“UGH, BORING” I hear you utter. Yes, the tirade of ironically opinion-driven pieces on objectivity continues with my own approach. However, mine is different. I’m going to go against everything I’m about to say!
When it comes to critique, objectivity is impossible. How can human beings, who go about their day to day lives differently from each other, ever expect to have a view that is not in some way subjective? Here, I’ll try an example:
“Undertale is a game-“
WRONG. That’s already subjective. You say it’s a game. Who says it’s a game? No great, all-powerful body determines these things. You do. I mean, most of us can agree that Undertale is in fact a game (There’ll be no spoilers in this piece by the way), but there’s no solid proof of that besides the fact that you agree with someone. That’s inherently subjective.
So, an objective review is impossible, yes? Well, to defeat the point of this piece, I tried anyway.
I think the important difference to make is between “objectivity” and “striving for objectivity”. One is very clearly objective, and one is a pretend form of objective that’s close enough to be acceptable. Sometimes you need subjectivity to give any meaning to your point. For example, if you were to discuss Sonic The Hedgehog at the time of its release, not comparing it to Mario would be ridiculous. There’s many things the original Sonic game failed at that the original Super Mario Bros managed. On the other hand, Sonic The Hedgehog took platformers in a new direction – a direction of momentum-based gameplay. It’s completely viable to make a review of it without comparing it to Super Mario Bros, but it would miss out on many points that would be useful for someone accustomed to the Italian plumber’s adventures.
So, objective outlook and subjective analysis are both very important. Both are useful in isolated cases, but I wanted to do both. Call me greedy. Considering this concept, I begun my first review. Then I realised that I missed an entire other aspect to games critique.
I introduce reflective reviewing. Sadly, it sounds a lot like an essay you would have to write about your pet when you were in school, but there’s no better name that I could devise that sounded nice with the other two. This is an aspect that subjectivity glances over, and objectivity completely misses. What if the game isn’t very good, but had an interesting theme that you mulled over for a few days? What if it was the simple pleasure required for you to relax after a hard day’s work? Well, I mean, I already explained the solution, so if there was a surprise, it’s ruined. Hm.
Being the intelligent and brilliant person I am, I decided the professional thing to do would be to shamelessly tape them together in an attempt to make something work. Each compliments each other to make the whole thing (hopefully) cohesive, but they also contradict each other in areas, which makes for massive “grey areas” in my critique.
It must be mentioned that I’m not demanding anyone adhere to these arbitrary filings I’ve devised – I just thought the concept was interesting to share. I also realised that this derailed from objectivity in game reviews to, “Hey, look at all these things I can do (that could probably be achieved anyway in a bog-standard review)!” I do have a chance to pull it all back though. In the following video, I present to you a clearly objective (note: not fully objective) look at Undertale, accompanied by both a subjective section and a reflective look on my experience. If you could take the time to put up with yet more of my ramblings, it’d be much appreciated. Also, the video does have spoilers, so this may be the point of no return for some of you. (That doesn’t give an excuse to the rest of you though! You can use the “don’t care” excuse instead.)