TR Member Perks!

Updated Editor’s Note 11/7/2017 – In an effort to further commit to our editorial vision of quality content about nothing but games or the industry, we are leaving this note here to let you know that this article does not meet the standards of that vision as it exists today. This article may be poorly written, or it may be well-written but with charged political content, which we have stepped away from. It’s not the ideas we have a problem with, as we do not discourage any viewpoint, we are just moving away from this sort of content. This article no longer represents TechRaptor’s editorial vision today and into the future. You can read more about why we are doing this here.

With #GamerGate still going relatively strong, the cries for objectivity continue. I found myself saying the same thing over and over again towards the beginning of this whole mess. Objectivity was paramount, and it had been destroyed by these terrible journalists. However, I stepped back and came to the realization that objectivity only exists to a degree.

Bias is everywhere and it is unavoidable (something I’ve touched on in the past). In the most bland news post you can find there will more than likely be some small phrase or word that betrays the journalist’s objectivity. That is okay, because it is human. It is impossible for anyone to completely drop their bias when they approach literally any issue or topic. That could be an opinion, reporting news, or a review of a game.

The fact that I don’t enjoy the seemingly endless stream (there’s the biased phrase) of 2D platformers will definitely seep into a review of one no matter how hard I try. That feeling will also play into what kind of news I search/pay attention to. I’m probably not the person who will break any news on the next Super Meat Boy. And that’s okay.

super-meat-boyAnd as we have all learned these past few weeks, personal information about a certain developer or person in the industry will create a bias no matter what. For example, taking gaming out of it for a moment, let’s imagine there is a big movie star out there that is objectively a great actor. Then someone breaks a story about that actor beating his wife in the past and other women. No matter if I thought he was the greatest actor in the world, I would think of him differently from that point onward.

That goes for positive news as well. With that same situation, what if I heard instead that the actor donates millions of dollars to various charities that I also happen to like? Well, I’ll probably like him a little bit more to be sure.

Those are extreme examples, but that only serves to highlight how nuanced a lot of news will actually affect you. The most inconsequential thing you may hear about a developer or publisher will affect you in some way. The best thing we can all do to for things like reviews or opinions is find a writer we like and seem to share similar tastes/opinions with. When a new game comes out you’re curious about, you can rely on that trusted writer more than any other to have a similar reaction to that game.

Saints Row IVObjectivity in game reviews should be very important. For all the reasons above, and more that will be listed below, objectivity only exists to a degree,  but some things should never be included. A reviewer’s personal opinion on the game’s message should never play a part. Just because someone doesn’t like that a game advocates for something like gay marriage doesn’t mean that the game is bad. The evaluation of the message should be an evaluation of the manner in which it was portrayed – not the message itself. In other words, was the message of a game effectively expressed? Not whether the reviewer agreed with the message.

Opinions should be left for opinion pieces like this one. The debate about whether or not a game should be supported based on its message should be left out of a review. That is not the purpose of a review. I’ve seen some say that this makes gaming only about mechanics, leaving discussion of expression to slowly die off. It certainly doesn’t because a review of a game should only be left to things that can at least attempt to be objective. Things like mechanics of gameplay, technical matters like audio and video, effectiveness of a story and its structure, cohesiveness of the art direction, and anything else down that line.

Of course, opinion will play a role however. Just like above, that opinion may seep into a review in one way or another  – likely without the reviewers knowledge. To try and fight for 100% objectivity is to fight against human nature. For example, judging a game on its art direction is almost entirely subjective. I like the look of Transistor, but someone else might hate it. Truly objective reviews don’t exist.


Criticism based on expression can go both ways – towards and away from objectivity. Above I discussed how it can go away, as a reviewer should never evaluate a game on the basis of their agree/disagreement with the game’s overall message. However, if a game has a stated aim of depicting Renaissance Italy but only has women in roles of housewives and peasant workers then it should be questioned. There were plenty of powerful matriarchs of families and many influential artists of that time, and the question as to why they were not included should be brought up. That is not something that betrays objectivity, but moves towards it as it recognizes a discrepancy and criticizes the game for it. I just hope most people, readers and writers alike, will know the difference.

With all of that said I still have problems with many other ways that objectivity is wiped away, like journalists exchanging favors with developers/publishers, getting paid by developers/publishers, using their position to promote the game of a friend, and a host of other similar things.

The purpose of this was to draw a distinction around what we should all understand objectivity in game journalism to be.

I don’t say all of this to dissuade many from fighting for more objectivity in game journalism, as I have listed some areas myself that I think need some work and where we should all be vigilant. For now, the best anyone can likely do is find some writers they like and follow them.

Andrew Otton

Editor in Chief

Editor in Chief at TechRaptor. Lover of some things, a not so much lover of other things.

  • NCLanceman

    Oh my god. This is it. This is what I’ve wanted in a site since this whole #gamergate thing started.

