So why is attaching a score to a review a bad thing and why does it need to be changed? Well the main problem about these scoring systems is the way they trivialize the actual written portion of the review. Go on just about any gaming website and look at the comments for a given review. It's all but guaranteed there will be hundreds of people complaining about how the game should have gotten a higher numerical score. Many of these people are simply there to create drama and controversy, but it does beg the question, why should we need a scoring system in the first place. The review itself should go over all the integral parts of a game: the story, gameplay, audio, visuals, and so on. At the end it should all be wrapped up in a short conclusion explaining the positive and negative points of the game. This is all we need. Giving a game an 8/10 doesn't actually tell the reader that much about the game or why it earned that score. A well written conclusion serves the same basic purpose in telling you whether or not the game is worth your time and money. By including a number after this, you're encouraging the reader to disregard what you wrote and to focus on the number instead. I'm guilty of skipping to the end of a review just to see the score myself, but I always found that reading the conclusion to discover why the score was given was more helpful. Aside from just being unnecessary because of the conclusion, the scoring system is also inherently flawed. Assigning a game a number simply doesn't work because there are too many variables. Any review of any kind is based on that person's subjective opinion. The reviewer can only give you their own thoughts on the game because it is impossible to be 100 percent objective. Much the same, the scoring system is subjective, so while the reviewer might interpret the number as meaning one thing, it may not mean the same to every reader. This has only been worsened by the fact that some major review sites only seem to use a portion of their own review scale, leading fans to believe anything under 80% is garbage. The review system is wildly inconsistent no matter which way you look at it though. More often than not a site will have multiple staff members to review games. By having multiple people provide reviews you effectively destroy any comparative use the scoring system had. While you should be able to compare two games and decide which one is better by their given scores, there is no way to do this effectively unless every review is done by the same person. Here's an example: Game A was reviewed by Employee #1 and received a 7/10. Game B was reviewed by employee #2 and received a 9/10. Clearly game B is better right? It got the better score after all. But you can't compare the two because they were reviewed by entirely different people. If the reviewers had swapped games the scores could have been changed radically. It's simply impossible to tell and it makes the entire system irrelevant.
Worse than all these little annoyances is the atrocity that is Metacritic. Metacritic and other aggregate review sites compile review scores and average them out to give the "definitive" score. Sounds great, right? Wrong. These sites have become the way many people judge a game's worth. Yes, that is what the site was designed for, but it was not designed to be the end-all opinion for buying recommendations. The user reviews on Metacritic are also a joke. People will give out extreme scores just for the sake of affecting the weighted total. These kinds of practices also affect the publishers. Often a game's success is based on its aggregate score, being deemed a failure for not scoring high enough. There are other factors as well such as the quality of the sites Metacritic chooses to base its score on or the way it focuses entirely on the numbers. Like I said before, at the very least a score should be backed up by a summary explaining it. Metacritic is not focused on the why, it only cares about the number associated with a game. I can see how the site might be useful in theory, but what it delivers is anything but helpful.
This part doesn't have to do with review scores, but rather the reviewers themselves. One of the many things I dislike about the gaming culture today is the way many of these gaming sites pretend to be professional. To be a professional film or novel critic is no small task. There are fields of study devoted entirely to analyzing and dissecting the parts of those mediums. Gaming has nothing like that, and in fact, many of these reviewers specialize in journalism. There is nothing that makes them more qualified to judge the quality of a game than any fan who; no matter what they might have you believe. I'm not attacking every single reviewer or site out there, but there are some who pretend to be "professional" when that simply isn't the case. Sadly, it seems many people don't care about the content of reviews anymore and are simply seeking to find opinions that they agree with. If you're simply looking for justification of your opinions, then what's the point?
Overall, I would encourage everyone not to place so much stock in game reviews and especially the numbers that accompany them. I wish people would come to realize just how superficial these scores really are. And in the end, does it really matter whether or not someone else likes a game as much as you do? Play what you love and love what you play. Until next time folks, keep gaming.