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Making the case that he IS a reviewer
We see it said of Yahtzee all the time: "His videos are funny, as long as you don't take his reviews seriously". At least that is what some fans say. Others aren't so positive. I disagree with the view entirely. Humour is an important part of his reviews, but I don't think the emphasis on humour is to the detriment of the critiquing. I do regard Yahtzee's reviews as reliable consumer advice and not just a giggle.

People have a lot of preconceptions about what a professional reviewer should be like. They should be "Objective", "open-minded" and "well-balanced". I can't see the point because I am not necessarily objective, open-minded or balanced when it comes to entertainment, and I assume most other consumers are similarly temperamental. So why should we demand reviewers to possess some arbitrary qualities which do not factor into our own judgements? Can these critics really be trusted to be balanced? Does it even help?

Yahtzee does not try to be a conventional reviewer. He talks about games in the same way your mate probably would; in the vaguest possible terms, emphasising the elements that stood out, bitching/praising odd details, and going off on wild tangents. Friends do not regard stuff like a professional critic, but the thing is that when people are buying games, their choices tend to be more influenced by their mate's advice as opposed to the critic's. A lot of it is down to the fact that you know your friends. You know their tastes and prejudices, and that helps a lot when forming a decision. I think Yahtzee does us a favour by being so transparent about his prejudices and preferences. Like my mates, I am able to contrast my own preferences with his refreshingly pithy and informal comments. I often find that more useful then the words of some faceless IGN reviewer.

Harry Knowles puts it best: "...my philosophy [is that a] film review doesn't begin and end with the opening and ending titles. There is more to it. What we do and who we are affects the review. Instead of hiding that, I share it. You should know who your reviewer is, what he was anticipating and what happened to him/her on that particular day."

I'm glad someone finally posted a more positive review. I take Yahtzee's advice as actually worthwhile, as well, and as you said, since he's so transparent about his preferences, it's easy to get a feel for your own opinion of the game in question.

It's also nice to have a negatively-oriented review to contrast against all the Four Point Scale review systems out there that usually have only positive things to say. (And when Yahtzee says something positive, you KNOW the game is good.)
comment #2750 Thebazilly 4th Jun 10
I've noticed that when one person complains about something while everyone else doesn't mention it, it usually turns out to be harmless.
comment #2758 BattleMage 5th Jun 10
A nice review, and I can agree with many of your points, but I see one problem with it.

"He talks about games in the same way your mate probably would; in the vaguest possible terms, emphasising the elements that stood out, and bitching/praising odd details. And then starts chatting about something else."

But Yahtzee isn't my mate, I don't really know him as a person, so his recommendations don't mean anything to me. I don't shoot the shit with him, so his tastes seem like some any other meat head on the internet, blasting something without actual proof.

I understand what you're saying, but different doesn't mean better.
comment #2765 Phrederic 5th Jun 10
"And when Yahtzee says something positive, you KNOW the game is good."

Not really. I didn't like Portal that much.
comment #2776 Gloom 6th Jun 10
Exactly, no one can objectively prove a game to be good.
comment #2777 BattleMage 6th Jun 10
But he doesn't even really analyze the objective qualities of the game. If you hate the game, he'll reaffirm your opinion, if you love the game, you'll ignore him as a jackass troll. He doesn't try to explain to you why a game is good or bad, well, he tries, but it's in such an incomplete and abrasive manner that it pisses you off, even if you do agree with him.
comment #2781 Phrederic 6th Jun 10
@Phrederic: "If you hate the game, he'll reaffirm your opinion, if you love the game, you'll ignore him as a jackass troll." You don't need his opinion if you already have the game. Why on earth would you care what he says if you genuinely enjoy the game?

Too many people are strung up about the fact that critics may not like the same things they like. For some reason, it is these kinds of people who take what the critic says most seriously, rather than those who just approached the critics for advice. The latter know how to treat a critic's work; just as advice. Why can't fans of a panned game just ignore that advice? After all, it is of no use to them.
comment #2784 maninahat 7th Jun 10
So...what's the point? He is no different from any other raging loon on teh interwebs talking about Game X is the ultimatest most bestest game in the entire world, or the worst piece of shit ever to be crapped out by Satan himself onto an unsuspecting populace. He offers empirical evidence, which is great for him, but it doesn't mean jack diddly to anybody else.

See, a critic should explain why a game is good or bad and offer suggestions to improve it. He's just a crotchety old man yelling at passerby, a funny crotchety old man, but still old and full of venom.
comment #2799 Phrederic 7th Jun 10
Basically, most of the people complaining about Yahtzee never say his opinion as wrong, or that he's not funny (though that's an opinion; I think he's entertaining, others might not), or complain about the fact that he bashed the game they like. Some people do, but those people tend to be as dumb as the people who say "lol this game looks like shit" (actual comments I've seen on the Escapist forums).

