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Pardon the self-indulgence, but this past week I achieved one of my life’s goals: Metacritic listed one of my reviews.
Since its inception, Metacritic has been a mysterious arbiter for the video game industry. It doesn't have as great an effect on me now, but I won't lie to you about this: The website has resolved a great many purchase decisions in my lifetime. Maybe now I can contribute to someone else's. Not that people don't read my reviews here, it's just that thousands (who am I kidding, millions) more people consult Metacritic than my humble blog or Bitmob. Perhaps even more to the point, I wasn't able to achieve this goal through either of those outlets (although my experience with both surely helped land the unpaid writing gig).
Now, I'm sure that there are plenty of people who see my newly achieved goal as naïve or destructive to my passion. I've read stories of developers being denied royalties on account of lower-than-expected Metacritic scores or sales diminishing due to middling reviews, but I refuse to accept that this is the fault of Metacritic alone. To all of the naysayers, particularly those who contribute to games journalism in any form that has a score attached, I say we're all to blame. We — or perhaps more appropriately and less self-aggrandizing, you — contribute to those numbers in a lot of cases. If you're not comfortable with franchises ending on account of your words and scores, I have a simple message for you:
Give every game a perfect score, a zero score or better yet, no score at all.
That may sound a bit cynical, but the Quantitative Cultural Zeitgeist will be rendered impotent if there are no numbers feeding into it. I've read some journalists argue that their reviews (and the scores that are a part of them) are nothing more than opinion. Like it or not, collectively, your opinions determine the fate of developers, new and existing intellectual properties, and the industry at large.
For now, though, seeing a strategically-selected piece of my work on Metacritic marks a teenage dream realized. That awkward excerpt from my Street Fighter X Tekken review may be the first and last time I see my opinion in the same arena as Game Informer and IGN, but I'll take it.