My Rating System for Books and Games

My plan for 2019 and onwards is to review as many books and games as possible on my website because I enjoy helping others make purchasing decisions and also enjoy being able to look back at my own interests and how they evolve over time.  Before I start putting out extensive reviews, however, I just wanted to take a moment to explain my own personal rating system and what it means to me.  Even if everyone rates on a scale of ten, everyone may have a very different definition of what each number means.

Honestly, when I started reviewing, I struggled a lot with how to actually give a game or book a set “score”.  Distilling all of my thoughts and feelings into a single number is really difficult for me, especially once I start taking objective quality into account alongside my own personal opinions.  I thought about doing away with this all together in favor of simply doing a written review, but ultimately scrapped this idea because I do still like using the score to give people an idea of whether I think what I’m reviewing is above or below average.

My review scores act like a see-saw with my positive and negative feelings on either side.  A perfectly balanced see-saw means I felt neutral about what I was reviewing, often meaning that it didn’t stand out in a positive or negative way.  In game reviews, I give a five out of ten in these cases, and for books, I give a three out of five.  Therefore, a score higher than the middle point represents something that I had positive impressions of, and a score lower likewise means that I had a negative experience.

Kingdoms of Amalur: Reckoning

Kingdoms of Amalur:  Reckoning is a good example of a game where I came away from it feeling relatively neutral.

Another important thing to note is that I rarely review anything that I end up not finishing for some reason or another.  The reason I am talking about this in the context of reviews is that, while I frequently finish books I hate because the time commitment is often low by the time I decide I dislike them, this is not true for games.  Games tend to be quite long, meaning that I usually drop something I’m not enjoying long before I would have the chance to give it a low score.  On this blog, I will likely give far more variable review scores for books than I will for games.  I don’t want this to be misconstrued as me being overly critical on books or too lenient on games.  The difference in scores is simply a product of how I choose to review.

Finally, I want to close this out by making sure everyone understands that the scores only show my personal enjoyment of the product, not its objective quality.  I used to try and balance how objectively great the product is with my personal opinion and I decided that I never struck a balance that I liked with it.  Instead, giving scores based on how much I personally enjoyed what I just played or read is more useful in the long run.  Readers should be able to take a look at my review scores on different games and books and get a good feel for what I tend to like and dislike.  Looking through the written content of my review will still give insight into the more objectively good and bad qualities of a given product, but if those qualities didn’t affect how much fun I had, they won’t factor into the final review score.

I’ll be linking this in below my review score in future reviews.  Hopefully, this will shed some light on how I approach the reviewing process.  How do you review books and games?  Let me know in the comments below!

22 replies »

  1. I feel you right there; I have a lot of trouble myself coming up with scores. Especially if it came down to comparing them with other games, Indie and AAA comparisons probably being the worst offenders. That’s why I sticked with a score from ‘delete it’ to ‘worship it’, and let people know whether they should play it or not without relying on a numerical score. I’m still not completely satisfied but it will do for now 🙂

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    • That’s a good system! I am on the fence about whether I’d like to drop the number entirely, but I’ll see how I like my current system before I make that choice.


  2. I’m a bit ambivalent about reviews- just as a personal thing though. I used to lots of music ones and stopped due to a mixture of personal health, burnout and unintended consequence of giving a bad review…. I used to give it a score out of ten just to keep things simple, though quantifying things like that can only ever be subjective.



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    • I like reading reviews because it helps me decide if something is for me or not. I hope that my reviews will successfully weigh the good and bad of something regardless of whether I personally like it or not.

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      • Tht is def the way to go. What burnt me out somewhat was the overwhelming number of ‘average’ releases. If something is terriblew or better still really good you have something to say about it. If it is merely OK- not the best example but not the worst I found I’d be either talking stuff down that wasn’t really that bad or else elevating things that on reflection probably didn’t deserve it… I guess I need a bigger vocabulary, you’ll be fine: you’re a great writer and I like your game reviews a lot.

        Still you’ve inspired me to do a review of the last film I watched, look for it being posted tomorrow….



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    • I know, it’s so hard! There are games that I think are critically and objectively wonderful but I don’t like at all, like basically anything Rockstar has ever produced, so what do I rate them?

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  3. I never tend to put in review scores for games, as I personally think it can be hard to express an opinion about them in a scoring system. I generally summarize all my thoughts in the last paragraph for a review (at least try to), which should generally give readers a short brief as to whether I recommend a game or not at the very end. That’s my personal way to do it but i agree it’s incredibly hard to come up with a score as you have to weight your likes and dislikes, etc along a scale of 1-10.

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    • I still increasingly think that I may get there eventually and stop putting in a number altogether. That said, until I feel more comfortable writing reviews, the number is still a good way of articulating my thoughts about what I’m discussing.

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      • For sure, whatever helps you write quality content is all that matters! I might at some point start using a system where i say: recommend/avoid/neutral or something along those lines, but not quite sure for the time being.

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  4. I use scores on games because its the industry standard, I don’t particularly like it and if the industry ever moves away from it I’d be on board. But I also learned early on that a 1-10 score scales poorly for smaller games. It’s not exactly fair to compare a big budget full priced title, to a good 15 buck indie on the same scale. So for those games, I factor in the price and give a verdict of buy it now, wait for sale or don’t buy. For early access games, I replace wait for sale with a watch for updates.

    I don’t have a hard and fast rule for which is which, its something I personally figure out as I play the game. But what’s important is the content of the review. That you highlight the high points in a low scoring review and the low points in a high scoring review. This obviously won’t be an issue for you. You are a great writer and your reviews are always high quality.

    As for books, even though I’m writing one, I have no idea how to review them. Other media types is a different ball game, I tried to think about how to review a movie the other day and came up with nothing. Storys are even more subjective in nature than games. I could point out plot holes and poor writing in a book, but I wouldn’t have any idea how to score them.

    Liked by 2 people

    • Your point about scoring indie games is legitimate. I am a huge indie fan, but when I rank all of my favorite games of the year, usually the AAA still rises to the top because it’s hard not to love an 100 hour epic open world more than my 3 hour narrative adventure. They may both be an 8/10 in enjoyment for me, but that epic adventure will probably stick with me longer because I had more time to form memories.

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  5. I’ve gradually evolved a review scoring system based on various elements – for instance, seven for books from world-building and characters to editing and authenticity. From there I give an average score. Games are done in a similar way.

    Liked by 1 person

  6. I break the game, movie, or album down by each aspect of the thing. Like a game, I discuss its gameplay, story, graphics, and all that good stuff. I give the info for the reader about how the game looks or how mechanics work then I go into my opinion of that part. I critique or praise whichever system I am talking about in that paragraph then go onto the next section I want to review. I usually try to start with the most significant things to know and evaluate of the movie/game/album then as I go further down, the less important comes in. For example, I will review the gameplay before talking about graphics or sound. My scoring goes by 10 (not perfect, but a masterpiece) 9 (incredible, but some glaring issues that don’t take away from the overall experience that is meant to be taken away) 8-7 (really good to pretty good. More significant problems that take away from moments, but not the overall quality of the product. 5-6 (average to above average. Worth to watch/play/listen to, but not pay at full price. Something to experience to enjoy then forget about it over a weekend) 4 (below average, something not good, but has some value while not being enough to spend any money on) 3-1 (awful, plethora of issues that take away from the whole experience leaving little to nothing of value to be satisfied with).

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