NXpress Nintendo Podcast #52: Virtual Reality vs. Augmented Reality and the Problem with Review Scores

by NXpress Podcast
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Virtual Reality is generating a lot of headlines right now. However there is a misconception that Virtual Reality is a new technology, whereas what we’re seeing now is the commercialisation of a long-established concept. This week we discuss the future of VR and compare it to augmented reality and whether or not Nintendo should experiment with either format. In our opening segment we debate whether review scores are arbitrary and meaningless, or important to criticism of any medium, specifically video games.

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Episode Playlist

00:00: Intro
01:00: Nintendosage: The problem with review scores
24:00: Virtual Boy commercial 
25:00: Lawnmower Man clip
26:00: The Main Event: Virtual Reality vs. Augmented Reality 
60:00: The Matrix clip
62:00: Outro

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2 comments

ex fact0r April 17, 2016 - 8:57 am

Hey guys, me again (sorry). Just thought I’d chime in since it seems like your topic of discussion was derived from something I said, yet again.

I think we would all agree that the video game genre of On-Rail Shooters is a bit of an obscure genre, now more so than ever. Let’s say, against everyone’s better judgment, Microsoft released a new On-Rail Shooter for the Xbox One, but the game ends up surprising people with its quality. One reviewer may be quoted in saying “this is one of the best on-rail shooters of all time”. Now, does that statement mean the game deserves any specific score? No, not really. Especially if every on-rail shooter before it was terrible (and I’m not saying every on-rail game is terrible, this is just a hypothetical here). Despite being the best on-rail shooter ever crafted, the game may “only” receive a 7/10.

Now, the thing about indies is they’ve become very popular. Some of them sell very well, and get a lot of media attention, but the mass majority of indie games are trash. There are literally new indie games that come out every day, and a good chunk of them are near unplayable. Yes, there are some gems, but as a whole indie games tend to pale in comparison to games with huge funding, and for good reason. So, when I said that Hyper Light Drifter is “one of the better overall indie games I’ve had the pleasure of playing”, I meant exactly that. It stands out above the mass majority of indie games, and I’d rank it with some of the top tier indie titles, but that doesn’t mean that it deserves a score of 8/10 or above.

The fault is mine, because the sentence “one of the better overall indie games I’ve had the pleasure of playing” is just plain horrible. As a reader, you have no idea which indies or how many indies I’ve played. As a whole I’d say my Hyper Light Drifter review is perhaps the worst article I’ve ever written, and for that I apologize. But my issues with the review have nothing to do with the score. I 100% stand by the score I gave the game.

I’m of the belief that rating games is tremendously important, and I think the biggest issue with the video game industry in terms of rating games is that people simply do not respect the review / scoring process. A lot of people stand by the notion that each video game should be reviewed within a vacuum, and I wholeheartedly disagree with that notion for so many reasons that if I list them here this post would end up being over 10, 000 words. When I hand a score to a game, I take into consideration every game I’ve played before, and every score I’ve given out before. When I give a game an 8, I take into consideration every other game I’ve given that score to. I think of each quality that I believe a game must have to reach that level, and it’s not easy. To me, giving a game an 8/10 is a huge honor, and there are only a handful of games per year that I play, out of dozens and dozens, that would deserve such a score. I think one of the biggest issues with the overall gaming community now is that 8/10 is seen as “average”, thanks to sites like IGN. So when games get “low” scores, like when IGN gave The Division a 6.7, you can scroll down to the comments and you’ll see tons of people who clearly didn’t read the review but yet they’re bashing the game. I watched an interview with the IGN employee who wrote that review, and he said he liked the game, he said its a good game… but its a 6.7, and I understand that. I reviewed Lost Dimension for QuadNine.net, and I gave it a 6~, but I think its a good game, and I’d recommend it to certain people… but its flawed. So when I give Hyper Light Drifter a 7.2, know that I put a lot of consideration into that score.

I don’t want to pick on anyone, but just as an example of reviewers perhaps being too generous: Goomba Stomp gave Lovely Planet a 90%, or 9/10. Now, just think about that for a second: there is only 1 full point between 9/10 and 10/10… one point away from qualifying as a masterpiece. Now, I haven’t played Lovely Planet in its entirety, but I have tried the game, and it’s fun, but to me it’s a far cry from a 9/10. For me, rating a game that high would put it in league with games like Metal Gear Solid and Castlevania: Symphony of the Night. Maybe for Ty Davidson (the reviewer) Lovely Planet is truly a near perfect experience (and that’s fine), but I feel most reviewers hand out scores without thinking of the gaming pantheon that exists; they hand out scores while wrapped up in the hype of that experience, without looking at the bigger picture. For each individual the value of a 10/10, or 7/10, or 3/10 is determined by all the experiences we’ve all had, but I feel that instead of putting thought into their scores, people are simply glad to give both Game X and Game Y an 8/10, but when question about it later, they’d say something like “well yea Game X is better by a lot, but they’re both 8/10 because lol why not”.

Wow, this post ended up being way longer than I intended. No one is going to read all this. I’m sure Rick looked at this wall of text and immediately face-palmed.

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Ricky D April 17, 2016 - 3:16 pm

There you go, always causing trouble…

I have not played Hyper Light Drifter yet, so I can’t chime in on what score I think the game deserves. As for the review, it is actually one of the best written reviews we have on our site. The problem is that one sentence, which is why as I stated on the podcast that editors should just communicate with the writer if they are confused about something he or she wrote. But that is part of the problem here. Instead of addressing the line written in the review, the entire focus was put on the review score. I think we are sort of in agreement for once. Sure I don’t like having review scores but I do know that game developers consider then tremendously important. And as I mentioned in the podcast, writers are easy when grading simply because they want their reviews to be quoted in posters, box art, TV spots and trailers. When I was running Sound on Sight, we were quoted n trailers and posters and DVD covers quite often and each and every time, the studio would send me an email requesting permission to use a portion of the review. In other words, they would take the most positive things said and purposely cut out anything that was somewhat negative. EX:

The Walking Dead is BEST TV show you can watch on AMC right now but suffers from poor character writing.

This would be changed to

The Walking Dead is the BEST TV SHOW right now!

This of course is just an example.

I expected you to leave a comment, but I was hoping you would write an article instead, given your comment is so bloody long.

Bottom line is – 99% of writers aren’t honest when grading a game because they want to be quoted, or they want the developer to be their best friend or they simply want the traffic.

Rick

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