Welcome to Collective Thoughts, a new regular feature at VGW. You send us your questions, and our editors answer them with as much transparency as possible. Got a burning question about games, the industry, VGW, or anything in between? Fire it off to letters (at) videogamewriters.com, then watch for our answer here, or in “VGW To Go,” our new monthly magazine.
Your Question: What is the best / fairest way to “rate” a video game? Video game writers (and readers of that writing) sometimes complain about the limitations of a ratings system, whether that be thumb’s up/down or an aggregate score like on Metacritic. Should numerical scores go by the wayside, or are they the best we can do with a limited system?
Our Answer: Hey Russell! This is something that has been debated and argued for decades, but has really come to light recently with the rise to prominence of sites like Metacritic and, for films, Rotten Tomatoes. I do think that numerical scores have value in them. I just think that they lose that value when those very scores are scrutinized more than the review itself. The scores should serve as nothing more than a supplement to the text of the review itself. When people are attacking journalists for rating something a 9.5/10, when they predict the game will be good enough for a 10/10, the scores lose meaning altogether.
~Brian, Associate Editor
Your Question: I know that there are a lot of different ways of getting in the game industry, and a lot of different jobs, but I was wondering what you would suggest the best way of getting in the game industry would be. I want to be a programmer, but since I’m nowhere near skilled enough yet, I would love any job in the industry, what would be the best way to get in? Quality assurance, apply as an intern at a small studio, or maybe become a writer/reviewer for a blog/website and make connections in the industry that way? The problem with the first two is, I live in a place where there are no game studios around, at least not that I can find. So I would love to hear your advice.
Our Answer: Hey Andy! Excellent questions, with difficult answers. I can tell you that several of the developers and writers we have interviewed got their start as game testers — guys like Drew Holmes at THQ. None of them would tell you it was a blissful job, but most will tell you it’s a great foot in the door. And it can never hurt to start your own blog, provided you stay diligent and write consistently. Provided you have a unique spin on things and can write with the best of them, that consistency can get you noticed by larger sites looking for staffers.
~Jason, Executive Editor
Your Question: How do you see VGW in the video game journalist industry? What qualities about VGW and staff set it apart from the IGNs and Kotakus of our society?
Our Answer: Honestly Joseph, I would consider us game critics and writers before I would call us journalists. Let’s be honest: True journalists go out and get dirty, digging up scoops, spending their days making aggressive phone calls and searching for the information they need. In our industry, most of the information available is delivered directly to us, or a click away; the crucial part is how we dissect it and communicate it to our audience. As for how we distinguish ourselves, our goal is to only report news that matters to us, and avoid frivolous posts like cosplay pics and boxart announcements. We want you to read VGW and be entertained and maybe even educated! On the review side of the fence (the “critics” side), the most important thing to us is fully evaluating a game before we pass judgment on it, and trying to find the positives instead of being nasty. Though, there still is no excuse for games like Driver: Renegade 3DS!
~Jason, Executive Editor