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As someone who founded and actively runs a video game news/review/entertainment site, I often question the material we post and the reasons we do what we do. Lately I’ve come to a crossroads in regards to my opinions on the concept of “reviews” in journalism and it’s seriously made me question their merit and motives. What are the real reasons we share our opinions with the world?

I’ve been writing video game reviews for several years now and I’m very proud of the quality of much of my work. Going back to reread past reviews and noticing a clever quip or well written line gives me a strange sense of pleasure, but it also makes me question the very reason I write them in the first place. Why should I expect anyone to place value in my opinion of someone else’s work? I spend so much time articulating these sentences and paragraphs into well constructed persuasions of my thoughts. It’s never about trying to sell the game, but more so about trying to sell my opinion.

“So at the end of the day, am I just trying to share my thoughts or do I want my thoughts validated by others?”

Well, what is my opinion worth and why am I so adamant on sharing it with everyone? Am I subconsciously trying to persuade others into my train of thought or am I simply sharing my feelings on a particular piece of work? There is no denying the fact that publishing a well-written review gives me a great sense of completion and more importantly satisfaction, but seeing various readers supporting and agreeing with the review leaves me with a far better feeling. So at the end of the day, am I just trying to share my thoughts or do I want my thoughts validated by others?

The value of reviews are ultimately decided by the reader. Websites like Metacritic try to place a numeric value on games based off the average score given by critics. The opinions of the partners participating in this program would be assumed to have a substantial value because of the raw traffic and attention Metacritic garners. This places an unnecessary power in the hands of these reviewers. In the age of infinite critics, a game’s fate is ultimately determined by its average review score. So again I ask, what is the true value of their opinions or even my opinion for that matter?

“Our opinions are all equally worthless and equally significant.”

I want to believe that my opinion is genuinely important and respected by those around me, but I want all of you to question every single bit of it. Don’t think for a second that my opinion or anyone else’s for that matter, is more important than you’re own. Our opinions are all equally worthless and equally significant. I don’t want ego to be a driving factor in why or what I write. Sometimes we need to step down from our artificial soapboxes and engage with someone on a parallel level. The next time I write, I want to truly and unquestionably understand the motivation for my writing.

Bio Card

Miles Dompier is the chief editor and founder of What’s Your Tag?. He is a Seattle native who recently moved to the sweltering heat of Los Angeles to pursue his dream of becoming a composer/voice actor. When he’s not up writing until his eyes bleed, he likes to play a Prince level of instruments and listen to terrible death metal. Follow his shenanigans on Twitter and be sure to join our gaming community; TEAM XBRO.

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Written by Miles

Miles Dompier is the chief editor and founder of What’s Your Tag?. He is a Seattle native who recently moved to the sweltering heat of Los Angeles. He likes to ironically play Creed on the guitar and listen to terrible death metal. Twitter: @Mileson_WYT Xbox Live: I Mileson I

19 comments

  1. We’re humans, we don’t work properly unless we get some sort of feedback from other humans (spam bots might be a plenty, but they don’t really do it for us).
    And as for questioning what we put out there, that’s how we grow as writers. It almost doesn’t matter HOW you say/write things because the ones listening/reading are doing so from their Point Of View, which means they’ll interpret everything from what they think or know not matter how long or hard you’ve thought about it.
    You (all of you guys) should just keep putting your stuff out there, I enjoy it immensely, as I’m sure other’s do too.

    1. Oh don’t you worry, we’ll continue to keep pumping out our shenanigans 😉 I just sort of wrote this a piece to get people to think about the motivation behind what they’re reading and what they’re writing.

      Of course I don’t believe every reviewer is an egomaniac, but sometimes it’s really important to question yourself.

      I’m always happy to hear your thoughts, you always make fantastic points and offer plenty of support. Thanks for being so awesome.

  2. You guys have totally got the biggest ego. You’re even the stars of your own comic!

    Seriously, though, all creation – even video game reviews – is an extension and manifestation of the ego. I don’t think you or anybody else should sweat it unless it has turned you into some kind of slavering asshole.

