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Friday, March 22, 2019

The Division 2 Doesn't Divide Critics: Except Variety

By LUDWIG VON KOOPA - Well, that's why they call it Variety...

Have you read Matt Paprocki's review on Variety.com of Ubisoft's Tom Clancy's The Division 2? Well, it's quite... interesting. You won't learn much about The Division 2 (rather unfortunate, since it's the first The Division 2 review I've actually read), but you will learn about how frustrated Mr. Paprocki is about Fox News host Tucker Carlson being on TV and defending conservative values and gun rights.

It's a kooky review, but Variety is culturally important (I didn't know they wrote about games—though games are part of the culture, so it makes sense) in the United States. And, importantly for the videogame industry, they have a seat as a Metacritic-approved reviewer.

Tom Clancy's The Division 2 Metacritic score PlayStation 4 Variety reviews
The scores are positive for almost everyone... and Variety is the only negative one.
For a game about division, that's pretty good.

That means it's worth giving some attention to this review, since it affects the industry.

The reason for the review's... unorthodox style, according to the writer, Matt Paprocki:


Mr. Paprocki also expands on his reviewing philosophy in his résumé as “offering insight into the medium's social growth and artistic merit.” Essentially, Variety and Paprocki give variety to the game-reviewing part of the industry by focusing on the kinds of critical cultural aspects that other game reviewers don't do.

I do believe that has its place. I mean, of course I should say that. KoopaTV, this very website, does that all of the time. I just did that as recently as this week, taking the gameplay mechanics of character-to-character socialisation and comparing them to real-life college students’ networking habits. However, we don't go and call those reviews. We have other article categories for that.

Our Reviews category is sparsely populated, but they contain the commentary that you'd expect from a review. Details about mechanics, fun, music, whatever. Answering the question of if the game is worth your money based on if it was worth ours. (A key question since we don't get review copies from publishers.)

The cultural and political things we leave for the rest of the site. Not that we're on Metacritic anyway, but that's the best thing to do when you consider the responsibility that a writer wields when using their authoritative voice to influence discussion and sales.

It's not very good writing, either. Matt Paprocki goes way too much into his clear dislike of Tucker Carlson, but doesn't even back up his anti-Tucker blatherings with evidence. It's not the most apt comparison to a conservative talking head he could make. Tucker Carlson's pet issue isn't even guns!

Paprocki characterises the feedback loop of looter shooters—cycling through more powerful weaponry as you progress through the game while fighting more powerful enemies, which is a feedback loop in games dating back many decades and even millennia for literature—as a result of a recent American Second Amendment-related concept. That doesn't make sense. It's clear that the reviewer isn't a fan of the loop and finds the whole thing pointless—and it's the fault of the game for not making it interesting (though I don't think he played the game in good faith)—but it's dumb to judge it based on his personal political preferences than in gameplay terms.

Game reviews should be different than other mediums’ reviews, because games are fundamentally different than other mediums.

While I like Tucker's show, that doesn't affect my opinion that this review was a disaster. (If he bashed Rachel Maddow, I'd have the same opinion.) It could've been written for really any shooting game, and isn't specific to The Division 2, leading many to wonder in the comments section what Paprocki was doing during the 15 hours he alleged to have played the game. Perhaps he just needed to vent against the right-wing boogeyman of Tucker Carlson that day.

He didn't review The Division 2 as a cultural artifact. He just projected his half-baked hateful thoughts swirling in his inner monologue. And I review his review as a poor review.


KoopaTV hopes to have a lot more content around Tom Clancy's The Division 2 in the future that's more related to the game! Since this article is categorised as a Review, you're free to review Ludwig's review of The Division 2 review. Reviews! (Don't expect a KoopaTV review of The Division 2, unless you want to lobby Kamek or Wendy to do that.)



Ludwig believes that readers have stopped putting trust in what the critics have to say.
At least when IGN got their Fire Emblem: Radiant Dawn review totally wrong, they still talked in gaming terms.
At least The Division 2 is more well-received than the first The Division.

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