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What is the difference between an Critique and a Review?

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Unity has a certification program that I want to take, but I've been looking through the objectives, and found a question relating to a critique in relation to game development.  

 

one reference I found from MIT says: "A critique breaks down the object of study, using theoretical concepts systematically to structure and support it. Critiques are based on argumentation and supported by evidence. Reviews evaluate the quality of the game reviewed, and even though they also have to be supported by argumentation, they also tend to be more subjective. The goal of a game analysis is not to establish how good or bad a game is, but highlight and rationalize the aspects that make the game worth studying and contribute to understanding video games better."

 

Am I right in saying that a Critique is not just stating your opinion of what is good and bad, but trying to back up the opinions as well?  Is there a better way to phrase this, or perhaps a differing perspective on the definition?

 

 - Thanks!

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What is the difference between an [sic] Critique and a Review?


Dan, this is not a Game Design question. The Game Design forum is only for questions about, you know, Game Design. Moving it.

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In my experience, a critique is an evaluation of an unreleased product or project. A critique is usually requested by the developer in order to improve the product/project.

A review is usually an unrequested, and sometimes unwanted, assessment of a finished product. Edited by fleabay

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Am I right in saying that a Critique is not just stating your opinion of what is good and bad, but trying to back up the opinions as well?

 

That's kinda putting the cart before the horse. You aren't trying to back up opinions (which are subjective). "You're ugly! And, uh, *quickly googles up some out-of-context 'facts'* here's evidence so I can win the argument!"

 

I don't know much about painting, so I look at a painting and say, "I don't like it, it feels weird, and the colors clash too much, but that pattern on the guy's clothing looks cool."

An artist looks at the painting and says, "Your perspective with this object doesn't match that other object, the shadow there doesn't actually line up with that light source, color A shouldn't be paired with color B because of (color theory magic), those stones look too clean."

 

It's not trying to gauge quality/worth, it's trying to examine flaws, as a fellow creator, that'll be useful to help the creator improve the work.

 

Reviews say, "The game is good, here's what I liked/didn't like from the perspective of a consumer, based on my tastes."

Critiques say, "As a fellow designer, here's what you need to remove or improve, based on my experience and knowledge."

 

Reviews are usually (but not always) more geared toward other consumers, to give other consumers more information to make an informed buying decision.

Critiques are geared toward the developer or other developers, to help improve each other's craft.

 

Because there is some overlap (they can both be feedback, or they can both not be feedback), the words occasionally get used interchangeably.

 

Another subtle distinction is that reviews are saying what's good/bad, critiques are saying why it's good/bad.

 

Here's a quick review of a single screenshot - it's me speaking about what I'm feeling, as a consumer.

Here's a critique of some game mechanics - it's me debating (with explanations) about why I think that's not a good idea, as a fellow creator.

Here's a review of a single music track - it's me speaking about what I'm feeling, as a consumer.

Here's a critique of laying out game worlds - it's me explaining what I think is wrong with the poster's current approach, and what I think a superior approach is, as a creator.

 

All four of these also happen to be feedback directed at the original creator to help them improve the work, but reviews and critiques can both just as easily be directed at other consumers or other creators. For example, one designer might critique a game to help other designers (not necessarily the original creator) learn from its strong-points and flaws.

 

Another example is, a few months ago, I was proof-reading a friend's book for them. Not being an author myself, I was reviewing the story as a reader, to give the author feedback on what I thought of the story, and offering suggestions and opinions on the descriptions, sentence-flow, and overall plot. At the same time, I was also critiquing the author's punctuation, grammar, and spelling.

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Critiques are usually in the same category as constructive criticism. It's an in depth analysis of a product, with the hope that it gets improved as a result of the critique.

 

A review is a holistic look at a product and it tries to evaluate the product across a broad spectrum of categories. Generally, this review is done relative to other similar products. It's usually intended to inform a potential purchaser on how the product stands.

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A film critic analyses the film with regards to the artistic practices of the medium, deconstructing the work that's gone into creating it and attempting to decode the intentions of the creators.

 

A film reviewer tells you whether you should go and watch the film or not.

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I always felt a critique was aimed at the creator, where you describe ways to improve a work, while a review was aimed at consumers, informing them on the qualities of the work as a product.

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In my view, as it relates to any entertainment product, a review has more to do with the subjective, if categorical, merits of the product particularly as they compare to (or stand out from) similar products. A critique, on the other hand, has more to do with the objective merits of the product as they relate to achieving stated goals or as compared to accepted standards or stand-out examples of the craft ("masterpieces") in a systematic way.

 

Critique can also occur from particular vantage points, or through particular 'lenses', such as when Anita Sarkeesian critiques games through a lens of how the game portrays male and female characters relative to their stereotypical representation. Much of the online belly-aching and ad-hominem attacks of her critiques read as "She's not a real gamer, she isn't qualified to judge and doesn't even care if the game is good. She has no right. She should just shut up." And perhaps if what she were offering was a review they would have a point, but because she was offering a critique those objections were entirely irrelevant.

 

Siskel/Ebert/Roper wrote movie reviews in an attempt to help you spend your movie-going dollar wisely. Presumably, the motion picture academy and other awarding entertainment bodies use a process of critique when determining who wins an award for best actor or best cinematography.

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Review is the impression of the work, my experience within the work, and my reaction to that work as a reader. A Review is, to me, almost completely subjective. In it, I try to share with the writer the effect his/her writing had upon me as a reader.As to the Critique, on the other hand, is an in-depth professional and technical evaluation of the work as a writer.

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