I’m performing a psychological deck-clearing in preparation for The Future, and I thought I’d get this one little thing off my chest. If nothing else, I hope this entry marks the last time I ever write about my résumé. Not quite the bottomless bucket of laffs it seemed at first blush.
I dined with a fellow Wideload castaway a couple months back. One of the many things we talked about was the résumé-related silliness I described in my last post. He said he’d signed up with the same company and had a similar experience, but satisfied their thirst for “Accomplishment Stories” by pointing out in his résumé that Guilty Party received a Best Family Game of E3 award from IGN.
Hmmm… I thought. So when I finally revised my résumé, I mentioned that Guilty Party, when it shipped, had the highest Metacritic score of any game Disney Interactive had ever released for the Nintendo Wii.
I wanted to post that on the Wideload web site back when Guilty Party was still fresh out of the chute. Most developers boast about ratings when a game is new; there’s this crazy theory that spreading word of good reviews improves your odds of selling a few more copies. So you can imagine my surprise when I was told I could not mention the Metacritic score. I don’t know who made the call to cut that line — presumably someone much farther up the food chain — but a producer at Wideload (who shall remain nameless here, because it wasn’t his fault) delivered the news to me.
“You can’t say that thing about the Metacritic score on the website,” he told me.
“Why not? It’s true.”
“There is a concern that it might hurt some people’s feelings.” I had a pretty good idea whose feelings he was talking about, though I won’t mention that person by name either. Funny how people who exhibit casual contempt for the feelings of others can be so precious about their own — but hey, that’s hypocrisy for you.
“If someone is upset about Guilty Party’s Metacritic score,” I opined, “that’s not our problem.”
“Sorry, dude. You have to replace that line with something else.”
“Okay: ‘Guilty Party: The Game So Good, Disney’s Afraid to Promote It.’ Done.” (Sometimes, when irked, I conflate forthright honesty with flat-out hostility. It’s not my most appealing trait.)
“Yeah, that’s not going to work either.”
So the purely-factual-but-possibly-prickly statement about Guilty Party having the highest Metacritic score of any Wii game Disney had released (and they have released a few) was excised from the game’s web page before it went live. Despite good reviews and word-of-mouth from the cognoscenti, Guilty Party sank from public view as big-name franchises hit store shelves just in time for the holidays. Meanwhile, Disney Interactive continued to bleed like a stuck pig for the next couple years. One sentence on a web page wouldn’t have changed either of those things, and it’s all ancient history now. The important thing is that no one’s feelings were hurt. That’s what “shareholder value” means, right?
Anyway, now it’s late 2012 and I needed an Accomplishment Story for my résumé, so I wrote, “Guilty Party had the highest Metacritic score of any Disney game for the Wii for several months after it shipped.”
Then I wondered what had eventually dethroned it.
Turns out: nothing.
As of this writing, over two years after Guilty Party’s release, it still holds the highest Metacritic score of any Disney game for the Wii.
Numerical review scores are imperfect ways to evaluate games. So many important nuances get lost in just one number, let alone a weighted average of dozens. There are good reasons for developers and gamers alike to resent the importance publishers now place on a game’s Metacritic score.
But this is not a post about the pros and cons of Metacritic as a metric of artistic merit. This is a post about the Disney game for the Wii with the highest Metacritic score. And for two years running, that game has been Guilty Party.
I’ll update my résumé if that ever changes.