Date of Award


Degree Type




First Advisor

Neuendorf, Kimberly

Subject Headings

Video games, Motion pictures and video games, video games criticism film critical theory film theory feminist theory utility theory usability heuristics ludology popular criticism popular reviews communication digital media auteur theory


The purpose of this study is to evaluate the current critical climate in popular online video game reviews (i.e., video game criticism written for a general audience). So far, most of the research published in this area focuses on how the reviews reflect the games themselves, rather than strictly examining the content of the reviews in this growing body of literature. This study uses computer-aided text analysis (CATA) supplemented with human coding to identify typological differences between film and video game reviews, as well as differences in theory usage and critical thought and style. Video game reviews are more concerned with the price of the work being reviewed, supporting the notion for a utility theory of video games. Game reviewers also tend to find redeeming qualities even in very flawed games, suggesting they are either overly passionate and/or concerned about keeping advertisers happy. Although not at the exceedingly high levels as previous studies, the author finds support for using usability heuristics (e.g., responsiveness of controls, use of in-game tutorials) to review games. Neither body of popular criticism examined delves deeply into theoretical frameworks for auteur or feminist theories, but discussion is provided as to how the reviewers could address these issues should they choose to do so

Included in

Communication Commons