Game Reviews - Our Scoring System

[Originally posted on May 17, 2015]

By Michael Mendis


Giving games an overall score has been one of the most controversial aspects of game reviews in the industry.  Different outlets take varying approaches to review scoring.  Many sites use a numbered scale of 1-10 (IGN, Gamespot, Geeks Under Grace), others rate 1-5 stars (Giant Bomb), and still others skip numeric ratings altogether in favor of a recommendation system (Kotaku, Eurogamer).

In discussing how to approach reviews, we here at Gospel & Gaming have decided to award a game two separate scores, one based solely on objectionable content and one based on the overall quality of the game.

The first score will take the form of a recommendation, in which Gospel & Gaming considers the game under review to be Supportable or Not Supportable based on objectionable content.  A Supportable game is one we consider appropriate for mature Christians to consume.  These games may still contain objectionable content (and as such may not be appropriate for young children), but that content is not so prevalent or offensive that the game must necessarily be avoided.  A game that is Not Supportable is one we cannot recommend in good conscience to another Christian.  Such a game may have some positive moral lessons that could be gleaned by the player, but the negative material around it is so offensive and pervasive that we feel it isn't right to play the game at all.  Declaring a game to be Not Supportable is a strong statement to make, one which we will not be handing out lightly (and hopefully not very often).

The second score, based on the game’s overall quality and the reviewer’s general experience with it, will be a simple letter grade (“F” through “A+”).  This score takes into account the game mechanics, storytelling, art design, and all other aspects of the game’s craftsmanship that makes a game good or bad.  A game could thus receive a high letter grade but still be considered Not Supportable due to the offensive content within (of course, if the offending material is serious enough to render the game Not Supportable, it may negatively affect our reviewer’s experience, thus impacting the grade given to the game.  This is a decision we will leave to our reviewers).

UPDATE: 12/22/2015

Since we started reviewing games last year, we have examined a variety of different games, from small indie titles to big AAA blockbusters, and what we've found is that the games that we review are the games that we are already playing.  While we'd love to be able to review all the major games that come out, we simply don't have the time or resources to do that at this point.  And the games we are already playing are all games we consider supportable as regards potentially objectionable content.

With this in mind, we've decided to update our review policy.  From this point forward, all games we review will be considered SUPPORTABLE unless otherwise stated.  We will still factor objectionable material into our evaluation of a game, and make note of anything we feel is necessary to properly represent the game's content.