John Walker's Electronic House

That’s Just Your Opinion

by on Jan.16, 2006, under Rants

Edit: I would like to stress that I enjoy being proven wrong, and will willingly back down if out-argued, or concede confusion if unbalanced from my position. I say this because so often it’s assumed that someone’s stating something means that they will refuse to listen or change their mind. Also, this is not a cop-out for the below. These are my thoughts that I’ve had and are what I think at the time of writing. I currently think I’m right.

I appear to have forgotten how to go to sleep, and so after two hours of lying still, wide awake, I got up and flicked around the internet, and noticed that Kieron had finally posted a response to the idiotic ramblings of some failed writer on Slashdot about how he doesn’t like any videogames journalism.

Which has broken the damn for the thought I’ve been throwing against the wall for the last few weeks, biting my tongue on, but now tired and pissed off, will share.

For those who haven’t followed the current eruption of the idiot volcano, it has become the terribly in thing to respond to any piece of videogames writing with, “well, it’s just one person’s opinion, and opinions are subjective…” Now, of course this is a thick seam of nonsense that constantly bubbles around under the ground, but it’s recently that I’ve noticed the caps blowing of the mountains as this lazy non-thought is spouted on every forum, blog and comments thread.

There are two key responses. One most people will refuse to stop and consider for even a second, the other I hope will receive some, “Ooh – yes”s.

1) We’ve killed the expert

People bandy around the phrase ‘post-modernism’ with little thought. I had entire modules of my degree with the phrase in their title, despite no one giving a useful description of what was so ‘post’ about it. In fact, in a splendid display of hyper-appropriateness, it is the very nature of what people mislabel ‘post-modernism’ that leads to its mislabelling as such. It has to be something New. Post-enlightenment, Modernism required that we search for the New; replace the previous and out-moded religious and authoritarian regimes with the emerging authority of science and the specific expert. Beliefs and opinions were no longer subjected upon you by a self-enforced higher power (of whatever form), but by seeking the thoughts of the educated and learned expert on the matter. Glorious times. But the value of the Expert was not the inherent nature of Modernism. Modernism was merely the drive to replace the current with the New. And so that which is identified as ‘post’ Modernism is merely Modernism continuing its usual pattern. We’re replacing the current with the New, and this time the current is the Expert, and the replacement the Individual.

It is manifested in multifarious forms, all-encompassing and suffocatingly prevalent. Take medicine. Modernism began by giving us the trained and qualified Doctor, from whom we sought medical attention for our ailments. But now, as Modernism recycles itself (let’s call it Mod2, although I’m sure one could identify many other previous stages), the Doctor is pushed into a small corner, his opinion merely that, and the opinions of many to be taken on board before the Individual decides which is ‘right for them’. This is how we now have flim-flam and con-artistry like homeopathy – whereby an ailment is treated by giving a substance that causes the ailment in a healthy person, diluted down until it doesn’t exist any more, to the ill person, in return for vast sums of money (these substances used to be known as ‘snake oil’) – accepted as equals. Yes, we’ll seek the advice of the specialist who has trained for eight years to become a doctor then spent twenty years in his specialty, but we’ll also ask the person who wants to sell us water, the lady who will wave magnets near us, and the man who pokes our toes. So what if none of these ‘alternative medicines’ have never been shown to have any demonstrable effect above placebo in any tests ever – that’s testing by OLD Science methods. We’ll decide which one we think is right.

This is one example amongst a million, and also within that collection appears games criticism. Oh yes, that’s right – I’m about to argue that I’m an Expert. Quickly, reject his statements, where’s his modesty?! How dare he! Please note: this is the reaction of Mod2 in action. The action of one person claiming Expert is now understood as a threatening attempt to rob the Individual. If I am Expert over you, then your opinion, you the Individual, are challenged for your Holy Status. Another’s Expert status is an affront on the Individualist totalitarianism. And this is the first reason the ridiculous argument is dragged out on every occasion.

My claim is hardly immense. I suggest Expertise in whether adventure games are good or bad. It can hardly be considered boasting. Having played almost every available adventure game of the last fifteen years, I claim training and knowledge, and from this, some authority on the subject. Others are more Expert than me on the subject. I look up to them, and seek to learn more from them. Richard Cobbett springs immediately to mind.

But this notion remains intolerable – it is to suggest that the Individual should listen to the Expert, and we’ve killed the Expert.

2) We won’t admit we like something bad

I hope this gets a more positive reaction. It follows on from the previous example, but to prevent the tiresome suggestion that this is self-aggrandisation, I shall leap genres and Experts.

I consider Tim Stone to be an Expert on strategy games. I don’t know strategy games at all well, and don’t especially enjoy playing them. Were I to play a strategy game that is widely considered amongst strategy game Experts to be extremely good, I would be very unlikely to get pleasure from playing it. Were I to apply the logic of stage 1, I should be able to categorically state, without fear of the possibility of contradiction, that this game is a bad game. It fails to entertain me, and so it is not good. Nevermind Tim’s extensive knowledge, experience and understanding of the genre, and his educated ability to identify its strengths and performance – I disagree, and I, the Individual, cannot be questioned or challenged. But that is still stage 1.

Stage 2 becomes relevant when I find a strategy game that is widely considered by Experts in the matter to be very poor, but I enjoy it very much. Stage 2 suggests that they are wrong to think it a bad strategy game, because I, the Individual, am getting pleasure from playing it, and therefore it must be good.

What I am missing is that it’s very possible that I might be getting pleasure from playing a bad game.

This, also, is intolerable to the Individual. It threatens the totalitarian regime. It suggests that faults exist. It at once accepts that the Individual’s response to something might not dictate its inherent quality, and suggests that the Expert’s alternative response might be right.

I hope that an example of this is more immediately palatable via pop music. Take The Corrs’, ‘Play It On The Radio’. Someone might well enjoy this song. They might associate it with happy memories, or simply derive pleasure from the painstakingly simplistic structure. It’s immediately accessible, it’s instantly possible to sing along with, and it’s so astonishingly cynically titled that it will receive endless, eternal radio play. Thus it will gain familiarity, popularity, and enjoyment. But does that make it a good piece of music? Does it merit 95% when measured against all music? Could you put it alongside Bach’s St. Matthew Passion and say, “these two are equally as good”?

I would hope all ridiculous protests would be dropped this far in, and one could say, “No, it’s not as good. But I still really enjoy it and want to listen to it.”

And good. That is very good. In this particular case, with this particular song, it makes me worry for you, and the entire music industry, but good. Because we’ve reached a point where we can accept that even though one might rather drill their ears than listen to Mozart, and like nothing better than dancing around our room singing the voice-synthesised harmonies of Westlife into our hairbrushes, they might still recognise that Mozart is a better composer than Ronan Keating.

