Erik Tenkar has a nice post up today about the dearth of negative reviews of gaming products, and why.
That got me thinking about why I post generally positive reviews.
Partly, it's because I like to keep my blog positive. I don't want to engage in trash talking, arguing, dissing the things I dislike, etc. I want to engage in discussing play, examining rules, expressing my generally positive thoughts about my hobby, and shining a light on the things I enjoy. My reviews are like that - I want to tell you about things I like, in the hopes that they might be good and enjoyable for you, too.
The other reason is that it sucks to write a bad review. First, like Erik says, you have to slog through something bad. Then, to make it worse, you have to sit down and spend time writing about it. Even when I've given something the thumbs down, I try to explain why it wasn't for me and why it didn't fit what I wanted out of it. If possible, I want to highlight the good parts. But generally, it's easier to just say, nah, didn't like it so much, I'll put it aside and not go around saying how it wasn't so good. I want to save that bandwidth for things I do like.
Bryce Lynch's reviews over at tenfootpole.org are another reason I generally don't review the things I don't like. He reviewed a few Dungeon magazine adventures and panned them rather badly. Yet, in my experience, those were great adventures. One was so memorable that as long as I played with that group (Jack, Fred, Joe, Anthony) they never really stopped talking about it. The other was such a clever challenge that they really reveled in figuring out how to crack it. Yet, they got panned on a read-through review. So I keep that in mind - maybe I don't like it because it doesn't fit my taste, or I can't see the value in it. That doesn't make it bad. It's just bad for me. I might be missing how it actually plays out and the value it really brings to the table in the right circumstances. Does knowing it's bad for me help other people?
I also distinctly remember reviews that were dead wrong. There was one in Dragon magazine that looked at GURPS and said, basically, nice enough, but SJG can't support it with supplements. Yeah, and what is GURPS most famous for? A supplement for everything.
So with all of those things in mind, I write generally positive reviews. I want to highlight the good things I find in gaming and showcase them. So those are the kinds of reviews I write.