How to Write Game Reviews

As someone who writes about games and as a mere gamer, there is one thing that bothers me equally – the triviality and even irrelevance of text-based video game reviews.

Generally speaking, in in-game reviews, readers are more concerned with the issue at the end, not the critic’s words. And it’s not too much of a problem as an opportunity to understand why this is so and how to change it. I’m sure readers will be of the same interest as this article. Write an offer Understanding this as copywriters for some website or publication.

nobody cares
So where does the instinctive desire to swipe a review straight into the rating come from when you’d rather go to comments or discussions on Twitter or elsewhere, rather than read the text itself?

This is because of several patterns/formulas that Russian game reviews follow so often that we expect this kind of “trap” by default from any text on any portal. And fears, as a rule, are only confirmed.

You can run and jump in the game – and you didn’t know it

The most common problem with reviews is that they consist almost entirely of a list of what’s in the game and how it works. If this approach still makes sense for non-essential streams – it might not even hold readers right for a gamepad – then it’s ridiculous to see this on game portals. Game readers definitely know what to do in GTA or Assassin’s Creed. Even brand new games usually don’t need such elaborate spelling – everyone watches trailers, gameplay videos and demos. Those who avoid them (fear of spoilers) don’t even read the review.

Some games really need an explanation of every mechanic because you can’t tell anything about them from the trailers: No Man’s Sky, for example, even before its release raised the question “How to play? Then there are some weird and unknowns”. indies – actually, even here it is easier to look at the trailer, but in the review you can understand the need to talk about the game. any kind, for example, but I’ll come back to this point a little later.

In fact, it is possible to just describe the gameplay, but this should be done in separate materials, ideally in preview (you can write this after the first hours of gameplay at home, not necessarily from a demonstration at an event). In a review, this is excruciatingly boring to read. Don’t write unnecessary garbage by doing “must” stuff, spend characters on useful stuff.

pretending to be something you’re not
Back to simulation games. I usually don’t buy games in genres that I don’t really like, alien series, or just games that have an aggressive fan base of old times and “experts” – as I see, many of them do the same. But sometimes, due to circumstances, a text about a game is written by a “stranger”. As a rule, such a person shyly writes somewhere at the beginning of the review “I am not a fan, so I am evaluating from a non-fan position”. Actually, it’s a great approach.

Game journalists are a dime a dozen, so it’s hard to understand that anyone would want to standardize their approach to writing reviews. Why? Why? So are there more of the same texts? It’s great that such situations (a racing genre expert living in the town of N and a writer from Moscow should be given a disc with the new “Forzotourism”) force a person to write something unique. Let someone write if it’s fun to drive a virtual car – someone equally distant from the genre might come across the text and want to give the race a shot. In this case, a “professional review” will be written by someone from the neighboring site – no one will lose anything.

Criticize to stand out
I have said before that I am critical of myself above all else on every point – take this as an exception. The most obnoxious and ridiculous thing a critic can do when writing a review is to downplay (in rare cases, exaggerate) a game for attention, not because it reflects their views. Ah.

Of course, deliberately inciting scandal is one of the cheapest and partly most effective techniques for gaining views in any media format. It is very difficult to state something in a neutral or positive way and still attract attention because such material will only be shared if it is well written. On the other hand, there is an appeal to the “skewer” because traffic literally explodes and the scolding article is immediately discussed, shown to people you know, and emotionally resentful. But how low to use such a trick.

It’s okay if you want to write a 1/10 review of The Last of Us, but first, really evaluate the game as such, and second, you’ll be able to accompany the “trigger” figure with clear arguments and good text. Otherwise, you’ll embarrass all your colleagues (or hobbies for that matter), let alone your website/blog/editor staff.

No one will keep your word
A simple mistake that seriously spoils any criticism. Often in reviews from various sources, you will find that the game is “good”, “fun” or some other unexpected adjective. It is quite clear that it is not enough to put a rating label on this or that aspect of the game, it must be justified. A good text gives you an idea of ​​what the critic has experienced. Almost no one is convinced by phrases such as “the combat system here is good” or “the story is quite interesting but the ending is a bit disappointing”. It has to be proven.

I know there are editors in professional publications who never miss a text with weak arguments, so I appeal primarily to those who write about games as a hobby or just discuss it with their friends. Don’t start your story with baseless claims. Be specific and make it clear why you have such an opinion about the game or certain parts of the game.

From this follows a simple rule: write not from the game, but from yourself. Any personal story or emotional account experienced will be a hundred times more interesting than a methodological review, as long as it is honestly told and supported by consistent arguments and examples. Instead of typing “as it should be,” talk about what interests you.

I will also try to write better and avoid the mistakes described above. Because I believe video games deserve a good write up.

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