How I rate games for review?

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Why should you have a rating system in the first place? Aren’t game reviews subjective and not objective? What good is a review system anyways? These are several questions that will pop up in your mind. Why did I go that geek way is what this blog post is all about.  This review system is effective as of 18 March 2020 onwards and applicable to all mobile game reviews going forward.

My game reviews are mostly posted on Wednesdays – and I don’t post it always. That’s because I take sufficient time to understand the game mechanics. Otherwise I cover it up by posting Banter Box video instead.  

Truth be told, it is not always possible to review a game due to my time constraints and prior work, family and personal commitments (I will write a separate post about it in the future). 

Let me answer the first question: Why should you have a rating system in the first place?Most top gaming sites base their reviews on some parameters. Some follow it strictly, other for an idea based on what they felt while playing the game. When it comes to PC and console games, it is true indeed that one has to go that way. I wanted my reviews to sound geek professional. 

The reality is, gamers do not look at the parameters when deciding which games to play. Instead they look at the final rating. I wanted to set some parameters for review due to several reasons: firstly, it helps to be consistent on my reviews. When viewers or even readers go through your articles or vlog, it comes to them as professional, consistent and quality focused. The parameters I have set is from a gamer’s perspective. This is familiar territory for all of what you should expect from a game.

Secondly, if you are planning a long term future for such kind of reviews – it will surely help. Yes, that is my plan. I don’t want to be a irregular in these regards. I started off with something – it is not something that I plan on ending in the future. 

Aren’t game reviews subjective and not objective?
It is not just about being professional. It helps build your credibility that you know what you are talking about. I want to stand out from the ordinary. How many gaming channel claim to be this way? I would there are many, but they cater to their respective niches. So will I.

Since I am a gamer, I am aware of the practical details of a particular game. Previously, I would play games to have fun, lose myself in its timelessness and simply enjoy. Now, I have to check the little things that complete a game from a gamer and a developer’s perspective. I have to think from both the angles. Giving a neutral view is another aspect, why I would do that is to make sure I leave the decision to a gamer. I bring the perspective and leave you decide. In the end I present my opinion about the game.

What good is a review system anyways?
I have already mentioned it above, I want to stand out, I want my channel to stand out as well and position myself away from the ordinary. That just about sums it.

Why did I come up with this?
I realized the difficulty with rating a particular game. You rate a game based on what you feel about it, what are your experiences when playing, what you felt, how are you going to relate this to other gamers? I had several questions like this. When I reviewed games before, reviewing one game and then when the time came to review another I noticed I did not have a system in place. After YouTubing for nearly two years hence, I have noticed I need to mature as a Gamer and a Game Reviewer. This is going to be a long term plan. There’s no way I am going to close this channel and re-launch another channel based on similar lines!  

In truth, I want my reviews to be consistent following particular set parameters. This will help giving a professional review and take for a particular game. These ratings are subject to change and when they do, the separate blog post will describe the change and mention the reason for change and the need to accommodate in the current review process or the need to develop a new one. It is subjective.

To summarize what I am planning to achieve:

  1. Be consistent in my approach in reviewing games
  2. Be subjective from a gamers’ and developer’s perspective
  3. Deliver quality reviews following the parameters and not because I hate the game
  4. Play the game sufficiently to understand it not just to review it
  5. I may not complete the full the game – there are reasons behind it too.  Just like a businessman who may discontinue a product because it was not giving him enough profits, similarly, I may try the game because I liked it. However, despite its tremendous potential I am not getting the kind of views I expect.

This is applicable across written and visual content. Ratings are presented in a neutral perspective not leading to bad mouthing – No negative reviews. Problems facing the game will be openly presented in a neutral perspective. I recognize that gaming tastes varies across region to region and from gamer to gamer. Sponsored reviews will follow the same pattern of review, if I am not in favour of the game – no negative reviews will be posted. Sponsored review also does not mean I will speak for the game even if the gameplay is bad. Ball will be thrown in the gamers’ court.

