Like retro gaming, game reviewing has been around longer than most of us remember. But unlike retro games, reviewing is constantly changing and being manipulated with the times. It’s developed from nerds ranting about their favourite Mario game to nerds getting paid for ranting about their favourite Mario game and has ended up with the internet filled with nerds ranting about their favourite Mario game while wishing they got paid. Statistically, 87% of people reading this have dreamt about being given thousands of pounds per year to play and then pick apart each new game that hits the market (also, statistically 79% of all statistics are made up on the spot but that’s not the point here). However, is game reviewing all fun and games or is there a hidden monster under the bed of joy?
Fear not aspiring assessors as over the next three days, you’ll be provided with a full guide to game reviewing. Then, you can head off on your merry way into the wilderness of the ultra-nerdy. Now sit up straight, lips shut and pay attention. That means you too, Johnny.
Step 1: Getting a Game
The first and most important part of reviewing is of course obtaining the game. People have this misconception that each week, the latest installment of Let’s Run Around for Five Hours will magically appear on their doorstep ready to pop into your console and go. Unfortunately, you’re out there reviewing games, you’re not part of one just yet and unless you live next to Santa Claus, this isn’t possible. Sure, if you’re working for a well known company, they’ll often hand you a game and tell you to go and enjoy yourself, but seeing as you’re reading this, I can safely assume that you’re not and so it’s up to you.
If you’re made of money then this step shouldn’t be too much of a problem, you can always run down to your local GAME (or maybe not) and purchase that fine game that may in fact turn into a pile of poop. However, because you’re the first person to play this game out of your friends, you won’t know it’s a pile of poop and may be throwing away £40 each week on something that no-one wants to buy off you second-hand due to your review that points out the newest, most expensive steaming pile of faeces available.
To a lesser extent (but still so), this may also happen if you rent games, which poses a new problem of finding somewhere to rent from. Sure, there may be a shop nearby but who’s to say that they’ll have every new game the day it’s released, ready for you to get your grubby hands over? The likelihood is that a few times, it won’t and you’ll be left behind as the hoard of other reviewers sprints off ahead in the review race. Saying that, this option is definitely the best of a bad bunch if you’re just starting out, but be prepared to fork out more money when the rental shop fails to please.
Most people start reviewing when they’re young though, so have little to no money and may have to opt for option three. Be warned though, this is the hardest option of them all and requires you to already have reviews published somewhere and a rather large fan base. Of course, I’m talking about contacting the publishers. Imagine a large company such as Activision, sifting through hundreds of emails per day and seeing one from Joe.Bloggs@gmail.com requesting a game. How likely do you think they are to respond with “Sure, we’ll send you a copy free of charge straight away!”? Not very is the answer. Unless you’re as popular as IGN or Gamespot, don’t expect to get free games each week and even if you do contact publishers, indie companies are much more likely to give you their games as they need the publicity and know full well what it’s like starting at the bottom of the heap, much like you are now.
Don’t think you can get by not playing the games either. Many people have this misconception that if they watch some videos, they’ll be able to give a detailed account of each aspect of the game, when in fact, that’s as easy as peeling a banana with your little toe; sure you might get somewhere but it won’t be great and it’ll smell awfully fishy when you’re done.
Got your game? Good, then tomorrow we’ll carry on by discussing the ‘fun’ part: playing the game. Be sure to attend or you’ll all be getting Fs. I’m serious.
-Mrs B (A.K.A Sian)