A little bit about VGFirst
Established in 2013, VGFirst is an entirely independent, non-profit journalistic publication focused on the video game industry. As owner of this site (Jozef Kulik) I created VGFirst in response to a passion for video games, and a pleasure taken from writing. Every article written here is the result of the individual authors passion for video games and the industry, and we hope that this provides a basis for truthful and honest content.
Why are your publications articles infrequent?
Our content flow is intermittent, this goes without saying. This is not my job – or anyone else’s – and while to some extent I wish it were, I feel the absence of monetary incentive here helps us take an objective, and fair stance on the video games we approach. In essence as we are not paid, we are not professional journalists, and we hope that that provides a perspective that is more true and relevant to that of the consumer.
How do you review your games?
Objective reviews are a myth, but VGFirst’s reviews are written with the intent to be as objective as possible, and games are critiqued relative to positive design principles. For instance a basic example of which is the notion of ‘fairness’, I believe one important aspect of game design is to create an experience where the user feels connected and in-control. Control extends beyond how well the games playable character respond to his inputs, but the extent to which the player determines his outcome in a manner in which he can predict.
For example, take two Roguelites, Spelunky and Rogue Legacy. Rogue Legacy uses less controlled RNG systems to produce environments and circumstances that often do not feel fair, and the player actively loses control in that they become less determinant of their characters fate, at times. This contrasts Spelunky where the game itself is inherently more controlled and articulated in a way that crafts very much variable instances, but all the while each part of these – even the harder and more advanced instances – can be broken down with each individual component being relatively easy to evade. Now this objectively makes Spelunky a better game – in this single regard – as it crafts its increases in challenge without artificial difficulty, such as arbitrary increases in the damage output or resistance an enemy may have.
Of course its still inherently subjective as to whether someone might enjoy the one experience rather than the latter but on paper Spelunky’s systems represent that of better gameplay design than Rogue Legacy and therefore the game is likely to be reviewed more favourably. That isn’t to say we apply a universal rule-set irrespective of context and intent, for instance games like Mario Party thrive on luck-based elements and arguably poor design choices within their mini-games, but within the context these games can be very enjoyable. Reviewing a game is very much a hollistic process where no component part can be considered and assessed outside of its context in which it exists.
Perhaps more significantly however, is the argument that we present will always be presented clearly. If we tell you a game is bad we will do our best to provide a coherent and clear explanation as why, and this will be based on the games objective traits, so that you can determine the relevance of our review relative to your own perspectives and tastes. Thereby if you read the content that underpins a review score you should be able to at least understand our perspective, even if you don’t agree with it.
Why do you give out so many high scores?
This question is a little more difficult. Like many publications we have observed that our scores perhaps average around 7 as opposed to 5. There are various explanations for this however.
- We don’t give games to reviewers that don’t like the genre. What’s the point in reading a review from someone that doesn’t like that type of game? He’s less informed, and not looking at the game with a similar perspective to a potential buyer, so his opinion is less relevant to the majority that might have purchased the title.
- Games are actually, generally quite high in quality. The process of publication on consoles is a form of selective sampling, we’ve gotten to the stage where big publishers know, roughly what constitutes a bad or a good game so generally the lesser ideas get shown the door quite early in their development. In turn it’s quite natural that the majority of titles available are at worst, at least potentially moderately entertaining as bad titles and mechanics are screened out during development.
- We don’t have the staff, or income to review everything, so at times some titles that would have been perhaps been susceptible to lower scores escape our grasp. VGFirst is non-profit and time is a limited resource so our attention often goes towards the titles with more consumer attention, these inherently tend not to be terrible games.