Monday, November 16, 2009

On reviewing others

I know from time to time I tend to write a review on something, such as a game or a movie. Sometimes, the words I choose might not be the wisest, but I often do it because I feel strongly about what I say. I don't make bold claims that I could do better or that said work of art is done by someone who doesn't know any better.

But, since this is the internet, you can always be assured that someone else will say something to that effect.

Some time ago, I stumbled upon the blog of a guy claiming to be a critic of webcomics. From that sentence alone you can probably do a Google search and find said blogger, but I'm not going to post a direct link to it because I don't want to cause trouble.

In his first post he stated:

"I'm here to provide a straight up fact filled review, and curse free while I'm at it!"

Hmm... okay.

All implications aside, the reason I decided to follow his reviews was because in his third entry he stated that he would eventually critique Blue Zombie and Lumia's Kingdom.

A few entries past. I never paid them any mind because I'm lazy and didn't feel like reading walls of text unless it pertained to my work (I'm self-centered like that).

But what did catch my attention was when he gave a particularly vitriolic review of one webcomic. There are some things in his entry that I do agree with, but I think they could have been stated in a less condescending manner. Not only that, but he made bold accusations about the quality of the art on said webcomic and then proceeded to imply he could do better.

The problem with this was that many others (I will not pass judgment myself) felt that, given the quality of his review and his art, he couldn't do any better than the person he reviewed and made their opinions on the matter known to him. He got such a negative response with his review that he wrote another entry where he apologized for it and then, from what I gather, wrote another, less scathing review about the same comic.

Like I said, I'm not going to pass judgment on the guy.

Instead, I will say this:

The internet is full of people who think they know best. If you're going to try a professional hand at writing something (especially when it comes to reviews), at least write it in a way that people will take you seriously. Otherwise, no one will take you seriously. And it may cost you more than that.

For example, you could end up like former GameSpot reviewer Jeff Gerstmann.

As my former roommate Al pointed out, regardless of how you feel about GameSpot's termination of Gerstmann over his choice words for Kane and Lynch (a game that GameSpot had skinned their site with at that time), it's hard to deny that much of his video review is far from what would be considered professional.

So please, if you have something to say about someone's work, make sure that your words are thoughtful, not spiteful. And when you respond to people's feelings on something you wrote, don't be so quick to defend what yourself. Because, in the end, you don't know when it will come back to bite you in the ass.


Rita said...

Sage advice. Thanks.

Because the only man who can get away with murder (of video games) is Ben Croshaw.

Tamar said...

Even I have reservations about Ben "Yahtzee" Croshaw's video game reviews. While he brings up interesting points, I find the reviews more as entertainment than something I should take seriously. I feel the same for some Penny Arcade comics.