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The Problem with Game Reviews

Sleepy-Game-ReviewI was having a conversation with a colleague about whether Youtube has made game reviews obsolete. She suggested that because on Youtube players could see people actually responding to the game as first impression videos, showing game footage, and discussing glitches. However, these are all things that can be done in print form. A game reviewer can write about first impressions, embed images and videos, and write about glitches. The question of whether Youtube video commentary is a “more interesting” form of review than written reviews is, honestly, a question of personal preference. All things being equal, I personally prefer a written review as I can skip over things I deem irrelevant, whereas fishing for the content I want on a Youtube vid is a bit trickier. But the problem is that my friend’s main claim is partly correct. Game reviews ARE obsolete. The thing is that Youtube is not what made them obsolete, it is the reviewers’ approach to reviews that made them obsolete.

There are plenty of comments talking about how reviewers as buyers’ guides are obsolete because reasons, that reviews should become criticism, and that reviews will never be relevant again. I disagree with all these statement. I think that there is much need for games criticism, both the formal kind found in peer reviewed game studies journals and the informal kind found in blogs and in an incredibly small number of Youtube channels. However, games criticism is fundamentally different from game reviewing, and I think that there is also a need for solid, consistent, well thought out frameworks for game reviews, and while I acknowledge that most current forms of reviews are useless, it is not because of Youtube and I do think that they can make a comeback.

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