Game Journalists Physically Unable to Write Reviews Without Adding a Number

At a writer’s workshop during last week’s PAX East, professionals in the industry taught newcomers on how to write a review. Unfortunately, the lessons fell apart after it was discovered that no one could write a review without attaching a numerical score to it.itsnotfivedollarsSurprisingly, this workshop actually had quite a few helpful tips on writing reviews. It was suggested that writers should start with an introduction that expresses how they feel about the game. Furthermore, they should always substantiate any opinion with facts based on what they played. It would have been extremely useful if the students actually got that far.

However, the teachers were not professional game journalists but rather independent writers who have won awards for their opinion pieces. The lessons they tried to teach seemed to fall on deaf ears as many of the students kept asking questions about what kind of number should go with a review and how to leverage that number into more hits for their website.

“This obsession with numbers just baffled me,” said writer Richard Payne, “Sure, you can add a number to your review, but I find that the best reviews are ones that clearly express their opinion without being misleading or confusing. But no one seemed to care about what actually went into the words. In fact, I don’t think anybody actually cared about writing at all.”

“I wanted to gauge their skill levels so I had them write a short paragraph expressing their opinion on a painting of a cat,” recalled Payne, “I did not expect much as it is extremely difficult to describe a very plain picture. But these paragraphs I received were just plain garbage. Why would anyone subject themselves to reading anything these people produce?”

The following is an example of an opinion that an attendee had written:

This painting is definitely a 10 out of 10. It is quite possible that we have found the next Mona Lisa. The visceral nature of this picture speaks volumes about the artist and brings tears to my eyes. It just makes me feel human unlike other paintings. The cat may not be perfect, but is the cat even important when we look at the whole picture? After all, the high quality frame shows that the artist spared no expense bringing this masterpiece to us. By the end of my viewing, the cat did not even matter. Instead, I discovered something new about myself.

“After reading these paragraphs, we decided to give some quick pointers and have them start over again,” continued Payne, “We just kept receiving these reviews with numbers and pointless abstract commentary that somehow did not match the number at all. What frightened me the most was that some reviews just had a number and that these writers could not stop themselves from doing it. I swear it is almost instinct for them.”

Even a few veterans attended the workshop including IGN review editor Dan Stapleton. Stapleton said that he needed a refresher on how review scores worked. He got into some trouble when he kept arguing about the importance between review numbers. To make his point, he took out a pen and almost stabbed a teacher saying that .1 of an inch is the difference between life and death. No charges were pressed.

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24 Responses

  1. Anthony says:

    I was going to make a joke about Sessler but the Dan Stapleton part made me forget everything. Good job Jack!

  2. zornthgrt says:

    But what score did Stapleton give the cat?

    • Alan says:

      The word is that he couldn’t decide on a score since there was no “advertising partner” to tell him how much money was riding on 0.1 of a score, which is what led to the pen incident.

  3. Covarr says:

    I enjoyed reading this article. It was quite well-written, and conveyed its point clearly, though admittedly not without issues. The writer has forgotten to put the letter Z anywhere in it. Such a blatant omission is compounded by the fact that I cannot read the article in any order I want and still understand it; it’s a linear experience forcing the reader to travel straight from beginning to end, eliminating any and all freedom it might otherwise have had. The ending was abrupt, and the content of the article was much tamer than I would’ve hoped for something written for 2014.

    I just couldn’t overlook these flaws, but in spite of them I can’t ignore that this article is close to perfection. 9.5

  4. Bob says:

    I think Mr. Payne is a knob. If he doesn’t like, then don’t read it!!

  5. I mean says:

    They had mock sponsors, right? What about provocative titles for their reviews?
    “This Pussy’s Irrelevance” or something.

    Sounded like this workshop was amateur hour.

  6. Morpheus says:

    Game journalists could use Radian for score.
    Instead of 9/10, they can write 5.5 rad/ 2 pi radians. Perfectly match their abstract review.

    • Chad Daddy Sarkeesian, TESLA ROX EDISON SUX says:

      TAU 4 LYF

  7. Anonymous says:


  8. The Holy Turnip says:

    Did that cat painting even have an online multiplayer mode!? 10 out of 10 is too good a score for an experience that’s missing features….

  9. The Real Monkey Man says:

    The students also couldn’t help but complain about the depiction of women in video games, then turn around and make positive comments on sexy cosplayers and hentai games. Anyone who disagreed with the students were derided as “white menz” or “dudebros”. Even women who disagreed were called “dudebros”.

    • zornthgrt says:

      And dont forget the non representation of minority groups.

    • Well, of course. What about it?
      It’s not my role to educate you, but since I’m bored, I’ll teach you filthy MRAs a thing or two today…
      See, all these praised “hentai vidcons” pass the Bechdel test. For you uneducated misogynists, the Bechdel test is a widely accepted measure for whether media is woman-friendly or not. Fifty Shades of Gray and Sex and the City don’t pass the test, while Senran Kagura and Monster Girl Quest pass with flying colors. You should be able to infer that the only conclusion possible here is that we, as feminists, have a duty to promote the latter two.

  10. Tommy Wiseau says:

    “But no one seemed to care about what actually went into the words. In fact, I don’t think anybody actually cared about writing at all”

    They said that about me, but I put my soul into The Room. Maybe those gaming journalists are like me, who make a masterpiece so complex lesser minds couldn’t comprehend it.

    • I’m sorry to tell you the truth here, but your movie isn’t something that cannot be understood by lesser minds. It’s something everybody can enjoy, and each time you watch it, you discover something you hadn’t seen before. Despite its complexity, everybody can enjoy it. It’s the same as Citizen Kane.

  11. Paul Nah says:

    I need a picture of the said cat, so I could talk shit about the reviewers opinion with my own counter argument.

    • Anonymous says:

      You don’t need to see the picture of the cat.
      Just decide with your heart how good the picture is, and let the words flow from there.

  12. Bobbbbbbbby says:

    I feel as though I’ve been enlightened about the inner workings of a system that’s far more complex than I initially envisioned. Although I couldn’t read it with more people, the content of the article had so much depth to it that I feel as if it didn’t really need it. The choice of words and overall structure was a visceral experience, to say the least. The silent ambiance, the pacing, the quotes, the layout of the page, while all kept minimal had the perfectly tuned cinematic elements of a blockbuster film. It’s the Citizen Kane of articles.

    Overall, I give it an 8.9/10 “Great, but not without some flaws.” If there was just a bit more polish or it was left in the oven for just a bit longer maybe it could’ve reached a 9/10 “Amazing, nearly flawless.”