“I Don’t Need Critics to Tell Me What I Should Like”
Sometimes, we’re just downright shocked at the gulf that seems to exist between gamers and critics.
The cynical actually believe critics are “paid off” or “in bed with publishers,” while others will freely claim that all critics only write reviews to get attention for themselves. We’ve addressed all these critical mistakes before, but now it’s time to talk about another one, and this involves the ever-incendiary opinion topic.
“Bah. I don’t need to read reviews because I know what I enjoy. I don’t need some critic trying to tell me what I should and shouldn’t like.”
We’ve all heard similar statements before, typically uttered by egotistical gamers who have never actually been critics. However, let’s not forget something else: While consumers may not understand the proper role of a reviewer, there are some critics who don’t understand it, either. We’re not letting them off the hook, here. We’re simply explaining why it is not a critic’s place to “give” the reader an opinion.
The critic does exist to recommend (or not recommend) a certain product. That’s typically the manifest intent of any review, although others are written strictly from an artistic standpoint, like reviews of paintings or sculptures. In our industry, a critic offers a public service and that service has nothing to do with “telling you what you should like.” Rather, it has everything to do with providing an impartial, expert analysis.
After reading that analysis, it’s up to the reader to form an opinion. A good critic doesn’t try to make a consumer feel stupid for purchasing or not purchasing a product. A good critic doesn’t try to explain why all “real gamers” should buy a certain title. It has nothing to do with elitist labels. A good critic provides objective and subjective viewpoints – which he or she must stand by – and then offers a conclusion or summary. That’s it.
Nobody is trying to tell you what you should or shouldn’t enjoy. Any critic who does that should be fired. Professional reviewers are aware of their responsibility and they take it seriously, and that responsibility has absolutely nothing to do with browbeating a reader into accepting a particular opinion. That’s really not the way this works. Well, it shouldn’t work this way, although we know that unfortunately, sometimes it does.