Find your gamer house.
We’ve all skipped critical darlings that weren’t to our taste or fallen in love with mid-games because they were exactly what we wanted. For this reason, I think it’s important for readers to make reviews work for them if they choose to use reviews for game recommendations. Think about what the writer is saying and what that means for your personal experience or, to make things easier, find a reviewer whose style of criticism aligns with yours.
But what if there was a review system that worked for you right away, by design? What if a system didn’t rank games by quality and instead sorted them by the likelihood that you, specifically, will enjoy them? This is exactly what Crit-Rate aims to do.
Crit-Rate is a new video game recommendation platform (with some social media elements) that debuted at PAX East 2023. Founded by Justin Chou and Justin Scerbo, Crit-Rate is the product of over 8 years of work and nearly 20 years of combined press and game industry experience. If you’re in the retro scene Justin and Justin may sound familiar. That’s because they’re some of the folks behind EON Gaming: the hardware accessories company known for its line of HD plug-and-play adapters.
As someone who is constantly on the hunt for fun, useful companion products to my gaming hobby and career I immediately RSVP’d yes to this press appointment. If successful, Crit-Rate could answer that often-asked question: “But would I like this game?” And so far, it's off to a good start.
Before PAX began the Crit-Rate team contacted me to confirm my appointment and sent me a link to their website, encouraging me to take the quiz ahead of time which would sort me into one of five gamer houses.
As a personality quiz nerd, I loved it. I found the statements compelling and while I often instantly knew where I landed on the scale of Strongly Disagree to Strongly Agree some prompts required careful consideration. I think this speaks to the quality, detail, and nuance of the statements.
Here are just a few examples of what the quiz looks like: “When I play competitive games, I’m having a good time even if I’m not winning,” “I don’t like games where I’m not given enough time to think about my next move,” and “Most of my favorite games have a story that has emotionally impacted me.”
After your quiz you get a list of games to review with four options Love It, Like It, Leave It and if you haven’t played it you could pass on reviewing it. This doesn’t affect your house but rather, is your first contribution as a member of your house.
Below are the five houses you can be sorted into and their official descriptions:
Personally, I was sorted into the Curionaut house and I find the description pretty accurate to my play style. I was also impressed by the fact that so many games the algorithm claimed I’d love, I did and many they said I wouldn’t like, I didn’t.
I talked to several players in-person and online and most seemed happy with the house they were sorted into, feeling it was a reflection of their gaming habits. As an added bonus, I like that you can get a more detailed breakdown of your answers and personality. This includes a pie chart showing how much you gravitate towards each house, with your house making up the majority, based on your responses to the questionnaire. Chances are most of us have a little bit of each house.
Here’s my detailed breakdown:
When talking to Chou about how they’ve been honing in their algorithm over time he shared that they’d “[recently come from] The Big House, a [comepetitive] Super Smash Bros. major, and let me tell you 95% of all the players that were there were Bravadiers and, at that point, we were like what are the chances our test is actually working?” “It’s working,” Scerbo excitedly chimed in.
For a quick breakdown of how ratings work, I’m going to pull directly from the website. “Crit–Rate's scoring is rooted in like–minded gamers telling each other which games to play and which to avoid. The more favorable ratings a game gets, the more likely it is to be your next critical hit!” The ratings are a percentage from 0-100 which basically signifies what percentage of your house enjoys the game. 100% signifies a Critical Hit where almost your entire house enjoys the game. Love It means 90-99% of your house enjoys it. Like It means more than half your house enjoys it. Leave It means less than half your house enjoys it.
My boyfriend is a very different gamer than I am so, unsurprisingly, he got a different house: Vantagist. This early on though I’m curious to see how differentiated recommendations could become. Will this really be my own personalized list or is the truth that most critical hits are hits for everyone?
To explore this let’s look at each of our House Hall of Fame lists: “[these are] your house's highest-rated games of all time.”
Vantagist vs Curionaut:
At this point, there seems to be a bit of a mix. Based on this data I’d be surprised if God of War and BOTW weren’t on most lists for the House Hall of Fame but that’s not necessarily a bad thing. Some games are a bit universal. I will say both my boyfriend (vantagist) and I (curionaut), are pretty diverse in what we play. I loved RE 2 from his list and he liked ACNH from my list there are games he was recommended (Sekiro) that I don’t like and games I was recommended (Kirby) that he doesn’t like.
It’s worth noting there are other categories on the front page too. House Top Picks are recently rated games and Upcoming Releases tell you what your house is looking forward to.
In the future, I’d love to see a section such as House Exclusives, games that your house loves alone. Or games that only appear on two houses’ lists since — again — most of us have a bit of each house in our gaming personalities.
As an added bonus, Chou and Scerbo manually added every game on the show floor of PAX East 2023 to Crit-Rate and encouraged attendees to review the games they played (with some swag incentives to encourage more reviews). At the end of the show, they gave out awards to the top-rated game from each house. Here are the results:
Vantagist’s Choice: Dordogne
Curionaut Choice: Cult of the Lamb
Ascendiary Choice: Wrestle Story
Galabander Choice: Blackout Protocol
Bravadier Choice: Shot One
Funnily enough, the only game I played from this list during PAX East was Cult of the Lamb, one of my top 10 games of 2022.
Chou and Scerbo have a lot ahead of them in terms of growing the platform and further tailoring it based on community feedback but I love the base of what they created. It’ll take time to see how accurate it is longterm but so far I’m impressed.
One of the next challenges is keeping up with game releases. Currently, they’re entering new games on a weekly basis (and upon user request) which means they’re missing a lot of games especially in the way of retro titles and indie games. And even as far as modern mainstream games there are plenty of gaps. For instance, they only have three Resident Evil games in their current database.
The value of Crit-Rate is definitely in the now and in being excited by the idea. I’m happy to be here early and potentially get to help shape the platform alongside this growing community.
While I personally don’t need help picking the next big release I love the idea of a platform that knows my gaming personality so that, when it does grow, I can find hidden gems or retro titles I missed. It’s not quite there yet but it’s on its way. And its use at a place like PAX East is a cool example of the event potential here. Imagine this tool for something like Steam Next Fest?
At launch, Crit-Rate leaves plenty to be desired in terms of available games and general discovery but the core idea is super solid and the potential is really exciting. So, for now, I’m proudly a member of house Curionaut.