Game Play Objectives:

  • The game is played thoroughly to achieve three objectives:
  • Generalized understanding of the gameplay
  • Initial impressions that may lead to building expectations or sufficient overview/perspective is generated
  • Potential repeatability prospects

Determinants for review:

 a) Title’s in-sync with the game plot – Game’s title should match with the game’s plot/how close or distant is the match?

 b) Gameplay– how easy or difficult is it to play and progress, who is the game aimed for? (Age, sex or region) target audience- casual, serious, hardcore gamers and approximation of reception post-gameplay.  Good gameplay has the potential to extend repeatabilityContinuous repeatability leads to addiction* thereby increasing the popularity of the game and better ratings

* Increased repeatability

c) Graphics – how good/bad is the graphics, good graphics lead to extended gameplay and gamer retentionmore retention leads to loyalty. It is a supplementing factor for continuous repeatability mentioned above.  

 d) Game mechanics – determines how complex or easy is it to play the game, how easy or difficult is it to understand, level progression, engaging bosses, difficulty to win, bonus, incentives, alternatives for engagement like endless mode, multiplayer PvP mode, interlinking of various elements of a game.

Final Ratings:

Ratings to be giving after substantial gameplay of at least a week’s play and/or deep level progression to demonstrate easy/difficult gameplay.

How gamer-centric developers are: How intrusive is the gameplay? How many ads, gameplay time vs ads playback.

Ratings are given on the basis of stars.   

Rating System:
Final Ratings and what they mean:

1 Don’t Bother – Score range of 1 to 5

2 At your risk – Score range of 1 to 5

3 Bad – Score range of 1 to 5

4 Not so bad – Score range 6 to 8

5 Just Ok – Score range of 9 to 11

6 Worth a try – Score range of 12 to 14

7 Good – Score range of 15 to 17

8 Great! – Score of 18

9 Splendid – Score of 19

10 Superb! – Score of 20

General interpretation of ratings for gamers/viewers:  

Bad/Difficult
1 2 3 4

Just Right
5 6 7

Best/Easy

8 9 10

Minimum and maximum ratings:

Maximum ratings – 9.5 stars, half stars leaves room for improvement irrespective on how good the game is.

Minimum rating – 1 star provided the game does meet the above criterion.  

Ratings system general criterion:
Points system leading to final ratings:

    Simple         1             

Character Attributes:

Simple 1

    Moderate     2                            

    Dynamic      3                            

&/Or, Character Attributes                                  

Dynamic                              

    Simple         1                         

    Moderate     2                            

    Dynamic      3                            

Gameplay Controls:                              

    Easy            3                           

    Moderate   2                            

    Difficult      1                            

Is there a power-ups process?                            

    Yes              1                            

    No               0                          

Are there single upgrades?                            

    Yes              1                          

    No               0                            

Are there multiple upgrades?                             

    Yes              1                            

    No               0                          

Level progression:                              

Singular Mission based 1                           

Multiple Objective based 2 

Level Progression Difficulty: (update)

Easy 1
Moderate 2
Difficult 3

Is the game diversified eg. has more than 1 gameplay mode?                      

Yes 1                            

No  0                           

Contains intrusive ads interfering with gameplay:                        

Yes 0                           

 No 1                            

Learning curve                              

Steep (complex) 1                            

Gradual (Just right) 2                            

Slope (Easy) 3                          

Motivation to play                              

Yes – Daily incentives, Leaderboards, Rewards for playing ads 1 1                     
No – 0                          

Total Score 20                       

Criteria      Count
Is the character static or dynamic
Static
Simple1
Moderate2
Dynamic3
Dynamic
Simple1
Moderate2
Dynamic3
Gameplay Controls
Easy3
Modertate2
Difficult1
Is there a power-ups process?
Yes1
No0
Are there single upgrades?
Yes1
No0
Are there multiple upgrades?
Yes1
No0
Level progression:
Singular Mission based1
Multiple Objective based2
Level progression difficulty:
Easy1
Moderate2
Difficult3
Is the game diversified eg. has more than 1 gameplay mode?
Yes1
No0
Contains intrusive ads interfering with gameplay
Yes0
No1
Learning curve
Steep (complex)1
Gradual (Just right)2
Slope (Easy)3
Motivation to play
Yes – Daily incentives, Leaderboards, Rewards for playing ads1
No –0
Total Score20
My rating system
Don’t BotherAt your riskBadNot too BadJust OkGive it a TryGoodGreat!Splendid!Superb!
12345678910
1 to 51 to 51 to 56,7, 89,10,1112,13,1415,16,17181920
Final Ratings from scoring

Explanation of parameters:
Character Attributes:

Simple: means the character animations consists of one character that is static in nature – movement may be restricted to one or limited point(s) in a given space, e.g. arcade games, puzzle games, etc.

