Richard Marks:
Excerpted from The Videogame Style Guide and Reference Manual
by David Thomas, Kyle Orland and Scott Steinberg

The style of game reviews ultimately depends on the editorial direction and philos-
ophy of the publication running them. There are, however, some general guidelines
to keep in mind when crafting game evaluations.

Avoid first- and second-person references in your reviews. Keep your writing
squarely focused on the subject matter. Remove yourself and the reader from the

     Example: The boomerang is used to defeat the boss found in the third dungeon.
     Wrong: I defeated the boss in the third dungeon with the boomerang.
     Wrong: You defeat the boss in the third dungeon by using the boomerang.
Remember that each player's experience with a game is unique. Avoid generalizing
about experiences or features that might be unique only to your playthrough. For
instance, avoid using the phrase "hours of gameplay" to describe the longevity of a
game, since different players will spend different amounts of time with the title.

Craft the review to the audience. Avoid use of jargon like "boss" or "1-up" if the
readers might not have a deep familiarity with gaming.

Use specifics as often as possible. Avoid abstractions. The more specific details
included, the more likely you will engage a reader with your writing.

    Example: The lock-on targeting feature allows players to spend less time
    aiming and more time trying to figure out how to defeat the enemy troops.
    Wrong: The game's targeting system is well-designed and fun to use.
Ask yourself: How did the game make you feel while playing it? Frustrated?
Angry? Powerful? Overwhelmed? Useless? Make those feelings come through for
the reader.

Avoid cleverness and word games. Get to the heart of the matter. Be quick about it.

Keep your reviews concise. Time spent reading about videogames is time that your
reader could be spending playing videogames!

The easiest games to write about are the ones that are very good or very bad. The
hardest games to write about are the mediocre and/or nondescript games.

Unless specified by your assigning editor or formal publication policy, don't sepa-
rate your review into distinct sections. (Paragraph one covers graphics, paragraph
two deals with gameplay, etc.) Instead, weave all these elements into a single, com-
pelling critical narrative.

When editorial policy calls for giving a game a review score, be fair. Not every
game produced is an A, and most probably are not even a B. In a world where C is
average, dole out the praise sparingly. Puffing up the score for an average game is
not fair to the game or the reader.

Be bold. Be brave. Say something interesting. Ask yourself: What makes your
review stand out from the hundreds of other reviews being written at this very

Very helpful. Writing game reviews is much like writing literature.  :P


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