So is it then not equally possible that while I might enjoy playing this woeful RTS, and yet get nothing out of a game of Rome: Total War, it’s perfectly acceptable for me to recognise that one is not better than the other simply because of my visceral response, and that I should trust the Expert on this matter over my own ill-informed and under-educated reaction?


People are reacting angrily to every review they read, and indeed the simple existence of reviews, because they are now perceived as threats against their Individualist Holiness.

For one last time, in case it has not been clear, this is not a piece to say: ‘Everyone should listen to me because I’m an Expert and they’re idiots who don’t know anything’. This is a piece to say: Recognise those who are Experts, and accept that their Expertise is not a threat to you, that your Individualism is your lonely death, and that enjoying something bad does not make it good.

So we can get rid of comment threads on reviews now, can’t we?

58 Comments for this entry

  • Tim E

    Anna was telling me about the way relativism has infected her classroom. If the kids are talking about evil dictator #9, or crazed axe murderer #12, they’ll refuse to condemn the subject, instead saying ‘well, it’s wrong to judge them, because we don’t understand their culture/upbringing.”

    It makes me feel kind of ill.

  • Kieron Gillen

    I always worry about people getting confused between condemning someone and condemning their actions. It’s always easy to be morally relativistic when it isn’t your head being axed.


  • Kieron Gillen

    Actually, John, let’s start this debate rolling, since I think you’re wrong on a couple of very key points.

    Cobbett is, by your admission, more expert than you in Adventure games. Cobett doesn’t like Grim Fandango. Is Grim Fandango now merely a bad game which you happen to enjoy?


  • always_black

    This argument is broken. At the risk of leaping to the defence of the Individual…

    Part One: Expertise.

    I was right with you up to the doctor part, all those years of learning empirical and dare I say it, factual information about the processes of diseases and the drugs that start the processes to combat them, that is most certainly expert knowledge. These are things you can observe under a microscope. When one particular microbe is brought low by a particular chemical, chances are that it will always be, something you can show to your colleagues and they will agree that yes, that particular chemical always kills that particular microbe and that’s a jolly useful thing to know. This is not the world of opinion.

    Are you honestly arguing that the same is true of the Doctors of Gameology? That because you’ve been subjected to every game ever invented that somehow imbues you with the ability to sort the Empirically Good from the Empirically Bad?

    You’d be right if you were talking about plainly observable facts. Game X has Pixel Shader 3 technology, 96k audio, control responses in the order of blah miliseconds so is therefore Better than Game A, namely Pac Man, which has 1-bit graphics and goes beep, but you know very well that comparisons like that are next to useless when it comes down to the subjective experience of actually playing the game.

    Having played every game ever invented you /might/ be able to arrange them in some kind of relative order of Goodness, but that is utterly and entirely down to your own entirely subjective opinion. You’d be an ‘expert’ in the sense that you could probably name (empirically) more games in your list than the next guy, but there’s nothing in that capability that I can fathom that makes your list any more valid than anyone elses. It’s a call to authority where there’s none to be had and more than a little sleight of hand. You’re asking people to make an assumption, that playing more games bestows an objective insight, without giving any scientific evidence to back it up. Why doesn’t it just change the shape of your opinion in some parallel but no-more-valid manner? Bad argument.

    Part Two: Loving the Bad

    The reason people don’t admit to liking bad games is that if they like it, then it isn’t bad. Almost blasphemous I know, but true nonetheless. The problem arises when the game they don’t consider to be bad is deemed such by others, such is the nature of subjective experience.

    As a critic, you can delude yourself that you are the keeper of the One Truth, that your (“don’t say it! don’t say it!”) subjective opinion is sanctified by some kind of higher (but never satisfactorily defined) authority and then decry, admonish and belittle all those who oppose it. If you’re lucky, you might find a few other critics who are also looking for safety in numbers and between you you’ll reach a tentative consensus to present as objective truth. But it will still be a house of cards founded on nothing much and certainly not anything scientific.

    Mozart is ‘better’ than The Corrs, why? Because some other bunch of critics agree with each other that their opinion is worth more than yours, that’s all. It’s about conjuring authority out of thin air, banking as much credibility as you can garner from that and then spending it to create validity for your next subjective opinion presented as objective truth.

    That’s the grumpy way to look at it.

    On the other hand, a critic can be someone who openly presents a subjective opinion, alongside observable facts, without subscribing to the notion that their word is the ‘expert’ opinion to be cherished above the noise of the rabble. If (s)he can do this in an entertaining manner (which does not exclusively mean ‘funny’) and communicate some idea of the experience of the game and the elements that contribute to it, well, that’s a critic I will trust to base my buying decisions on.

    And that can mean I’ll buy a game (s)he panned, because a review was written such that I can understand why that individual disliked a certain aspect and I can decided for myself how I might feel about that same issue.

    That’s the core of the issue, not objectivity versus subjectivity, trust. I trust a critic who is honest about their subjectivity.

  • Frosty840

    This may have been the most important thing I’ve ever read.
    That’s probably a sad statement about the sort of crap I read generally, but it remains true.

    I was going to comment on why people might be complaining about gaming journalism, but I realised that I’d have to read the Slashdot drivel in order to make an informed comment and decided to do neither. Says some more about what I read, I suppose…

  • Phil Wills

    One of the most frequent causes of arguments between myself and my girlfriend is over whether something can be rubbish, or just rubbish in my opinion.

    I think there are a number of subtleties though. As Kieron suggets, there are often disagreements between experts in any given field. Even when talking about some specific aspect, rather than an entire entity, people who all know about a subject can vehemently disagree.

    I also do think it gets much more difficult to reach a definitive value assessment in a creative field.

    Also what about something like WoW, which has been widely praised by many who have much more knowledge of MMORPGs than me, which I kind of enjoy in a masochistic way and have played far too much, but believe is fundamentally rubbish?

  • Tim R

    Good piece John. I agree! Experts are often the most likely to demonstrate humility, too. Like Socrates, they can be more aware of what they don’t know, and more willing to give credit where it is due, an opposite reaction to the individualist, who is nontheless attracted increasingly to read the reviews of the experts he denounces in the same way as he might keep testing an aching tooth with his tongue – because it hurts.

  • admin

    Kieron – it’s equally possible that the Expert may not enjoy something that they recognise is good. I don’t know Richard’s thoughts on Grim Fandango, but if he were to hate playing it, I would also hope that he recognises that it’s a competent and well constructed adventure game.

