From the Desk of: ********* ******
To Staff of: ********
Re: Reviewing Recommended Best Practices
Dear editorial staff and reviewers,
In an effort to standardize our "team's" review structure, we've put together this basic set of completely reasonable and ethically responsible guidelines that you can use to consistently provide the most professional and commercially sound content on the web. By standardizing our procedures we ensure that our readers have a solid foundation from which to make their buying decisions, while providing our advertisers with the comfortable knowledge that they will be treated with the respect and honor they deserve. Our editorial standards are as high as ever as we enter this new paradigm of critical analysis, and our partners are excited by our dynamic, pro-active approach to providing industry leading reviews. By using this template you will be ensuring the best possible treatment of our readers and our industry associates.
Together with our advertising partners, our executive staff and our parent company, we've reduced your workload and simplified the process of writing reviews while meeting the expectations of our reader demographic. It is important to realize that our entire team should work together to provide a complete publication, which is why we are now encouraging our editorial staff to collaborate closely with parent company management, human resources and advertising to create a finely tuned machine that works to the same goals rather than at odds. Together we can build commercially responsible and journalistically acceptable content!
(editor's note: please vet copies of review through editorial as well advertising office for final approval and scheduling before posting! Remember your scoring mnemonic in the editorial standards memo dated September 6, 2006 - nine you're fine, six you're nixed!)
- Part 1 Intro - a great time to feature the positives of a game. Avoiding an unprofessionally negative review should be a goal, such as:
Game X is the outstanding new title from (advertiser's company here), and it offers genre busting challenges and emergent gameplay features. An evolutionary step forward in (game genre here) games, Game X provides hours of fun, and is a step up from (enter competitor games here *CHECK With Ad Dept. for acceptable list of negatively comparative games). From the moment you begin playing Game X, it becomes clear that the developers have been working on this title for years, and have matched the excellent standards already established by (advertising publisher).
- Part 2 Plot & Features - Briefly describe game here along with notable gameplay features. Feature lists will be provided by the publisher in a timely fashion. In fact, many publishers will have crafted fine synopses for their games, and you are encouraged to borrow from this literature to ensure accurate portrayal of games assets. For example:
Game X's hero is Joe Smith, a dashing ne'er-do-well turned hero in a last ditch effort to save Earth from alien invasion. Along with Jane Doe, the buxom secret agent [note: recognize the primarily male dominated demographic of gaming. While including artwork for publication be sure and highlight attractive female characters. Our readers will be grateful!] with a past and Kyle Johnson, a tech-savvy and sarcastic computer genius who guides Joe by way of a cerebral-autosponder ™, Joe must travel through dozens of dynamically generated levels to do battle with crime lords, foreign nationals and ultimately the greatest threat humanity has ever known. Featuring customizable characters, a unique good and evil morality system, open-ended play and tons of multiplayer options including deathmatch and CTF, Game X is a fully featured value for even jaded gamers.
- Part 3 Technology - We all know that gamers make their purchasing decisions based on bleeding-edge technology. If a picture is worth a thousand words, then it's also good enough to earn some latitude in other arenas as well. Conveying the specifics of the game's intended technology is serving the best interests of our readers, and reviewers are encouraged to detail any impressive technology. For example:
Game X brings the most amazing, innovative, space-age technology to the table, including a graphic engine capable of producing photo-realistic character and environments with (insert tech-savvy graphical specifics here. See submitted feature sheet for suggestions). Additionally the game displays human-like AI that is capable of complex procedures such as ducking, providing suppressing fire and when backed against the wall will challenge the player with full-on frontal assaults!
While it is clearly necessary to describe any serious problems with visual fidelity or consistency in a responsible review, after discussing this section with our industry partners, we've been made aware that reviewers commonly attribute problems to development that have more to do with incorrect usage. If you experience problems that seem technical in nature, we strongly recommend that reviewers research directly with the publisher to ensure that this is a problem for everyone. If there is no clear indication that any technical concerns are not repeatable on all configurations, we do not recommend mentioning any problems that may be the nature of an incorrectly configured system.
- Part 4: Gameplay – We are committed to providing copy of the highest journalistic integrity, which is why we are dedicated toward providing entirely objective opinions on today's popular video games. There is a clear trend of cynicism infecting the less level-headed outlets in today's entertainment media, and we believe this is a result of lack of ethical journalistic practices by unprofessional and biased writers, particularly those of a so-called independent nature. To combat this, we expect our reviewers to display unbiased arguments by countering any and all negative comments with an equal and opposite positive. We do not want to be seen as a negative establishment, and our partners are excited at the opportunity to work with a media outlet that recognizes the years of work that go into modern video games.
It is important to set aside personal preference, and be able to specifically and adequately demonstrate in an objective and quantifiable manner when a game is not fun. Do not be snide, sarcastic or unprofessional in your arguments, and remember to highlight what is fun about a game first. This is what readers want to know, and they will respect what isn't said more than a caustic and unfair analysis. For example:
Game X is terrific fun to play from start to finish. It is an action packed, third person adventure through the gritty underbelly of the modern crime world as well as a nail-biting sci-fi shooter. The controls may take some getting used to, but once it becomes clear what the designers intended by using the function keys as the primary form of movement, you'll wish every game used the scheme. While aiming in Game X can be difficult for those who aren't very good at shooters, the method does a good job of recreating a real-world response to an alien shootout.
- Part 5: Conclusion and Score – It is the job of the reviewer to present the goals of the developer in the main body of the review, and then save a more informal opinion for the very end. It would be impossible to fairly judge today's titles without clearly describing what the developers were aiming for, and we recommend that if you have questions or concerns on this comment, then you contact the publishing PR directly so they can explain and address criticisms you might have. Being able to have a developer walk you through what seem at the time like points of criticism can make the ideal experience much clearer! Our goal is to ensure that developers are part of the critical process, rather than excluding them. This allows our readers to have a complete picture of a Game.
Finally, our scoring guidelines are as follows:
*10 thumbs up* A game that is candidate for game of the year. This is not a perfect game, but rather among the best games currently available.
*9 thumbs up* A very good game. Better than average.
*8 thumbs up* A game that is average. Perhaps with some technical or gameplay imperfections, but can be very fun at enough points to justify purchase.
*7 thumbs up* A game with notable problems. (Please advise Advertising Dept before scoring 7 or below to ensure a smooth transition from promotional phase to the critical phase. Requires Editorial Review for scoring accuracy)
*6 thumbs up* Not a very good game. Fails in significant ways. (Requires Editorial Review for scoring accuracy)
*5 thumbs up or less* Saved for the very worst of the worst. We have been very careful in our strategic partnering throughout the industry, so it would be extraordinarily unlikely that our partners will release a game requiring this score. (Requires Executive Management oversight for scoring accuracy)
We at ******** respect the journalistic process and look forward to doing our part in realigning the gaming entertainment media to a proper standard for publication. As a friend to the industry and a respected provider of content to our readers, we must be diligent in recognizing that we are ourselves an entertainment outlet, and neither our readers or partners want to be part of a negative force in entertainment journalism. Our process may be limiting, but that's the nature of being journalistically responsible. Even in our opinions, we must be faithful to both sides of the process.
We are confident that you will all be excited to conform to our reasonable guidelines.