PSU interview with Video Game Reviews HQ

  • Posted May 20th, 2014 at 09:10 EDT by Dane Smith

PSU: What kind of qualities do you look for in the reviews you choose to spotlight? Let us be frank, a lot of reviews are subjective so how do you grade one subjective review over the other?

VGRHQ: Another good and very relevant question. That's exactly why we've got Our Method.

It's definitely true that subjectivity is part of the review process. It always will be, as all artistic forms of expression are open to interpretation. At the same time, there are certainly objective aspects of any game productions, and to properly analyze those elements requires knowledge and expertise. We always say that while any of us could write a review of the latest music album, it would never be as good - or as accurate - as the review you see in Rolling Stone. We just don't have the same expertise and we accept that.

As for how we select our reviews, we're looking for overall quality, innovative approaches (for instance, one of our first featured reviews was a Minecraft analysis written entirely in verse), and critics who aren't afraid to have a voice. We at VGRHQ can only do so much; if critics in this industry want to be recognized, they have to realize that they're essentially a brand themselves. This means you must establish your own voice, one that will identify you and keep readers coming back for more.

For now, we're really trying to center on excellent writing and structure, just because we want to show the world that such traits actually do exist in video game reviews. We also love unique critics, such as Robert Kingett; we always root for them!

PSU: Being a website that will showcase reviewers for games they did from any system, do you have any fears of being called biased in case you have a run of spotlights for one particular company? Let us say 5 Nintendo reviews in a row as an example. Or do you think the average gamer is above all the fanboyism?

VGRHQ: Yeah, that's going to come with the territory. It's why we really try to bounce around and honor very different sources and reviews on different platforms. For example, in the past week, we chose to honor reviews written for Mario Kart 8 (Wii U), The Amazing Spider-Man 2 (multi), MLB 14: The Show (PS4, PS3, Vita), and Borderlands 2 (Vita). We also did a feature on Sunset Overdrive (Xbox One). We want to cover all major releases for all platforms, with the possible exception of mobile gaming, as we believe (as many analysts do) that critic reviews aren't anywhere near as important in that sphere.

As for whether the average gamer is above fanboyism, that's hard to say. Guess it depends on your definition of "fanboy," but we'd like to think that most gamers out there are mature enough to like what they like, and that's that. We will say this, though-

This is the main reason we're all staying anonymous at VGRHQ. We talked about this for a while and the general consensus was that many people will see it as critics passing judgment on other critics. Then you've got the "who are YOU to make such claims" and all that. It's also why we will never - repeat: never - publish anything about a bad review or a critic we think sucks. This is about honoring those who do a good job and nothing more.

PSU: What are you hoping this site accomplishes in the long run, like one year or five years down the road?

VGRHQ: As we hinted at above, we'd like VGRHQ to mirror governing bodies in other entertainment venues that reward the best and the brightest in those industries. It's long past time that we implement something like this, especially when so many of our journalists are poorly paid and rarely recognized. We asked each other the following question before we started the site: "How often had we seen hateful feedback from the gamers we serve and in contrast, how often have we seen notes of sincere thanks? From our readers or the industry in general?"

The bottom line is that nobody was stepping forward to add legitimacy to the game critic/journalist profession and while it won't happen overnight, we believe endeavors such as ours are positive for the industry we fell in love with decades ago.

PSU: Do you have any special message for the readers?

VGRHQ: One thing to remember is that we have a Staff Picks side and a Community Corner for a reason. We never wanted this site to be only about us picking critics and sources we deem appropriate; we always wanted the gaming community to have a say as well.

That's why we want the community to grow and when it does, we'll ask gamers who they think should be honored for their hard work. So, when we go to put up the Call of Duty: Advanced Warfare honored review at the end of the year, at the same time; we'd throw up a corresponding post asking gamers who THEY think wrote a stellar review. And if a certain source or critic gets enough votes, we'll consider adding them to our Honored Sources list, and we'll even tell that source that yeah, the gamers out there appreciate them.

One of these days, we will have our Roger Ebert of gaming. And when that happens, VGRHQ will be there...not taking a bow and claiming that we had anything to do with it, but merely expressing our appreciation, as we've vowed to do.

Dane Smith is PSU's Reviews Editor, a licensed teacher from St. Thomas University, and has a healthy addiction to Monster energy drinks. Buy his novel, follow him on twitter or check out his his article catalog.
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