    Interestingly, Grim Fandango isn’t a helpful example, as it’s not the best adventure game of all time as so many quickly label it. It’s certainly the deepest story in any of Schafer’s games, but it’s technically frustrating, and does not contain the magnificent puzzles of DOTT. It has been heavily romanticised, and I dare say eulogised by a large number of people who haven’t actually played it. Like Revolver, it’s the obligatory game to mention, but not necessarily the greatest of all time.

    So I think my point still stands. Were Richard to hate playing Day of the Tentacle, I would assume he would immediately recognise how good a game it is, but acknowledge that he does not derive enjoyment from it. I have a similar position with Civilisation, which bores my eyeballs out of my head, but I would never be so stupid or ridiculous as to denounce its quality based on this.

  • admin

    AB – you’ve just written “No it’s not” over a lot of paragraphs.

    The very point of my piece is to oppose the position you take. Just replying with that position I’m arguing against doesn’t address my points. Your logic is entirely smothered by the Individualist Indoctrination that states: “What I think is automatically Truth, and that which I think about becomes imbued with my Truth.” It’s nonsense, but I cannot argue with you as your position is entirely impenetrable. You can merely reply, “Well, that’s what you think, and I think something opposite, and we’re both right.” And I bang my head against the wall.

    You are arguing for the Holiness of the Individual and the death of the Expert. You deign it possible to recognise a disease, but not to recognise quality. I’m arguing against that. I don’t think just saying so is a counter to my argument.

    I have a useful measure of when the indoctrination is complete – it’s the point where someone says, “Who says the Corrs aren’t better than Mozart?”

  • JohnMid

    Re Experts and humilty- you should talk to (some) hospital consultants, especially surgeons, some time. Humiltity indeed.

  • admin

    Also, AB

    “On the other hand, a critic can be someone who openly presents a subjective opinion, alongside observable facts, without subscribing to the notion that their word is the ‘expert’ opinion to be cherished above the noise of the rabble.”

    I went to such pains to prevent this response from being applicable. I’m cross that you’ve gone for it when I made it so clear that it wasn’t about self-aggrandisation.

  • Richard Cobbett

    Cobbett is, by your admission, more expert than you in Adventure games. Cobett doesn’t like Grim Fandango. Is Grim Fandango now merely a bad game which you happen to enjoy?

    To clarify: I like lots of Grim Fandango – Rubacava in particular is a superb piece of design, the setting is wonderful, the setting terrific, the writing is brilliant throughout, and the characters are great. All that. What I don’t think is that it’s perfect, or the best adventure game ever, or utterly immersive, which is pretty much what you’re expected to think these days – a lot of the elements got in my way, from the filler areas, to the interface, to the highly-constrained pathing of much of it all, to the story really not making a lot of sense if you think about the details. I think a lot of it is over-rated, but over-rated doesn’t mean bad, just…well…over-rated. When the collective view is that a game is damn near perfect, there’s a pretty good chance that’s going to be the case no matter how good it is.

    The important difference between the two is that we’ve never really spoken about it as ‘Is Grim Fandango a good game?’, but rather ‘Is Grim Fandango the best adventure game ever?’, usually around Top 50 time. My answer to that one is no, because for all its charms, I don’t think it is – and the ensuing discussion is obviously going to focus on the negative side of things because by definition, I’m presenting the case for the prosecution in that instance, and the good stuff is going without saying because it’s the stuff we all know and agree on. The fact that such conversation usually happens in a pub just means that opinions sound louder and more vehement, especially when the standard counterargument is “Yes, but you’re wrong! More ale, barkeep!”

    Conversely, were we starting out as the skeleton from the chicken shop in Curse of Monkey Island – a cry of ‘Tell me about Grim Fandango!’, we’d be straight into the atmosphere, the writing, and all the other stuff that makes it such a good game – and as a review, it’s going to get a good write-up, just as Psychonauts ended up with a glowing score despite its shonky platform controls and appalling final levels.

  • Kieron Gillen

    John: You can’t have it both ways. Either someone’s expertness is final authority and there’s a chain of being of people who know more to who know less and can over-rule each other, or it isn’t.

    Cobbett doesn’t recognise Grim Fandango as being a particularly good adventure game – talk to him about it, and he’ll tell you himself. Hell, Richard – as an expert – is famously volatile for attacking things others has over-rated and arguing his own critical corner. I don’t recognise Metal Gear Solid 2 as a good game, full stop, and I’ll bring my arguments against it. Stuart has played more videogames than any of us, and will dismiss most of the stuff the pair of us like. Who’s the Head Expert – Stuart or me or Richard or you? As, according to your theory, someone has to be in charge and set The Rules Of What Is Good.

    Critical theory isn’t lke empirical science in any way. It’s about creating a theory to support your position, based upon your analysis. In fact, the cult of being an expert is absolutely antithetical to real critical discussion, which is based around discourse between opposing positions and competing insights. Because criticism and schools of thoughts on games (and anything!) has to be alive, in order to actually get anywhere near a truth. Criticism is about discourse. What matters is your argument, whether it’s an interesting argument and what it says about the game – not whether it’s right. Because the second you step away from the basic facts – Does the joystick work? How many colours on screen? – you’re just building fortresses in the clouds.

    Whcih is great, and the entire point.

    And in the core things, I’ll agree with AB.

    People can have better opinions than each other in matters of art, more carefully constructed, more insightful, more worth listening to. But having a better opinion doesn’t make it more right.


  • Kieron Gillen

    Sorry Richard for misrepresenting you. From the way you’ve gone on about Grim when we’ve talked, I honestly didn’t think you liked it at all.


  • always_black

    Well, it’s pretty self-evident that everyone has a subjective opinion of some description. As a starting point it’s a pretty safe bet.

    What you haven’t been able to show is why a critic’s subjective opinion of ‘quality’ is worth more than anyone elses. I think you said it’s because they play a lot of games and that’s a lot like a doctor going to medical school for 8 years to learn medicine.

    You haven’t really explained why they are one and the same thing, instead of making them an ‘expert’ in just playing games from getting lots of practice, for example.

    Then in the second part, you’ve just said that everyone should shut up and defer to the ‘experts’ because they’ve played a lot of games.

    Can you explain the mechanism by which playing a lot of games suddenly results in unassailable and incontravertible authority?

    I see how learning which drugs are most effective against which diseases could come from studying the causes and effects in textbooks and in a petri dish. Those are results that are observable and repeatable.

    I can’t quite grasp how witnessing changes in videogames through the years imparts the same kind of concrete proofs.

  • always_black

    “I went to such pains to prevent this response from being applicable.”

    Of course it’s applicable. The very second you rely on “I just know better than you do” without being able to back that up with something inarguable you’re a step away from “because I’m cleverer or better looking or I’m a big fat celebrity” which has absolutely no currency in garnering the trust of a readership.


