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On The Topic of Rating Video Games

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PendejoJorge
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On The Topic of Rating Video Games

Postby PendejoJorge » Mon Jan 22, 2018 2:11 am

Since there's no "game discussion" board I didn't know where to put this, I decided to write this here.

That said, what I've noticed thus far when it comes the ratings people have given games is that a lot of what's rated highly isn't mechanically intensive or demanding. Something like "The Last of Us" or "Batman: Arkham City" is given high praise, yet games like "Tekken 3" and "Devil May Cry 3" seem to be getting lower ratings by comparison.

I gotta ask, on what basis are people rating games here? I get the impression that people will rate games lowly on here if it's a game that requires good mechanical knowledge to get good at. It's why you see other competitive games like Dota 2 and SFIV get low ratings too.

In which case, does that mean that a game you're not skilled at deserves a lower rating than something that's easy to grasp but still enjoyable, such as KotOR? When I rate games on Criticker, I tend to think of the qualities the game has on a mechanical level rather than whether or not I enjoyed it. I'm not an expert on Starcraft and I was never really into the game, but I still gave it a high rating. I also gave SSFIV and Melee because there's a lot of things I didn't like about them mechanically, which doesn't seem to be how others are perceiving them.

I think this shows quite a distinct difference in how we perceive video games and film, especially on here. With film, we simply take an hour or two to digest something and can thus more easily form our thoughts on it. With video games, it takes dedication to really understand the nuances of a game and sometimes with cases like "League of Legends" the game evolves to such a degree that it's unrecognizable to what it used to be. This is why I often don't care for "professional critics" who review titles such as Virtua Fighter when they've never touched the ground of any competitive scene in their lives. They've spent, maybe, 20 hours playing the game and that's only on a casual level. At which point, why should I care what some scrub thinks about a fighter?

Now I can understand that how much someone likes a game is subjective, but being objective about any media is important if there's to be any merit in someone's opinion. Is it fair to give a low rating to a fighter because you're simply not good at it? Why should something as good as DMC3 get low reviews because people can't grasp its mechanical nuances?

BillyShears
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Re: On The Topic of Rating Video Games

Postby BillyShears » Mon Jan 22, 2018 2:21 am

I rate games and films in the exact same terms of how much it entertained me / did I take anything away from it. For the really old ones though it’s nostalgia good or bad.

Daisoujou
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Re: On The Topic of Rating Video Games

Postby Daisoujou » Mon Jan 22, 2018 5:34 pm

In a general sense of being a video game critic, sure, what you are saying makes sense. But I believe the entire purpose of this website is to get tailored, personal recommendations based on how much you like things. I'd imagine no one comes here to look at average tiers as their main source of determining how "objectively good" something is. I gave Street Fighter 4 a low rating with a review that pretty much just says I recognize that it is most likely well made, but fighters are impenetrable for me. The only real consequence of this is that others who also don't play fighters will have more influence on my recommendations, and those who do won't. It's the system working perfectly as intended. If everyone tries to step back from personal preferences, giving the same ratings to every game would break the entire algorithm. Though I guess the good news is that people who approach rating similarly to how you do will be more likely to influence your predicted ratings.

Essentially, I entirely agree with BillyShears. My ratings aren't meant to reflect what I think are the true merits of a game for someone who likes that type of game. If I enjoy a game (I'm ok with pretentious art games and whatnot so I'm trying to use a neutral term because "having fun" isn't everything in video games, to me), I rate it highly. For what it's worth, I do very highly enjoy some skill intensive genres, such as bullet hell shmups. Others just don't work for me.

CosmicMonkey
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Re: On The Topic of Rating Video Games

Postby CosmicMonkey » Mon Jan 22, 2018 6:16 pm

I mean this exact same discussion has been held before on this site re: film ratings. Some users choose to rate films based on how objectively great or well-made they think are, some rank them solely based off the level of their personal enjoyment regardless of perceived "quality" and some use a hybrid between the two. And that's completely fine, to each their own. Just understand that your PSIs and recommendations will be reflected according to how you input scores in the first place.

edkrak
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Re: On The Topic of Rating Video Games

Postby edkrak » Mon Jan 22, 2018 7:20 pm

PendejoJorge wrote:That said, what I've noticed thus far when it comes the ratings people have given games is that a lot of what's rated highly isn't mechanically intensive or demanding. Something like "The Last of Us" or "Batman: Arkham City" is given high praise, yet games like "Tekken 3" and "Devil May Cry 3" seem to be getting lower ratings by comparison.

I gotta ask, on what basis are people rating games here? I get the impression that people will rate games lowly on here if it's a game that requires good mechanical knowledge to get good at. It's why you see other competitive games like Dota 2 and SFIV get low ratings too.


