with Kat De Shields

Culturyn’s Review Philosophy

No Star Ratings Here

Most game review sites feel the need to rate a game based on mechanics, story, difficulty, graphics and a host of other reasons. Though all of these components lay the foundation for a great game, some people don’t have the budget, time or ability to make sure every angle of their game is AAA perfect before release. I love imperfect indies that are full of heart, and I delight in finding games with the capacity to impact others.


Instead, I Use the
“Life Lesson” Scale

This is a different kind of game rating system. Instead of using stars or numerical values to put a game on a scale of terrible to terrific, I focus on what a game stands to teach someone. I don’t think this is something that is easily described in numbers, so I use words instead. Is the game empowering, contemplative, introspective, or inciting? Does it make players feel some type of way upon completion? This is a sampling of the characteristics I look for when it comes to rating a game.


I Focus on Meaning
Over Mechanics

Of course, we’ll still explore the primary features like mechanics, progression and story in games, but my utmost concern is meaning. In my reviews, context is key. Why did the developer choose to make the game, what influenced their creative decisions along the way, and what do they hope players walk away with? I also enjoy doing a “post-mortem” write up containing advice and new insights from the developer after their game has been on the market for a bit.


Never Negative

I understand how much works goes into making a game, and I’m not one to bash someone’s effort with my opinions. Just because a game isn’t a good fit for me, doesn’t mean that it won’t be a hit with someone else. Too often, we rely on the opinions of others to make decisions for ourselves.

That being said, if a game doesn’t have a strong core message or falls more in the casual realm, developers can submit their game to the “Casual Delights” section of the site. (There’s a checkbox for this in the review form.) These reviews are reserved for games that are entertaining, but don’t have enough depth to register on the Life Lesson scale.


Though My Focus is Games,
I Welcome Other Media, Too.

Whether you’ve created a short film, a comic or a book — feel free to submit your work for review. People can learn from a variety of media, and I welcome submissions that fall in categories outside of indie games. The only requirement is that you’re an independent artist.