For now I want to leave the scope pretty-wide, as there are a lot of angles to this discussion. My own biases clearly have me being interested in how these sites damage art and artists, but there's a lot to talk about in terms of fandom wars, the age old "are numerical scores useful" question, and the dark & ugly side of gaming culture. For now everything is fair game. Thanks!
I've never been a fan of review aggregator sites.
There are many reason for this. A review is not supposed to be about finding a consensus - it is supposed to be about an individual reacting to a creative work and the possible deeper dialogue the stems from a well articulated point of view. Averages can be profoundly misleading (particularly on a site like Rotten Tomatoes.) They can also create strife and conflict where none should exist.
Chief among all of the many reasons I don't like aggregators though is that I find numerical values for artistic endeavors completely anathema to how creative works actually function. It feels very much like a hangover of late-era capitalism. An attempt to assign a specific, concrete value to a thing which has a primarily esoteric value.
There is such a vast range of possible scopes for a project that there can't possibly be a way lumping all of them together and assigning a rigid numerical score can reveal anything useful at all. Some things are shooting to be big stupid fun and nothing more. Others are digging at heady questions and exploring complex issues. Then you have to look at the sheer number of individual threads that go into achieving the object of the creative work. In film, there are individual performances, collective ensemble chemistry, design work from lights to sound to music to costumes and beyond. You've got cinematography and editing doing their thing in tandem with a script - a thing which itself is a complicated beast with a lot happening on the hood. If it is a game instead of film, you're adding graphics, UI, mechanics, player reactivity, and host of additional factors.
All of that said, I understand that people enjoy Metacritic and Rotten Tomatoes as a quick shorthand to see if something is worth spending their time and money on. In many ways though, this makes their shortcomings particularly troubling, and I think a case can be made that they are training us to be less nuanced audience members.
For further context, the idea from this thread has been percolating for awhile, but upon hearing that Jim Sterling's website had suffered a DDOS attack for the simply crime of rating a game a 7/10 instead of a 10/10 I figured I would go ahead and pull the trigger.