Though I already showed you how to review games, I didn’t spend a great deal of time talking about the most important part of the process: scoring.
See, sometimes in the drunken stupor of my day-to-day existence, I forget that gamers hate reading just as much as reviewers hate playing games. Every second spent reading a game review is a second they could instead spend doing far more interesting things, like complaining about DLC on message boards.
Enter the review score, that glorious integer that helps prevent nonsense like “critical thinking” and “intelligent discussion.” Thanks to these scores, there’s no need to read reviews — all you have to do is scroll down the page a little bit for an instant evaluation of any game’s content.
So how do we come up with these mystical numbers? Reviewers typically pick one of several possible methods:
Go With Your Gut
“This game feels like an 8.7,” you might say to yourself. This is a perfectly valid feeling. If you are a douchebag.
For those of us who aren’t assholes, there are other options.
Throw a Dart
This is the most common technique that reviewers use to score their games, though not everybody uses a dart. Some of us use dice; others use random number generators. Exceptionally talented critics can think of random numbers off the top of their heads, though that method is dangerous due to the inherent bias involved.
Note: If anybody ever accuses you of being “bias,” the best way to respond is by calling them bias back and saying they’re too bias to even know whether you’re bias or not, so there.
Ask for Money
It’s pretty easy to convince publishers to give you money in exchange for high review scores. Just send them a quick note — and don’t forget to be subtle and cover your tracks. Here’s a good example:
From: Jason Schreier
To: PR Person
Subject: Review score?
Hey, just wanted to let you know that I’ll be writing a review for [YOUR GAME] this weekend. Haven’t decided the score yet, but I sure could use a new coffee table! Though I haven’t picked one out yet, and I have to make sure it matches with the rest of the furniture in the living room, so whatevs. Anyway, guess I’d better start writing this review! Thinking about starting it off with a sentence like “This is a really bad game.” Maybe I’ll change my mind in the next few hours?
P.S. Have you ever noticed how convenient PayPal is? Boy, I love my PayPal account (which is coincidentally the same name as this email address). It is so great.
Don’t Put a Score
This is a great way to get people to stop visiting your website!
Why work yourself when you can outsource? And why outsource when you can crowd-source? Just ask your Twitter followers or Facebook friends or NeoGAF denizens what they think a game’s score should be. Average out the answers and bam, you’ve got yourself a score.
Wait for Other Reviews
This is the best method because it allows you to get the most web traffic. Just look at what other reviewers are giving the game — this will usually fall in the 7-9 range — and give it an extreme score on one end of the spectrum. If you’re feeling particularly ballsy, try a 5. Don’t go any lower, though. You wouldn’t want to offend anybody.
And no matter how you choose to summarize your reviews, please don’t forget to balance out your scores. For every 9, be sure to dole out a 7. Then people will see how critical you are. (Bit of industry lingo for ya: we call the best reviewers “critical hits.” This is because they’re really damaged.)