Videogamedunky's new video on Game Critics


#1

I’d like to hear waypoint’s readers thoughts on the points he’s made and how valid his criticisms are.


Game Criticism Had Problems Long Before Dunkey Made a Video About It
#2

As is often repeated, they’re like… opinions man :laughing:

But in all seriousness I think dunkey had a hard time differentiating from someone being able to like something and criticize it, as with New Super Mario Bros., and also his opinion on what makes a game fun. Maybe he doesn’t like downtime but others might? But I do think he’s on to something when it comes to “rating” a game vs. feelings on a game, it’s so hard to put a number next to something.


#3

I think the main point worth contending here is his criticism of major gaming sites for their large number of reviewers. Those sites have fundamentally different methods of operation than smaller YouTube games critics, and the volume of content they produce demands a larger staff. Some of the major draws of YouTube gaming channels are the personalities of their creators, and that’s perfectly fine for that particular type of content, but it doesn’t necessarily scale too well.

And I’d argue that even some of the large gaming sites he put on that graphic in the beginning have a lot of distinct personalities who frequently interact with their communities; Waypoint, Polygon, and Giant Bomb certainly come to mind.


#4

I’m with him on a lot of his points, though it’s worth noting that his own comments on subjectivity apply here too, he’s talking about what he personally looks for in reviews and review sites as much as he is about “objective” criticism. As far as the latter kind of criticism goes, there’s definitely something to be noted about the way sites as large as IGN produce reviews. As he says, you can’t really judge weather a review is relevant to you personally without knowing the person writing it to a degree. For me this isn’t a problem for, say, Eurogamer, where I know everyone that works there to an extent enough that whoever is reviewing, or even just casually giving an opinion on something, I know how that’s relevant to me. I defer my Strategy Questions to the Strategy King, etc. But in the case of IGN, I basically only know the UK team from their non-review content. Which kind of means that IGN isn’t relevant to me as far as reviews go, and I guess Dunkey’s in the same position. I guess this kind of thing is down to having the perspective to realise when something isn’t going to be much help. IGN does have a pretty strong reputation for “odd” reviews though, so I recon someone more familiar with what they actually produce would have better insight into why that’s a thing.

I guess the only real hard takeaway is: Do lots of Non-Review Content so people can know the people doing the reviews.


#5

so he says that a reviewer is not a person you always agree with, they’re a person who holds internal consistencies. yet the writers at IGN all do not have separate and individual processes; they all are Part Of IGN, which then causes IGN as a whole (which is actually a few dozen people) to be inconsistent? i don’t get what the issue is. if you like a writer at IGN, then follow their work and don’t refer to all of IGN as one inconsistent writer.

fwiw i think all large publishing sites like IGN (i’m referring here to sites for other interests as well, like Pitchfork or AV Club or even news sites like The Guardian) have good and bad writing on there but that always comes down to the individual author. and if you don’t care who’s saying an opinion beyond “it was on IGN, and it disagreed with a different thing IGN said earlier” then like, what argument are you making? that review sites of 30+ people should all be people that have the same perspective? or that there should only be 1 or 2 people writing for said site? i’d rather take 30 different people writing on a website even if it means 80% of the articles or reviews are absolute trash, because having access to many different perspectives, and being able to see where and how they intersect with each other, matters to me

also the point about metacritic being worthless is true but that’s a totally separate issue and he barely goes into it besides using it as a reason that all large publications are worthless. i think all numerical scores are always going to be very imperfect solutions to “i don’t have time to read 5 paragraphs on something i may or may not be interested in”


#6

These types of threads tend to work better when you (the OP) share an opinion to lead off.


#7

There’s something to be said in that IGN kinda WANTS you to see them as one consistent entity. It’s a big enough company that they absolutely would rather you see each review as “IGN’s” review rather than “X’s review, from IGN”. They’re better at it now I hear, but it still has a very particular kind of media presence, and it’s still an impression that a lot of people hold of it even if they don’t go for it themselves. If they don’t, it’s not working and they need to do more. If they still are, they either need to keep up and start putting more emphasis on individual writers, or set their style guide in a way that means you can tell weather a reviewer’s opinion is relevant to you in the review itself, which could be tricky to manage, but not impossible. Famistu’s solution of having multiple reviewers contribute isn’t half bad, and Shut Up and Sit Down often does written reviews framed as conversations between their writers.

Plus:

I’m not sure a site should be commended for making a decision that results in 80% of their articles being absolute trash, though maybe I’m reading something wrong in this sentiment. Like, you can get intersection of ideas more easily from a smaller number of writers, surely. For example, Waypoint.


#8

Looking at you, Kill Screen


#9

At least IGN pays their writers unlike Kill Screen


#10

waypoint is my prime example of a website where 80% of the articles are sorta just weird pop-fluff stuff and the other 20% is why i read it

i suppose “trash” was way too strong a term, i didnt mean i’d sort through a site that was 80% incredibly offensive, just 80% incredibly not my thing


#11

I think that’s one of my main problems with Kotaku and IGN. They some times have good articles but I honestly can’t be bothered to wade through 80-90% of what is clearly click bait articles. Even using RSS feeds so I can quickly scroll through a sites content it’s just not worth it because I very well may go two or three pages before finding something that I consider good content.

