By Nelson Schneider - 03/25/11 at 10:21 PM CT
Welcome to MeltedJoystick, the latest member of the ImaJAN network! Those of you who are already members of FilmCrave will probably find the site to be a pretty familiar place. However, you may be confused and frightened by the presence of a fifth star in the MeltedJoystick rating system. Unlike movies, which are constrained by 4-star traditions dictated by the increasingly out-of-touch MPAA and newspaper critics, videogames, as a New Media, are free to use whatever rating system their reviewers desire. At MeltedJoystick, we are using what we feel to be the simplest and most accurate rating system: five stars available, each divisible in half, providing a 10-point system.
That scary fifth star doesn’t go on either end of the 4-star system used by FilmCrave and other movie reviewers, but instead sits right in the middle. It is actually the THIRD star in the system and it serves an absolutely vital function: it provides a pivot point upon which Good and Evil can wage their eternal back-and-forth. That center star is the Fulcrum of Mediocrity.
The two stars on the far right are where ‘Good’ games lie, while the two on the far left cover ‘Bad’ games (no, there is no political commentary surreptitiously hidden in that statement). The two Good stars correspond to numerical scores of 7, 8, 9, and 10 out of 10 while the two Bad stars correspond to scores of 1, 2, 3, and 4 out of 10, leaving the central star of Mediocrity with scores of 5 and 6 out of 10. Simply dividing by two gives the final star value.
Knowing how this rating system works is very important, as I see plenty of gamers cry and whine when their favorite new game ‘only’ gets a 7 (or 3.5 stars) from reviewers. What these gamers do not realize is that A 7 IS A GOOD SCORE! If every new game received a 9 or 10 (4.5 or 5 stars), nobody would be able to differentiate the good from the less good from the mediocre to the garbage.
So before you jump in and start giving every game you even remotely enjoyed 5 stars or every game you just weren’t that hyped about 0.5 stars, think about balance. Only your absolute favorite games deserve that perfect score. Likewise, only the most broken, unplayable torture deserves a half-star.
Remember too that the central star can represent your leaning on a mediocre game. If it’s mediocre but has a lot of great ideas that were poorly executed (and you WANT to like it but can’t), 3 stars is the way to go. If it’s mediocre but you just don’t feel strongly enough about it that you hate it, it’s probably a 2.5.
The most important aspect of ratings, however, is to always express your own opinions. Don’t bow to peer pressure, and most definitely DON’T feel obliged to stick to the status quo. If you think “Final Fantasy 7” was a joke, just ignore the death threats and give it a 1.