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DAILY MANIFESTO

The Truth About Game Revolution

Posted on Tuesday, December 4 @ 22:17:31 Eastern by JP_Hurh
After reading the comments on Duke’s recent blog, I decided to weigh in because so much of it veered to what people liked and disliked in GR’s reviews.  The truth is, most of the writing you see on GR is done without pay, and the few staff that are on payroll have to wait an outrageous amount of time for checks that may never come.  We try to be as honest as possible in our reviews, but we also are given a wide leash to try new styles of writing, to swing for the fences, as it were.  What GR offers us as journalists is creativity, but that comes at the expense of money.  And money is expensive.

So you don’t have to worry about our reviews being influenced by money or by game publishers.  But that doesn’t mean GR is infallible.  GR doesn’t always get advance copies of games that are made available to other, more well-trafficked, sites.  We have absolutely no marketing, we exist almost entirely through word of mouth, and we only get attention when we manage to piss someone (or some culture or some sovereign nation) off.   

But this also means that we have to rush to review games, especially during the holiday season, with little editorial oversight or pure zen reflection.  We do the best we can, but we make mistakes.  The constant drinking and zombie parades probably don’t help.  

Above and beyond the occasional factual mistakes, all game critics, I am sure, have second-guessed their final marks.  Sometimes games look better or worse from a different vantage.  My old review of Chromehounds, for example, has both kinds of regrets.  On one hand, there’s the embarrassing error near the bottom, but on the other hand, there’s the fact that I kept thinking about the game long after the review.  Don’t get me wrong, I wouldn’t change a single word of the text.  But I might, given some hindsight, have bumped the grade up a half point.  Of course, I haven’t played the game in over a year, so maybe my first impression was the more informed one.

And this brings me to my point, which is that grading is probably the least reliable thing on this site or any other.  In the substance of game reviews we try to describe the game, try to point out what most people would like or not like, try to suck the marrow out of the game and then regurgitate it for you, our little baby bird readers. But giving a game a final grade is the most painful process; it reduces all our careful words to a single letter and gives the impression of some gestalt transcendent judgment that all of us know (well, maybe not all game journalists know it) does not exist.

The difference between GR criticism and that of other sites is that we try to make reading game reviews as painless an activity as possible.  That, and we have a sense of perspective.  Granted, it is the perspective of a drunk homeless guy on a sunny afternoon in the park, but at least you can’t smell us over the internet.

So, how does GR grade in your book?


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