But isn't this methodology limited only to genres you love/are expert about them? I've spent countless hours on football games and played in several tournaments, so I'm very technical about rating them (I wouldn't give a T9/10 score to any football game where I don't have realistic highly customizable defensive tactics). On the other hand I don't like FPS that much, but I sometimes like to play casually, make some mayhem for an hour and forget about it. I don't give a shit about their mechanics/competitivness - if it's fun that's enough for me, if I need to think tactically in team games such as CS, I'm bored. Even if I wanted I just don't know enough about FPS to even try to rate them objectively. And if I limited rating only to games I'm really good at and spent 100+ hours with them I'd probably have to stop rating after 20 titles or so.

lisa-
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Re: On The Topic of Rating Video Games

Postby lisa- » Thu Jan 25, 2018 11:21 pm

objectivity is a lie, rinse and repeat. i give scores to the things i enjoy the most, and anyone who pretends their ratings have some sort of objectivity is kidding themselves.

but you seem to be really heavily focused on gameplay, and a specific sort of mechanical gameplay at that. all games also have aesthetic sensibilities, and most have a fair degree of writing and narrative. a great system tacked onto dumb hollywood nonsense is still dumb hollywood nonsense.

i dunno, i mean karate takes a lot of skill to get good at. shall we rate karate 98 points? seems a bizarre metric to rate something by.

CMonster
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Re: On The Topic of Rating Video Games

Postby CMonster » Thu Jan 25, 2018 11:51 pm

I would suggest not confusing well design mechanics and hard/demanding mechanics. The former can be easy or hand the later can be well designed or shit.

Mentaculus
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Re: On The Topic of Rating Video Games

Postby Mentaculus » Fri Jan 26, 2018 12:55 am

CMonster wrote:I would suggest not confusing well design mechanics and hard/demanding mechanics. The former can be easy or hand the later can be well designed or shit.


Indeed. I haven't breached the Games ratings yet but for a quick personal example: Silent Hill has shit mechanics, but hot damn if it weren't a formative gaming experience (and a watershed in some respects), so it'll get high marks from me. To echo other users, it's all going to be subjective, and what one ultimately gets out of the experience is going to be casually reflected in rankings.

As a quick aside, gaming might be even less of a 1to1 relationship with numerical rankings compared to film (again, Big If) given the inherent interactivity involved. Someone could have the greatest moment of their lives playing a game; another, just passe.

PendejoJorge
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Re: On The Topic of Rating Video Games

Postby PendejoJorge » Sun Jan 28, 2018 4:32 pm

CMonster wrote:I would suggest not confusing well design mechanics and hard/demanding mechanics. The former can be easy or hand the later can be well designed or shit.


I'm well aware the difference of this. The thing is I get the impression that most people on Critiker most likely don't, especially in regards to anything that's the least bit competitive.

edkrak wrote:But isn't this methodology limited only to genres you love/are expert about them? I've spent countless hours on football games and played in several tournaments, so I'm very technical about rating them (I wouldn't give a T9/10 score to any football game where I don't have realistic highly customizable defensive tactics). On the other hand I don't like FPS that much, but I sometimes like to play casually, make some mayhem for an hour and forget about it. I don't give a shit about their mechanics/competitivness - if it's fun that's enough for me, if I need to think tactically in team games such as CS, I'm bored. Even if I wanted I just don't know enough about FPS to even try to rate them objectively. And if I limited rating only to games I'm really good at and spent 100+ hours with them I'd probably have to stop rating after 20 titles or so.


A fair point, actually. In a sense, I think this is an issue that doesn't stop at video games - it extends into film and literature as well. Even politics and science for that matter. I struggle to make objective ratings for racing games or horror movies because they're genres I'm not too keen on. To rate things purely objectively is unrealistic, even for genres you're familiar with. I'll admit that much. However, I do think one should always be considerate of objective criteria when reviewing a game.

Being objective, imo, is a good way for someone to build taste and be able to say more than "I like this" or "I thought this was shit." Granted objective criteria is ultimately built upon experience and understanding of a genre which not everyone has, having a basis for comparison for what you review and consume can allow you to understand where objective criteria can be applied. For example, if we compare God of War with Devil May Cry 3 it's very readily apparent to anyone who played both titles that the latter has more mechanical depth than the former. While individually we can make our own assessments as to which of these games we like more (or for that matter if we even like this genre to begin with), it doesn't change the fact that DMC3 is much deeper as a game mechanically speaking. Criteria like this are something to always considering when consuming any media. Hell, you could even argue that you dislike games that are objectively deeper. Being objective does not mean that it's necessarily better, it just means that's just how something functions.

This is further muddled when you compare two games that can be argued to be "equally complex." In which I case think subjectivity starts to reign supreme. I rate God Hand higher than DMC3 because I subjectively like the zaniness of it more and the gameplay style is more to my liking. Subjectivity is never going to rear its head away from someone's perspective on anything, be it video games or politics, but that doesn't mean we should disregard objectivity and consider it meaningless.

That said, I don't think you need to spend hundreds of hours on a game to understand its depth. Mario 64 can be beaten in about 10 hours at most but anyone could grasp that game has a lot of mechanical nuances and hiccups with a critical eye. I think the same goes for competitive games as well. In regards to my comment about "professional critics," my statement was more directed at their inexperience with the game on a competitive level rather than how much time they spent on the game.

