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Are reviewers gamers too?

Are reviewers gamers too?

OPINION

Despite the fact that weíre both batting for the same team, it sometimes seems like game reviewers and gamers are at odds with each other. Iíve seen gamers calling out reviewers as sell-outs or liars, reviewers calling gamers whiny and immature and game publishers calling both uninformed or confused. Are we really that different?

Despite the fact that weíre both batting for the same team, it sometimes seems like game reviewers and gamers are at odds with each other. In the last few weeks alone, across a number of different sites of varying size and prestige, Iíve seen gamers calling out reviewers as sell-outs or liars, reviewers calling gamers whiny and immature and game publishers calling both uninformed or confused. This really bothered me. Reviewers do what they do because they love games. They take the time to write up their thoughts on things, so that everyone else out there can make a more informed decision on how to spend their hard-earned money. Are we really that different, and is there a reason that are opinions often times seem so far off? To delve into this a little further, there are two questions that come to mind. Firstly; do reviewers play games in a fundamentally different way than people playing strictly for entertainment? And secondly; why is there often times such a huge gap between average reviewer scores and average user scores on websites such as Metacritic?

Whether or not reviewers actually play games the way they were meant to be played, is one that Iíve been asked by friends on more than one occasion. Before moving any further to answer that question, I think itís important to clarify that I donít think that thereís just one right way to play a game. Some think the right way is to clear a weekend and bulldoze through the title in just a sitting or two, while others prefer to gently sip the experience over the course of a few weeks or months. Some believe in digging as deeply into a game as possible by spending time in every area and game mode the title has to offer, while some gamers like to find their favorite niche within the game, and linger there. None of these ways are wrong, and Iíve certainly done it all for one game or another (although while reviewing a game I make an effort to explore as many different ways I can play the game, in order to be able to deliver a complete review). Semantics aside, I think the question here is whether a lot of people believe thereís a different thought process or mindset we reviewers employ when reviewing a game, versus enjoying it for pure entertainment. In truth, itís a little bit of both.

On a basic level I donít believe there to be a fundamental difference between reviewers and normal gamers. Before any of us ever reviewed a game we were all just fans that loved and played games for our own personal enjoyment. Otherwise we never would have started writing about them in the first place. However, I think itíd be incorrect to state that we donít think about a game a little differently while reviewing them. Certainly, at least personally, there is a lot more on my mind when writing a review than when I just throw in a game to kill some time, before a meeting or dinner. It isnít that I care about things any different. No matter the situation I always care about tight controls, good voice acting, a solid soundtrack, and so forth. The difference is, that while playing on my own accord, I try to not think about them too much and just let them exist and pull me in. And while playing for analysis I need to be constantly thinking about each of these aspects and more, so that I can form a cohesive explanation of my thoughts when the time comes.
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