I've been posting stuff here for a while now, about half of it being reviews. But what are the qualities that make for a good review? What sets a reviewer apart from all the other reviewers, both profesional and amateur, and makes it interesting? Obviously they write reviews that agree  with my opinion. That's what makes them good.

No, in all seriousness the first thing that I would say makes a good reviewer is that they're not pandering. And I mean that in two different ways. The first is just that a good reviewer isn't afraid to anger the types of people who get mad over different opinions. Here's the thing, for any piece of media we know what the majority of people think or we can find out pretty easily. A reviewer who just parrots the majority opinion is, in effect, telling us what we already know. That isn't to say that a reviewer should always take the minority opinion either. Rather, they should tell us what they liked and disliked about something using their own words and their own thought processes. It's pretty easy to recognise when someone's doing that versus when they're just saying what everyone else is. Any reviewer who actually does that will have times where they agree with the majority and times where they don't.

The second form of pandering is actually very common in "game journalism." Mainly, pandering to major companies that paid for ad revenue. People in games journalism have been fired for giving lower high scores to games when the developer paid a lot to advertise that game on the site. (Kane & Lynch) This one is just a shady practice. There are a lot of game sites where I just stay away from the review section because I know they have a history of pulling this one and therein lies the problem. Once a particular outlet pulls this nonsense, you can't trust anything to come out of them. You don't know what's a reviewer's honest thoughts versus what they have to say to keep their jobs.

Another thing that I would consider essential for a good reviewer is their own, unique style. Yes, there are elements of a work of media that any reviewer should talk about, but a good reviewer has their own way of discussing those topics and engaging with them. There's nothing more dull than trying to read or listen to a review that presents everything in a very monotone fashion. 

There's one more aspect I personally look for in a reviewer, engagement with the material they're reviewing. A strong reviewer doesn't just tell you what they liked and disliked, they give you a sense of why. That way, whether you agree or disagree with them, you can, minimally, understand where they're coming from. 

And there you have it. The factors that I find make a reviewer's work compelling. Feel free to leave a comment about things you look for in reviews.

Published by Mischa A