The thing most people who dislike Yahtzee, besides the people who don't think he is funny, are the people who think that he's trying to be a reviewer (or critic; again, somebody is going to call me out and say "he's just mentioning the negative, so reviewer is the wrong term, and you're an idiot and don't deserve to watch Yahtzee in all his shining glory," last clause optional) while at the same time frequently getting aspects of the game wrong/overplaying certain aspects in order to pad his videos and thusly giving a skewed interpretation of the game.

Examples:

In Halo Wars, he complained about the way you couldn't control all of your guys in a certain way, while you could, and it was part of the missions, not even an optional tutorial or manual only thing.

In The Conduit, he complained about the controls not being a certain way when that was a control option (since it's not the default, it's not as bad).

In Alan Wake, he said it was bad, but with good atmosphere... then said it was good in his column, or at least buyable.

Monster Hunter... well, from both his article and his video, he didn't get past a certain part, but the problem is that A: he was complaining about optional stuff, B: he spent most of the time ranting about things that weren't even the game (a half minute spent complaining about Harvest Moon? I don't understand what that has to do with anything even now), and C: He didn't make it clear in the video he stopped playing the game.

Red Dead: He spent most of the video talking about glitches I've encountered... once? Twice? They aren't that prevalent.

As for why people think that he thinks he's a reviewer/critic:

He makes game recommendations. Yeah, you might say "he's just funny" but when he's saying who should buy a game at the end of his videos, or in his articles, it's really hard to agree with that.

In short: Is he funny? Yes. Does he offer a valid viewpoint? Yes, since his viewpoint is valid. Does he present an accurate view of the game? Rarely, if ever, does he manage to go without major mistakes, and I don't just mean accentuating the negative. Pointing out flaws is reasonable, pointing out flaws that don't exist/making it sound like the entire game is just that flaw is not.
comment #2840 Milskidasith 11th Jun 10
Yeah. I mean, there's a reason why people who buy the games he trashes still listen to him - he's funny. I don't think he's that funny (I'm not one of his legions of idiots who declare every game he "reviews" is full of fail), but remember, he blows things out of proportion. I've played through Bad Company 2 and I've only died twice on that bit he was whining about, and the only problem with "dust" I found was during the dried-out sea level.

And remember, you don't come to him to hear about how a game is good. He's stated himself anything else he doesn't blather on a review is a good bit of the game.
comment #2845 67.159.44.103 12th Jun 10
@Milskidasith You see here is a problem with you listing his errors: I don't know if your claims are any more accurate than Yahtzee's. Why should I believe your claim that in Red Dead you only encounter glitches sparingly? What if I bought RDR and found out Yahtzee was right about their being many glitches, and you were blatantly wrong? How on earth do I determine who to listen to?

You've both played the game, so you both should know better than me. I know that he likes to exaggerate the flaws, and I know I don't mind glitches, so I can make the decision that his criticism will not deter me from buying the game (even if correct). I don't know what you're tastes/methods are like though, Milskidasith, so I don't know where to place your claims about the game. At least with Yahtzee, I know where I stand. You and I have the same misfortune most critics have of not posessing a well known personality for the reader to rely on. That is what a good reviewer really needs.
comment #2980 maninahat 21st Jun 10
Manina, you are being fallatical. Just because I could be wrong doesn't mean Yahtzee isn't wrong. Even further, all of the other examples besides RDR I've listed are facts (RDR could have more glitches for you, I don't know). The examples aren't about taste. They are about him being incorrect, and if his "personality" is an angry, critical man who blatently gives false impressions about games for humor value/because he couldn't be assed to criticize the actual game, then I don't see him as a good critic/reviewer/whatever people call him (this disclaimer is because, after this post, everybody will jump down my throat saying "hes a crtic not a reviewer u r stupid lawlawlawlawlawlawl all hail Yahtzee!" and other generic arguments from his lickspittle.
comment #3006 Milskidasith 23rd Jun 10
Wow, Milskidasith, for someone who keeps trying to cite Yahtzee's flaws based on correctness, you sure like to cover your ears and shout "LALALA!" whenever the words reviewer and critic both come up. And I don't see how Maninahat said anything "fallatical". You're basically responding, "Yahtzee is wrong, whether or not I'm right or wrong."