  • admin

    I think I’ll have to back down a little, or at least reorganise. Certainly someone’s opinion about a game is not going to determine someone else’s enjoyment of it.

    If I can retract and take my move again, I’d say that the Expert is better able to state whether a game works well or not. Take Bubble Bobble Revolution – it’s a horrible game, it barely works, it’s technically shambolic, it’s butt-ugly, and it’s lacking the majority of features that one seeks in such a game. The Expert is better able to recognise all these things by having played many games. If BBR were the first platform game you had ever played, you would not have the frame of reference necessary to recognise its successes and failures. That the game was also no fun whatsoever is also important for me to report, but it cannot determine the fun extractable for another. Indeed, one comment on the EG review states very angrily that his girlfriend is enjoying playing it (peculiar displacement) and therefore my review is entirely wrong. I presume he’s also the twit who gave it 10/10 on the reader ratings.

    This is because this person marks entirely on their subjective experience, and lacks the Expertise to recognise the game’s innumerous failings. They also fail to recognise that they, or their “girlfriend”, might be enjoying a very badly made game.

    The red herring in this debate is to get hot and flustered because someone is claiming a position of authority on a matter. This is not the same as declaring everyone else a lower being. As I went to great lengths to point out, it’s likely a reader could be a far greater authority than the writer. I would much rather hear Steve Williams’ opinion of a new driving game, than I would someone’s gran playing a game for the first time. That is because he is an authority on the subject and she may well not be. It’s daft to pretend this isn’t the case out of a pathalogical need to have everyone be equal in all ways at everything.

  • always_black

    Scores are shit.

    The thing is, if you wrote a hilariously entertaining review of Civ, detailing in excruciating detail about how much it bored you to tears for reasons x, y, z, I consider myself entirely capable of laughing my tits off at your writing (as I frequently do) while AT THE SAME TIME recognising that x,y and indeed z is precisely why I would love that game. You could give it a 4% and I would still run down to the shops and buy it.

    That’s why being an ‘expert’ in subjective quality is of no use to me, it won’t help me decide what to buy and what’s more, if I once saw you seriously suggest that in a review, I’d start wondering about the person I’m listening to and whether or not they were My Kind of Reviewer.

    Games critics are hairdressers, not doctors.

  • Richard Cobbett

    What you haven’t been able to show is why a critic’s subjective opinion of ‘quality’ is worth more than anyone elses. I think you said it’s because they play a lot of games and that’s a lot like a doctor going to medical school for 8 years to learn medicine.

    I agree that a critic’s argument is inherently subjective, but there are benefits to experience. If we take the example of a strategy game, we immediately get a whole range of rather more specific elements to consider, including unit balance, the structure of the economy, the number of options available to you and the depth of the game environment, all of which play a part in forming a more objective review.

    Likewise, the only way to tell if a flight simulator is realistic – and there’s no scientific measurement of realism either – is to have the experience to make that judgement call. If you say that Crimson Skies is realistic, you’re just plain wrong. Dealing with Flight Unlimited, or Flight Simulator, or whatever else, is a whole other story. I’m in no position to tell you if all the simulated air particles bouncing around make it realistic – all I can say is that it’s hard to control, so yeah, probably.

    (Empire Earth 2 springs to mind here, with most of the quality coming from the tweaks and additions to the Age of Empires format, which you’re not going to notice if you don’t have a deep enough understanding of the genre and thus know how it stands out and what the not-particularly-exciting-on-their-own alterations mean in a critical sense. Irrelevant in the raw ‘is it fun?’ sense, of course, but important when addressing an audience that’s trying to decide whether or not to buy it, and wants that comparison between titles)

  • Richard Cobbett

    (Of course, conversely, a critic can also find themselves slamming a game like Crimson Skies for not being realistic, or Empire Earth for not following The Template. It works both ways)

  • always_black

    Well yes, there is blurring at the edges, but I was answering John’s post at the macro level it was pitched at.

    Similarly, playing every game ever made would probably make you an expert in the /history/ of games and other such things that are based on empiricism, but knowing whether or not Crimson Skies flight model is accurate or not isn’t the major qualification for determining it’s scientifically measurable funosity. Is CS universally betterer than Flight Unlimited? In the absence of The Phrase That Must Not Be Spoken, I’ll settle for a witty account of how much fun you personally got out of it and why.

  • Rossignol

    You’re geting mixed up between relativism and individualism. The elevation of the expert is core to modernism, yes, but that’s also key to individualism – making the opinion of lone people more important through personal expertise than the widely held beliefs of the masses..

    Anyway, I think the point you’re trying to make is that your appreciation of a form of art changes depending on your education. All this means is that experts are more skilled at describing their subjects than non-experts. Really it’s their job to provide as covincing a description as possible, so as to encourage those who disagree to change their own descriptions of something, or to allow those with no opinion to attempt to form one. They cannot present absolute truths, just worthwhile alternatives to the ideas held by others.

    Experts are there to allow people to get a handle on things, but they frequently have such differing opinions from the people they talk to that the alternative they offer is not tenable to the reader. Life is always like that, and recognising that is important to dealing with people’s fumbled attempts fo use relativism against you.

    This is what we face when writing for grumbling comments trolls – we can’t demand they respect us, just hope that in time our descriptions of these things become the more popular mode of thought.

  • SuperNashwan

    I think it’s possible to claim some expertise with games in terms of understanding the mechanics by which enjoyment, frustration, addiction etc arise. What’s far more tricky is conveying that in a way that allows the reader to interpret that based on their own preferences. The degree of complexity in people’s reactions to game mechanics, and the general inadequacy of words to succintly describe such, makes the vast majority of reviews completely worthless for the purpose of conveying a game’s quality, as far as I’m concerned.
    Scoring a game on an absolute scale is mad; the worth of a game to an individual is what that person gets out of it, and I don’t believe even the most educated guess for a single person could be accurate enough, let alone when you have a readership of tens of thousands. It’s probably acceptable writing a score you believe appropriate to the majority of people in a printed magazine, but somewhere like Eurogamer democratises the process in providing personal contact between readers, other readers and reviewers. FWIW, I think that’s a good thing, if people would just intelligently justify their opinions…

  • JoeVOD

    John, I see the point you are making, and I agree with it. It seems to be a symptom of modern culture where a person will painstakingly provide a rational arguement for their distaste of something (be it a game, a band, a film. Whatever.), only to have ‘yeah, well, that’s just your opinion’ thrown back without another opinion to juxtapose it to. Any discussion is then instantly diffused in what is essentially an anti-intelectual cheap shot. It is schoolyard criticism at its worst. And it is now available to all via the wonder of the free internet, where any fool can broadcast their opinion to whoever cares to listen (and more often, whoever is coersed to listen).

