Why lists are dead [but not buried]


"Nachos are our number one priority ... "

At the end of 2007 I wrote a list of games that I had enjoyed throughout the year. Like everyone else I drew up a list and a top 10, without giving a thought to  the reason why. Preconditioned by a culture of charts, I felt obliged to rank them and present them in the trite and familiar format that provides the template for a myriad of  TV shows accompanied by talking heads. Looking back at that list I realised that most of those games were added to the list in an attempt to be comprehensive. This is impossible as most of my gaming takes place on single platform, Xbox 360. Whilst I own a Wii and PS3, they are turned on with much less regularity (Only 1 game has ever resulted in repeated struggles with the dualshock 3: LittleBigPlanet).

The 2007 list wasn’t necessarily compiled about games that I had fallen in love with. Just played.

At the end of 2008, I started to write my top 10 (again) and realised I was going to make the same mistake again. So I decided on simply having 1 game in the list. That game was LittleBigPlanet. However there were two other games that simply wouldn’t leave my head: Dead Space and Burnout Paradise. A long time has now passed since I started to write the 2008 list and I havent gone any further.  In age where the avalanche of editorial in Q4 is dictated by  the endless generation of lists I have now decided to stop adding to the ‘pile of broken dreams’.

Metacritic at once makes the need to compile a list of anything completely redundant and simultaneously propagates the belief they are essential.

In a recent Edge article, it considered the impact of Metacritic and lamented its effect on the game development community. All art will be judged. This is more true that ever, but the hubbub of the collective blog community, sounds like static on a radio. The white noise of information. Faced with such incoherence the indecisive will turn to a respected resource like Metacritic. After all it cant be wrong? … it’s impartial. It simply averages out what other people have written.

Therein lies the problem. Metacritic aggregates the beliefs of people who are paid to write about things. All kinds of things, but the common theme is that they are all courted, PR‘d and cajoled into reaching their conclusions. Metacritic, therefore, is simply a meat grinder.


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