Update: I was unfortunately not aware of Shamus Young's severe criticism of Fallout 3 available here to link in the original piece and I regret that. It dovetails rather nicely with what I've written and it's much better executed than my piece. I strongly recommend anyone...
I was wondering if you were planning on attending E3 this year, If so, would you be interested in setting up a small very casual meeting? I will be bringing along one of our upcoming, unannounced, secret projects that you will get an exclusive look at.
We have always believed in delivering gaming products of the very highest quality, and I can promise you that this new product will follow the same ideology. Furthermore this product is somewhat different from our usual product line of accessories and peripherals.
Sounds like something you would be interested in? Send me a mail and let’s arrange a meeting! ;-)
Thomas B. Nielsen Review Representative
Dear Shady Character Thomas,
Since you never define "very casual meeting", "secret project" or "somewhat different from our usual," we're going to have to ad-lib a little bit. Or rather, Mad-Lib. Hopefully, some combination of these common E3 terms hits the nail on the head:
The women's bathroom
The Nintendo line
PC gaming peripherals
Your hotel room
My hotel room
Now let's make our GR Mad-lib!
I will be bringing along one of our upcoming, unannounced (Adjective) (Plural noun) that you will get an exclusive look at in (Location).
Fill that puppy out and get back to us. Needless to say, we aren't interested in watching a schizophrenic light show in our faces - after all, that's what E3 is for. We also hope you don't intend to introduce us to any enraged penises in the Nintendo line, because one of us will probably be that penis.
Bad Grades, Bad!
From: Ethan C. Dickinson <****@gmail.com> Subject: Grading scale and meta-critic
On the metacritic website (metacritic.com/games), they consistently say you review games much,
much worse than the average. For example, on their site it claims you gave Tetris DS a 67 out
of 100, when in reality your review paints a much rosier picture, one that perhaps relates
closer to an 80 (what a B- truly is). Metacritic is misinterpreting your review scores, and I
fear that it is negatively impacting your name brand and people's perception of your site. They
failed to listen to my complaints, so I humbly request that you go to metacritic.com/games and
leaf through the reviews to see if any scores don't match your intent. If they do, please
email them. This is a black mark against both your sites, and I hope you can help them
You bring up that rarest of Mailbag points - the good kind.
Aggregate review sites like Metacritic and Gamerankings, while quite handy for the casual consumer, are often insanely erroneous in their processes, particularly when it comes to sites that use the American grading system like GR. For example, we gave The Elder Scrolls IV: Oblivion an A-, which Metacritic turned into a 91 out of 100. Makes sense, right? Not so fast. We gave Rampage a D-, which they converted to a 16, and Tomb Raider: Legend a C+, which somehow got transformed into a 58.
On the other hand, when Gamespot gives a game like Rampage a 5.7, their score is perfectly converted into a 57.
Maddening? You don't know the half of it. We've been contacted on numerous occasions by publishers and developers upset that our grades are pulling down their aggregate site scores, claiming that, for instance, our "B-" (which somehow equals a Metacritic 67) is screwing up their chance at getting a score above 80. Believe it or not, producers, PR reps and product managers can actually get bonuses if their games get high enough aggregate scores. Forget the facts, just look at the numbers!
Perhaps more absurd is the arcane criteria used to decide which sites are valid for inclusion in an aggregate site. We're all for the little guys making a mark, but not when they're cheap, low-trafficked fansites. A sixty-word, 95 out of 100 review by Game Banana shouldn't ruin the curve, but it does, and grade-based sites like GR get screwed in the end.
Speaking of which, the only recourse is to actually take the time to read reviews instead of the numerical Cliff's Notes. If publishers refuse to do so and instead obsess over the digits, that's their problem.
From: Dennis Buchholz <****@gmail.com> Subject: April foolery
Geez, every april you video game journalists sure take advantage of that fact that game players are the most gullible people out there. There are some who deny it, that "as soon as i saw the article for the gPOD i knew it was a hoax", but they are only lying to themselves. I fall victim every f**kin year (crap, I was telling my friends about Bonker Jerks 2) but this year I was a little faster on the Worlds of Starcraft (blizzard had no info on it....I know, Im gullible). My hats off to you, gameing journalists, for sticking it to us nerdy gamers for I know we deserve it *coughcough* nintendo fanboys *coughcough*.
