Video Game News Sites: Totally Fake?
After recently completing Darksiders 2 I decided to look up what IGN thought of the game. I noticed that there were a few things off about the review. Having noticed other problems with them (and a few other gaming websites) I came to question what their motives were and who they were to be giving us "the final verdict".
Game Review Process
Having an acquaintance who works as an editor for one such gaming website I made a few remarks in hopes of getting some good information. What I found out was shocking:
Most video game reviews are based on four hours or less of game play.
Excuse me? How can you base an entire review off 4 hours of game play? With some games taking 20+ hours to get through you have only played roughly 20% of the game in order to give a review which leads the reader to believe your company has completed the game and is giving us informed information.
This feels a bit cheap... pretty much a lie by omission. It seems there is an easy tell - or way to see if they only played for a short while: Does the review only show clips of the first part of the game? Do they only reference the first part of the game? Is there any mention of later levels? It seems that a lot of reviews omit some of the later parts of the gameplay or story (non spoilers of course) because they simply don't get that far before rendering a verdict.
A few months ago the somewhat "controversial" Hitman trailer came out. A large amount of gamers found it interesting and not controversial at all. However an IGN article came out shortly after complaining about how the trailer was sexist showboating trying to be shock and awe with absolutely no content. The whole article was an attack of the trailer - which would be fine if it had any good arguments to it. However the author clearly did not play any Hitman game, or know anything about the series based on what she was writing.
While talking with an editor I found out that a lot of sites - including IGN - mostly write articles to get advertisement clicks. This creates questions about the motives of the authors. Do the authors truly care about what they are writing about, or are they just writing controversial pieces to get people linking them all over for ad revenue?
So who are these people to tell us what we are playing? To give reviews and have our respect?
Another conversation led to the realization that the author named could be wrong. An anecdote arose about a writer's girlfriend who knew next to nothing about the subject writing a set of articles for her boyfriend.
Another realization came while I was looking for work myself. A set of orders for freelance writers requesting articles reviewing video games. This order was asking for a ghost writer, so the real writer could take a break for a week or two. Of course, it didn't say where it would be published but it is sad to think that the "author" of the article you are trusting could be someone who doesn't even play video games.
Can We Trust Video Game Websites?
So the question that comes up with these problems is if we can trust video game websites. I think the answer is mixed. Most video game websites will allow you to see what kind of game it is, a bit about the game, and at least a rating of the first part of the game. This would be enough to get a good idea if you are interested in playing the game.
However I would stop after that. I would take reviews with a grain of salt, along with the articles about games. I would also - perhaps spitefully on my part - watch what I click because of the misleading nature of the content - they would not deserve any revenue gained from misleading people.