    Perhaps then, it is not so much relativism that is ruining criticism, but the easiness with which it is to communicate criticism to a wider audience. I asume that everyone that has posted before me can remember reading gaming magazines before the internet was readily available. The only way for most of us to criticise a game (or a reviewer) for everyone to see was to get your letter posted in a magazine. While not a professional writer, your comments were still under editorial control, so you better be able to comment smartly, lest you be ignored (or even worse, subjected to the ridicule of the editorial staff). But times aren’t like that anymore. Any two-bob arse with a two-bob opinion can slop it across the internet, with no talent or control. And yes, that includes the ‘opinion’ mob. Unfortunately, these kids aren’t going to go away anytime soon; so rather than sulkily wax intelectual about it, you should adapt to the situation and accept that your perch isn’t so lofty that you won’t get hit by the odd rotten egg now and again. Infuriating as it may be for you, you are simply going to have to accept the fact that games critics are no longer infallable to everyone other than their peers.

  • David

    Hmm… I’m going to try and formulate some kind of response.

    The way I see it is this: if I, personally, enjoy a game on whatever level, then to me and in my opinion alone it is a ‘good’ game. I’d argue that the game’s quality is somewhat intangible because its flaws are only going to pose a problem to different people.

    To choose a lazy and oft-used example, I love Deus Ex to pieces. It provides the best all-round gaming experience I’ve ever witnessed. It’s annoyingly difficult to pinpoint *why* exactly I love it so much but there’s something about the game that draws it together. It’s massively flawed. To pick a easy hole in it, the combat’s frankly laughable compared to any shooter made in the past 8 years. The guns are weak and the enemies tend to employ crouching behind thin air as a method of cover.

    Crucially, however, this and its many other flaws bother me very little. I can see that to an FPS-nut, such one of my friends, it’s awful and the gameplay’s broken to the extent of unplayability.

    So do I condemn his opinion to being wrong?

    Difficult. In some ways I do. I feel that it’s his patience that is the problem. If he just allowed himself to get absorbed into it, he’d find out that it really is a brilliant game. But he won’t. Because that’s the kind of person he is.

    So what makes a good game?

    John, your argument appears (on my limited understanding on quite what you’re saying) to say that although one might not enjoy a game, it’s wrong to suggest that it’s a bad game if it has been critically and objectively assessed. (I might be wrong, of course.)

    My criticism of this way of thinking is that unlike your analogy of doctors, where there are cast-iron facts that are set in stone, gaming surely is an imprecise art, based almost entirely around subjectivity. You could argue that games can be assessed scientifically by breaking them down into their constiuent parts and rating them on their individual parts and perhaps rating how those parts come together.

    However, is that really a viable method of games-appreciation? I can’t think of a perfect example to illustrate the point but I’ll use Max Payne to have a go.

    Max Payne is a distilled action game that nails pretty much everything it aims for. Its faults are perhaps a cliched storyline and a lack of variety but it wants to be a cliche throughout and on the first playthrough, the sheer strength of the cinematic action masks the lack of variety. So all-round brilliant!! 9/10!!

    By comparison, Deus Ex fails in almost everything it aims for (or falls short anyway) but it is consistently judged the better, in terms of this abstract idea of quality anyway.

    So I think I have to argue eventually, that gaming is far more than the scientific process you seem to imply that it is. Games can be judged by their constituent parts but to do this misses the subtlety that truly special games thrive on. Yet to notice this, I really think that there has to be a personal response involved.

    I understand your theory that there are inherently ‘good’ games that you may not enjoy and vice versa but I think this comes more from an understanding that other people have different tastes to your own, rather than an appreciation of a game’s ‘quality’.

    Games – they’re personal. Yes.

    Wafflage – it’s bad. No arguments.

  • Frosty840

    Apparently bizarre aside:
    I buy PC Gamer over PC Zone because I see Zone as a mag for less experienced, less jaded gamers. I value the opinion of the Zone crew as being able to recognise what is basically a good game but believe that they won’t tell me which games I’ve played to death a hundred times over under a different name.
    Similarly, I don’t think that they’re going to give a decent review or score to a brave but slightly broken game whose faults I would forgive for the chance to bring something new into my gaming life.

    That said, I still value their opinion for certain situations and would recommend the mag to someone just getting into the PC games world over PC Gamer, the mag I actually buy.

    Is one set of opinions better than the other?

    Is one set of opinions more relevant to a certain type of gamer (Zone for the newbie, Gamer for the old, grumpy jaded gamer) because of the editorial direction, regardless, perhaps, of certain aspects of the individual reviewers’ attitudes?
    In my opinion (HOORAY!), yes.

    I buy PC Gamer because it weighs the facts in a way I believe is more likely to tell me about the things I want to hear about a game than Zone is. Do I think that that makes the opinions of Gamer writers neccessarily better informed or more “expert” than Zones? No. I simply believe that their views, as expressed in the reviews, are more likely to be similar to mine than the opinions expressed in the Zone reviews.

    While I appreciate that John is hugely more knowledgeable than I am about Adventure games, and think it likely that he could rank a set of Adventure games (even bad Adventure games) according to a set of criteria and that I would agree with that ranking, and indeed that most people would agree with that ranking, I don’t think he is able to say with absolute certainty whether anyone will enjoy a game at all, even though he can probably tell which game someone will enjoy more with a great deal of accuracy.

    A doctor may recommend a treatment for a disease, and the treatment may do nothing.
    John might reccomend a game to someone, and they might not enjoy the game.
    Neither situation makes either less of an Expert in their field, but no amount of protestation on these experts’ parts will make their (incorrect) advice more right.

    I hate to leave off explaining a point until I’ve beaten it to death, butt there’s no reason for you lot to read more of this just because I’m terminally insecure.

  • admin

    “I don’t think he is able to say with absolute certainty whether anyone will enjoy a game at all, even though he can probably tell which game someone will enjoy more with a great deal of accuracy.”

    My poor head.

    Please please please read 2)

  • Frosty840

    I was talking less in terms of “So is it then not equally possible that while I might enjoy playing this woeful RTS, and yet get nothing out of a game of Rome: Total War, it’s perfectly acceptable for me to recognise that one is not better than the other simply because of my visceral response, and that I should trust the Expert on this matter over my own ill-informed and under-educated reaction?” and more in terms of “So is it then not equally possible that while I might enjoy playing Rise of Nations, and yet get nothing out of a game of Rome: Total War, it’s perfectly acceptable for me to recognise that one is not better than the other simply because of my visceral response, and that I should trust the Expert on this matter over my own ill-informed and under-educated reaction?”