I think this review is a good example of how one can make a good objective review. He clearly hasn't spent a gazillion hours on the game but he has a very good understanding of the game itself and discusses the nuances of its gameplay and impact on the industry.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=i-55SAAz62I

lisa- wrote:objectivity is a lie, rinse and repeat. i give scores to the things i enjoy the most, and anyone who pretends their ratings have some sort of objectivity is kidding themselves.

but you seem to be really heavily focused on gameplay, and a specific sort of mechanical gameplay at that. all games also have aesthetic sensibilities, and most have a fair degree of writing and narrative. a great system tacked onto dumb hollywood nonsense is still dumb hollywood nonsense.

i dunno, i mean karate takes a lot of skill to get good at. shall we rate karate 98 points? seems a bizarre metric to rate something by.


I've never been fond of this argument, to be honest. Ultimately what a person likes is dictated by personal preferences but there is still objective criteria that apply to that subjectivity. For example, if we're going to be talking about video games, it'd be absurd to say that GoW has more mechanical depth than DMC3. That is objectively false. In which case you could make the argument that the most reasonable subjective perspective to have on the two games is to declare DMC3 a better game. Of course, such an argument is ultimately not all-encompassing and one person could prefer one over the other, but people who really understand mechanical depth will think you're shallow or have poor taste... and reasonably so, I think.

To put it another way, it'd be like if someone tried to argue that Earth is flat, even if that is objectively not true. Sure, it's okay to be subjective and think that way, but don't blame people for thinking you're retarded for thinking this. :lol:

You refer to something as "Hollywood nonsense" but is it really "nonsense" if it's well designed? You seem to be really reductionist when making an argument like that... and for that matter, setting a really vague standard.

I get that there's more to gaming than just the gameplay, (hell, I've rated games with lackluster gameplay high for those reasons) but isn't gameplay the point of video games to begin with? This is why I, and many others, are so hostile towards games trying to be more like "movies" because that always fails dramatically. Should gameplay not be highly commended? Something like DMC3 and God Hand deserves all the props in the world for how nuanced their gameplay is even if you consider them "Hollywood trash."

Also, my metric isn't based purely on how hard something is. It's based on how fair and refined that difficulty is. So that metaphor falls flat and you misunderstood my argument completely. TGB, someone whom I've followed and discussed with on numerous occasions, has made a pretty good video on why difficulty is important for video games.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=uoOK6e_y1q8

With that said, the main point of this topic is to point out that people here don't seem to understand mechanical nuance in video games and that I don't think they're rating games fairly in this regard... or at the very least to understand what criteria people have for rating games. I can respect people like Billy Shears or Daisoujou who say they rate things based on how they enjoyed them, regardless of objective qualities. But I just don't buy into this idea that objective criteria doesn't exist. That and I find it a bit grating that people would rate The Last of Us higher than Devil May Cry 3. I admit I might be acting puerile and pretentious for thinking like this, but I tend to think people don't really have much of a mind as to how video games ought to be critiqued.

Daisoujou
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Re: On The Topic of Rating Video Games

Postby Daisoujou » Sun Jan 28, 2018 8:16 pm

One thing that stands out to me, as someone more or less on board with Lisa's full subjectivity (about "quality," that is) -- if I'm not misreading, I think you seem to be making a leap to more mechanical depth being superior. I think I'm willing to agree that depth can be (roughly) talked about in objective terms, but you seem to think that is outright "better". At which point that is a subjective preference... my cop out explanation would be to say that every game needs the right amount of depth for it. Using your example: God of War is pretty much designed as a pure power fantasy, and as a result, is constructed so that everyone feels like they are tearing gods apart without having to spend a lot of time learning the intricacies of the mechanics. It might be objectively true that it is easier and more shallow, but it fits the whole purpose of the game. Honestly it seems we don't even agree on what the objective criteria could be. If I were to try rating by your method, I would have to say God of War seems to entirely accomplish what it was trying to achieve and, whether I think that was a good goal or not, I should therefore rate it very highly.

I also don't think I agree that gameplay has to be the core point of games, but that's beyond even the scope of this and better not to tackle I think. By definition they most likely require SOME form of interactivity, but that's about the furthest constraint of purpose or definition I want to put on them.

Edit: Had the chance to watch that TheGamingBritShow video now and maybe I'm interpreting it the way I want to unintentionally, but I feel like you're stretching it a little beyond his actual point. There's the bit where he says "That of course means that there can be games that are easy and made for chilling out. Maybe even some games could let you skip around if that's the mood and kind of experience they're tailoring." In general I actually agree a lot with this video, but in a different way than you seem to be saying. I'm mostly down with games like Dark Souls and Cuphead (his examples) not having easy modes or content skipping because learning how to overcome their challenges IS the point of those games. Similarly, I'm currently playing Celeste, a pretty difficult platformer, and I very much enjoy how the themes of persevering and overcoming difficulty (or your own negative thoughts telling you you can't do something) are reflected in how the game forces you to do things that initially seem too hard. But it isn't the only point to any game, and I think it is entirely subjective to make any claim about it being a "better" point. I don't think it's correct to say his video is about the importance of difficulty to video games. It's about the importance of difficulty to SOME video games.


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