Wednesday, 4 April 2012

Metametacritic - An April Fools' Day Joke that I Kind of Wish Wasn't

 It was meant to get a laugh, instead it got me thinking.

This past weekend saw April Fools' Day jokes around every circle of the internet, and gaming was no exception. There were jokes about releases, DLC, new systems, and the usual fare. One of the jokes stood out to me though, specifically the "new" website Metametacritic, which was touted to review the reviewers. Despite the fact that it was a joke, the idea of people being able to talk about those most recognizable faces of gaming journalism struck me as something that should be less of a joke and more of a reality.

Now, one thing that I have to get out there right off the bat is that if this system were real it would take a lot -- and I mean a lot -- of work not to just go right into the gutter in terms of quality or useful information. Certainly the idea of reviewing reviewers is undeniably meta, much less then reviewing the reviewers of the reviewers. I think though that with the right checks and balances that something that tells people at a glance about game critics and how they tend to do things would be an invaluable tool, especially for those that are just coming into video games and perhaps wondering which of the hundreds of voices might be worth listening to.

Just the idea of a place to see a sort of Cliffs Notes about various reviewers with little snippets of their backgrounds, some of the examples of what people think are their best/worse/most controversial reviews are, whether or not they're hard or soft when it comes to overall scoring, etc. All of this stuff could be a valuable resource not only to the people interested in the information, but also to the reviewers themselves.

Most reviewers probably would like to get feedback from a semi-reliable source to know what their strengths and weaknesses are. Certainly there are some things that would be unavoidable -- the example I'm thinking of would be for Yahtzee to stop being negative in his reviews, something that wouldn't work because his entire review style is based on said negativity for the most part -- but it might give reviewers a chance to occasionally take stock of their work and see how they're perceived to be doing in the eyes of the public.

Like I said, this wouldn't be the simplest thing to execute, but I think that given enough effort and credibility that it would be something that is immensely worth it in the long run. Certainly when presented at the outset it seems like nothing more than a joke, but then again there were probably a lot of people that laughed at the idea that video games would be a cultural phenomenon as well.

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