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Katz: Video Game Review Scores Counterproductive

Arnie Katz, co-founder of first ever video game magazine Electronic Games, has told Gamasutra that grades on video game reviews aren't appropriate, given that "c
Arnie Katz, co-founder of first ever video game magazine Electronic Games, has told Gamasutra that grading video game reviews isn't appropriate, given that "computer games are artistic creations" like other media. Katz's comments came as part of an in-depth new Gamasutra interview with the pioneer of video game journalism. In the late 1970s he, along with Bill Kunkel, started Arcade Alley in Video Magazine, the first column about video games in a major publication. Then, in 1981, Katz -- along with his wife Joyce Worley and Kunkel -- started Electronic Games magazine, the first ever magazine dedicated entirely to video games. In discussing video game reviews and scores, Katz noted that Electronic Games did not have scores in its reviews, although a successor, Video Games & Computer Entertainment, did have some, commenting: "I felt that if the review was well enough written, you could tell how the reviewer values the game." When pressed further, Katz explained of his overall thoughts on the matter: "It reduces the magazine to a bunch of letter grades. I believe that video games and computer games are artistic creations like a radio show or a TV show, or a movie or a CD, and they deserve the same kind of consideration." Elsewhere in the extensive interview, Katz notes of visiting CES and the importance of Electronic Games magazine at the time in influencing buyers, as one of the only outlets around: "We could destroy a game with an offhand comment. I tried to be very circumspect about what I said. I tried to not judge a game by the 30 seconds I saw of it." Katz continues: "You need to play a game. The play-action is everything. In the long run, you can stand a game that plays great but looks bad, but a game that looks great and plays bad is unbearable." You can now read the full interview with Katz on Gamasutra, with lots more detail on his history in the game business, the early days of video game journalism, and his beliefs on the state of game writing.

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