Drums by George Dawes.

You didn’t even notice they were gone, did you? What do you mean “what’s gone”? The scores. The scores are gone. Clearly you didn’t care but let me explain why we bothered to care.

We’ve always felt that review scores are futile and only ever undermine the writing. They become points of contention for the reader when Apples scores a six and Oranges a seven. Scores as a shorthand only really make sense when comparison shopping while browsing the newspaper’s film section. When restricted to 200 words in a review they allow you to cut to the core and actually write about the film and not whether it’s a good or bad film.

Back when myself and Alan wrote for the university newspaper, we only ever managed one or two games per week so we had the space to expand our thoughts and squander hundreds of words on elaborately constructed jokes. So we removed the review scores. Then when I became editor-in-chief I brought them back because that’s what you do when you get power: You swing it round indiscriminently, shattering previous convictions in the name of a consistent approach throughout the review sections.

Then we started Split Screen– and although we were free, free, finally free from the Culture section judging us- we implemented a ten-point scale. Why? Because we wanted to be listed on MetaCritic.

Here’s our email trying to get listed on MetaCritic:


That went well! “Sorry, kid, but you ain’t got no credibility and no numbers to boot. Better luck next year. Kisses, Marc Doyle.”

So about a year later I downloaded every score from MetaCritic and made some graphs. I called them the MetaCritique volumes and I consider them my finest work. It went well:


And still though we persisted with including scores on our Split Screen reviews. In fact we moved from ten-point numbers to five-point stars even though no-one used the scores as a point of discussion in the comments. I lampooned the very nature of scores themselves by reviewing them in terms of cheese in The Metric Cheese Review Scale. Alan even reviewed games in terms of cheeses and I swear it remains the most sensible metric when rating something so nuanced yet varied.

So here’s my final play with review scores. It’s only fair I expose our own failings at using such a failed review concept. Look at it as a Split Screen “How’re we Reviewing?” back when we used arbitrary numerical evaluation

But just don’t look at it too hard at it, okay? Read the words.



The Metric Cheese Review Scale