Secondly, the problems you listed for what he said about Monster Rancher has nothing that's incorrect. Irrelevant, perhaps, but not incorrect, and if you're aware enough to realize he's going on a tangent, you should be able to disconnect his tangential rant from the game itself (e.g. if he reviews a Mario game and goes off into why he hates children, remember that he's hating children, not Mario). Thirdly, two of the examples you state have to do with control issues, which is usually a subjective matter. I don't see why Yahtzee would blatantly lie if he had problems with controls, one example of which you admit was not the default.
comment #3007 Byemus 23rd Jun 10
Byemus, I actively address the "reviwer/critic" thing people present. It's not an issue. Whether he's a reviewer or a critic, he's inaccurate and prone to biased rants barely related to the topic at hand, which is bad for either.

The fallatical point was the argument that since I can't go up to Manina and prove that I'm trustworthy, I can't say Yahtzee is wrong... it's the same principle as "I can't bake a cake, but I can know it tastes like shit."

And my response that Yahtzee's wrong, whether or not I'm wrong? That's entirely correct... for the limited example I was responding to. The point was made that there was no way I could predict manina's game experience, so I could very well be incorrect, but that doesn't change that Yahtzee was wrong either.

The problems for Monster Hunter (seriously, I know you're a member of the lickspittle if you argue for Yahtzee without even being able to get the name right) are, in fact, incorrect. And irrelevant. Both of which are bad for the game. From incorrect (you have to grind constantly, all the missions involve killing little monsters) to irrelevant (The RNG occasionally doesn't get you the exact thing you're looking for, all the stuff about Japan, the Wii, the box art), Yahtzee didn't get anything right in the review.

As for going on a tangent... why do you think I can't disconnect it? It's just that it's bad technique to do so if you want to consider him a reviewer/critic. Sure, it could be funny. I've stated as much. But it's not good reviewing/criticizing technique to go off on tangents for three minutes of a five minute video and spend the remaining two spewing out complete falsehoods.

I ask this of you, please, do not make another post saying how Yahtzee is correct when you do not even know the name of the game you're using to defend Yahtzee's falsehoods. Also, don't do the "I edited my post so there isn't a typo" BS that goes on to edit it so you actually did say Monster Hunter, because that's just not cool.
comment #3009 Milskidasith 23rd Jun 10 (edited by: Milskidasith)
Milskidasith, fine. I said Monster Rancher when I meant Monster Hunter. You're trying to spin the fact that I said the wrong name into one gigantic ad hominem, calling me lickspittle because I got a word wrong. Besides, is "fallatical" even a word? Don't you mean "fallacious"?

Also, it's ENTIRELY possible for both of you to be correct on Red Dead. He could have experienced several more glitches than you did unless you both made precisely the same moves throughout the game. If you're going to argue that Yahtzee's wrong (notice that I never said Yahtzee's always right), and then you say, "I could be wrong, but Yahtzee is definitely wrong," you're just committing the fallacy of begging the question. And if it happens that you're incorrect about there being only one or two glitches, that means by deduction that there are no glitches OR there are three or more.

Also, even if I did edit my post so that it was corrected to Monster Hunter, what does that have to do with anything else? You care way too much about the names. Is it because your biggest criticism of me is because I got some name wrong and if I remove that you've lost your ability to ridicule me?
comment #3011 Byemus 24th Jun 10
"The fallatical point was the argument that since I can't go up to Manina and prove that I'm trustworthy, I can't say Yahtzee is wrong... it's the same principle as "I can't bake a cake, but I can know it tastes like shit."

Your main basic criticism of Yahtzee is that he misleads his viewers through exaggeration, deception and incorrect statements about the games. Maybe you're right, maybe you're wrong, but as it is only your word against his. It doesn't ultimately matter, because only MY opinion matters to me in regards to what game I want to play. The only reason why I would go to to Yahtzee for advice over anyone else (apart from all the laughs), is because his likes and dislikes are common knowledge, so I can contrast them with my own when he presents his opinion on a game.

I don't expect any reviewer to be perfectly accurate or possess identical opinions to mine, because frankly that doesn't matter as much. For example, let's bring up Roger Ebert and his review of Kick Ass. He panned the movie, but I liked the film and went to see it despite reading his negative review. This doesn't mean that Ebert's review was bad or useless however, because I still used it to form an opinion. I knew that Ebert doesn't like those kind of movies and I knew I did. So, I evaluated the negative aspects of his review and realised that the negative points of the film for him were essentially positive points for me. Even though I disregarded his advice, I still used his review to effect. I could only have done that with Ebert, or any reviewer who's tastes I know well. I couldn't have done that with some unfamiliar writer.
comment #3014 maninahat 24th Jun 10
Manina, that was a lovely red herring, but it had nothing to do with my argument... I don't care if he doesn't agree with me, just that he's actually honest about it.
comment #3016 Milskidasith 24th Jun 10
Why would you think he's not honest? He probably just comprehends certain elements in games different from you. That doesn't mean he's lying to us. Judging from some of the examples you gave of his unreliability, I would sooner take your comprehensive abilities into question. For example:

In Alan Wake, he said it was bad, but with good atmosphere... then said it was good in his column, or at least buyable.

