I see the Mass Affect nonsense has now spawned a few more articles on games journalism. Questioning how reviewers can give ME3 such high scores, when the ending sucked harder than a level one rogue wearing tap shoes. As fun as it would be join the vapid chorus spotting nonsense about reviewers blowing corporate overlords. I think it’s time to focus on something else. Namely the damn audience that reads the reviews.
I firmly believe most reviewers spit an honest opinion of a game on the page and leave it at that. Which can easily put you at odds with readers. That said reviewers want to be liked (who doesn’t) and love getting good feed back. So when readers start shitting themselves over your opinion, it can be tough to swallow. The question then becomes is your standard internet audience a bunch of mouth breathing boobs?
Despite what comment sections may tell us, the answer is no. It is almost impossible to get a true picture of the internet audience. Generally you only hear from the one percent that scream the loudest. In my mind there are many more review readers out there. They understand at it’s core a review is an opinion and to be taken as such.
The majority of the internet audience is a silent one. I refuse to touch the reasons why. There are just to many to give each one adequate time. There is a small part of the majority that will brave comment threads from time to time. They usually comment with logic and plenty of thought before hand. Problem is the irrational ones usually drowns them out with unholy screeching. This group tends to throw in the towel when the word troll starts flying liberally. I feel for this group a lot. It’s heartbreaking to watch your intelligent thought’s drowned out by shouts of learn to write noob. It’s probably also why the rest of the majority keep silent or find other ways to let reviewers know they appreciate them. Most of these folks have a few reviewers they trust and read them with dedication. Others in this group are just unsure of a few games and need a second opinion. A review may not make or break this groups purchases, but they appreciate that reviews exist to help them.
The smallest segment of the review audience is really where we need to focus. They would be the one percent that scream the loudest. Causing disruption and chaos for the rest of the audience. That is part of the problem right there. The screeching is so loud, so full of vile rage it gives off an illusion. An illusion that outrage is coming from an extremely large number of voices. Members of this group will do everything they can to further said illusion. In reality this group is the smallest and most inconsequential of the review reading audience. We would be wise to just ignore them and almost never do. This group believes that reviews should match their opinion one hundred percent of the time. Otherwise the reviewer must be on the take or just trolling for page views. It’s this group that leads to an interesting point about reviews. Probably the only good thing to ever come from the crowd of clowns.
What if reviewers gave in and started tailoring opinions to suit the small minded? Sure it would make a tiny amount of people happy, but does that really fix anything? Isn’t that just as bad as the act of giving publishers good reviews to keep them happy? As shady as people claim publishers are, in some cases the audience is no better. They would squeal with glee if reviewers started vindicating the tinfoil induced opinions they hold.
Reviewers are in a no win situation and have will power I simply don’t possess. The fact that more don’t quit in disgust and find better things to do with their talents amazes me. On one hand you have game companies crying if anything comes in below an eight. On the other you have a vocal minority who screams constantly about being catered to. There is just no easy way to deal with those kind of conditions.
We spend an enormous amount of time examining reviewers. I just thought it time to probe the readers of reviews. We love to blame everyone but ourselves for the less than perfect review system. You’ll never going to convince me that the addled screaming of the audience, isn’t itself part of the problem.