    1. Glorifying ourselves in comic form seemed like the next logical in our constant quest to fluff our ego.

      Ego doesn’t necessarily have to be a terrible thing, I can definitely agree with that. I know I personally have an over-sized ego at times.

  3. Most game reviewers are just personalities with opinions. They don’t really add to the gaming industry because the reviews themselves are irrelevant after a few months anyway. In fact, gaming press, or what is left of it, needs to shy away from the review cycle and be more of a boutique or essay like reading while leaving let’s plays and video reviews to others.

    1. I definitely feel there needs to be some type of major shift in terms of video game journalism. We’ve been following the same archaic system for a long time now. Standard reviews are becoming less and less valuable in this day and age.

      1. Totally agree which is why I pretty much stopped doing them in favor of more of a “Are they still playable/relevant? formula” Games age way too quickly and while some can stay fun for a long period of time, others have a shelf date that isn’t even close to a week long. Providing a simple score that never changes or fluctuates doesn’t cut it anymore.

      2. Yeah for the longest time we didn’t do any reviews at all. It wasn’t something I was really interested in, but as we expanded the site and our network of writers, we began incorporating it more and more. We often get review codes from developers and getting a chance to play a game early is the driving force behind doing those.

      3. Especially with larger institutions, I’ve had issues with it being referred to as games “journalism” rather than games “media”. Journalism carries an air of authority but usually operates by a set definition and under a set of principles & codes by trained individuals. (Like the difference between a journalist and an opinion columnist in traditional print news, they are not the same). Journalists don’t typically sign NDA’s with the subjects there covering or accept free products from those subjects.

        To me, gaming operates more as media that covers different styles like opinion (reviews, etc), reporting (passing along daily information), and then personality entertainment (let’s players, podcasts, etc). But I see very little journalism in the typical sense.

        Which is why I think many places are not using that word anymore, companies and individuals like RT, Funhaus, etc consider it media & entertainment. I think use if the term Journalism has created a mindset in the public where they have backlashed against places like IGN because they are expected to be held to journalistic standards but the nature if the business requires different (NDA, Ad Dollars from businesses they cover, & other perceived conflicts of interest).

        Just my 2 cents

  4. I /was/ going to comment on this post but, as always, my thought ended up being tangential, long-winded, and something I’d want to share on own blog anyway. A link should appear in a pingback, for anyone interested in some conversation.

    1. I checked out the post via the pingback. Thanks for the linkback, by the way! I can totally see where you’re coming from. It’s difficult to stay fresh or exciting in the world of video game journalism these days without simply reforming or rehashing something somebody else is already doing.

      1. Mhm, and I have no interest in rehashing or reforming 😀 That’s exactly what I asked myself: Why write reviews when so many people are already doing it?

        …Oh wait, I haven’t answered that question yet. I guess I’ll find my niche as long as I stick to it. And I’ll stick to it as long as it’s fun and I believe it’s a good thing to do. And I’ve got both at the moment so I’m hopeful.

        No probs about the pingback. I love what you guys have going on here and I love conversations so the pleasure’s all mine 🙂

  5. My view is rather simple, I try and find a reviewer who likes most of the games I like, then I figure if they give a good review of a game, or a bad review, in all likelihood, I would feel the same. Basically it’s like having a surrogate gamer lol. Helps save money sometimes haha!

    1. I can definitely appreciate that. If you find a reviewer or reviewers with similar interests and similar opinions on games, chances are their reviews will give you a pretty good idea of whether you’ll enjoy it or not.

      1. aside from you and your apparent enjoyment of some of the most frustrating, rage-quit inducing games such as Volgarr the Viking, 1001 Spikes and the like. LOL

      2. What can I say, bro? I’m a fan of really abusive games haha. I love a challenge and brutal platformers always tend to deliver in that regard. Ori has been kicking my ass, but I’m loving every minute of it.

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