Keep up the good reviews
Hey, we live to entertain. We got several e-mails regarding our Worlds of Starcraft screenshots, but instead of addressing them individually, we thought we'd respond to everyone here in the hallowed frame of the mailbag.
The End Of The World
From: (No name) <****@aol.com> Subject: i was just wondering fellas...
Hey GR! Wow im finally writing to you guys. I've been a dedicated GR fan for years, I've loved video games and computer games all my life and this is my first time writing to you guys. I've always gone to your site when wondering anything about games and I think your ratings are very appropriate to any game you review. You are a very intelligent group of people who also have a hilarious sense of humor. But now my nose is covered in s**t so let me get to the point.
Let's say, hypothetically, that a crazy liberal/democrat/socialist comes to be president soon and gets rid of all video games because they're too violent and fun and all that. Let's say your buddy Steve, a dirty rat politician,has gots duh hookupskys (yea i got ghetto for a sec. there) and tells you he can get you 3 games and 3 games only back on the market for the rest of your LIFE! No other games would exist after you choose these 3. What 3 games would you pick?
P.S: I understand this crappy elaborate story could have been summed up in one sentence but what kind of name is Steve anyway?....yea im tired....But seriously send an answer im curious to know what games you would choose.
KEEP UP THE GOOD WORK GR!!
Dear Unfortunate AOL Subscriber,
If a crazy fundamentalist/republican/imperialist got the United States covered in a fine coat of nuclear fallout, killing us all, we'd be in about the same boat. How are we supposed to make a living with just three games? Delivering pizzas? Hiro Protagonists, we are not.
From: Hotmail Je Boycotte <****@yahoo.fr> Subject: More Rants!
I've been a fan of yours since 2003 or 2004 can't remember well maybe even 2002. Anyhow that's completely beside the point of this e-mail. Now let us skip the obligatory sympathy and onward to the real point shall we?
I only wanted to know if I’m like, the only one on this planet that doesn’t like Massively Multiplayer Role Playing Game. Mostly, yes is about the only answer I get. Why? I mean am I the only one that dislikes theses kind of games? Also I’m not bold enough to go and tell rants without proper arguments or reasons for my point of view. It’s not like I’ve never played one, or watched a mate play one, or even asked said mate about it.
The sheer stupidity of people that plague the server with a) stupid name i.e. UsuckXoorN00bkilla b) no grasp of grammar whatsoever c) fails to understand the concept of in and outof character d) fails to understand the concept of Role playing game e) proper gender-ism, look in your trousers mate, for heaven’s sake!
Lack of mission beyond being an agent of Ye Olde Feydecks Compagny or Kill A to get an item called B to a certain mister C for he shall grant you item D
Paying to fu**** play the game?! Hey mate I’ve already bought that game of yours and now you’re telling me to pay another monthly fee? What do you think I am a freaking millionaire?
The glorification of being higher level. Sure you can vanquish more powerful foe, and received more experience point. However if the battle system is properly done it shouldn’t be more thrilling to get 1000í‚Â³ XP for slaying a Mystical beast of ass kicking than getting 10XP for slaughtering a Goblin.
I’d also like to make an emphasis on 1.b i.e. no grasp of grammar. It’s astonishing to see grown people with diploma using such a low level of vocabulary. It’ll be really fearsome to hear these people speaking like that on the streets. Like real freaking fearsome
That’s about it, well mostly it’s ranting but hey the internet is a free place and everybody has the right to hear my opinion. Most of these ranting apply to regular RPG, a genre I’m greatly found of since the good times of ye olde Baldur’s Gate .
You are probably not the only one who doesn't like MMORPGs. In fact, people like you are born every minute. Allow us to quickly dismiss, er, address your arguments:
1. a) Dude, you call yourself The Ofelix. b) *See your second argument. c) *See 1.a. d) *See 1.c. e) You and Catholic priests everywhere agree on this one, so we'll tell you the same thing we told them: No, you may not look in our trousers.
3. No, we expect your parents to pay the bill, and you to mow the lawn or stomp the wine grapes an extra couple times a week.
4. *See our response to your second argument.
5. We bet you would.
We are also greatly fond of the original Baldur's Gate, and can't wait to get our hands on Bioware's upcoming MMORPG project. Until then...