Review scores are clearly subjective and are in most cases very contained. Unless a game is truly a disaster, game journalists will receive review copies weeks or so in advance. This gives them plenty of time to have a review score up by the release date. However, during that pre-release time frame an embargo is in place to prevent editors from divulging information about said game. This means that their review is clean and pure. Their review is clear from Metacritic, Twitter, Facebook, and any other outlet on the internet that relates to the video game industry.
It's as if you are holding a giant magnifying glass and examining the product for every small blemish instead of enjoying it simply for its inherent value. In today's society, games take on a persona much larger than ever before. Social media and those who inhabit it want their voice to be heard and will freely give their opinions, impressions, and sometimes to everyone's chagrin, spoilers.
Take The Last of Us for an example. This game is all about the story and the experience of surviving in a post-pandemic world. Naughty Dog has crafted a tale so incredible that it deserves to be taken in with as little knowledge as possible. Yet, spoilers are everywhere. From an innocent tweet that hints at what happened, to a despicable "troll" who goes into comments and ruins it for everyone. Truth being set aside for those spoilers, they again contribute to that word that can make or break an experience, expectation.
This game, by thatgamecompany, is said to be a transcendental "journey" and one that needs to be played by anyone and everyone. The story will mean something different to each person, yet it will force you to look inside yourself. The music is incredible and the artwork and game design are just impeccable. It is without a doubt, one of the greatest games of this, or any, generation.
How did that little paragraph make you feel? Good or bad, it will create an expectation in your mind. That paragraph, or anything else you have heard of a game, will be compared to what you actually feel when you are playing it. However, what if you don't share in those views? If you finally get around to playing the game and it just doesn't resonate with you, does that make you a bad person?
All of these factors are a double-edged sword. On one hand, they give you excitement and anticipation for a title you will be playing. On the other hand, they sometimes build it up to be greater than than it originally was and can ever hope to become.
It's all about taking what you hear with a grain of salt. Take as much of the outside information as you feel comfortable, but go in with an open mind. Even if you hear a spoiler that ruins an ending or a huge plot point, sometimes the road to that point is much more important than the act itself.
Enjoy your games. Ignore the noise from the outside and when you press start for the first time in your next game, do so with a clear mind. While the hype and excitement from everyone around you will always be present, what truly matters is what you take from it.
Adam Bankhurst is one of the co-hosts of The Gamer’s Advocate. Send him all your thoughts or questions to email@example.com. You can also follow him @adambankhurst