    Doctors don’t rate chemotherapy in terms of how much fun you’re going to have while you’re bombarded with radiation, you get deathly ill and all your hair falls out, they rate it on how likely it is that it’s going to cure you of cancer.

    In your own field of expertise, you’re more able than me to look at the history of Adventure games and see how broken they are. Your comment on the conversation system in that Law and Order game last issue would be a good case, there. I might have overlooked that as simply “how that sort of game handles conversations” because I might not know better.
    In that area, I certainly respect your expertise and, given the sheer volume of horrible, broken crap you have to play through, I can appreciate where you’re coming from when you declare “I am Expert, this is Bad, you will Not Like It.”
    At levels where the judgement of a game on its technical merits is the main part of how one’s opinion is formed, the “expert opinion” is one to respect.

    I’ll have to switch genres here, because I’ve got nothing to say about Adventure games, largely because I do respect your expert opinion that most of them are crap, broken and horrid and I’ve only bought Fahrenheit, TLJ and Psychonauts out of the whole miserable lot of them in recent years.

    When I see a review of yet another fucking Age of Empires travesty get a review any better than “NO! THIS IS BAD, THIS IS BROKEN, STOP DOING IT, IT’S HORRIBLE AND STUPID AND WRONG, GO AND LOOK AT REAL GAMES AND SEE HOW THEY’RE DONE AND STOP SERVING UP THIS HORRIBLE, RECYCLED NASTINESS! ::smack on nose with rolled-up newspaper::”, I simply can’t agree with that so-called expert’s opinion.
    No, those games, to me, are all inherently broken, no matter how good and well-produced an example of brokenness they may be.

    There we have a case of disagreement between me and the expert reviewers on what actually constitutes brokenness and I can point out what is broken about them for as long as I want, but unless someone agrees with me that my complaints represent something broken rather than what, in their opinion, is actually the thing that makes the game fun int the first place, then no amount of claiming “expertise” is going to shift the view of either side.

    Tom Francis thinks Sands of Time 3 is a decentish platform game with broken controls and a serious issue with supplying your main character with the resource he needs in order to survive. I, on the other hand, think Tom Francis played a gamepad game with a mouse-and-keyboard, which, while a valid complaint against the developers for even including the stupid option in the first place when they’ve been saying since SoT1 that people shouldn’t be playing with the keyboard anyway, isn’t really a valid criticism of the game itself and that the fact that he might as well have been playing the game with his feet created the appearance of a sand-supply problem where, in fact, one didn’t particularly exist apart from that statue-moving/chariot/dual-bosses section.

    It’s a difference of opinion on what actually constitutes brokenness. It’s a disgreement between well-informed Individuals, who also might be considered Experts.

    It’s pointing out an area of flaw in your argument without disagreeing with it entirely.

    God, that took an hour to write. Save the fucker first, Frosty. Don’t trust the devil machines.

  • always_black

    Maybe this can be developed into a scientific method of measuring Game Goodness.

    And then I’ll have to eat my hat.

  • admin

    I reviewed POP:TTT for Format, and agree with Tom. I played it with a gamepad.

    PC Zone’s review was complete gibberish. Which is becoming a pattern.

  • Aquarion

    Is it a nice hat?

    As a Loyal Reader, I find reviews to be helpful guides of what the game contains, filtered though the attention of a person whose opinions I may or may not usually agree with. The reviewer’s opinion of whether this is a good “game” in an abstract sense is usually reliable (In the sense that, for example, Half Life 2 is better than Plumbers Don’t Wear Ties), but won’t be able to tell me if I enjoy it myself beyond that. A reviewer with a different taste to mine might hate NOLF2 with a passion unholy whilst worshipping at the altar of Deus Ex, but both will tell me I don’t need to buy Hellraiser. So part of reading the review ends up reading the reviewer, A slight bias towards concept over gameplay, A dislike of stealth sections, a mouth frothing session at slippy-slidy ice-worlds. Beyond an event horizon (“This game doesn’t suck goats though fine gauze”), rating a game becomes “If you like games that do whatsit, thingamy and dodads, you’ll like this because it does them well/passably/not too shabbiliy” and we, the unwashed masses, have to rate the game ourselves based on the one subject we may be qualified to be an expert on: Us.

    The critic, of games, movies, music, theatre, resturant or of any stripe and hue can offer us two things, his _expert_ opinion of the technical ability of the reviewee, and his _emotional_ opinion of how much he enjoyed the experience. The first is a solid black line we can measure, the second is the airy-fairy handwavey area where everyone is at once correct and wrong beyond all measure.

  • JohnMid

    “Games critics are hairdressers, not doctors.”

    No. Even hairdressers usually have a certificate on the wall explaining how they’re qualified to cut your hair. Yes, it’s a cheap shot, but I can’t help but think that all this angst is boiling out of a frustration of being part of an industry that itself is increasingly being disassociated from an industry that nobody seems to take seriously. It’s like lack of being taken seriously squared. In such a context, I’m surprised there aren’t even more cries of despair from the professional writers.

    John, as to the original post:
    I think point one is too confrontationally stated. It seems to lump together all the nutters who think that a weekly shop at Holland & Barratts will cure cancer better than chemo, with people who simply take the position that even doctors don’t know *everything* and may be utterly, horribly wrong from time to time (pick any random Daily Mail or Express edition for NHs bungle death/dismemberment horror story shockers). What you’re saying is “You’re either with me, or against me. You either bow down to Big Brother, or you’re a trouble making anarchist.”

    Anyway, my point is, unlike doctors and most hairdressers, you’re putting forward an “expert” label for yourself and expecting others to in some way defer to your judgement because you feel that experts are better able to convey the Truth, and without any particularly recognised qualification to do so, except the popularity of your writing, the good opinion others have of your writing, and the willingness of commissioning editors to keep sending work your way. Sadly for you, and most games journalists, your audience is full of people who may have played games longer than you, played more games than you, maybe even payed more attention to games than you, and maybe know more about games than you, but took up a career in the kitten drowning industry instead. I am not saying the braying masses of the typical EG review commentary fall into any of those camps, but it only takes one.

    Point two, I have to largely agree with, because James Blunt sells loads of records, and I can’t live on an Earth where I can’t say that is empirically shit.

  • Tim R

    Take but degree away, untune that string,
    And, hark, what discord follows! each thing meets
    In mere oppugnancy: the bounded waters
    Should lift their bosoms higher than the shores
    And make a sop of all this solid globe…

    This sort of agrees with JoeVOD!

