Reviews: How I Rate

I love making reviews, but before I start publishing them here, I have to explain my rating system and why I use it.

For starters, I believe an average movie/game/show/book should be a 5 out of 10, not 6 or 7. We’re so used to “okay” being the norm (and to not examining content we don’t like) that is rare that reviewers use 1-5 in their reviews. To boot, I don’t believe reviews should fall on a linear curve (10% of the movies get a “1,” another 10% get a “2,” etc.). I think it should look like a bell curve. A 9 or 10 should be an oddity; a 1 should be so incredibly once-in-a-decade bad that you have to watch it just for the shock value .

That’s why I use a different(-ish) system. I still rate from 1 to 10, but instead of ballparking my numbers over a set of rigid criteria, then summarizing (or averaging) that into a score, I start with a basic score of 5. Then I add up to 1 point for things I liked and I subtract up to 1 point for things I didn’t like. What I add and subtract will vary from one review to the next since you can’t compare apples and oranges. Sometimes, a movie is all about plot and acting, and the music shoe is irrelevant (think Glengarry Glenn Ross or Twelve Angry Men). You don’t go there for the music, so why bother lowering the score because of standard music? Why review music at all? No one went there expecting John Williams, and in fact a superior music score might even be distracting.  It’s the same for video games: occasionally, you’ll find a game enjoyable to play and watch for its artistic value, even if it’s super easy (ex.: Journey).

So when I write a review, I only add or subtract points based on criteria that matter for that particular movie/game/tv show/book. Then I let the score fall where it may.

So be warned: you’ll see me rave about aspects of a tv show that ended up having a low score, and complain about aspects of an otherwise spectacular video game. This “Jaycee Scale” has become popular among my friends, but also upsets those who expect more traditional scores.


Comments (4)

June 25, 2020 at 5:27 pm

I review a lot of games and movies on Metacritic. 7/10 is a good game with some problems. 8/10 is really good with problems. 9/10 is epic and 10/10 is rare. The only games and movies I give a 10/10 are legendary and have a lot of nostalgia. Sometimes I will give a game a 6/10 and its still great but just has some major problems. I think the rating isn’t as important as the explanation for the rating.

    June 25, 2020 at 5:53 pm

    Everybody rates differently. I’m outlining how I go about it so that once I start publishing reviews, I don’t spend hours explaining why a game that everyone rates very highly (like, for example, Shadow of the Colossus) gets a 2 in my system when everybody raves about how amazing it is. Some people like frustrating controls; I do not. If a game’s 3Cs are fundamentally flawed, no amount of great visual or pretentious storytelling should save it.

    Just sayin’. :P

June 27, 2020 at 2:30 am

If I started my ratings at 5, I would have a disproportionate number of 1s, and some 0s too.

With that said, I loved Ico, replayed it many times; but I did not like Shadow of the Colossus at all. Yes, for that game, 2 seems about right.

I”ll be looking forward to reading your reviews.

    June 27, 2020 at 5:48 am

    I’ll give the developer that: they are very consistent and their games have a unique signature. I tried a bit of Ico long ago (didn’t like it), then The Last Guardian a few years ago (hated it with a passion I didn’t know I had). When I tried Shadow some months ago, I didn’t know who the developer was, but at some put it reminded me of how much I had disliked Last Guardian. When I checked the developer, I discovered it was the same for all three. Lesson learned, I deleted Shadow and vowed never to play their pretentious, shitty-controlled games ever again.

    My next/first review will be Final Fantasy VII (remake) from the viewpoint of a huge fan of the original.

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