Of all the things currently sitting on our gaming console’s hard drives that could distract the review process, from Facebook to Twitter, there is one other distraction no one seems to think of: cross-game chatting.
There was a time when I saw no problem during the review process chatting with a friend while I plow through the latest shooter. Something clicked though and I realized how much I was missing. In-game dialogue exchanges lost their impact, the whole experience turned numb, it became hard to focus on things like level design, and frustration set in as I continually died because my thoughts went elsewhere.
Say what you will about being able to multi-task; chatting while reviewing is the equivalent of chatting while watching a movie. That’s not to say you’re going miss something crucial every time you accept a chat invite. Mafia II would have been easier to swallow if someone was chatting with me while dealing with those dull, pointless driving segments, but what happens when the conversation spills over into a cinematic? What happens when the gunplay picks up and you’re just going through the motions? It’s not fair to the developer, and it’s not fair to the readers.
This is of course only relevant to single player. Co-op experiences are based around communication, and online versus play even more so.
Does this happen during reviews on various professional sites? It could. No one would come right out and admit it within the text, but if you’re online, someone is bound to send an invite along. I used to do it. Now I just choose to, at least on the 360, select to appear offline if I’m reviewing something just to be sure. It’s the only way to keep it fair.