OPINION: Games reviewers don’t exist in isolation

By the time the reviews hit, a consensus has more often than not already been reached.

We are the Borg. Your culture will adapt to service us. Resistance is futile.

When I rule the world, video games reviews will be made very differently. Reviewers will be locked into cells in a facility, perhaps one akin to the space station the crew of Red Dwarf happen upon in series six episode Legion.

The reviewers will be treated OK – they’ll be watered and fed and stuff. But they’ll exist in isolation. There will be no Twitter, no MSN, no forums. Just them, their room, their console and their game. And at the end of it all, their independent opinion.

Because by the time that the world’s Resident Evil 6 reviews went live at 5pm last night, the hive mind that is the UK games journalism scene had already decided that the game was a dud.

And that’s the problem with today’s digital age (said like a proper old man, I realise). Opinions snowball. Hate or love peptuates hate or love and before you know it social pressures have already dictated your opinion before you even reach it. It’s horribly unfashionable to say it, but without the internet The Phantom Menace wouldn’t be hated (at least not to the same extent). It was the hive mind that facilitated that hate. Five years earlier and that film would have been a critical success, I’d argue.

It’s so simple to buy into it, too. Hating is easy. If you hate something you’re elevating yourself above it. You’re not subscribing to its way of doing things. You’re singling yourself out as strong of will and thought (that’s what you believe, anyway). Once this process has begun, daring to like becomes a big gamble. You’re affiliating yourself with that product and you’re exposing yourself to group criticism.

Remember, too, that the UK games journalism scene has a hierarchy. Once those key five or six decision makers lay their love or hate on the table, word spreads like the clap and their aspiring peers more often than not follow suit.

I’m no critic. My assessment of Resident Evil 6 really shouldn’t be treated with the same weight as those who have been doing it for years and can convey their thoughts far more effectively.

But it’s clearly not a bad game. Clearly.

As someone who steers clear of survival horror and, admittedly, has no particular brand loyalty to Resident Evil, I’ve actually enjoyed the (comparatively little) time I’ve spent with the game. A to B, shoot the zombies, wiggle the joystick. It’s very dramatic, it’s very loud and the production values are top notch. That ticks a lot of my boxes. I’ll never love it, but the reaction has to my mind been very depressing.

So am I arguing that I know better than the pros? God no. Definitely not. I loved Kane and Lynch 2. But I am urging you to treat not only the Resident Evil 6 reviews, but all reviews, with the necessary air of scepticism I think the current system requires.

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