God of War Director's Review Reaction Is A Reminder That Games Are Made By Humans

God of War releases today on the PS4, meaning that reviews for the high-profile exclusive are now on the internet. You might read one of these assessments. The developers of the game also read these reviews, and after years of hard work and toil, it’s an emotional experience.

God of War director Cory Barlog uploaded a video yesterday in which he filmed his reaction to checking out his game’s score on review aggregate site Metacritic. “I’m very nervous about seeing this,” he warns the viewer. “It’s been a long, long, long time coming. Five years has gone into this game, so this moment means...means a lot.”

Here’s what happens next:

In that moment, Barlog lets it all out. He takes his glasses off, exhales, starts rubbing his eyes. There are tears. He can’t believe it. God of War has a 94 on Metacritic when he checks it. (It is now up to a 95.) People actually like his game!


“It shouldn’t matter, but I’m just so fucking proud,” he says, in between sniffles.

“A lot of people put a lot of work, and a lot of faith, and uh, I’m just so lucky to work with the people that I work with,” Barlog says, before thanking specific folks.

While Metacritic has its share of problems, seeing Barlog react so openly like this is touching. On the internet, it’s easy to forget that games are made by living, breathing people. It’s seemingly simpler to think of games as the products of faceless companies who only think in dollar signs. The truth is much more complicated than that, of course.

Barlog’s description of why he uploaded this moment is heartwarming too:

So, I thought a lot about whether or not to upload but then I thought of what my son, Helo, is going through right now. He doesn’t want us to be around when he is sad, opting to run in another room and yell at us if we try to come in. It has been important to us to let him know that it is OK to be sad, it is OK to cry. There is nothing to hide. I thought I would try to set a good example and show him that papa can cry in front of the world, or at least the 50 people who end up watching this. :) This is for you, Helo. Papa loves you.

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I just hate that this guy has to turn to an awful site like Metacritic to confirm that him and his team made a great game. Another comment on this talked about chipping away at toxic masculinity. That’s great, but what about chipping away at a toxic development culture that revolves around aggregated, numbered reviews? I think a site like RottenTomatoes, where critics can personally specify whether they think a film is “rotten” or “fresh” in spite of their review score, is quite a bit better than using a secret algorithm to “average” numbers critics assign to games.

I’m happy that at least Kotaku has done away with numbered scores, but I wish more sites would follow suit.