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Thread: Is the concept of a review outdated?

  1. #1

    Is the concept of a review outdated?

    I was having a conversation about this and I am currently inclined to say yes, at least for most things.

    For example, Ebert isn't fond of slasher flicks. Him mentioning a slasher flick and giving it a positive review is not going to make someone who doesn't like slasher flicks want to see it, him giving it a negative review is not going to make someone who does like the style not want to see it. Him mentioning it's a slasher flick - regardless of his opinion - can only make a fan of the genre aware that it exists. His opinion ultimately does not matter.

    Let's apply this to games, a thing we can all relate to. If critic A says he does not like Dice Masters but describes the game sufficiently the fact that he doesn't like it doesn't matter - all it can do is bring awareness to the game. People who are inclined to like it will still like it, people who weren't ever going to be interested have no interest to lose. If the critic said he likes the game people who were already going to buy into it will still buy into it, people who have no inclination to play a collectible dice building game will still not gain a sudden interest in a style they were never going to like in the first place. Again, the critic's opinion does not matter. Attaching an arbitrary score and your opinion to an article/video/blog/whatever mentioning a product does not change the net gain or loss that thing had.

    Unless your critical opinion comes with a personality that sales it I'm not convinced stating it matters. I think this is why in the internet age we've seen the rise of gimmicky reviewers - people are tuning in for a show, not for an actual review.

    The proof is in the pudding, here are some movies that stood the test of time or are still relevant to this day despite critical reception
    The Shawshank Redemption
    The Big Lebowski
    It's A Wonderful Life
    Troll 2
    Plan 9 From Outer Space
    Rocky Horror Picture Show

    I am interested in hearing other perspectives on this. I might be wrong.

  2. #2
    Well, some of those examples are faulty. Plan 9, for example, is popular in spite of itself. One could say the same for "The Room" but no one is saying it's a good movie. But I see your point.

    I think that if you look at the structure of reviews, they CAN be relevant. Even with games that Vasel doesn't like, you know you're going to get to see all the components as well as the gist of what's going on.

    The other side of it is the rise of things like Rahdo Runs Through or Watch It Played, where you're seeing nothing more than the host's explanation of the rules and gameplay.

    In gaming, reviewing is tightly connected with the media itself, which also causes blurred lines. If someone finds out about a game (beyond the press announcements) it's because someone like Vasel or Rodney or the Secret Cabal or UndeadViking gave some exposition about it.

    The other thing is that I don't look for a review to determine the quality of something; I look for analysis.

  3. #3
    I still find well, thought out reviews very helpful...usually not from critics, but from users/viewers. Classic board games non-withstanding, games cost anywhere from $30 and up these days. With my household of 5 people, $30 is something to pay attention to and not just throw away on the possibility of a good game. If I see legit praise/concerns for a game from people that've played it, it helps me decide if it's worth my while. Even a negative review can shed light on aspects that I actually might like in said game, and vice versa. Does how the reviewer feel about the game matter?, probably not and I'll concede that point, but as long as their review is more than, "This game sucks", I listen to what they have to say to help me form my overall opinion...and in the end, isn't that a good reviewers ultimate goal, to help you make informed decisions?

  4. #4
    There are four categories of person that I just arbitrarily made up to base my mindset on this. The hater, the fanboy, the interested, and the undetermined.

    The hater can't stand the target subject. Nothing you say or do will stop that. The review is pointless to them. The individual in question will likely never actively seek out a review on the subject because who does that? Who actually takes time out of their day to read about something they hate?

    The fanboy will partake in the reviewed subject no matter what you say. Good, bad, ugly, it doesn't matter. The review is wasted. They are probably going to seek out reviews because of their passion on the subject. If nothing else than to feel empowered in their belief through positive reviews, and to give their lives a little drama when they argue against negative reivews.

    The disinterested are just that. They could care less. They are aware of the subject, but simply do not care. Reviews can affect these people depending on how they are presented. They can be used to motivate the disinterested. They could also do nothing more than confirm the disinterest or worse.

    The undetermined is the person that already has a positive interest and/or curiosity, and will be most receptive to the review. They actively seek out the review. The content of the review, and how it is presented will have a massive impact on their decision making.

    Based on my gut feeling and observations, the greater bulk of people out there are either disinterested or undetermined. As such, I would say that the concept of the review is just as important as it has always been in the consumer marketplace.

  5. #5
    Pfft, what a load of old tosh, @Camalott ! I could not agree more with all you have said on this most excellent of subjects. Which I have little to no interest in. Or do I?

  6. #6
    Reviews can also still be helpful when you find a reviewer whose tastes line up with yours. There are several sites/reviewers/critics whose tastes and preferences align fairly well with me and if they like something I will generally at least give it the time of day. I might never have given BoJack Horseman a shot if Alan Sepinwall hadn't spoken so ridiculously glowingly of it and man am I glad I did.

    Of course this isn't to say that any source is perfect or infallible (Sepinwall is down with BBT after all...) but it's at least one other wrinkle where reviews still can provide value.

  7. #7
    I try and follow the rule of play before you buy. If a game interests you get a demo of it. If you really want it this shouldn't be too hard. Of course the reviews are where my interest is peaked, I find people who have a perspective on games makes me much more interested in watching them.

  8. #8
    I have a few friends who's opinions I can count on.I gave up on "professional" critics when I was a Junior in High School. That year the original Star Wars movie was released, and without exception all movie critics hated it.........

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