- Checking out our referrers today, I see that my recent chat with Joel Parker about Wii review scores has sparked a lengthy rebuttal from Newsweek's dreadlocked dissenter N'Gai Croal over at his Level Up blog.

While I think the Croal-meister has a number of notable points, I'd like to take a few paragraphs to rhetorically duff him up a bit - but mainly point out that we're talking about the same problem from different angles.

Really, this is the crux of N'Gai's argument against the original editorial, as mentioned in his comments:"My beef is that the Metacritic average shouldn't be seen as a proxy for the review text. Some qualitative analysis is called for before they can indict core game reviewers for missing the boat."

Well, yes and no. Firstly, as can be seen on this Mario Party 8 for Wii Metacritic page, there _is_ a summary of the review text on the page itself, and you can click through and read any of the reviews pretty simply. So that gives a good idea of the spread and basic tenor of the reviews.

And I think the claim that core game reviewers are 'missing the boat' is not the point we were going for. We were saying, rather, that for the first time that we can recall in the history of video game reviewing, those playing games no longer agree with those reviewing them - there's a disconnect there which has not previously existed.

One of the things that I deeply appreciated in game criticism in the past was that the majority of game players agreed with the majority of game reviewers. With the advent of the Wii and the rise of casual games, this is no longer true for a _majority_ of the DS and Wii game playing audience. Those reviewing Wii and DS games are fundamentally out of step with those buying the same games.

This isn't - again - necessarily a bad thing, but most game reviews are written not from an art or aesthetic/personal viewpoint, but from a 'would you like this game?' viewpoint. So this further confuses matters - when a review is structured like an MP3 player or printer review (as many game reviews are), as opposed to a personalized discussion of the stylistic merits, you expect things to hew a little more objectively.

To be clear, I'm actually a big fan of the more free-ranging, subjective game reviews - whether they be from ActionButton, 1UP's Jeremy Parish, the Onion AV Club, or The New Gamer, a few of the outlets I think do it very well.

But all game reviews need to evolve - perhaps further than N'Gai realizes - before they can break free of the chains of perceived objectiveness (with attendant score-based preconceptions) and embrace the personal, the lyrical, and the enjoyable. And in the mean time... how do I pick Wii games for my mom?