Opinion: Why Irrational Are Getting It Wrong

Whether we like it or not, we live in a judgmental society. Whether it’s an individual behind a Twitter account, a celebrity catapulted to fame through reality-television or a participant of The Jeremy Kyle show, we’re all inclined to judge them by using our past experiences and personal opinions as a springboard.

Fundamentally, it’s human nature to judge – it makes us feel secure, has the potential to protect us from danger, and is sometimes a useful ability within our daily lives. Employers, for example, can handpick interviewees from hundreds of applicants, making decisions and basing judgements on CV’s and application forms without stepping away from the laptop.

Is it reasonable, then, for employers to request minimum requirements? Earlier this week, Alex reported that Irrational are looking to hire a Design Manager that has worked on a title with an 85+ Metacritic score and asked, “is this wrong?” My response? Yes.

[drop] As an A level student who is preparing to apply to University, the importance of good grades is being heavily emphasized, and probably rightly so. To attend the UK’s top academic institutions (20 “elite” universities in the Russell Group) a string of three A’s is less of a preferred requirement, and more a necessity. However, that doesn’t make it right.

There is no doubt that grades are important, but I believe that they are given too much weight. That’s not to detract from the achievement of anyone who has gained one – they’re still difficult letters to earn the right to place on your CV – but ultimately, they prove that you have learned a subject, can revise its content and then regurgitate it within an exam environment. They do not, and cannot, reflect an individual as a whole, yet judgements are still based upon them.

So applying similar logic, what does an 85+ Metacritic score represent in terms of the individual? It could very easily be argued that it means nothing – an individual does not, generally, make a videogame, and an employee who hasn’t worked on an 85+ scoring game may be in a far better position to take on the role of Design Manager than one who has.

It also creates a very fine line – how many potential candidates will refrain from applying because a single critic has dropped their Metacritic score below 85? In the past three months, 42 games have scored in the 80 to 84 range, so that’s a large pool of employees who have worked on critically acclaimed titles that won’t even get a chance to have their CV’s studied.

[drop2]Then there’s the argument that a good Metacritic score doesn’t mean a good game – Diablo III currently sits at a score of 88 but has a user score of 3.8 and alternatively, The Amazing Spider-Man for the Nintendo Wii has a rating of 58 but a user score of 8.3. This brings up the issue of every number being a product of opinion, no matter how objective a reviewer tries to be.

Even though the majority of outlets use a rough scoring guide, there will always be small differences between each reviewer. This could result in subtle changes in score, and with a requirement of 85+, a subtle change may be all it takes to grant or deny you the opportunity to apply at Irrational.

My problem is that Irrational are making a very large judgement before a single curriculum vitae hits their inbox – that anyone who hasn’t worked on a title that has a Metacritic score of 85 or more isn’t good enough for them. I completely understand that it’s likely to be a position that’s in heavy demand, and it’s natural to want to filter “the good” from “the best”, but whether requiring a Metacritic score of 85+ will do that, I’m not too sure.

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25 Comments

  1. Exactly right. Although ‘bad’ candidates could be potentially weeded out through the use of Metacritic (in theory), it also weeds out candidates who might also be 10 times better than the one with a good score; the ‘good’ candidate has a good score for the games, but perhaps a bad work ethic/relationships with co-workers. Does this get noticed through using a score? No…and therefore, the genuinely better candidate gets left out because they just so happened to work on a game with a divided opinion base…much like Bioshock 2, for example.

  2. The day Official PlayStation Magazine UK gave Tomb Raider Angel of Darkness an 8/10 was the day I realised reviews are just one guy’s opinion and nothing more.

    A Metacritic score is nothing more than a collection of opinions, merged together to give some sort of overall value. The problem is no context is given (I’ve lost count how many times IGN get someone who can’t stand FPS’ to review the latest shooters, for example) and also some reviewers are naturally more critical than others (a 7.5 from Gamespot means much more than a 7.5 from GameTrailers).

    In short, Metacritic is fine for gamers to get a “rough” idea what a game is like but should definitely not be used to pick out candidates for a job.

    • Exactly, it seems like they are ill-informed of how Metacritic works. After thinking about this a little bit further though, they could be after the opinion of many, the ‘opinion of the crowds’ as they call it. It is a decent way of judging quality but you still have the problem of people being disguised by the quality of the project they are working on.

  3. I’ve worked in the recruitment industry for 8 years – and some of our best candidates have worked for some terrible companies on some terrible projects. Not to judge someone on their individual efforts or how well they might fit your own team seems silly to me!

