Tuesday, September 1, 2015

Why "C is Average"

Why "C is Average" and my basic thinking on game and movie reviews and an introduction

Game reviews are well established to be broken, mostly deliberately by the game publishers with the willing cooperation of the big reviewers.  Find a site that ranks games from 1 to 10 and you'll find a site that has a real range of 8 to 10, with a 7 meaning, essentially "this is the worst game ever, for the love of all that's good in the world don't play it".

To try and avoid this I'll be reviewing games based on an A to F scale where C is average [1].  Here a grade of C means that the game was average, which means a solid game, entertaining, worth buying and playing but nothing groundbreaking or exceptional.  A grade of B is reserved for a game that is BETTER than the average entertaining and fun game, and a grade of A is reserved for those rare games that are incredibly good and groundbreaking.  I won't be giving many A's.

Similarly, I won't be giving many F's.  Most games that actually make it to a release on Steam or the Google Store are at least going to be semi-functional.  If I give a game a D that will mean that it's noticeably below average, that it has serious flaws and that it is the sort of thing only people really devoted to the series or genre should consider, and maybe not even then.

I reserve the grade of F for true failures, games that simply don't work, are horribly broken, or otherwise are worse than Scrappy Doo or Jar-Jar Binks.  If I can't look at a game and honestly say to myself "yup, this makes Jar-Jar look good by comparison", then it doesn't merit an F.

For example, I'd give Aliens: Colonial Marines a D-, it is a terrible game but it isn't worse than Scrappy Doo.  Likewise, much as it pains me not to give an F to the horrible Dungeon Keeper mobile game, I'd be forced to give it a D- as well.  While it was an awful game with few redeeming qualities (the voice of Richard Ridings being the only one I can think of offhand), it wasn't a total and abject failure.  It at least ran without crashing.

An example of a game that merits an F is Big Rigs: Over the Road Racing, not only was the game bad, it was released in a broken state that didn't actually involve any racing, collision detection, or adjustable speed.

The fact is, most of the games out today are average.  Nothing super great, nothing bad, just kind of fun ways to spend some time.

Each review will be different, as each game is different.  I'm not going to lock myself into a formula or format for game reviewing.  A shooter is different from a god sim, they should be graded differently.  And Fallout Shelter is different from Beyond Civilization even though both are god sims, they should be graded differently.  The only things I can think of that will be consistent in all reviews are that C is average, and I'll talk about both the good and bad parts of the game.

Of course this is all entirely subjective, your taste may be wildly different from mine, so my opinions on games may not match yours.  I'd say I'll try to be objective, but that's impossible.  You can't be objective in an opinion.  What I will be is, as best I can manage, fair and fact based.  If I think a game is awful, I'll explain why instead of just saying that the game is garbage; it may be that the reasons I think a game is bad are reasons you think it's great.

I'll also be reviewing old games that I think are worth looking at, either as examples of how things can go wrong or as games that are well worth playing despite their age.

There will also be occasional movie reviews, following much the same philosophy as the game reviews.  Don't expect many A's or F's.

I'll also note that while reviews are a big part of what I'll be doing here, I do plan on posting many things that aren't gaming, movie, or entertainment related.  If you don't like that, you can skip it as all my stuff will be tagged appropriately.

[1] Historic side note, it turns out that "C is average" is really just a sort of statistical fluke, it was never really designed to mean average, the fact that averages in most schools are above C isn't the fault of grade inflation.  But for the purposes of this blog I'm using it even though it really doesn't mean that academically.

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