On a ten point review scale, what number do you think should represent an average game?
I'm one of the people that thinks 7/10 should be average. I have a few arguments for this...
1. If you go on Metacritic and click on a publication's profile you can see the mathematical average of all review scores put out by that publication. You'll almost always see numbers hovering around the 6.5 to 7.5 range for just about any video game publication on the site. Even sites like Destructoid that go out of their way to say that "average starts at 5" have their average review score listed around the 6.5 to 7.5 range. Even if they officially say that average should be at 5, in practice they agree that it is 7.
Now someone might want to counter this argument by saying that there are two meanings of the word average. There's mathematical average, and then there's average as in Okay, Decent, Middle of the Road. But the secondary meaning of average given here is colloquial, and has it's roots in an uneducated understanding of the mathematical term. In the same way that the dictionary now defines "bite" as a wound caused by creature's mouth or stinger, the dictionary now defines average as a synonym for Okay, Decent, etc. Using the colloquial definition of a term is unprofessional, and professional reviewers shouldn't do it, in this case.
2. Using 5 to represent average, turns your site's reviews into a liability for the metacritic average. For example let's say that www.videogamereviewerguy.com insists that 5/10 is average, because it is a nice middle number. He then proceeds to give two games that he considers to be good scores of 6/10. But the vast majority of reviewers on metacritic are using the "7/10 means average" rule. Even though he really liked both games he winds up being listed as the "most critical" review on Metacritic, and just by posting his review, the metascore drops a few points. I call this the "5/10 means average" kiss of death.
3. Average is not always the middle number out of a range of numbers. For example; the heaviest person to ever live was 975 lbs. One of the lightest people to ever live weighed 32 lbs. So should we find the exact middle number between these two extremes, and call that average? Nobody in their right mind would call 503 lbs an average human bodyweight, whether using the literal meaning of the word, or the colloquial meaning. But that's the middle number between 32, and 975.
So I don't think it makes sense to say that "5 is the middle number between 1 and 10, therefore 5 should be used as average".
But at the same time I also kind of see the arguments in favor of some number other than 7 being average. Here's what I've heard in favor of this...
1. Youtuber Arlo does his reviews on a 7 point scale. This is because he doesn't think a game needs any more descriptors than very bad, bad, average, good, great, excellent, and GOTY! I agree with this, and I think his 7 point scale is way better than the 10 point scale the industry currently uses. But 3/7 = 42/100 on metacritic's scale! And that throws a wrench into my 7/10 should be average position.
2. A lot of sites use a 5 star system, like movie reviewers with no room for half points. Games that are just okay wind up getting 3/5 stars under this system, which makes a lot of sense to me. I mean, on a scale with no room for half a star, three stars very much conveys "average". But that would put 6/10 as the average! Nooooooooooo!
So anyway, what score do you think an average game should get?
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