All Aboard

2 Nov

Jim Sterling of Destructoid recently made a post asking whether or not hype should be considered when reviewing a game.

He mentions that, as a consumer, most of us are influenced to some degree by hype, and that a game’s failure to meet its own hype often results in a more disappointing experience. Sterling’s conclusion was that hype should be considered in a review as it’s an unavoidable and influential aspect in how the player perceives the game.

While I agree with Sterling for the most part, he fails to touch on an important point.

As an avid gamer, I enjoy playing older games that I missed the first time around. When I’m in the mood for a new, old game or if I’m just plain bored, I like to read older reviews to guage the general reaction to games that I never got around to. This is where the point Sterling missed comes in.

Sterling uses scores to review games, as most major reviewers do. With the content of a review being influenced by hype, readers years down the road will be able to discern that the game in question had a certain amount of hype behind it, but how much does hype really matter when you weren’t around to be influenced by it?

Sure, there’s lots of hype after the fact in many cases, but majority of reviews are written for a game’s release. If hype affects a reviewer’s score, readers down the road may choose to pass on a game that would have a higher score as the hype no longer matters to the reader.

This is yet another strike against scores in reviews as they reflect an out-of-context, static opinion that has the power to influence the lazy, who then influence the professionals behind the industry and their exchanges of money.

Hype should definitely be considered in a review, but if you’re going to apply a score to a hyped game, you had better consider how much of that score is influenced by hype and how relavant that hype will be to all players at all times.

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