About Me

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Leicester, United Kingdom
Studying BA (Hons) Game Art Design at De Montfort University. It continues to be challenging as much as rewarding. Primary outcomes include 2D and 3D projects and 2am coffees.

Tuesday, 29 November 2011

Reviewing the games

When it comes to analysing new releases, there are many important aspects to cover, the actual game play, the storyline, characters, environments and so on. An additional factor I consider when I'm browsing for a new game - is it going to be one game I will want to play again and again once completed, or is it just going to go back on the shelf and collect dust?

However, given the amount of time it takes to create a video game, as stated in the brief, there is a lot to cover in a review, so this shouldn't be much of a surprise. All of this information within a game affects one of the issues that reviewers have to deal with frequently. Given the time period to complete a magazine, some reviewers may be tempted to make little shortcuts to some areas to save time and effort, to make space for other topics where they can’t afford to be sneaky.

Given their position in their industry, working for major websites or magazines can be very demanding and the amount they can be asked to produce can be very taxing. I mean think about it- Having to assess X number of games whilst write Y words about each one within Z weeks, the temptation to cut corners and fast forward would be alarmingly high. I couldn't imagine being in that position. However, it isn’t necessarily the fault of journalists; their material can’t afford to be perfect, simply because they don’t have the time to do so. In addition it’s difficult to establish sometimes just how much the reviewer has played the game or understands all its aspects.

Reviewers who work for magazines and/or websites are paid for by advertisements, subscriptions etc. I think that the source of their wages is not really important so long as they remain objective and impartial in their reviews and not swayed by either software or hardware vendors, who are paying for ads on websites and magazines. This makes impartiality an issue sometimes in my opinion.

Whilst I like to do discuss my own views on the latest releases with my mates, I highly doubt I could make a living typing consistently trying to make a balanced report.

One of my own critical points is character development. Yeah I’m one of those gamers who’s totally into the back story or the progression of the characters through the course of the game. There are elements that everyone can agree on. Characters appearance and the plot, things like that. But everyone is different, so naturally everyone will have different preferences and as such it may be common to see certain parts of the game to be ignored, minimized or left out of the review completely. This is why an objectively written review is difficult. The reviewer’s beliefs on what is more important may differ from that of the prospective buyer and what one person values, another may not. For this reason, a ranking system would be likely to cause debate more than anything else – I’d rather have personal opinion.

New Game Journalism (NGJ) was introduced as a topic 8 years ago, this unique form of review draws away from the video game itself and focuses more on the player. Writers of this type of journalism or contributing game players will focus more on their own experiences they receive whilst playing the games, as well as referencing other material and discussing their hobbies with other likeminded people. It doesn't have to stop there either. It can also lead to interactions with other people online and any plots in game that can be related to what is currently happening in real life. In a nutshell this form of journalism is a subjective one and revolves around 'me' and not 'it'.

In my own case, I’m not going to shy away from the fact that writing hasn’t always been a strong point for me. However, if the matter at hand is something that I’m very familiar with or interested in, I find I can generally expand the topic based on my own experience and thoughts. I’m definitely in favour of the subjective approach to writing and enjoy the NGJ style as the experience comes through in the review.

This may not be the best example of real life plots and NGJ, but, after finishing the first two Assassins Creed games, I grew curious about the 2012 'end of the world' theory. And so I got into reading about the Mayan Calendar and scientific theories behind such events. Whilst most people believe it to be bullshit, so far, I'm inclined to go along with it for the moment. But hey, it's just less than a year to go.....we'll soon see.

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