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Users > Help Topics > What is the HonestGamers ethics statement?

HonestGamers is primarily a game reviews site, with a mission to provide helpful reviews that will allow consumers to make choices about the games they purchase or play, while simultaneously providing gamers from a variety of backgrounds with the opportunity to have their opinions heard (hence the site's enormous selection of quality reader reviews). Many sites now feel a moral imperative to spend much of their time discussing themes in place of mechanics, most particularly in regards to gender and minority issues. Such discussion is beneficial in the right venues, but it can get in the way of the sort of consumer-facing review that is this site's millieu.

Our goal is to match critics with the sort of games they would typically choose to purchase and play, not the ones that make them angry. If someone is about to buy a game and he or she heads online for a review, the review that will prove most helpful is a review written from the perspective of someone else who might also have bought that game. If a critic finds a game's subject matter, themes, or design elements inherently offensive ahead of time, that perspective's value is severely limited. It might drive traffic when stunned onlookers see a low score on a meta site and wonder what the critic was smoking, but it's not the sort of content that serves the HonestGamers audience.

Note that this ethical agenda is in no way meant to be taken as the "one true way" to review games, but it is the policy that determines which critics will receive which assignments at this site.

It's important also to note that sometimes, someone will review a game and will wind up disliking it for reasons that sound an awful lot like total garbage... to some readers. However, we also are not in the practice of censoring contributors, most especially those who are ready to back up their opinions with logic. We want readers to know that they can count on honest impressions from writers who went into a game expecting to have a decent time with it. What happened after that isn't up to us, and it could well end up happening to a lot of other consumers if they buy the game in question. That suddenly makes it relevant to the site's overall audience.

No review at HonestGamers is intended to cover more than one game at a time. A review should address not the game a critic might wish existed, but the game that was actually created and placed on store shelves or on a digital storefront. It should ask not what a game might have done differently to reach a larger and more diverse audience, but what it does well--or not--as it seeks to reach the particular audience the developers appear to have had in mind. Reviews should cover fairly conventional stuff, including graphics and audio, play control, replay value, difficulty, and so forth (as applicable).

If writers want to tackle game reviews from other angles, they should feel welcome to submit those reviews as readers. Reader reviews aren't subjected quite so rigorously to the site's editorial agenda. They will likely still be rejected, however, if they don't adhere to reasonable grammatical standards or if they don't spend sufficient time critiquing the individual game being reviewed. After all, there are plenty of other sites where editorials and features are gladly accepted, and there are a number of sites that still accept reader reviews that are unsupported or horribly written.

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