Deathloop has arrived on consoles, and with it came the reviews of the specialized press which, with very few doubts, they rolled out a carpet of praise for the Arkane Lyon title, guilty of a cohesion between gameplay, plot and, above all, identification of the player with the character, which seem to fully justify therow of 8, 9 and even 10 that the game has scrapped around the world.
Yet, net of this, Deathloop seems to have an artificial intelligence that it oscillates between the embarrassing and the tragicomic, managing to do worse than other titles of Arkane’s glorious past including, let’s face it, even that Dishonored that has experienced, in this sense, a constant of ups and downs. Is this a problem? Probably yes, and I say “probably”, because the writer has not yet had the opportunity to play Deathloop and, since I have things to do that I carry on my back, I will probably play the new Arkane adventure later on, almost certainly when there is a slight drop in price.
So why are we here talking about it? Because I believe that Deathloop has raised the dust from what are the “ruins” of a speech that has been going on more or less since Zzap came to newsstands, which is the first trade magazine to introduce the concept of “vote”, which from that moment on has been accompanied by practically any written or verbal pardon relating to the world of videogames. No.ot that before there were no votes for the media, of course, but obviously it is very difficult for gamers to deal with the numbers, and this is a fact.
What’s the problem? Basically that the players have not found themselves in the reviews that, according to them, have rewarded the game with too high votes, net of too stupid AI. It is difficult for me to say how much and if the AI is actually harmful to the gaming experience, however it still makes me smile, because in all the reviews I have read, which are the 4 or 5 of the main Italian portals, orHowever, each of them contained a reference to the game’s AI problems, although it is clear that for the respective editors this did not affect the experience as a whole, which has many other reasons to be considered valid well beyond sufficiency, it is clear however that “tastes are tastes”.
Now, who writes to you, we repeat it, he didn’t put his hand to Deathloop, but he has put his hand to years and years of videogame journalism and Deathloop, in all honesty, is just a pretext to question oneself once again on two principles that govern this profession: the first is that of inserting votes in reviews, The second one it is the way in which readers enjoy editorial content and, let me tell you, the situation is disastrous on both sides.
The problem with voting is that it responds to two needs, a practical one and a diegetic one. The first is the most obvious one of defining, in a concise and convenient way, what the editor thinks about a given product, without necessarily having to read the whole text of the review. This need, in reality, however, is the child of truly remote times, in which magazines wrote rivers and rivers of text for individual reviews, thanks to those who were the limits of time (we are talking about the 80s), in which the boundary materials, as well as just a presentation trailer, they were neither that popular nor that cheap. Today, a product enjoys extensive media coverage well before its release which, let’s face it, it almost always allows you to get a good idea of what its nature is, making explanations too detailed, or too detailed, almost always useless.
The second point is purely narrative. The votes generate a real narrative “about the game”. They create a dialogue, good or bad, of which video games live as needed, both to sell themselves to that same audience, and to establish relationships between publisher and press, and to establish a relationship between press and public and perhaps, precisely in this sense, they are the media that is most easily subject to the mood of their audience. The point is that a review with a negative vote creates chatter, hilarity and even aggregation, because man has always enjoyed seeing others fall and, as in a gladiatorial show, hypothesize, for example, that a future GTA 6 could take 8 and not 10 will generate – and believe us, it would actually happen – a series of comments, reactions, and chatter that could only be found in a few other fringes in the entertainment world. The beauty is that it can also happen in a completely reverse way, with votes that are judged too high and that can, as it was for Deathloop, generate too much chatter, too much noise, too much discontent. It is not a completely wrong practice in any sense, because personal opinion, after all, is what moves any market, even the most noble one which is the artistic one, and on the basis of it names, brands and personalities are founded and overturned.
After all, satisfaction is the currency of society 2.0. We express satisfaction or dissatisfaction with anything, and even if the mechanics of social networks would seem to want to dampen this principle (trying, for example, to offer users only conceptually positive reactions, such as hearts or likes), at the same time it feeds the need for content creators to “avoid” being unpleasant, basing the popularity on an algorithm that does not find pleasure in denial (dislike, unfollow, little appreciation in general), but asks to swallow a constant and, if possible, absolute satisfaction.
It follows that, if before it was difficult, if not impossible to get rid of the problem of voting, when it was still anchored to mere printed paper and therefore, in some way irrefutable, if not by means of letters or emails that would not be have been read (perhaps) never, today as today, with the birth of the new internet and the aforementioned social networks, the concept of having to overcome, or even just face, an opinion contrary to ours seems an impossible challenge.
This is a huge problem and, as mentioned, impossible to face, and to which is then joined a purely economic question, which goes to dig in the context of the relationships that the votes can, of course, create between software houses, publishers, PR and press but this , believe me, although it is a truth, it is a practice that is now so little widespread, especially among the high-level specialized press, that noIt’s not even worth thinking about it that much.
The point is that the vote, in its need for synthesis (on the one hand) and in its ability to create narrative, whether positive or negative (on the other), it should simply be a tinsel to what is the written text, which represents the editor’s unquestionable judgment. This is because the vote cannot summarize by itself the thought, the facets, or even just the tastes of the editor, but also and above all because on balance, there is no universal standard of judgment shared by the editorial staff that determines what allows, and what does not, a game to roll 6 instead of 10. It would also be stupid to ask.
Of course, we can imagine that history, technique, music and artistic direction can make a difference, but it would be silly and pretentious ask that there be a standard that unites all of humanity in terms of pleasure and taste. Indeed, perhaps it would be just stupid, because it would mean smoothing out tastes, smoothing out ideas and, finally, smoothing out even art. I repeat: I don’t think the votes for Deathloop were too wide of the sleeve, or too punitive, I simply think that the review must be a trace, a kind of advice, and that it must then be my direct experience on the product to tell me if that thing works for me, or not, because otherwise it would mean asking someone to do “the work dirty for me “.
Moreover, there are not rare cases in which the common thought, or in any case more widely diffused, does not marry with our personal thought. I, to say, I can’t stand the soulslike genre, and I believe Dark Souls is the most boring series available on the market. I find that the controls are woody, that it has a plot that necessarily wants to live off half-things, without actually telling me anything, and that its exploration is boring and unnecessarily punitive. This is a problem? No, because I tried it and I realized that it was not for me, and I went on, without denying its qualities, and even understanding its ideas and meaning. I understand why it is liked, I can doubt it is a masterpiece, but I cannot deny the reasons why it is considered a series to play, it just isn’t for me, and that’s right.
The problem is that for too long we have asked others to do their homework for us, and voting has become too controversial, too “powerful” a tool to be fully understood. We can’t change things, we cannot ask, nor expect, that the entire gaming journalism sector change because Deathloop’s AI is probably too poor to deserve 8. More realistically, we can give a damn about all of this, and enjoy the reviews for what they are: the advice, the ideas, the overview provided by professionals and designed to make us discover products, or even just the nuances of those same products, which perhaps we would not be able on our own to grasp. Not for stupidity, but only for a monstrous superabundance of works, objectively too many to have a painstaking knowledge of everything.
At this point the vote would go back to what it was in Zzap’s time: a number that does not have to do is summarize a thought but which, precisely because of its extreme synthesis, alone means very little, so much so that it requires further study, which on the other hand already exists, and is the text itself. Only in this way can the vote be stripped of any possible deviated meaning, when that happens you will stop running at the end of the article only for the vote, then closing the entire window to immediately run to complain about it elsewhere, also leaving the poor editor stunned who, hey , with Deathloop’s AI he really had to deal with it, but net of this he was also able to do something more: his job. Is it little?
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