Scoring Policy, Or Lack Thereof
We don’t score games at VoxelArcade.
Giving a videogame a ‘number’ to represent its worth is, we feel, a seriously bad habit of video game journalism. It’s a throwback to the puerile magazines of the past that has somehow become a mainstay of the video game industry today. It’s even encroached upon the movie and television industries – and it’s outright wrong to find that even books are sometimes judged by a throwaway number sitting at the end of a throwaway review.
The problem with these numbers is: what do they actually mean? No one knows. I have been reviewing software for many years and, when reviewing a game, you tend to have a feeling from the outset of what score it’s ‘worth’. That number may go up or down a little during the course of play – and is affected greatly by the last few hours spent with a game. Like some magic formula, you’re left with your final score. Let’s say a 7. And you splatter it along the bottom of the review.
“Nothing wrong with that”, you say – but another reviewer may have an entirely different idea of what that number should be, despite playing the exact same game in the exact same way. They may give the game an 8. Yet every single reader of that review may have a separate idea about what that number means. One reader may think that a 7 is a good score – one in the top third of all possible scores. Another may think that 7 is barely above average and not worth his or her attention. Yet another may not even consider buying a game that scores below a 9.
So: how does a reader gain anything truly meaningful from a score? From cross-referencing how a particular reviewer has scored other games in the past? From that site’s scoring policy? From comparing that scoring policy to those from other sites? No. What he or she does is actually read the text above the score, as that is the only way of finding out what the reviewer actually feels about the game. From there, the reader is able to see whether or not it is a title that they may enjoy.
Didn’t read like a 7. Indeed.
So we don’t score our reviews, because most reviews end up being nothing but wordy justifications for the number underneath them. We encourage you to read our thoughts on each game and to make your own judgement on whether or not it is a game for you. It may take some getting used to, but stick with us and you’ll hopefully feel a little bit more liberated.
We certainly do.
Simon Burns, Editor
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Editor and founder of VoxelArcade and The Smartphone App Review. Favourite games: Uridium 2, Frontier: Elite II, Sensible World of Soccer, Far Cry 3, Zelda: Ocarina, Metroid Prime, Solar Quest, F-Zero GX, Monkey Island 2 and Tetris.