  4. I decided not to go o Uni because I believe experience gets you further than grades, I used the time others were at Uni to get the experience they were missing out on. Uni is, ofcourse, still the best way to go in life in my opinion and i’d always advise people to go down that route, but based on the cost of Uni in this country and my own ideas about experience being better than grades I think I made the best choice for me personally.

    I think laying down requirements such as this detract from what they want, the best man for the job. Your ability can be hidden easily hidden by the project your working on and this works both ways ofcourse. I just think they should have had basic requirements for the job and that way surely they wouldn’t have missed anybody that could of given them that little bit extra.

    • I was just too lazy to go to Uni so I became an apprentice and worked my way up from there while getting a lot of practical knowledge on the way. Best choice I ever made in my life. The friends I graduated with from school still go to Uni and those that are already through Uni make less money a month, still live with their parents and have debts to pay off.
      Sure, there are 3-4 geniuses I went to school with and the’ll make a lot more than I’ll ever make but my lazy nature would not have gotten me there anyways. :P

      • Its not lazy its just… relaxed? :P Yeah you have the ones destined for greatness, but i’d say that the average joe would benefit from Uni greatly as its a great life experience (so i’m told) but (ironically) it doesn’t actually seem to help anybody get a job, which last I heard, was the main reason most people actually go to University…

    • I think it depends on the job. For example it’s tricky to get into a lot of the computing industry with a degree in the Computer Science area. I will admit my actual degree only taught me a few elements that are useful day to day (knowing how RAM work on the physical level is cool, but not super useful for most people). The best thing it did though was get me on an intern program, and that internship taught me some very useful coding skills. I could have picked them up elsewhere, but having them on my CV in that section has helped me since.

      • agreed. I too have a computer science degree but it, along with most of the things i actually learned on the course, haven’t really helped in my day to day jobs. Sort of knew that would be the case however. It just makes you seem a more viable candidate to some interviewers I suppose.

      • I on the other hand have been working in IT for about 14 years, yet my degree is in Film, TV and Radio studies. My highest IT qualification is a BTEC national diploma in computer science, and I decided that a three or four year university degree in an IT subject just wouldn’t hold my attention. I can safely say the Pascal and Fortran coding I did back on my BTEC has absolutely no day to day value or bearing in my finding a job, but the experience I have gained over the years is of fundamental importance to what I do pretty much every day I work.

  5. While I agree that it shouldn’t be done, we see it everywhere in our society.
    I was pretty lazy in school and ever only did the bare minimum to get through. Nonetheless I graduated as a B level student (or whatever you call it…).
    If I had put any effor into my last two years of school I would have easily graduated as an A level student.
    Thankfully my employer didn’t care about grades and hired me based on my performance during my one week trial. I’m now considered to be one of the top employees in my team. I’m putting effort into my work because I’m now doing something that I enjoy, while I was forced to learn stuff in school that I didn’t care about.
    It just shows that it’s not representative to rate a person based on averages. Rate a person based on how he/she does in the particular field he’s/she’s actually going to work in. A great project manager will be pulled down by bad programmers. Doesn’t mean he’s/she’s a bad project manager.
    Take note, IG!

  6. Ever wondered who the third/fourth guy on an interview panel is that doesn’t work in the particular trade that you are applying for a job at? It’s usually a body language analyst, and they decide within the first 20 seconds of an interview whether you are suitable or not…..before anything written on a CV comes into the equation.
    It’s all total toss but that’s the way that it’s become in the job market unfortunately, and the reason that we see more and more useless wanks taking the top jobs over the candidates that you would perceive to be more suitable.

    rant done :P

    • I’ll look forward to the encore when the ironically named irrational name their next Design Manager then :-]

  7. Yeah, I read an interview someone had Evan Wells once, and there he said that one of the key people behind the train section of the game had in fact been a designer on a game with a metacritic score of 45. The thing is, in the end its only Irrational games which will suffer and (hopefully) no one else.

  8. Going to Uni was probably the worst mistake I ever made. I took my degree in Chemistry but by year 3 I hated it. The lectures were boring and it felt like it took a lot of effort just to turn up.

    I now work for an insurance firm that has nothing at all to do with the chemical industry and I love my job. Spoke to the guy who interviewed me and he said the degree had diddly squat to do with me getting the job, I’d just given an amazing interview (I thought it went badly)

    I understand them putting a qualifier on a job application, I just disagree with the voice of qualification.

  9. I’ve always disliked the idea of Metacritic on the likes of Steam or Onlive isn’t really usful buyers tool for games really imo but its silly to even have it has a requirement for a job.

    Shame on you Ir

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