spectrum. Some has particularly potent lyrics. I don't think it would be reasonable to expect a reviewer of that sort of music to not comment on that aspect because it might "introduce bias". Like writing a thing about Nine Inch Nails' Closer and not mentioning the lyrical content.....

[edit]kiddies, don't look up NIN's Closer

Edited on by skywake

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garywood

54. Posted:

Mellowkarp wrote:

I think review scores have become too important nowadays. I guess it's in part because it's easy to just gloss over the review, check the score and then figure out why the score is like that.

That's definitely true and I personally find it necessary. There are too many games for me to check out individually and I have so little spare time. Realistically, the best I can do is go to metacritic and just see what games get above a 75. If they don't, I probably won't even be aware of them. It sucks, but I don't see any other way.

garywood

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skywake

55. Posted:

Seriously guys, it's not a non-significant part of GTA. GTA is a game built to cause a moral panic amongst some, it's built to freak some people out. That's their marketing strategy. To claim that criticism of it's depiction of women is somehow a slippery slope to people doing the same for every game including Mario is madness.

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garywood

56. Posted:

skywake wrote:

Aren't the people who turn a blind eye to it equally as guilty of letting their "biases" influence their review? I don't see how anyone could ever review a game that's potentially controversial in any way without it impacting them in one way or another. If someone reviewed Mortal Kombat would it be "unacceptable bias" if a reviewer made a point about the level of violence being uncomfortable? What if a reviewer made a point about the opening battle in Call of Duty: Black Ops II? To quote one such review about BO2:

Well you're presupposing that there's a genuine issue. I don't think there is an issue if we're talking about individual games. I want there to be completely outrageous games that have all kinds of nastiness that I disagree with. If I play one of them, I always agree with myself beforehand that I'm going to just accept the premise of the game and then only criticise it within its own context, instead of in the context of society at large.

But remember what it is that I'm specifically criticising, it's not the fact that people ARE bringing these political biases into it. If that just happened on a case by case basis, it'd get averaged out due to variety of the reviewers opinions out there- and that'd just be business as usual. I'm criticising only examples where I see evidence of a social movement backing these things- because that's when people start writing what they think they should write instead of what they want to write.
In the case of violence (BO2 and MK), given that violence is completely accepted by the culture at large, I don't see that being a big issue. However, if a movement started that genuinely wanted to make games less violent, I'd react the same. I'd say you have no business of trying to jeopardise reviews based on this. Social movements are very powerful and they often achieve their ends by emotional blackmail instead of reasoned argument. However, if we stay with reasoned argument, there's no problem.

Edited on by garywood

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garywood

57. Posted:

skywake wrote:

Seriously guys, it's not a non-significant part of GTA. GTA is a game built to cause a moral panic amongst some, it's built to freak some people out. That's their marketing strategy. To claim that criticism of it's depiction of women is somehow a slippery slope to people doing the same for every game including Mario is madness.

Well people have repeatedly said it about Mario, so I'm not so convinced!

And I agree that GTA is supposed to be politically incorrect and that that can't be a legitimate criticism of it.

Edited on by garywood

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skywake

58. Posted:

garywood wrote:

In the case of violence (BO2 and MK), given that violence is completely accepted by the culture at large, I don't see that being a big issue. However, if a movement started that genuinely wanted to make games less violent, I'd react the same. I'd say you have no business of trying to jeopardise reviews based on this. Social movements are very powerful and they often achieve their ends by emotional blackmail instead of reasoned argument. However, if we stay with reasoned argument, there's no problem.

I think you're showing more political bias with this idea of people self-censoring views you disagree with in reviews than the reviewers are in expressing them. If a reviewer feels like a game crosses a line and that crossing of the line diminished the experience for them then there's no reason why they shouldn't express that. If people disagree with their opinions and how they form them then they should read different reviews.

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garywood

59. Posted:

skywake wrote:

I think you're showing more political bias with this idea of people self-censoring views you disagree with in reviews than the reviewers are in expressing them. If a reviewer feels like a game crosses a line and that crossing of the line diminished the experience for them then there's no reason why they shouldn't express that. If people disagree with their opinions and how they form them then they should read different reviews.

Well I have a political bias that is pro- freedom for creativity if that's what you mean. I don't have a political bias pro-violence or pro-shallow women at all. I'm not into games like GTA at all, I personally hate how senseless violence and mindless action (the COD effect) has come to dominate the industry over the last generation. That's one of the reasons I've come to love nintendo so much, they haven't entirely fallen into the same trap as xbox and playstation (xbox moreso). So no, I don't have any personal love for these games. My favourite genre is the JRPG- which has very little senseless violence in comparison and also tends to have fairly good female characters.

And once again, please understand the subtly of the point. Everyone who's disagreeing with me is truncating my view into "problem with opinions you happen to disagree with". As I've said many times, that's a completely different issues. I want to hear as many different opinions as possible. The only place where we need to be cautious is on areas that are susceptible to social pressures and movements.

Edited on by garywood

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SkywardLink98

60. Posted:

Deducting points might be a little harsh. Maybe just a warning of how the women were portrayed, because obviously it doesn't bother many people and I would be annoyed if the reviewer deducted points for a reason I disagree with or let biases blind them to the quality of a game. Of course, my opinion should be taken with a grain of salt in this case because I have yet to play a GTA game.

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