Metacognition: Thumbs Up and Thumbs Down

We’re back with our “thinking about thinking” series! If you’re interested in our previous deep thoughts, check out the Metacognition series.  Join us for some deep thoughts (and maybe the occasional not-so-deep thought) about gaming. If you find one you’d like to answer, you can either comment below or write a post and share the link so we can all read your fantastic thoughts.

Is there an inherent difference between a game critique and a game review?

By definition, it seems like these two are very similar, with a critique defined by the Oxford dictionary as “a detailed analysis and assessment of something, especially a literary, philosophical, or political theory,” and a review is defined as “a formal assessment of something with the intention of instituting change if necessary.”


Both appear to be appraising “something” in one way or another. And sometimes I think these words are used interchangeably. But I don’t think they are precisely the same thing. I think back to when I would audition for orchestras, or participated in a master class. I was often critiqued – the person was an expert in the field, and the feedback was often very technical and objective. Compare this to a review, in which a person gives their subjective opinion on a topic, possibly with the hopes that something about it will be changed.

The key difference is that critiques are, at their heart, more objective and technically based, with (usually) an expert in the field applying their knowledge to the task. A review, on the other hand, is another assessment, but can be much more subjective and, therefore, written by anyone.

If you peruse AmbiGaming, you’ll see some reviews. While I might offer some criticism about a game, or point out a few flaws I found, I am, shockingly enough, not an expert in any sort of field that pertains to the design of games.

On the whole, though, I think most of the time, “reviews” of video games flirt with both being a true “review” and a critique. I think of folks I’ve come across on YouTube who work within the industry who critique games, and even those have hints of review bits in them. There is always something subjective that comes up when talking about a theory, story, or product produced by another person. So I ask…

Are critiques and reviews of games inherently different? Do you prefer reading reviews or critiques? Or are they the same thing? Let me know in the comments!

Thanks for stopping by, and I’ll see you soon!

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  1. I’ve never really given much thought to whether something is a review or critique. Honestly, I jsut liek seeing what people did and didn’t like, as that will give me an diea as to whether apparent problems with a title are likely to bother me or not.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Yeah, it’s not something I actively would watch for, either. I think critiques aren’t as, shall we say, targeted to the masses, as they deal with shop talk, but you’re right that lines are blurred and most people just want to see the type of connection another person made with a game (or didn’t make with the game)!

      Liked by 1 person

  2. I’ve never really pondered the difference between a game review and a critique before. I like reading people’s thoughts on a game, from their own perspective and with their own feelz. If a reviewer sounds like a heartless robot, who basically just summarized the back of the game’s box, I find that uninteresting, haha. When I write reviews, I do it with the goal of remembering the game down the road when I’ve forgotten all about it.

    Also, since I consider games art, I don’t think they can truly be reviewed objectively. Sure. You can pick apart some technical aspects but games have souls I guess. Everyone’s opinion differs and matters, and popular views should ever be enforced on anyone. 🙂


  3. I think you can review without critiquing, but you can’t critique without a review, and analysis is somewhere in the middle. I ageee that some reviews include critiques, but they may not critique the whole experience. I’ll use the example of FPS games for myself. I can’t critique the FPS mechanic because I don’t play games like, don’t really like that mechanic, and therefore have zero experience with it. I could review a game with it (which I’m in the midst of with SOMA), and critique others aspects of it, but it would be intellectually dishonest for me to to say anything about that aspect of gameplay.

    I think critiques are more in depth than reviews, but some reviews include critiques. They’re not quite interchangeable, but they crossover a lot.

    Liked by 1 person

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