Death of the Review

A postulation cross-posted on RPGNet:

Once upon a time, I used to edit and write for a webzine, full of articles about how to have more fun gaming. Eventually, we packed it in mostly and I commented that I thought the internet was kind of killing the gaming article in general. Why? Because if you wanted to gain a new perspective on gaming you could read half a million blogs by Super Famous Game Designers themselves, and if you wanted advice about a specific thing, you’d just go to a forum and ask about that specific thing. (eg “Should I let my players eat pudding while attempting a backstab?”)

Seems to me the latter is true about reviews too (and the former; if Bob the Famous Designer twitters that he likes XYZ, there’s your review). Generally I see people coming to the RPGNet forums and asking questions which are clearly answered in my reviews. That ticks me off because it feels like I’m writing reviews for no god damn reason (except the free pdfs, of course, hi Cam!)

Now I’m sure some people read reviews, I’m sure the medium’s not dead. But the question is: do YOU read them?¬† And if so, why?

To put it another way: if you know you hate pudding and there’s a film out that might have pudding in it, do you a) read ten online reviews to see if pudding gets a mention or do your b) jump on Films-With-Pudding.net and ask “Does Space Goat Fights Back have extended pudding scenes?”

Obviously, sometimes you want a holistic view from non-crazy people, but on the internet, as somebody said, all opinions are equally worthless and holistic views are generalist ones. Forums give a personalised answer to YOUR specific needs. In that light, is the review dead?

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6 thoughts on “Death of the Review

  1. While I hadn’t thought about it – in large part I think they are dying (not dead), I still use the RPG.Net review site, and I use review sites for things like technology, but I also will post for recommendations from knowledgeable communities that I participate in and friends.

  2. I mostly use RPG.net for reviews and not just to see whether someone on the Internet is wrong. Part of the problem with reviews is most people confuse like/don’t like with good/bad and works/doesn’t or answers premise/doesn’t. A consider and well written review, like yours, will always interest me. I won’t necessarily, in fact probably, buy the game, but I want to know what’s out there in RPG world, what people are thinking about and doing, where the Zeitgeist is and who’s on it. So a good review also needs a sense of history which require experience which takes time and effort.

  3. My two cents:

    I wrote reviews for RPGNet largely because I enjoyed the conversations that would spring up in the comments section. I stopped writing reviews for RPGNet when that conversation dried up and moved to the forums.

    More generally, I used to hear about the exciting new games through reviews (in magazines and later on sites like RPGNet and the old Gaming Outpost). Now I generally hear about exciting new games through forums and then Google for reviews. So it’s not that reviews have completely exited my meme-scape; but they’ve been very much reduced to a second-string status.

    The exception are reviews posted to blogs that I subscribe to. Those reviews just become part of the one-and-a-half-sided conversation which is a blog.

  4. Forums and reviews can both provide the information, but I find a well written review way more entertaining.

    Reviews are also a bit easier to find when searching for information through Google.

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