Objectivity and subjectivity in game reviews


Well-Known Member
Mar 25, 2016
I could say that objectively, Sonic Adventure 1 is an average/bad game, but that subjectively, I love it.

I personally find that people's reviews, including mine, are based on their objective view. My question is, what would the world be like if it was based on their subjective view?

Objective view is looking at the flaws, mechanics of the game, etc.

Subjective is just a measurement of your love of the game. That's about it.

Maybe I'm overthinking it and others don't have split views like me, but subjectively, I find most 3D Sonic games better than say, Mario Maker, objectively, the reverse is definitely true. So while I would pick Sonic Adventure 1 over Mario Maker, I wouldn't review it higher.
For me, a lot also depends on the expectations of a game a person has aswell. If you've been looking forward to a game and when you play it, it's not as good as you thought, it's sometimes hard to admit it.
True. My expectations were pretty high for Star Fox Guard, and I was disappointed.
I think you also have to look at from a stand point where if what it's trying to accomplish actually works or not. For example, Call of Duty achieves what it aims for even if it's not that rich.
The problem occurs when reviews ultimately become an objective fact based on someone's subjective opinion. Honestly, that's what they typically are. People tend to treat their opinions as objective, and no one likes to be objectively wrong. You'll notice that when someone is grilled on their thoughts on something, the common defense is "well, it's just my opinion", despite them previously treating it as a fact.

There's also the matter of taste, which you lightly touched on. Person A might like real time combat, while person B likes turn based. A would find RPG's slow and boring, where B would call them methodical. B might think fast action games are disorienting or brainless, while A thinks they're exhilarating. Subjectively, they are both fine in their opinions, but before A can say an RPG is actually bad, they need to define what is bad about it, or B will write them off.

The best way to tell if something is objectively bad is to ask some major questions:
-Does the system or mechanic even work? generally an easy question, but the first step)
-Have other games done the same thing or something similar? If so, how do the two compare?
-Could the mechanic have been simplified without sacrificing what you are able to do with it? (either by what inputs are required of the player, or back end calculations)
-Is the implementation method necessary for gameplay? (a tough one to answer, as you have to consider all the moving parts)
-How would changing it affect other systems?

These were the questions I asked myself when looking at Star Fox Zero. If I were most people, I would have stopped writing that bit I did on Star Fox at "I don't like the controls". The common counterargument to that is "well I enjoyed it, therefore it can't be bad and you just need to get better". Both sides argue that it is good or bad simply on "enjoyment", and not on what they think is actually good or bad about it mechanically. The pro-SF0 side has the natural high ground of, "move one direction, shoot in another", and since there is no clear counterargument to that idea, the anti side appears to be subjective, while the pro side is seen as objective. This reinforces the pro side heavily, despite neither side talking about the details. Constantly seeing this argument is what prompted me to drill down and go in-depth about what bugged me, so as to avoid the subjectivity problem.

TL;DR - People treat opinions as fact, even when they say it's their opinion. Hope that all made sense.
Opinions are something that everyone's entitled to, but that of course doesn't make them a fact. An opinion is just that, one person's perspective on something but these days it seems that when a magazine gives its opinon on a game, all of a sudden people treat it as if it's gospel instead of trying it themselves and forming their own judgment.

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