Do We Need To Change Video Game Rating Scales?
What you see here are potential examples of perfect 10s. How we judge that is almost entirely subjective but they're all on the same scale: women. The question is, now that gaming has taken on a variety of different forms and types, should we be using the same scoring scales across the board?
There was a time when games were games. It made sense that there should be one universal scoring system and even then, several major sources strayed from the norm (the common 10-point scale) and went with either letter grades or even no score at all. It's entirely up to the source, of course. But are we misleading the consumer? This industry is more mainstream than ever, which means there are more casual participants than ever, and they simply may not understand the difference between a 9 for a standard $60 big-budget title and a 9 for a downloadable arcade game on the PSN or XBLA. We all know the differences; we sorta call this our favorite hobby and we all recognize and acknowledge the obvious drastic differences between the aforementioned products. But even if we consider that to be true, is it still okay to use the exact same scoring scale for every game, ranging from iPhone and DS to PS3 and PC? There is an argument for both sides.
On the one hand, it's clear that games on certain platforms aren't designed to compete with games on certain other platforms. It's clear that nothing handheld can, in literal reality, stand up to the best examples of cutting-edge, progressive interactive entertainment on the most powerful gaming systems. So rationally, it's difficult to support this continued trend; it's like saying we can score Tetris on the same 10-point scale as Uncharted 2. ...or maybe we can and in fact, should... Maybe it's all about awarding a score based on the game's merits, and it's the critic's responsibility to take the inherent limitations into account. And of course, we all do that; nobody is giving the latest DS game a 2 in graphics because they're comparing it to Crysis. They're comparing it to other graphical depictions on the DS. That's all fine and dandy, but how come those who review games for the PS3 and 360 tend to compare graphics - and other elements - to those same elements on the other platform? Does this not mean that we put the PS3/360 in the same category but not the DS? And does this not further mean that we can't use the same scoring scale for everything?
This is not a rhetorical question because I don't believe I have the answer. It's a legitimate question because I have no idea what to do about it. There are good points on both sides and of course, fans of the "lesser" platforms will get all bent out of shape if you suggest their favored software can't really be compared to the most advanced interactive products out there. It's just that, with 3D coming, motion sensing all ready to explode on the PS3 and 360, and a growing number of digital downloadable titles, there are more types and versions of video games than ever before. And I really don't think we see anything like this in any other entertainment medium. So what to do?
5/31/2010 12:13:00 PM Ben Dutka