In video-game jargon, a hitbox is an invisible box around the player character. It’s how the game detects whether an enemy’s attack will hit the player. In some games, it determines if a player will make a jump across a chasm. In short, it detects collisions with the player character.
Applying this concept to written reviews, one could consider the game as a projectile heading towards the reviewer’s hitbox. In this analogy, the hitbox would be the review’s assessment of the game. So does the game hit, miss or is it somewhere in between?
The Hitbox will have several variations in name depending on which game the article is about. The Hitbox Review is the standard assessment that will serve as a baseline for The Hitbox column. Any game being reviewed will have this headline. The Hitbox Retrospective headline is used to indicate that the game being played has a role in my gaming history. I could have fond memories of staying up all night to play it or remember how much I disliked it. Perhaps it is the first game I played on a beloved console, or my first role-playing game.
I’m limited in the games I play due to limited work hours. As a result, completing expansive games such as Skyrim and The Witcher 3: Wild Hunt is impossible. The headline Hitbox First Impressions will be used with games like these, where I only play a fraction of the total playtime expected to complete the game.
Knowing a reviewer’s preferences and history is paramount in understanding their reactions to any particular game. For example, if they grew up playing strategy games such as the Civilization series and decide to play and write about a first-person shooter, they might have difficulty aiming at enemies and reacting to dangerous situations in time.
When writing about video games they have little experience with, the reviewer may not completely understand all of its nuances. However, that doesn’t mean the review is useless. A reader with a similar gaming background may find the author’s perspective useful in determining whether they want to branch out and try a completely different game to what they typically play. Even a veteran first-person shooter player could find a novice’s point of view useful in understanding the skills necessary to succeed in a game. As with all journalistic writing, transparency is critical to establishing trust between the author and reader.
I started playing first-person shooters very early. The first one I remember playing was the M-rated Tom Clancy’s Ghost Recon for the Nintendo GameCube. I couldn’t have been more than 10 years old. I also played Pokemon Fire Red on the Game Boy Advance, and later, the Game Boy Advance SP, repeatedly. I used to beat the final battle against the Elite Four and reset the save file to start again with a different starter pokemon.
When I was 13, I got an Xbox 360 and became obsessed with Halo 3, playing it religiously everyday. I played all of the following Halo games, but nothing compared to the glory days of Team Slayer on The Pit or Big Team Battle on Valhalla. The annual Call of Duty release, starting with Call of Duty Modern Warfare 2, also became a staple of my gaming diet. I branched out every so often with games such as Mass Effect 2, Fallout 3 and Borderlands.
I received a Playstation 4 for Christmas in 2013. However, because of the lackluster launch games, I quickly returned to the Xbox 360. It wasn’t until Destiny was released that I devoted the majority of my free time to the Playstation 4. Sadly, I lost interest in Destiny after about a year into its four-year lifespan and only returned occasionally when a new expansion released. During this period, I committed more time into each new iteration of Call of Duty.
It wasn’t until January of 2017 that I built my first gaming PC. Before then, I had a pre-built gaming PC with severely outdated components. After experiencing the visceral and high-octane combat of Doom 2016, I was glad to have a high-powered PC at my disposal. I also eventually put over 700 hours into the space ninja Warframe in less than a year. After playing Destiny 2 on Playstation 4 for about 200 hours, I bought it again, this time on PC. After 750 hours and several expansions, it continues to be my go-to game that I play almost every day.
I created The Hitbox series because I wanted to grow as a writer and critic. It only made sense to review video games because playing them is what I love doing. The Hitbox will continue to evolve as my skills as a critic grow.
Want to suggest a video game for review? Contact John Novotny at [email protected]