A Suggestion To Change Rating Systems.

ESRB(1)The current rating system in place for media needs to change. It is subjective to the opinions of a select few and uses an archaic formula for evaluation.

How many times have you watched a movie that someone said was terrible but you thought was great? Alternatively, have you read a book and enjoyed but someone else could not finish? On the other hand, how many times have you put money on a new video game because the hype superseded the actual game-play itself while fun little games which didn’t get excellent review scores sit uninstalled in your virtual library?

Websites such as metacritic and other aggregate sites have a great idea, but in the end fail the consumer due to internal preconceived notions about what is good and what is not. This isn’t anyone’s fault, and it is not something anyone can change. It is an environmental factor from where and how someone learned and grew up in society. For example: a title with an 75 percent, which is average thanks to how Americans think of the grading system, find itself being picked over to titles with 90 or higher, which should have the highest amount of polish and depth, however many do not.

Rating and grading media falls ultimately into the hands of humans, and humans make mistakes because we are infallible. I think it is time to change the way we rate and grade media. Honestly, I think Roger Ebert and Gene Siskel had it right back in 1975 with their “thumbs up” or “thumbs down” mentality instead of trying to give numerical data to titles.

What I want to see is a new grading scale that removes the numbers and letters from reviews altogether, grading at either a YES or NO ranking on whether the title is worth the money, and then list the reasons why. This gives the readers either a BUY or DO NOT BUY option, and then if they choose, a more detailed list of why the author chose their opinion.

The details of these two Boolean values offer far more simple truth in reviews, and removes any preconceived notions the end reader uses on their own part for evaluating not only what is an excellent title, but fell short due to some marketing campaign, or something else out of the hands of the end-user.

This also removes the strange values embedded within the system for what is excellent and what is average, only leaving a buy or not, leaving the rest of the major discussion points of detail in the article for why the reviewer feels this way, which in my eyes, is a more fair and balanced review.

This way it helps the end-user have a much more educated opinion about the product at hand and does not force the reviewer to “grade” the media, instead focusing on whether it is worth the cost asked for the product – something much more meaningful to everyone. For example, Battlefield 4 is an excellent game TODAY, however when it first came out, it was unplayable on many systems due to the bugs. Critics still gave it high marks “due to potential and the history.” However, if Tim Schaeffer released this product in that state; different story and he would not develop another game.

I’m not saying this fixes all the problems in the industry as a whole, just how perception and user interaction within media itself works.

Any thoughts? (Comments are open – please say what you’d like.)


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