1 out of 10 means Different Things for Us | Big Daddy Digest

Let’s Get Ranking!

I can’t help but get a little disappointed when I see people claiming that the latest big game is a 1 out of 10 or even a 0 and “how dare [insert outlet here] give this trash a 6!”. This happens a lot on places like Metacritic, and yeah, I know that any user rating has the potential to become a cesspool really quickly with the way that review bombing has become… a thing.  However, even on games that are not being review bombed, you can still find some of these reviews on games that are nothing less than perfectly serviceable. So where is the disconnect happening?

No More Scores

I’ve always been pretty pleased whenever outlets move away from numbered scores for the very reason that our perception of numbered scores has stopped really making sense. If we lived in a perfect world, everyone would read full reviews and use the information contained within to make their judgement on if a game is one that would interest them or not. After all, a whole lot of words can say a heck of a lot more than a number at the bottom of the page ever could. But we like numbers and we like comparing things and we like putting things into categories. Categories can get a little useless if they stop meaning anything or we start trying to slip between them, though.

It’s part of the reason that we here at Big Daddy Gaming do not use numbered scores anymore. We had a 5 point scale back when we were Nintendad, but very quickly, we had people splitting those numbers in half as well just making that ten point scale that we were trying to avoid. This is part of the reason why we went to our child ranking at all, more descriptive titles that gave more of an impression of what the reviewer really thought about a game. Simple descriptive titles that could be bestowed on each one. 

It’s also the reason that having a very strict outline on what each score means is vital for these sort of scoring systems to work at all.  Numbers have been ingrained in reviewing culture for a very long time, but the problem with numbers is that they’re something that can very easily have all sorts of definitions depending on who is the one looking at them. My idea of what a 5 means might be very different for yours. So, it’s really important that a whole bunch of people in one place using them has a definition for what exactly each number means across all the reviews that they’re putting out. If you are willing to dig, you can find this on some websites. For example, here’s where you can find the ones for Game Informer, IGN, Game Skinny, and Digital Trends

There’s one more problem to this, though, these still aren’t standardized across the different websites. A 5 can still vary on what exactly that means from one website to another. If those aren’t standard, then what does it matter if you compile them in a website like Metacritic, where someone’s 5 can be someone else’s 5.39? A numbered score doesn’t really mean much then, does it?

We Score Separate

So, I’m going to say something pretty controversial here. It is nearly impossible for your typical triple A game to be a 1 these days, and hard to it to be below a 3 or 4 at the worst when we talk about reviews coming from online outlets. Sure, you might not like a game very much, the story might not please you or the mechanics might not be something that you jive with, and that is all perfectly fine! However, in most cases, a 1 is not a game that you just don’t like. If you look at review scores and you don’t understand why a game isn’t getting scored a 1.

I think it’s a case of needing to realize that for many outlets, their reference point for what counts as a 1 is very different than yours. If you are someone that tends to play mostly games that run well and function, then you’re going to have a different perspective from someone who touches a little of everything. Many outlets place 1 and 2 as where you put games that are horribly broken, don’t function, or don’t function as they should. Games that simply do not work. Aside from a few exceptions, a modern triple A game will at the very least function, even if it’s not very fun, so it’s not going to get the bottom of the barrel score.

It is fine for you to have a personal system where 1 means a game that you simply despised. That’s okay. However, I think there is a little bit of a disconnect at times with some people and their view of how outlets should score games. An outlet’s review score is something that cannot be as flexible as a personal one can be. It needs to cover all types of games, no matter their source and no matter their type for the sake of consistency. A personal one can have different subsections for different types of games. You can more easily grade on a curve based on other factors surrounding the game.

For example, my roommate and I spent a chunk of our quarantine watching every single one of the Barbie movies. Obviously, this direct to video fare is not high cinema, but we still enjoy many of them and there are some that I consider to be actually good movies. However, when we started, we set a scale for ourselves on what each of the numbered scores meant when we were rating them, and they were not the same scores that I would give if I were scoring a movie that I saw in theaters. For example, our tiers for the marathon were things like a if we would allow a child we were babysitting to have the movie on or not. When you set a curve for a certain subset, your scores can change a lot. My 10 out of 10 Barbie movies are, at best, a 7 if I were going by all movies that I have ever seen. Just like you may score your strategy games differently than your action games or your sports games.

Keep your Mind Open

At the end of the day, scores are hard. A lot of us are just kind of talking past each other when it comes to what we think a different score means and we need to stop doing that. You cannot force your way of scoring onto someone else and it’s up to you to determine if you are going to allow yourself to consider the number someone else gives a game as relevant to your buying choices. I’ll admit, I like seeing games I like get big numbers too. There’s validation in that! However, I see complaining about review scores all the time that are just people not considering the way that an outlet scores a game might be different than how they do. For example, you might not have liked the story of some big budget title, but X outlet gave the game a 8. How? It can’t be! Well, maybe the reviewer or the outlet didn’t consider the story the most vital piece of the pie, but you do. If you’re going to keep looking at review scores, it’s always best to try and find someone who has tastes and a view of games that lines up with yours, obviously, but the least we all can do is stop yelling about who gave what an arbitrary number.