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. As someone who regularly sits in on interviews, Id have to disagree with this article, you HAVE to set the bar somewhere and to then say ‘well so and so is almost there, so lets get him/her in’ becomes self defeating, you say that some games are hovering around 83-84, the implication being maybe the level should be set at 80. Okay, so by that rationale some games will be around 78-79, so why not 75 and so on. I appreciate what youre saying, but the fact of the matter is that you have to have a jumping off point, is it fair?, probably not, would it be preferable to see everyone that is interested in the position?, absolutely and theres no doubt in my mind that we’ve missed out on some potentially top people because of it, but thats just the way it goes Im afraid, Id love to have a dept dedicated to just interviewing people, imagine some of the talent you could uncover, but sadly its just not practical.

    • I think you’re right, however MetaCritic seems to be an odd source of measure – since the scores can left by angry teenagers etc. Why not just have the measure of quality on years’ experiences etc like most employers.

      • Agreed – Your own abilities should be measured, not those of a team you were once on who may very well all be awful apart from you.

        Averages from critics who may hate the work you do (regardless of whether it is good or not) should not be a benchmark for future employment.

        Individuals should be taken on their own merit.

  2. Off topic chaps but I have a couple of dust 514 beta codes if anyone interested, pm me if so, only valid for the weekend so please don’t ask for them if you plan on sitting in a beer garden for the next two days. Cheers all

  3. Metacritic is a blight on the industry and should be put out to pasture and it’s influence nullified forthwith.

    • It’s handy for users to compare positive & negative reviews, easily & quickly. But publishers hold far too much stock by it, the way Obsidian were treated over Fallout New Vegas was disgraceful.

      Developers should make games they want to make, or games people want to play, aiming for critical acclaim over what your ‘fans’ or you yourself is passionate about, is just wrong.

  4. I think it’s a very bizarre filtering tool for employment. Often I see must have worked on a AAA title, and that’s sometimes a silly thing to say too. It’s as if they’re trying to start to cool hype before they’ve even begun. I always find with all recruitment, eventually experience will run out if you just reuse the same people constantly. I went for a job for Mediatonic which specifically said no experience needed. Got through to stage 4 in the recruitment and was weeded out… based on no experience. What really was the point in wasting my time, and there’s, when it actually was a factor.

  5. The main problem is that metacritic is an incredibly flawed system at times. I just hope that a truly talented developer would have a portfolio and the avenues to advertise his ability to a firm that isn’t just a written CV when surely in this line of work creative ability is more important.

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