Escapist Editorials

Escapist Editorials
Why We're Using Review Scores

Russ Pitts | 9 Feb 2010 12:00
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Some of you may have noticed that on Monday, for the first time ever, The Escapist awarded a quantifiable score to a videogame alongside our usual review. This was not a mistake, nor was it a one-off. As of this moment, The Escapist will be awarding scores to every review we publish, just as many of our competitors have been doing for decades, and as many of our readers have been asking us to do (and not do) for years.

This was not an easy decision to make. I've been personally against review scores for as long as I've been aware of them, both as a journalist and as a gamer, and for the past four years it's been the policy of The Escapist that review scores are not a necessary part of communicating with our readers about the experience of playing a game. Yet times change, and from time to time we must re-evaluate our previously-held convictions and be willing to change with the times. I believe this is one of those times.

As Ralph Waldo Emerson said in his historic essay Self Reliance, "A foolish consistency is the hobgoblin of little minds." That is to say, an unwillingness to change for the sake of not changing is a tendency unworthy of educated, reasonable men. Considering, then, that I like to believe all of us at The Escapist are both educated and reasonable, I remain open to change - to being inconsistent - and I hope you will take that ride with me.

Four years ago the most profound statement a journalist could make was to write an in-depth experiential review describing how it feels to play a given game. That is the style of writing we endorsed by founding The Escapist, and that is the kind of game review we have always published and, frankly, always will publish. Yet we have never been afraid of change. Those of you who have been with us since 2005 have been with us through numerous changes to our layout, numerous additions to our content lineup and a few notable shifts in philosophy. We are not afraid of change, and we approach it with the same careful consideration and commitment to our readers and the integrity of our content with which we approach everything we do.

In the past it has been our policy that raw numerical data is irrelevant to the process of reviewing games, and so we invested our energies instead to delivering the highest-quality experiential reviews that we could, offering, instead of a score, a taste of how it feels to actually play the game. Today, however, we find that raw data is becoming increasingly more relevant to how reviews are consumed. Entire industries have spawned to chew on review data and spin it into meta-data, and readers have clamored for this information. The game industry itself has attempted to reward quality in game development by tying product royalties to review data. While this latest effort is beset with problems, it does point to an overall trend that shows no signs of changing course.

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