    I’m… I’m home.

  • wcg

    Just my two cents, but Gamergate to me is less about objectivity in reviews but more about how so-called journalist jumped on a bandwagon that had no wheels to hold it up. Gamergate is a manufactured conspiracy by wanna-be activists to stir up shit in the gaming community. The part where objectivity and journalism got thrown out the window was when no one fact checked any of the stories they posted since the whole Zoe Quinn situation broke.

    Further fanning the flames was then these same game “journalists” went on to attack the gaming community at large for a very small minority that was attacking Quinn and Sarkeesian (with the intent, IMO, to create a shitstorm on purpose.) However, no one bothered to fact check what either Sarkeesian or Quinn claimed. Nor did any games publication bother to review objectively Sarkeesian’s “documentary” (for which she received a lot of money from Kickstarter to do.) Nor did anyone stand up to that stupid petition that went around. No one was brave enough to say “hey! wait a minute, these videos are full of crap.”

    The lack of integrity in these gaming outlets extends beyond reviews. Their judgement and ability to investigate and look at both sides of a story, are sadly missing.

  • I agree with most of what you have said and have actually written about much of what you bring up in the past. If you just look here: you’ll find quite a few articles addressing what you have just brought up.

    GamerGate is certainly about more than just objectivity. The purpose of this was to only highlight that one part, not look at GamerGate as a whole, which I have done more in the past.

    Thanks for the comment though!

  • Reptile

    I think, that a “right” model of review would be like this: You have the first part, where the writer review the mechanics, sound, art style etc etc in a objective way.

    THEN you got a second part on that review, with a disclaimer saying “This part is writter opinion, does not reflect the website opinion and does not counts on score”
    HERE the writer points his opinions (that no one asked in the first place though) and bias about the game, the writter can put anything he wants there, like “I find platforms shit” or “I like it” or “my impression is”. This as said, will not affect the score, that will be different scores for each thing (graphics, audio, gameplay, etc, like it was back then) and a final score that is the sum of everything before divided by the name of categories.

    Is it hard? What I most dislike in reviews in other websites is that they mix their opinion inside the objective text, making a mess to read, and trying to “sneak” their bullshit inside your head.

    Now, how does someone score something that each person think something? like how can someone say how good a artstyle is or the gameplay mechanics, every person may find it different right? That is easy, writers should write based on similar games, like: “This 2d game art is similar to game B, but it is more colorful and it is not so great as game C, still it is really better worked than game D”.

    That is just my opinion of course.

  • Chris Leudard

    Is there any site that has 2 different people review a game? Not talking about 2 people reviewing it together or a video with commentary but 2 different people give their own reviews of the game unaware of the other person’s review or even who the other person is. That would be interesting to see 2 different reviews of a game on the same page and see what things they agree/disagree on and what things were highlights by one person and not the other. Maybe even something like “the pro platformer player review VS my depth perception is awful oh god review”

  • Jukes

    I dont always disable my adblock plus for websites, but when i do, it’s for sites like techraptor.

  • That does sound like an interesting idea . We have people review games and then anyone can write a piece putting their opinion of it down. It would be hard to commit two people to a review most of the time though with how many there are to review. However would be cool to see for big game releases at least.

  • wcg

    Right you are, Andrew. I just read your other post on the secret mailing list – good one!

  • wcg

    That’s why I listen to podcasts. Often the presenters are playing the same game with the reviewer being the lead on actually writing it up. You can often tell when there’s general excitement about a game. if everyone on the podcasting is raving about it, it’s a good sign. Take Destiny, for example, listening to a couple of recent podcasts, the excitement was not there!

  • Reptilian Hunter

    Didn’t Nintendo Power have 5 people reviewing each game at one point?

    I think I remember seeing that in my old issues. That was a pretty good system.

  • I’m not a fan of any numerical rating system, to be honest, as it can be really difficult to quantify various aspects of a game, or a game overall. What seems to work best, IMO, is a simple “Buy, Rent, Avoid” system. If a game is excellent, go buy it. If it’s decent, feel free to rent. If it’s Depression Quest, avoid it like the plague.

    Simple, concise, and much less prone to tweaking by external sources.

  • yeah, but remember for print mags everyone works in the same place, so they can cobble it together easier. Gotta worry about timezones and such for online. Maybe one way though, is that they use twitch or hitbox to all stream one another complaining and critiquing realtime, and then they could do collective reviews based on the afterman.

  • This is what I like to see in an article.

  • Kain Yusanagi

    Famitsu has I believe 5 reviewers per game? And if their review of a game gets bought, they generally don’t review a game- though that last part is just on remembering how one game got silence from Famitsu and everyone avoided it like the plague, so, take it with a grain of salt.

  • Kain Yusanagi

    That sounds like a really neat idea.

  • Michael Anon

    Here’s what Jason Schreier thinks about objectivity: