The Middle Ground: Average Is Not A Bad Thing

The Middle Ground: Average Is Not A Bad Thing

The Order 1886 has exposed some truly odd corners of video game culture. While the game it’s self is a enjoyable technical achievement, burdened with dated gameplay, the reaction to it has been fierce. It’s been a long time since a game has earned such a ray of reviews and reactions. From the frankly ridiculous, to the utterly ignorant, The Order 1886 has truly exposed some worrying trends.

Review scores, and not the review’s content, have became their own monster. Users have looked straight at a number and declared ‘bullshit’. It’s a sad state of affairs when a number is seen as the focal point, instead of the praise and criticisms featured in said review. It’s all about the number, and it’s all about matching every reader’s number they have store in their heads.

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The bloated review score culture has truly consumed the mindset of some. Gone are the days that 6,7 and 8 out 10 was seen as a decent game. If it’s not 9/10, then it MUST be bad, this is the modern logic of many. This culture has been growing for sometime now, even more so with the growing influence of publishers on big name sites. There’s a undeniable sense of mistrust between big websites like IGN and Gamespot and the reader. This mistrust has been brewing for years , and is seemingly at it’s peek due to the events in 2014.

When a game is reviewed, be it by a professional or a hobbyist (like myself), the score is the main thing people look at it. The content of the review is often disregarded, mainly so the reader can express their disgust/praise and if they agree/disagree with the score. The fact that a large number of people refuse to accept anything below a top end mark is a damning review is a problem. Not every game is good, not every game is bad. Much like any form of entertainment, media or art, there’s good, bad and the middle ground.

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A game can be enjoyable, flawed, but adequate. Not everything on the market is the ‘next big thing’ or the next masterpiece. Ignorance towards this fact is seemingly rife. In the modern video game culture, there is no middle ground. Now my problem with this trend is not the illogical comments posted on reviews, or the sheer venom some express, but the fact it’s a disservice to the games.

Subscribing to such a narrow train of thought results in a person missing out on a lot of games. Not every game is a top notch experience, but most games offer a different experience. There’s a wealth of games that have reviewed poorly to fairly, and yet I’ve utterly enjoyed them. Our mindset as children, when it comes to the games we play, is the best mindset to have. As young kids we played anything and everything, and we found things we enjoyed. Being so heavily concerned with a review score blinds us to the experiences on offer.

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There is a duty attached to reviewing on any level. That duty is to be honest, subjective and refrain from being biased. Praise what works, criticise what does not, stay honest and subjective, not emotional. Maintaining a balanced field is key, it’s near impossible to be subjective about anything and use such a black and white scale as ‘good or bad’. Not every game is a masterpiece, nor is it garbage, allow people to express this.

The middle ground exists, allow it to exist. Drop the bizarre notion that anything not given a high number is therefore ‘bad’. Bloated review scores don’t have to be the norm.

 

Sean Halliday


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