As I often do, I was surfing through the NeoGaf forums when I found the following thread that caught my eye:
In this 500+ post thread, users go off on reviews, reviewers and gaming outlets that said something about games that they didn’t agree with. It’s kind of scary reading through some of the hate in these posts. Some of these users seem to be harbouring more ill will over a 15-year old review than I do about ex-girlfriends who cheated on me.
This behaviour isn’t isolated to NeoGaf. These types of angry and hateful comments are apparent on virtually every video game message board and every game review with a comment system. I’ve even heard numerous stories on podcasts where reviewers said they’ve received death threats from people who didn’t agree with their opinions. Tell me, why do people get so mad over video game reviews?
Reviews by nature are subjective. As such, reviews are simply opinions from one person or one gaming outlet. It doesn’t matter if the review comes from the biggest video game website in the world. They’re not the word of God. They’re still just the words of a person who played the game.
Since reviews are subjective, the people who create game reviews are entitled to think or say whatever they want about the games they play. It’s their job to tell you whether or not they liked a game and back it up with reasons to support that opinion. As long as a reviewer does that, then there’s nothing to be mad about. Their opinion is their opinion alone, and it’s just one more voice to help you decide whether or not you should try a game out. No one ever positions their review as the definitive truth, because that definitive truth is dependent on the person playing the game and the experience they have with it.
Yet a lot of people seem to put more stake into reviews than as just opinions from others who played the game. To others, they’re a means of validating what they like. They might be used as reasons to that justify their preferred gaming platform of choice. What scares me most are the people who feel that reviews are in fact, objective. I don’t understand how anyone could come to this conclusion. Whether or not someone finds game X’s graphics good is relative to that person. Someone might say that Defend Your Castle looks like crap, while someone else might say the looks is totally in line with the artistic vision. Either opinion is valid, as long as it’s backed up. There is very little about the gaming experience that is objective. Almost everything from the graphics, to the sound, to the gameplay, can be judged differently depending on one’s tastes.
If you don’t agree with the taste of a game reviewer, you can either take part in a healthy discussion about your different views, go find another review that better reflects your stance. There are dozens of gaming outlets writing reviews, and odds are, you’ll find many people you can agree with. If you’re a Twilight Princess fan, why would you get hung up on Gamespot’s 8.8 out of 10 score when over 50 outlets rated the game a 90 or above on Metacritic? The people who go nuts when one review stands out from the pack weird me out almost as much as the people who think that reviews are objective. To these types of people, all games are worthy of scores within a certain score range, and when a reviewer is outside of that range, it’s grounds for anger and ridicule. Haven’t you ever not liked something as much as someone else? I bet you have. Why then, must all game reviewers feel the same way about a game? If everyone’s opinion was the same, why even bother with reviews in the first place?
To bring this discussion back into the big picture, why should anyone get offended about a video game review, ever? Reviews are just opinions that can be accepted or rejected by the person who reads it. If you like it, great. If you don’t, move on. However, some people harbour so much unnecessary hate towards certain game reviews that it makes me physically sick to read their comments. In the grand scheme of life, how badly can a game review actually affect your life? At worst, a review might steer you away from a game you might actually like, or the reviewer might not share the same opinion as you, but I don’t think any reason that one can come up with will be that serious. If you’re still mad about a game review that was written 15 years ago, then you’ve probably got bigger issues to worry about than games.
The scrutiny and anger towards game reviews still makes no sense to me, yet so many people carry and express this anger every day. Am I the crazy one for thinking that reviews from gaming outlets aren’t the word of God? That reviews are subjective? That people are entitled to their own opinion, even if it doesn’t mesh with my own? That I have the ability accept or reject any opinions without having to hold a grudge or write tirades about it for years to come? That maybe, just maybe, my own opinion is worth more to me than the opinion of any other reviewer? If my views on video game reviews and nerd rage are crazy, then I’m glad I’m not sane.