Since I decided to start this blog, one of the thoughts that keeps popping through my head is ‘Should I start reviewing games?’, and I’m torn about how to answer myself. It would appear that the only way for me to be shut up is by asking myself difficult questions. Who’d have thunk it? As you’ll have noticed throughout the blog, I haven’t written any reviews about anything. Usually, I drop hints about what I’m currently playing. I’ve had many an internal argument about whether I should up my game a bit and start to review them.

Of course, one of the great reasons why I should do it is that it means I start to pay attention to what I’m doing. I could even start taking notes while playing, and pretend I was a professional. No longer will I be playing through a game and forget what the opening was about. An awful lot of the time, I just sit there and play while on autopilot. It’s similar to the ideology behind Chaos style games (Prototype being the closest example I can think of). These games are just about causing mayhem, and you don’t even need to keep track of what you doing. So it would make sense to start to keep track. If I was being particularly egotistical (Or desperate) I could also mention that it would be a way of convincing myself I’m doing a public service and thus people might come and read my blog.

However, the reason I’ve stuck with it, is that I’m an amateur blogger. I’m not on any mailing lists, and I sure as hell don’t get games for free. If I review a game, it’s going to be a game I own. I’m not going to download them illegally, since thats both a)illegal and b)time consuming. And that there is the nub of the matter. If I review a game, it’s going to be one that I’ve decided to part money with, and thus I already think its going to be good. I believe that a games reviewer shouldn’t have already decided that a game is good/bad. The only time that the review will be the opposite is if it turns out its unexpectedly good or shockingly bad. Thus, I still won’t be doing reviews. I will continue doing my random thoughts on the games I’m playing, but I won’t review anything.

  1. On these lines you are going to be a self fulfilling prophecy.

    If you want free games to review (which, lets be honest, we all do) you need to be able to review games, and the only way you are going to be able to do that is to practice.

    Reviewing a game you have bought is the best, if not only, way to start. Whether you’ve already made an emotional investment with cold hard cash is irrelevant – you will have already made your mind up what you think the game will probably be like anyway; marketing and previews handle that for you. And if you decide to just shield yourself from everything pre-release you’re not only being a bad journalist by missing out on research and initial ideas, you’re also just going into a game knowing it’s title. Plus, you know, it’s near on impossible.

    Look it at this way – if you’re reviewing games you have bought, it’s games that you quite probably like. That’s a good thing. No one likes reviewing bad games (unless that’s your “thing” like yahtzee) – it means you have had to spend hours playing something you don’t like and it’s a horrible review to write. What is MUCH more fun is to write copy on something you’re enthusiastic and excited about – picking apart why it’s great and trying your best to not just splurge THIS IS FUCKING AMAZING over and over again.

    The best way to summarise my point is to give an example probably. A week before the Borderlands release I was sent a review copy, only it got sent to my old address and I couldn’t retrieve it. I didn’t want to get on to the PR company too much and it was a release I was looking forward to. Come launch day I just bought it. It was a game I was always going to play, and talking about games is something I always want to do, so why do anything otherwise? I bought it, reviewed it, and gave it a decent score. Job done, everyones happy.

    If you ever want to get out there, writing for other people/companies, they will have an expectation that they can pass you some review code and trust you to do a good job with it. And for that, you need to write reviews. Sorry for length.

    • Length is good btw. I feel loved.

      In answer, I fully agree with you, the only way to get better at review writing is to practice writing reviews. Its similar to the other posts I’ve written. Some of my earlier posts were written badly and had my case of comma turettes. So practice does make perfect. But I’m still unsure about reviews.

      • Well it can’t hurt to try it can it? Just review the next game you complete and see how it goes.

    • If it all goes horribly wrong, I’m blaming you Craig.

      I’ll start taking notes while I’m playing.

  2. The worst that can happen is 7 billion people die, so don’t sweat it. Just an FYI – I don’t tend to take notes when I’m playing…but I suppose I probably should.

    • That means I can be better than you? You’re on.

      I still think reviews are quite quirky. People put so much stock and faith into them, but forget to realise it’s all subjective, plus previews and such can mess with your head. Those things that they say are so important turn out to be not so important, and disappointment sets in.

      Ultimately, a review isn’t to tell you whether you should buy it. More about what sort of people should buy it.

  1. May 27th, 2010
  2. August 20th, 2010
  3. December 2nd, 2010

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