Honestly if it wasn’t for RSS feeds I don’t think I would bother with most gaming or news site. So many of them are pushing out articles I just would never read.


#12

I subconsciously hopped onto the forums looking for this thread and I was glad to see it right at the top.

Dunky’s criticism of large gaming site’s struggling with a bit of an identity crisis is fairly sound. It’s hard to expect the average video game consumer (or anyone for that matter) to keep inventory of the personalities and preferences of dozens of reviewers to determine whether their review is relevant.

In an ideal world, larger sites would use their resources to devote multiple writers to share their thoughts on the same game to provide a variety of opinion, much like gaming magazines did back in olden times. Waypoint’s coverage of Horizon: Zero Dawn was a great example of this, as they each tackled different aspects of the game and Austin’s opinion of Horizon overall differed from the rest of the group.

While not all sites are willing or able to employ that type of strategy, the market of games criticism has a built-in solution for this. No human being is beholden to merely reading an IGN review and having that be the sole thing that informs their opinion of a game. The beauty of Metacritic is not the Meta score that’s too often seen as a definitive indicator of quality, but rather that one can look at a game’s page and see IGN gave it a 9 but Gamespot gave it a 3.

That brings me to the idea of the numbered review, which I found to be one of the weaker points of Dunky’s argument. He scolded IGN for constantly rating games between a 7 and a 9, but Dunky so regularly rate’s games a 3 that I’m still not entirely sure whether it’s a goof or not.

Personally I feel the numbered review is one of the biggest flaws of modern criticism, because it’s nearly impossible to formulate a rubric that can accurately reflect the sentiments expressed in the writing and can be applied uniformly to products that are not all created equal. These roadblocks eventually contribute to a highly critical review of Mario 3D World that ends with a high score.


#13

I agree with a lot of what Dunkey says in this video, actually. It’s kind of what GiantBomb was founded on, right – pushing more for individual, named personalities and less on the homogenized “this is what our website gave it.”

Because sometimes you do get that mixed messaging where one side of IGN will say something, only to have a different side say the opposite – the one that always sticks out in my mind was Hillary Goldstein giving Sonic Unleashed something like a 4/10 only for somebody else at IGN to put the game on an “underrated games” list less than 6 months later.

Pushing individual personalities more means less combative arguing over game vs. game scores. Jeff Gerstmann might’ve given Call of Duty 5 a 9/10, but Brad Shoemaker gave Call of Duty 6 a 8/10, but that doesn’t mean those two scores are directly comparable, because Jeff and Brad are individual people with different tastes.

Which I think leads in to what Dunkey was trying to say about Youtube Reviewers. They’re kind of a different kettle of fish with their own problems, but you’re more often dealing with an individual personality. It’s not the 50-60 barely-visible nobodies that make up the whole of “IGN dot com,” it’s just one guy, and you know that one guy really likes retro PC hardware, Duke Nukem 3D and The Sims and from there you can judge your tastes against his.

And I think maybe the underlying point Dunkey is trying to get to is that IGN treats these reviewers pretty disposably. To have so many of them, and… I mean, who knows how the final scoring process goes, but that clip he uses at the end from New Super Mario Bros. U, where the reviewer sounds really down on the game but ends up giving a 9.1/10 is really bizarre. Does the reviewer himself assign that score? You’d assume so, but Gamespot way back in the day used to use an algorithm to generate the final review score. Did any of that guy’s managers at IGN care about the disparity? You’d think they would’ve caught how negative he sounded and adjusted either his wording or his score accordingly.

The other big thing GiantBomb has been saying for a while now is that reviews are probably going to go away. The proliferation of let’s plays and live streams mean you can just watch hours of raw gameplay footage on (or maybe even before) launch day without needing to turn to a review. In that regard, only the reviews written by “personalities” will still matter – fans who like the person. Outlets and conglomerates will have to find new ways to survive (probably by following GiantBomb’s lead and shrinking down to a handful of star reviewers; more Roger Eberts and Armond Whites that you know by name)


#14

I could almost get down with it, if it was just targeted at IGN. That site is in dire need of an update in structure from top to bottom. His points are weird as hell as well.

There’s a point wherein he says what’s the point of the IGN review of Metroid. He specifically says “I could find all this shit on the back of the box, except there, it would probably sound exciting.” Yeah, that’s the job of marketing - to make it sound exciting. You could argue the review is useless because it expects a familiar knowledge of Metroid and should try and look at and evaluate it as a rerelease or evaluate it as fresh eyes for a new consumer, but the marketing shit just feels weird.