No he didn't. In the column he reiterated on the good atmosphere and admitted it was frightening, but he went on to use the game to exemplify of all the stupid things horror games do to undermine themselves. He did not say it was a good or buyable game. The only way one would consider it a recommendation is if you are the type of person to love atmosphere in games enough to not care about gameplay, story or the repetitive nature of the horror.
comment #3040 maninahat 25th Jun 10
The "He's not a reviewer, he's a critic" is just beyond stupid. From the main video page: Zero Punctuation is The Escapist's groundbreaking video REVIEW series [...] Under and in every single video, you can read: This week, Zero Punctuation REVIEWS [insert the name of the game] Some more quotes from the man himself: FFXIII - [H]ere's a REVIEW of the first 5 hours. Borderlands - I'll REVIEW Borderlands [...]
comment #3113 Pumbelo 30th Jun 10
@Milskidasith You see here is a problem with you listing his errors: I don't know if your claims are any more accurate than Yahtzee's. Why should I believe your claim that in Red Dead you only encounter glitches sparingly? What if I bought RDR and found out Yahtzee was right about their being many glitches, and you were blatantly wrong? How on earth do I determine who to listen to?

And somehow, listening to another total stranger makes it right because he's funny.

Yeah... no.

There's a reason why I play the game first and then watch his videos.
comment #3241 JackMackerel 5th Jul 10
@Jack Mackerel And somehow, listening to another total stranger makes it right because he's funny. Yeah... no. There's a reason why I play the game first and then watch his videos.

Uh I think you quoted the wrong guy. Anyway, he (maniahat) wasn't saying Yahtzee is right because he's funny, he said that he can help you form an opinion on the game by comparing your likes and dislikes to his.

If you have already bought the game and you like it then his opinion doesn't shouldn't matter.
comment #3288 almanik 7th Jul 10 (edited by: almanik)
He often outright misleads or gives inaccurate information about the games he reviews. This has nothing to do with his tastes; this is just him reviewing games that he's barely played.
comment #3407 74.98.204.39 15th Jul 10
''Uh I think you quoted the wrong guy. Anyway, he (maniahat) wasn't saying Yahtzee is right because he's funny, he said that he can help you form an opinion on the game by comparing your likes and dislikes to his.

If you have already bought the game and you like it then his opinion doesn't shouldn't matter. ''

No, I quoted the right guy.

I play the game first because I know he's going to be dead wrong about something.
comment #3412 JackMackerel 15th Jul 10
"I play the game first because I know he's going to be dead wrong about something."

Doesn't that defeat the point of watching his review at all? You've already played the game, so his recommendations are useless either way.

If you're the kind of person who plays a game, then retrospectively goes after the reviewer for seeing the game differently to you, you are basically wasting your time on someone you never went by in the first place. A reviewer serves to assist people in making a decision about the game, not to validate the opinions of people who have already made a decision.

comment #12859 maninahat 18th Feb 12
Doesn't that defeat the point of watching his review at all? You've already played the game, so his recommendations are useless either way.

No, people (who have a clue) watch his reviews because they think they're funny, not for accurate information.

If you're the kind of person who plays a game, then retrospectively goes after the reviewer for seeing the game differently to you, you are basically wasting your time on someone you never went by in the first place. A reviewer serves to assist people in making a decision about the game, not to validate the opinions of people who have already made a decision.

Funny how a large percentage of non-professional reviews exist just so the reviewer can respond to the opinions of other people who have already played the game/watched the show. Including this one.
comment #12860 eveil 18th Feb 12
"Funny how a large percentage of non-professional reviews exist just so the reviewer can respond to the opinions of other people who have already played the game/watched the show. Including this one."

You've got me there. At least my review serves to explain how to listen to reviewers, not just to tell someone they're wrong.
comment #12910 maninahat 20th Feb 12
"Fallatical" isn't a word, the term you're looking for is "fallacious."

