Tuesday, September 15, 2020

Editorial - YEMV: Your Experience May Vary

Even with dozens of reviews for most videogames, high or low-profile, it can always be a challenge for gamers to decide what title to purchase and play next, and as I noted in a prior editorial, even with scores, said reviews oftentimes don’t match up with the actual experience players may have with particular titles. I can name dozens of times I’ve tried games that have gotten wonderful reviews, only to be horribly disappointed due to game-breaking flaws that “professional” reviewers either downplayed our outright neglected to mention in their critiques, and conversely, have played titles that received average or even bad reviews that I actually enjoyed than many gaming “masterpieces.”

The main issue with videogame reviews is that each one represents only one person’s subjective opinion based on their experience with one particular game, and while sites such as Metacritic may collect the varying scores reviewers assign games, that they represent collections of individual biased opinions is incredibly problematic and unfriendly towards the average consumer. In my opinion, every player’s experience with videogames is unique, and incomparable to others, and as an autistic adult, I have a unique perspective of games that oftentimes clashes with mainstream, mostly neurotypical, opinion, and as a reviewer, I feel obligated to make my positions clear for likeminded individuals.

Japanese RPG series such as many Final Fantasy, Kingdom Hearts, and Megami Tensei titles do have amazing aspects—there’s absolutely no question about that. However, many entries of these respective franchises have serious flaws that mainstream, casual players need to consider before purchase and play, with virtually no mainstream videogame reviewers, for example, mentioning the total inability to undo movement or avoid random encounters in the almighty Final Fantasy Tactics, which I found to be serious issues. There have also been many instances of such games taking noticeable nosedives in quality in their endgame sequences, such as the tenth and twelfth main Final Fantasies.

Conversely, there lies the possibility that reviewers could exaggerate trivial flaws in games, for instance, GameSpot’s review of the game version of Alien: Resurrection that spent a sizeable time complaining about a first-person control system that other first-person shooters would adopt. Moreover, I read a review of Stella Deus: The Gate of Eternity that grossly overstated the amount of time between character dialogues during cutscenes, which conflicted with what I experienced when I played the game. There’s further the possibility of reviewers being inconsistent in their opinions, making certain criticisms for particular games, but neglecting to mention the same flaws when discussing other titles.

Fear of online harassment also plays a significant role in videogames receiving more favorable reception that most other media like books and movies, and I can attest from personal experience that this view isn’t wrong. Many reviewers, sometimes fans as well, have a tendency to put certain media on pedestals of praise (and their brethren within the same series on walls of shame) simply because they’re part of established, “beloved” franchises where specific entries are seen as among the greatest of all time. Perhaps the single greatest cause of my conflict with others on the internet has been the view from individuals that certain books, movies, games, and even themselves, are infallible.

Those who enjoy certain games others may not appreciate as much are definitely obliged to help those who mightn’t like them enjoy them more, for example, with tidbits in their reviews such as tips critical to success and enjoyment. Moreover, a possible solution to the game review dilemma is to have several individuals collaborate on single reviews, maybe one who liked a game, one who didn’t like it or didn’t enjoy it as much, one with limited experience with a particular series, one with lots of experience with a certain franchise, and a consumer with limited experience playing videogames.

In summation, no person’s experience with certain videogames will be identical to that of another, something all game reviewers should keep in mind. What games one person finds easy another may find incredibly difficult. What may not bother one person when playing a game could seriously irritate another. No two videogamers are created equally, and reviewers in particular should definitely keep in mind those with more limited playtime, and help the average consumer to make more informed decisions when purchasing games. Even if certain games are perceived to be “masterpieces,” one person’s treasure could very easily be another’s trash.

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