  • antichaos

    It looks like we have recognised the difference between experts of practice such as scientists and hairdressers, in the sense that they able to bring more facts and skill to bear on a work, and those experts of art/culture who are able to bring more experience, and so make more comparisons, which may enable others to form opinions through analogy with their respective network of experience (He liked A more than X,Y,Z, and since I agreed with his opinion of X, I’ll probably like A too). Note that this is logic that the reader applies at their discretion – it is not forced on them, which is John’s point 2.

  • goz


    It looks like we have recognised the difference between experts of practice such as scientists and hairdressers, in the sense that they able to bring more facts and skill to bear on a work, and those experts of art/culture who are able to bring more experience

    No. Gameplay is a quantifiable thing. There are clear design decisions in Perfect Dark Zero that I can empirically state are bad choices – elements which can be assessed by an expert of practise not simply someone au fait with the genre’s historical evolutionary arc.

    A critical expert is able to perceive those poor design choices which lead to weaker, less robust gameplay while at the same time being able to weigh the games position in the wider canon – before finally eloquently and entertainingly vocalising their assessments to readers.

    So far I see nothing in these comments to make me disagree with Jon’s initial arguments.

  • Richard Cobbett

    I just want to point out that if you want to sound like a smart, cultural hero of the realm, just compare everything to Shakespeare’s Coriolanus.

    Don’t worry if you haven’t read it. Nobody’s ever read it. It’s the Wall Street Journal of iambic pentameter. You can say whatever you like without fear of reprisal. Anyone who says they have read it is a liar, especially if they demonstrate in-depth knowledge of it. They’re just banking on the fact that you won’t know they’ve just told you the story of Troilus and Cressida, only with extra anus.

  • bob_arctor


    “Point two, I have to largely agree with, because James Blunt sells loads of records, and I can’t live on an Earth where I can’t say that is empirically shit.”

    What is with people hating James Blunt so much? Have you seen the Pussycat Dolls?
    The guy bothers to write his own stuff (unlike Robbie Williams), he has been around for ages trying to make it, can play and sing…
    Your Beautiful is a bad song. I don’t understand its popularity. But I think the mass backlash against him is another individualist thing like John is on about. Although I’ll wait and see what He thinks.

  • JoeVOD

    Richard, I’ve read Coriolanus. I did it at university…

    Well, I say I’ve read it; I looked at the words a bit…

    And as for your ‘James Blunt writes his own songs’ arguement, Bob_Arctor, may I direct you to a post found at (sorry, you’ll have to cut and paste), where Mr Ste Curran argues a far better point against you than I ever could.

  • admin

    I’ve not heard anything other than ‘Beautiful’, but for that alone he deserves to be boiled in acid.

    As the lead singer of Flipron pointed out, it’s the new ‘Lady In Red’, and its evil shall reign forever.

  • Tim R

    Coriolanus is a good play, and unjustly overlooked. Troilus is criminally overlooked. Thank you RC for spoiling my best tactic!

  • Graham

    The ‘expert’ isn’t any more correct than the court of public opinion, as has been pointed out here. But the expert’s opinion is worth more to me because it’s simply more trustworthy on the face of it. The expert can give better reasoning for their opinions, and can form a more complete critical theory.

    You can rest assured, up to a point, that the expert knows what they’re talking about. This is why I always liked that at the start of every reviews section PC Gamer gave you a little info on the reviewers. Not because I liked seeing the smiling mugs of the writers, but because it let me know a bit about them. What they knew, what they liked, what they played. The better you know the devil, the more you come to trust him – even if he’s the devil. Trust that you’ll disagree, or trust that you’ll agree; it doesn’t really matter.

    If all opinions are subjective and no reviewing expertise exist or mean anything, then why even both hiring a John Walker or a Kieron Gillen or any of you? I can get the same job done by opening a website and letting the gaming public rate games themselves out of 100. We’ll take the average, and there we go. Nothing else need be said. Or, if we want full reviews, why not just toss the old and experienced reviewers out the door and bring in new ones, who we can pay less as a result of them being new and less experienced? Because you’re experts, and you’re credible as a result, and because people trust you as a result of that.

    If I don’t know you from Adam, why the hell should I care or trust what they think about something? I wouldn’t profess the shouting man on a street corner my lord and saviour just because he talks about god in a loud voice.

    Darwinia seems like a decent example. It’s absolutely filled with references and homages to games of yore. Isn’t the expert more likely to get those references and understand the game than the relatively inexperienced chap with the poor spelling on a game forum? I read a thread on the Filefront forums where people mistook Darwinia for a Half-Life 2 mod and said it looked “gay lol”. Is their opinion of equal merit to Kieron’s, because opinions are all subjective? Of course not. Those people are idiots, and listening to the court of public opinion leads only to tabloids and reality television.

    Having said that, having played one billion games makes you credible going in. But if I repeatedly disagree with you, then pretty soon I’m just going to stop listening. Because your opinion is meaningless if I buy the games you say are good and end up hating them. Sure, sometimes it might be because those are good games and they’re just not my cup of tea. But sometimes it might just be because they’re bad games and you – whoever the reviewer is – was dazzled by voice acting or being an idiot. Experts can be idiots too, you see. Nothing is law.

    But ultimately I’m looking for someone who agrees with the opinion I haven’t formed yet.

    What I’m getting at here is Grand Theft Auto: San Andreas, which everyone gave 90% to. Voice acting? Motion capture? An even bigger city than last time? More of the same, only… more? Genius! Awesome! Unremarkable! Bored of it in five minutes because I’ve already PLAYED this mission 4 years ago. Uninstalled.

    I can’t help but think this is because the reviewer tried to be objective. They looked at the game as a product, as a piece of slickly produced machinery, and they rated it as such.

    If all games were rated purely on their subjective merits, then we’d probably have a lot more reviewers sounding like Francesco Poli.

    I’m so far from a point here, so I’ll reel it in.

    I think it comes down to this: Opinions are subjective, and to each their own. But expertise buy you credibility, and not all reasoning is equal. Furthermore, games are not reviewed using emperical knowledge and facts, but instead within the context of ones own experience of the form – and, yes, personal experience forms a kind of knowledge.


    They should be, at least. Everyone knows that game reviews are really rubbish and paid for by the industry anyway, am i rite?

  • Andy Krouwel


    How about ‘An expert can explain, reasonably and consistently, why they reached a particular opinion’.

    Clearly ‘it suxxxx’ or ‘it roxxxxxx’ doesn’t count.

  • Andy Krouwel

    By the way, I always remember the bowling scene in The Big Lebowski whenever someone quotes the ‘ that’s just your opinion’ rebuttal.

    Puts it in perspective.

    And its ‘broken the dam’, shurely.

