Back in May 2006, Computer Gaming World started publishing reviews without scores at the end. No numbers, grades or tallies. Instead of thoughts being summarised by a variable, they were summarised by, well, a summary. It was interesting, with an expected result: the readers hated it. Not all of them, mind you, but most of them. Or at the least, most who cared to vocalise their opinions. The problem with the change, said the fans, was that they didn't have time to read a review. They trusted the reviewer's opinion to generate a numerical value that approximated the quality of the product they reviewed, and felt that taking the score away did not necessarily add emphasis to the writing itself, or to the magazine as a whole. Instead, it may actually be taking away from those things.
While I don't hold that belief, I can see where the comments were coming from. A review score has been a way to absorb the review in the fastest means possible. A 8/10 review would be a great game, a 4/10 would be a less than average game. Some of the readers said they would only ever read a review if the game had a really high score or a really low score, as it was expected that the review would give detailed insight into the game and why they people should play it, or tell a tale of the reviewer's struggle against a game they would sooner prefer forgetting than writing a 2000 word write up.
And, hey, I guess they were right. A few issues passed by (Or maybe it was when they rebranded as GFW Magazine? I don't recall), and once again CGW Magazine were throwing scores at the end of their reviews. Even though they were perhaps slightly less meaningful now, as the staff had already shown their distaste for the system, but regardless the readers who complained previously were happy. And as expected they received another barrage of angry E-mails this time complaining instead because the scores were back (proving once again you can't please the Internet). So what does all of this mean? Means people like review scores, y'all. Is it because they can compare the reviews easier, because people can understand metric values far easier than comprehensive written opinions, or because people are lazy and stupid? Of course, the answer is all three. But don't tell the Internet that.
Does that mean I think review scores are meaningless? Well, certainly the ones on my reviews page are. But generally most publications don't have the same... optimism as me on video games. I would have to think that scores exist for a reason, even if perhaps we haven't perfected the use of them yet. This isn't limited to video game reviews, of course. Two thumbs up or 4/4 stars or an A+? I don't know. But other, better reviewers on the Internet have their reasons for using them, and put in enough emotion to selecting their score to justify having them. What is my opinion on the matter? Perhaps I'll go into it next time. Overall, I'm just thankful I don't have to worry about people reading this blog post; I didn't put a score on the end of it.
2010-05-11 -- KRITZ.NET