Ratings systems in videogames are a constant source of controversy. Every outlet uses a different scale — 100 points, a 10-scale with halves, five stars, you name it. And no matter which score you use, someone’s going to find fault because your score doesn’t match the score in their head.
Recently OXM took some heat for giving Crackdown a 7 out of 10. OMG WE HATED IT, said the readers. But when OXM gives a first-party game an 8 or above, OMG THEY R TEH BIAS.
So. After careful consideration, here’s the answer:
All games get one of two scores: 7 or 8. As already determined by the audience, 7 means the reviewer hated it. An 8 means the reviewer loved it. There will be no complaining, no arguments about whether a stealth game that gets a 9.8 is actually superior to a shooter game that gets a 9.9. You get a 7 or an 8.
When you think about it, every reader faces the same decision anyway: Is this a game I want to play or not? The intensity of the desire to play doesn’t factor in; it’s either fun for you or not. It’s either your kind of game or it isn’t. You either care to play it or you don’t care to play it.It’s a very personal but extremely binary decision at its core. Pull out your wallet and tell me it’s different: It’s worth your money or it’s not worth your money.
The rest is just lunatic ravings and nitpicking. When I see someone debating the difference between a 6.7 and a 6.8 — or even a 7.0 and a 6.5 — I realize it’s just people using someone else’s arbitrary scoring system to “prove” their opinion is the “right” one. They will keep looking around until they find a score that matches. This completely circumvents the nobler purposes of artistic critique, but then again, so does GameRankings. And people like GameRankings, because it turns most scores into a mushy pulp of easily digestible 7s and 8s.
That said, I’m intensely bothered by the fact that 7 is considered “bad” when it’s still “above average.” I am assuming that the rest of the world believes that 5 is “average” on a 1-to-10 scale, which is, I hate to point out, mathematically correct. But we’ve gotten seduced into thinking that anything less than a 7 is a negative score, and although it clearly goes against all logic, it’s constantly reinforced by the audience, and the audience has the last word. That a game like Crackdown can be given a 7 (and justified with the review text as to why) and therefore thought of as “bad” is, well, terrifying.
So, no more fooling around. If you can’t handle the freedom of gradiations of scores, away that freedom goes! Everybody uses the same system: 7 or 8. It tells you everything you need to know and it uses the numbers that are most commonly in use today anyway, the ones people seem to get really upset about.