Carry on.
comment #12924 mjcabooseblu 21st Feb 12
If I wanted to see someone incoherently bitch about a fantastic game, I'd go to the gameFAQs forums, not watch someone online. It's not a review if you let hatred and bias consume you completely because it's "funny."
comment #13269 Zennistrad 14th Mar 12
"Incoherently"?
comment #13271 JackAlsworth 14th Mar 12
Well, yes. If you have do watch the video three times just to understand what he says, than it's incoherent. Maybe that's not exactly the right word here, but don't pretend you don't know what I mean.
comment #13319 Zennistrad 17th Mar 12
I don't have to pretend to not know; I only watch each of his videos once, and can easily understand what he's saying.
comment #13320 MFM 17th Mar 12
^^ I don't know what you mean. I agree with MFM, and I apologize for not making myself clearer. I have never - not once - had to rewatch a ZP video to understand his arguments. I may not agree with all of them, and I may think that some of them are completely unfounded, but I have no trouble at all with what he's saying.
comment #13325 JackAlsworth 17th Mar 12
It doesn't matter what you think of his opinions. Saying he is a terrible critic is like saying Jim Sterling is self-centered. They play it up because it's funny. I liked some of the things he trashed, but I still think what he does is good quality.
comment #17028 RoadHazard7696 30th Nov 12
I'd have to say, his column is more insightful and better shows how much he knows of the industry. After going through all those, I get a better handle on what's going on: he's a pretty damn good critic, but he has to mask that with a kuhrazy and crude fast-paced humor style in his videos, cause that's what's making him money. I find that he's more objective than he sounds, and provides a good picture of the inner mentality is of an objective person playing games. Problem is, most people are pretty subjective when it comes to the media they enjoy, and to that end, his actual opinions won't resonate well with them.

Since I'm way out of the video game loop and rarely get anything close to release, most of the games I played were well before I watched his stuff, and when I did, I found a lot of stuff I agreed with. It's just that you have to take his words and tone them down a bit to translate. Where I would say "jeez, Assassins Creed II is pretty damn generous with the money", he would go on an escalated rant about how we're all being invaded by golden spore aliens and the ludicrous amounts of cash you can acquire is part of an evil plot to mind control all these dipshits into dressing up in overelaborate hoodies and killing local politicians with their fancy arm-knives that don't make any sense. You have to read in between the lines a bit, and often his real opinion and judging of a game doesn't get through in the videos unless you really get how the guy thinks.

tl;dr just go read the column, it's a good companion to watching the reviews
comment #17031 GyraSolune 30th Nov 12
"And when Yahtzee says something positive, you KNOW the game is good."

How about no? Just because he gave a favorable review to 'generic first person 'push button for instant gratification' shooter' (I will not name names) doesn't mean it's good or that I am obligated to like or care about it. It's ironic that Yahtzee has stated that he wants his viewers to make up their own opinions rather than take his word as gospel. If only his fans would do more of that.

For the record, I agreed with several of his videos but do not really care enough to follow him since I've outgrown the "angry nerd humor" phase.
comment #17277 ergeis 16th Dec 12
Name names otherwise we can't work it out how to take your word. If it turned out that you were talking about Half Life or Spec Ops (Maybe Painkiller) then I could rate your opinion less highly. If he gave a thumbs up to Black Ops 2 then I would rate your opinion more highly. But whether something is good or not is neither subjective or objective and so can't be part ways evaluated. If their were no objective truth at all, the whole idea of reviews would be useless because there would be nothing someone could tell you that would help you understand it and decide whether you'd like to see it or not. Citizen Kane is good, Half Life 2 is good, ET was bad. It might not help form an opinion and something being good is no guarantee I will like it, and moreover it's not objective enough that you can evaluate something completely accuracy (say pinning it down to a number). There are people who have good reasons to critique the original Halo, but the fanbase it created, the affect it had on the industry and the arguments that exist that suggest it innovated positively with mechanics would probably lead me to concluse it's in the good category (not that I would ever choose to play it myself)

So lets talk specifics. I personally have never heard him praise a game as good that hasn't been agreed as good by a large consensus of thinking people and I've never disagreed with a positive opinion of his (although I don't necessarily like games like Just Cause 2 etc). There are plenty of times I've disagreed when he said a game was bad, but for me at least I can't think of any false positives. If you've got examples I'd be delighted to hear them though and I can adjust my opinion appropriately
comment #17280 TomWithNoNumbers 16th Dec 12
Many gamers use his 'reviews' (and they are apparently considered to be real reviews by both himself and the website) to help them make decisions on what they will and won't play. And when he straight-up refuses to play amazing games past the tutorial section and criticizes the game for the duration of his video, then he is driving away a good number of sales from a very good game (see Monster Hunter and Demon Souls).
comment #17375 AlexisPius 22nd Dec 12
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