The challenge of separating the designer, from the reviewer.

As I try my hand at game reviews, I'm starting to realize that I may be my own worst enemy.

Over the last few years, I feel that I've proven my ability to analyze game design. I've been posting my analysis on games both on my blog and on Gamasutra. Recently, I've started writing for a game website, doing both reviews and critical pieces, which I'll be linking from my blog once my work goes up. However, I'm starting to realize that while my talent at analyzing games makes me a great reviewer, at the same time it makes me a poor reviewer.

I have trained myself to be critical when it comes to game design and in a short period of time, I can see just about everything a game has to offer. Because of this I like to keep switching between games so I don't become bored with playing just one. In a normal day I may play five to six hours of games, but that may be split between three or more titles. While this is all well in good for being a designer, I am running into problems with writing reviews.

My first big review is of The Witcher 2, which overall I found it to be a good game but flawed. I could stop this entry right now and spend the next page listing every little design and UI issue that I came across while playing the game. While that is great for doing an analysis, it gets in the way of reviewing the game. In my first draft of the review I said what I wanted and gave it an average score stating that while the game was good there were so many little problems that got in the way. The other people on the site were confused why I gave the game a decent score when they said it sounds like I hate the game.

The problem is that I don't look at games like a typical fan, everything I play I analyze. I bet that if I posted every issue I had with The Witcher 2 in the review( and trust me I left a lot of it out of my review), I would be flamed for being too judgmental and anal. To a regular gamer, the issues that I had would either be easily ignored or just dealt with. For me, each one is like scraping nails on a chalkboard in the back of my mind. When it comes to problems with games I have an extensive knowledge from every game I've played on how they dealt with it, or made it worse to draw from. If a shooter has bad combat, I can think of other shooters that did it better and cross examine them.

If I'm going to continue reviewing games I have to find a way to separate my inner critic from my inner designer. When a game is great I don't have any problems gushing over it, however the more bugs or issues I see, I start to break the game down to see what else I can find. In my opinion being a designer requires thinking differently from a competitive gamer standpoint, or from a reviewer standpoint. As the former just plays one game and the later has to be able to look past issues to educate the reader on the game.


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