Game reviews

There’s an article on gamedrool about GamePro’s Portal Runner review back in 2001, and Trip Hawkins’ response to it. It’s quite entertaining.
Trip raises a few interesting points in his letter to GamePro’s publisher, but mostly comes off as an angry man. Granted, the review was short and scathing. But a letter like this is not going to help any situation. However, the idea that reviewers should know a game’s target audience before reviewing it really is a no-brainer, and if GamePro didn’t take this into consideration it was a terrible flaw. I totally get the image Trip paints of a reviewer as an angry man, but not because they’re some kind of antisocial mitfit – rather, after playing hundreds of crap games, you become able to recognize crap games pretty quickly, and the venom can come spilling out your fingertips before you realize it.
It’s an interesting glimpse into Trip’s mind when he suggests that the customers of game media are the advertisers, not the readers. Certainly, that’s where the money mostly comes from, but the reason the audience for a magazine exists is because of the integrity of the staff producing it. If the reader could not trust that a reviewer had an unbiased opinion when reviewing a title, why would that reader bother reading the review?
When I was at Game Developer magazine, there was a similar difference in perspective, between the edit staff and sales staff. It can be quite challenging to give a product a crappy review if the product comes from a company which advertises heavily in your magazine. But ultimately, it’s exactly what HAS to be done. For to do anything else would be to undermine the credibility of the entire publication. Hopefully, that’s what GamePro told Trip.
It’s amusing to see that Trip’s lashing out at the editors of GamePro is not so dissimilar from the way the reviewer lashed out at the crappiness of Portal Runner. Perhaps they both should have taken a deep breath and counted to ten, then considered possible other perspectives, before putting hand to keyboard.