Game theory vs. game reviews

The ‘enthusiast’ press–think video games and gadgets!–must always work around the fact that its advertisers are often also its news sources, and can control access to review gear, etc. Dan Rutter explains the problem–and a solution–with game theory.

The game-reviewer situation displays one of the many ways in which real-world situations don’t map perfectly to the classic Prisoner’s Dilemma, because it makes another situation possible, in which the reviewer says the crummy game is great, but the readers, out of native cynicism or because this reviewer has lied to them before, don’t believe a word of it and so don’t buy the game.

The best solution is the obvious one: always do what’s right, until someone burns you. Then you burn that person in return. This same principle, by the way, is how good journalists treat anonymous sources: never expose them, but do so at once if they deceive you. Otherwise, you expose yourself to the public awareness you will hide liars behind your byline.

About Rob Beschizza

Rob Beschizza is the Managing Editor of Boing Boing. He's @beschizza on Twitter and can be found on Facebook too. Email is dead, but you can try your luck at besc...@gmail.com
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2 Responses to Game theory vs. game reviews

  1. BReed says:

    Unfortunately, the suppressed premise here is that reviewers, and other monkeys, value a deferred reward as highly as they value a present reward. Although it would be pretty to think so, this turns out not to be the case.

    One problem with the Prisoner’s Dilemma – or, at any rate, something that is not much attended to – is that, while it’s a nifty thought experiment, it doesn’t describe reality very accurately. What happens in the real world with the Prisoner’s Dilemma is that Winston races to sell out Julia, and vice versa.

  2. hugemonkey says:

    Your analogy only goes so far.
    Reviewers should purchases the game (or gear) on the open market. Reviewers that get access to pre-release or free review copies from the maker are getting a form of kick-back or payola. All reviews done in this manner should be disclosed. Then the reader can chose to weight the review accordingly.

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