Do Reviewers Really Understand Innovation?

Illustration for article titled Do Reviewers Really Understand Innovation?

Yet another nice piece from the Guardian; Keith Stuart takes up the issue of innovation and whether or not reviewers really get it. Using Mirror's Edge as a launching point, he notes that there seems to be too much focus on some of the little details and not enough emphasis on deconstructing the experience:

Many reviewers have criticised the combat, the repetition, a smattering of trial-and-error moments. There has been a general compulsion to counter the sequences of innovative genius with niggling doubts about core mechanics. This is frustrating and I think it highlights one of the key issues of contemporary gaming – what exactly is a videogame and what are the fundamental elements every game must provide? Because, if it were a movie, Mirror's Edge would be critically lauded by the specialist film press – it would be considered a forward-thinking masterpiece. Sure, it's dangerous to compare two such different media, but there are key similarities – one is the way in which critics should be able to deconstruct the experience on offer and draw from it undeniable values that outweigh concerns about basic construction.

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I don't entirely agree with this line of thinking (many people reading reviews want to know if the game is worth playing, and those niggling details probably matter quite a lot), but I always enjoy reading 'reviews' that are more along the lines that Stuart is discussing — deconstructing the game and looking at it from a broader perspective. There's room (and need) for both, I think, and I'm not sure it's reviewers not 'understanding' innovation so much as reviewers producing what audiences want to read. Do game reviewers really understand innovation? [The Guardian via Rock, Paper, Shotgun]

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DISCUSSION

Being innovative is hardly the decisive factor whether a game is good. Ultimatly it should come down to fun.

The game can reek innovation out it's ears but if the reviewer finds must to criticise in the "combat, the repetition, a smattering of trial-and-error moments" then the title doesn't deserve overall to be highly ranked.

I haven't played mirrors edge besides the demo so I can't comment on that title but same thing applies to something like Assassins Creed. It's not enough to do something new, you have to do it well and make sure the overall experience is fun.

I see nothing wrong with reviewers marking it down because they personally didn't enjoy it. No one has to agree and it's perfectly find to disregard low scores if you disagree. EVERY review is just an opinion in the end of the day and even metacritic and the like is just a collection of opinions. They don't have to be in agreeance with others and games other people don't like may be ones you yourself will love.