Dynamic: means the character animation consists of one or more character(s) that is/are not restricted to one point(s) in space. It has free movements with the given space, FPS, tower defense, strategy, simulation games, combat sims, platformers, scrolling games, etc.


Moderate: may consist of the character having to move about in a limited space, e.g. static FPS games, games with limited mobility, zombie roadkill,

Gameplay Controls:

Easy: Controlling the character requires less learning curve
Moderate: Controlling the character requires moderate learning curve
Hard: Controlling the character requires more learning curve 

Power-ups process:

Power ups is an intricate part of gaming. It helps add more depth the game play and progressively helps cross levels, beat bosses and other enemies. A particular game may not have a power-up process and still have depth, eg. Racing sims have a different upgrade process, FPS games need ammo, weapons and armour, arcade games in particular come with staggered power-ups which are gradual in nature.

If the game has depth, this will be determined by the complexity of the game, then the default point will be 1, 1 if it has, 0 if it doesn’t. 0 point will be determined in instances where the scope of power-up existed that could make the game interesting.

How is the complexity of the game determined? This will be decided by the learning curve. Complex games are best defined by RPG games eg. IR Blood Memory, . MMO strategy games – NOVA, some tower defense games eg. Steampunk Tower 2,

Upgrade process:

Upgradeis an action of the game to increase the survivability of the character during a particular game play. This increase can be attributed to increase in the health of the character, resistant to vulnerability for a short period, increase the range and/or power of the weapon, improve defense momentarily or permanently.

Multiple or Singular upgrades is adetermining factor towards the depth of the game and controls the direction in which the depth of the game should proceed. Singular upgrades pertains to the single upgrade or aspect of the character resulting although not necessarily in some instances, in a simpler gameplay. .Multiple upgrade mechanics diversify gameplay depth and micro management to an extent. However, this criteria and may be subjective in nature. Points may differ depending on the game.

Multiple Upgrades:

Same as above,but in a larger context eg. Upgrading the armour, weapons, ammo, etc.       

Is the game simple or easy to play? 

Simple/small games by default get a 3 rating; complex games get a 1.5 rating

This is subjective. A game may not be easy to play and still be interesting. Complex game mechanics like some RPG games employ in their upgrade system. E.g Ire Blood Memory, some dungeons and dragon games, etc.

How are the graphics & animations?  

Simple/small games by default get a 3 rating, a games’ complexity is determined by the depth of the graphics and length of the animated actions. More complex graphics and animations get a higher rating. Minimum is 3, mediocre is 6 and excellent is 9.

This is a strong determinant. Most games are thoroughly tested backfire launching it on Play Store. Though, you may not encounter a buggy game, that’s not the point here. The point is – some arcade games employ simple animation but the game play is amazing. Most arcade games work this way.

How is the gameplay? Simple/small games by default get a 3 rating, a gameplay complexity depends on simplicity/difficulty in level progression, upgrading, boss fights, etc. Minimum is 3, mediocre is 6 and excellent is 9.

This is self explanatory.

Game mechanics? Simple/small games by default get a 3 rating, a game mechanics is what defines the gameplay, it depends on simplicity/difficulty in how level progression, upgrading, boss fights, etc. occurs, Minimum is 3, mediocre is 6 and excellent is 9.

Final rating is an average of the above three.

Some explanation has not been provided due to the pre-existing simplicity associated with the terms.

Let me know what you think and if I should have added or omitted anything.

I am a blogger, YouTuber and Indie Music Producer navigating my way through a massive sea of words, games and soundwaves!

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House Of Phoenyx: Blogger, YouTuber & Music Producer

Saturday, Jul 20, 2024
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