Wednesday, November 23, 2011 - Discussion on Review Scoring

Today we are gonna talk about the direction of the site.
If you are a longtime visitor of, you may have noticed that it has been a good while since I have posted a straightforward review, which was the original purpose of this website. The site has undergone some restructuring, we have received more opportunities to attend events and Dpad Daisy has come on to give the site a second voice, so I have had to decide exactly what direction should take. As an important part of this, I have been putting a lot of thought into what style of review scoring, if any, I want us to implement.

I started putting videos on YouTube almost three years ago and these reviews did not include any sort of numerical scoring. This is because I felt such systems were not actually all that helpful. After all, you cannot really convey the quality of a game against all other games in a linear fashion. Instead, I made it a point to say who I believe would or would not enjoy the particular game. This approach was much more flexible and made the most sense to me at the time.

Moving forward, I realize that readers today expect to see some sort of score given how much of a standard it has become. However, there has also been a lot of negative discussion recently in regards to reviewers’ scores, much of it stemming from an oversaturation of high scores leading people to believe that only “9’s” and “10’s” and worth playing.

I do like the “hybrid” system that Blistered Thumbs and ScrewAttack use in which they award games both a numerical score from 1 to 10 as well as an author’s recommendation such as “For Fans Only!” or “Rent it!” This allows a game to receive technically-average score, but a recommendation to buy due to originality or because the author feels it is of great value while a technically-superior game may receive a higher score, but a recommendation to rent due to brevity or not being on an ideal platform. With this as a starting point, I set off to develop a system that could be more expressive than what has become commonplace. Ultimately, the biggest flaw in the standard 1-10 system is that you cannot express something as multi-faceted as a video game – taking into account narrative, aesthetics, music, ambiance, genre, control and fun factor – on a one-dimensional scale. The following is the review structure and scoring system we have decided upon for


  • Title
  • Publisher
  • Developer
  • ESRB Rating

This is just the facts. Perhaps you are a fan of a certain developer or maybe you are a parent and want to know the rating right away.

The Story

This will cover both the actual in-game narrative as well as any interesting history there might be behind the game or its place in a series (sequel, reboot?)

The Gameplay

Naturally, this will be the bulk of most reviews. Here the author of the review goes over the controls, mechanics and modes of play, discusses the content, length, difficulty and – most importantly – overall fun factor of the game.

The Bottom Line

This is basically the closing comments. Is there something unique about the art style or soundtrack? Does is have any other noteworthy aspects? Is there something outright offensive about it? Most importantly, who would or would not like this game? Maybe the author feels very strongly that one should play the previous entry in this series before trying this one or only if they have played other games of similar difficulty.


This is where our system comes in. What we have decided is that our scores will consist of two numbers plus a “thumb” and author’s remarks. The two numbers are both on a 0-10 scale and will be represented by a colored bar. The first number represents our overall recommendation of the game for fans of the genre. The second number, which is always equal to or less than the first, is our recommendation to people who are not fans of the genre or the franchise. This means that a 10-10 (completely blue bar) is a true masterpiece with universal appeal and a 1-1 is an utter shame of a game while a 10-1 is an amazing game, but only for those who are already fans – it will have no appeal to non-fans. Here is an example of when this distinction will come in handy:
Score: 9 – 6Score: 8 - 7

In this case, I have given Final Fantasy X a nine for fans, because I believe it is a great RPG that fans will get a lot of entertainment out of, but a six for non-fans, because it is still a very straightforward RPG that will be only slightly above average for those who have not been fans of RPGs in the past. On the other hand, Grandia III is still a really great RPG, but does not give you as much “bang for your buck” so it gets and eight for fans. However, it is still a seven for non-fans since I feel it is more likely to appeal to them than Final Fantasy X due to originality. This illustrates how two games can have different scores without one necessarily being ‘better’ than the other. This will also be followed by a “thumbs” up, middle or down and, optionally, additional author’s remarks. This allows us to, for example, give a game high numbers as well as a “thumbs down” and a “skip it” because we feel it is technically superior, but have some other strong reason to dislike it or average numbers as well as a “thumbs up” or a “must buy” because, although it is technically average, it is so unique that you really should play it despite the flaws.

Also, whenever more than one of us plays a game we will have additional score set as a second opinion listed on the same review. This may also be done retroactively if one of us plays a game later.

This is the system we will be using from now on whenever Daisy, I or anyone who might join us in the future posts a proper review. This does not mean we will not also try out different ideas (retrospectives, snapshots, comparisons, essays) or alter this system in the future, but that is it for now. For future reference, the system breakdown will also be added (with greater detail) as a tab on the navigation bar. We hope you will all find this useful and, of course, we welcome any feedback. Thank you.

About the Author Rafael is the founder and video editor of Currrently a graduate student at California State University, Los Angeles pursuing his master's degree in Computer Science. He loves reading and learning about video game history and development. His dream is to be a video game designer.
Rafael es el creador y editor de video de Es estudiante de posgrado en la universidad del estado de california, los ángeles trabajando hacia su maestría en la ciencia de computación. Le encanta leer y aprender acerca de la historia y desarrollo de videojuegos. Su sueno es ser diseñador de videojuegos.