He criticizes review scores and how they’re meaningless, but then he decides to break down his own review scores. He claims “most of this stuff fucking sucks,” but his scale is fucked up. (at the very least, there’s an unwillingness to at least engage on some level with a lower tier game to pull something of worth from it, but a discussion worthy of it’s own shit.) For him, a 3/5 is a good game worth playing. In most people’s minds, a 3/5 is dead average. His 3/5 then is most people’s 4/5. He sort of just argues numbers as arbitrary himself. Generally, a 3/5 is seen as average, but in his scale, a 3/5 is above average. So, the only difference between IGN’s scale and Dunkeys is he underrates games. Got it.

There’s also a comment about them only reviewing things recently, as opposed to doing a retro review I guess? I’ll get to more of this later, but Dunkey’s opinion on the value of a review wildly fluctuates in this one video. Then there’s the point of reviews having to get rushed, as if he’s unaware of review copies?

He then tries to go at Gamespot for their complaint about Crash’ difficulty spikes. He makes fun of a presentation that New Super Mario Bros Wii is hard, except if you do a cursory google search you’d see it’s a common complaint. To double on top of that, but he puts it all down on Gamespot, as a behemoth, yet the guy int he video and the guy who did the Crash review aren’t even the same person. You can bring this point even further because of the new pill-hitbox discovery with Crash. The point of this segment was to review Crash or at least discredit Gamespot and say “Hey, they didn’t even finish the games,” except it’s a remaster. You more or less know what it is while playing it.

Then it gets to the “fun” argument, which just makes me groan everytime I hear it. It’s such a reductive stance that oversimplifies play in general.

Simultaneously it reduces the value of cultural criticism into pure "should I buy this and it also feels like a direct “Youtubers vs Tradtional Press” diatribe. It devolves into this conspiracy theory hand wringing, that really stinks of a lot of gg talking points and propaganda.(EDIT: I don’t want to equate him to that or make assumptions about his history. I don’t know, I see his videos from time to time, but the lines feel similar: They just do it for the advertising bucks, fame, whatever you want to say they do it for, no critic should be trusted, they’re all bad. The objective vs subjective stuff saves it from going off the deep end, but still, the “games are just for fun” argument is so close to that. )There’s no mention of the influence of publishers upon influencers and how they have just become a new PR outlet. Maybe because he’s in the community and is unwilling to call it out? I don’t know.

This is my rushed thoughts on the video at like 1-2AM, so y’know, take with a grain of salt, but if any of the positives can be taken from the video, they’ve been drummed on for years by other outlets, so at the very least, he seems late to the conversation.


#15

Isn’t that a problem in of itself? I think for the average person if they see an outlet put out a gameplay video or video review and they release a written review they are going to assume it’s the same person making both.


#16

I think he’s accurate in saying the big outlets lack voice. With smaller outlets, you get to know the tastes of the individuals and adjust accordingly. I also think we just need to drop rating scores as it is often abused by a lot of people.


#17

Except, this is one of his core arguments - you need to get to know the reviewer. You can’t make that a crux of your argument and then turn around and use the opposite rhetoric. It’s lazy at best, and disingenuous at worst.

I agree with that core point - it’s just all of his arguments seem a few years late or just weirdly sarcastic/spiteful, and those sorts of arguments help no one.


#18

I agree about that the writers should be pushed more than the sites, though I’m not sure if Dunkey is even really trying to argue that. It feels more like he made this video cause he wanted to dunk on game critics. Mainly cause even when it’s abundantly clear to Dunkey the reviews come from different people, he doesn’t seem to care.

For example, there’s a part where he compares a negative Donkey Kong Country: Tropical Freeze review to a bunch of positive Call of Duty reviews, to show reviewers are “consistently wrong”. Problem with his example is the reviews aren’t just from the same reviewer, they aren’t from the same site. The Donkey Kong review is from Gamespot, all of the Call of Duty ones are from IGN.

There’s also that when a site makes it clear who the reviewer is, Dunkey completely ignores it. Like he compares Gamespot’s Crash review to the site’s review of New Super Mario Bros. Wii. Referring to Gamespot as if they’re one person. Yet whenever he shows either review, it clear who wrote the review. For the Mario review, he uses the video review where the reviewer, Randolph Ramsay, is on camera with a graphic showing his name. For the Crash review, Dunkey shows a screencap of the review with the “about the author” section below showing it comes from Peter Brown. He even quotes that section to show the reviewer didn’t finish the game before making his review.

Dunkey doesn’t really seem to try to show that gaming personalities not being pushed enough is a problem. Rather he seems to try to make it a problem, or make it more of a problem than it already is.

Also, I feel like this is worth correcting: there’s a bit where Dunkey says game reviewers try to rush their reviews out at launch to be the first to get them up. That’s not how that works. Game reviewers usually get a copy of a game weeks before launch so they can get it ready before the game review embargo is up. Which is normally on or a few days before the game’s release date.


#19

This video prettty neatly summarizes a lot of my feelings about Dunkey. There are a lot of talking points most of them are good, but there is no consistency or coherent argument, and in the end it all just seems like an excuse to slam on somebody. I do think his heart is in the right place with a lot of this stuff, but the videos just reak of “talking for the sake of talking” to me.


#20

Was hoping for something new, but even the format of this video is the same I’ve been seeing for a decade now.