  • bob_arctor

    Well I disagree with what Ste Curran said.
    After all is he an expert in music? No. I support what the NME or the Mercury judges say because they are the experts.

    Well I don’t actually think that, I’m just happy liking what I like, regardless what people think. But you see my point. You have to come down on the experts’ side here, and they think Franz Ferdinand are good. The thing is I don’t actually get that much musical input apart from my friends, the papers occasionally and browsing amazon. I found James Blunt in Glastonbury playing in the New Bands Tent (it was called it then) and thought he was pretty good. Got the album before everyone went mental about him. It’s in my opinion pretty good. Not excellent. In my opinion.
    I don’t know whether the experts think it is Good or not though. If it’s Bad then I like Bad music. Oh well.

  • bob_arctor

    Sorry I mean “you must come down on NME etc’s side on this if you believe that the experts in their field are Right”.

  • Richard Cobbett

    If all games were rated purely on their subjective merits, then we’d probably have a lot more reviewers sounding like Francesco Poli.

    Really? Man, from now on, I’m just copying the specs off the back of the box.

  • Rev. S Campbell

    Yikes. Small text looks pretty in little doses, but in huge screeds like this full of long words it makes me cry.

    Gordon Ramsay once threw a man out of his restaurant because he asked for ketchup. Who’s right there?

  • Graham

    To clarify, Poli tends to play a game till he gets frustrated for the first time, and then uses that reason as an excuse to give the game 0/10. Other people – sensible, non-spiteful people – tend to be more sane, more level-headed, and a bit more objective, and thus forge ahead. They don’t review games based on their first gut reaction, because if they did, Battlefield 2 gets 9% because the menus suck so bad.

    To clarify further, I’m very unclear and devoid of clarity.

    Objectivity isn’t really the word. It’s just… reviewers, as they should, take a step back and see the game as a whole, and review it based on that. Rather than writing huge blog posts ranting about the tiny details that annoyed along the way, they remove themselves from the experience of playing a little. Not entirely, not for the whole review, but enough that they don’t end up writing 6000 words on how they stubbed your toe and now hate the entire world as a result.

  • Richard Cobbett

    Rather than writing huge blog posts ranting about the tiny details that annoyed along the way

    I would never dream of such a thing… But to be honest, the big problem I usually see with that sort of writing is forgetting who the target is, and trying to lecture the developers instead of informing the potential players – picking away at stuff that nobody cares about, until the odd typo here and there becomes ‘sloppy workmanship’, a couple of crap levels magically transform into ‘half the game’, or personal prejudice wins out over common sense (one review of Beyond Good and Evil that I saw really had a bee in its bonnet that Jade only had two weapons, as if that mattered even a little). Fun as amateur game design is, and I think most reviewers slip into doing it every now and again, there’s a time and a place.

  • Andy Krouwel

    Nice discussion about relativism on In Our Time this morning.

  • always_black

    I heard that.

    The problem with crticising relativism, is that the critic always assumes that accepting that everyone has an equally valid point of view means you’re not allowed to take a baseball bat to someone who has a point of view you don’t like.

    I can’t live in a world where I can’t take a bat to equally valid opinions I don’t like.

  • admin

    I caught the end of it. I love the moment when Bragg names the topic for the next episode.

    “And bat bends bour discussbion onb rebalitism. Joinb bus bext beek bhen be’ll be discussingb 17bth bentury basket weavingb.”

  • Defragged

    I slept through that. Oddly though the words from the radio invaded my sleep, giving me some bizzare dream where I was writing an essay on relativism in a fun house.

    With slides and things.

  • bob_arctor

    So John can you tell us whether you are with Ste on the side of Girls Aloiud and manufactured pop or on the side of Franz Ferdinand. I’m using this to see whether you side with the experts, who are the music press, Mercury judges, Franz Ferdinand (Ste Curran is not in a band which has sold millions of CDs you see), or Ste, who is an individual specialising in computers, gaming, consoles. So not in music.
    (You like Arcade Fire so I cannot see you buying Girls Aloud myself, but you may surprise us)

  • Dripfed

    What you have written, and I agree with Tim E in some ways on this, is one of the major problems in education. As a teacher, it is expected that your are the expert and your job is to pass this expertise onto the next generation. Now, somewhere along the line, the pupils have been indoctrinated with the holiness of the individual as you put it.
    Hence, if they don’t like something, they will tell you, in no uncertain terms that you are talking crap. They will ignore facts that they do not like, or that do not fit into their personal view of the world.
    Case in point, discussing Brazil, one pupil told me they speak Spanish, they speak Portugeuese due to a little Papal jiggery pokery. This pupil then argued with me in front of the class and called me stupid because his dad had been to Spain, and when he heard Ronaldo talking, it was Spanish because it sounded like it. Cue several books and AV things on the whiteboard showing Portugeuese as the language etc. Nope, this kid wouldn’t have it, his world view showed Brazil spoke Spanish, so I as the expert was wrong to challenege him.
    Secondly. Spain is south of the UK. Many pupils had been there, a few of them decided Spain was east, simply because that’s where they thought the plain was heading. The map and the opinion of an expert couldn’t convince them otherwise.

    This attitude grows from an early age, and continues into adulthood, hence the growth in confidence tricksters exploiting modern idiots who place more value in trinkets and tat than science.

    I mentioned something about this on the PCGF, a girl whose home I was taken back to had a uni’ room full of new age guff. She placed and energy crystal on my back and started talking softly about it whilst being ‘nice’ to me. I’m affraid I had to grab the crystal and say “Bollocks this is quartz, rose quartz at that, and the only energy you’ll get out of it, is if you crush it….the piezoelectric effect.” My expert opinion happened to ruin the evening, and I did do the old Newman and Baddiel gag regarding George Bernard Shaw; “Oh no, I’ve just blown a perfect shag.”
    Interesting thoughts John.

  • Tedi Worrier

    I used to be an expert in adventure games once upopn a time ago. A fellow ex-expert just wrote to me that he had started again and was currently blown away by the stupendous graphics in Myst. We are out of date even though I still have the cassette recorder … but I can still tell you the quickest way to get out of the goblins’ dungeon…. however, benighted adventurers no longer phone me to ask how to get out of some or other of the Mystic Realm.
    X is the unknown quantity in maths
    A Spurt is a drip under pressure.

    So, whenever you see the words, “Xperts say…” just recall that an Xpert is an unknown drip under pressure. It restores perspective mightily.

    Meanwhile, obviously, the best adventure game ever written clearly is Betrayal at Krondor.

  • Tedi Worrier

    ….that’s “upon” of course … at least I was not overcome by Apostrophic Succession

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