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Jim Felli - On Ratings

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26 Jul 2018 16:16 #278449 by WadeMonnig
Replied by WadeMonnig on topic Jim Felli - On Ratings
One thing not addressed in this article: The tendency of someone reading any rating and immediately converting it to a school based grade system in their head. Anything that rates less than a "70" when coveted is a F
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26 Jul 2018 17:04 #278456 by LazarusTNT

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26 Jul 2018 17:58 - 26 Jul 2018 18:02 #278467 by Erik Twice
Replied by Erik Twice on topic Jim Felli - On Ratings
I actually like reviews with a score attached. And I actually like them for some of the reasons most critics hate them.

I like people being able to tell, at a glance, what I think of a game. Some critics dislike this because it sends an anchor in the minds of the some readers. You know, the kind that will think "Oh, he's wrong" before he has read a single word. Well, I don't think these people would like me very much anyways and I think the people that would, would benefit greatly from knowing, in no unequivocal terms, what my opinion is on a game is.

Take, for example, my review of This War of Mine. If I simply listed it on my site, most people would ignore it, since there's no shortage of info on the topic and it's a fairly old game. Most would assume my views on the topic fit the game and would not investigate further. But if I add the score to it, people will know my opinion is not the same as everyone else and may read them.

And so far, nobody, absolutely nobody has taken issue with it after reading it. And those who would have, well, I don't think they are the kind of audience I want to have.

This is important to me because I tend to write about obscure games and feel very passionate about them. I want people to wonder, hey, how come this game I've never heard about is rated so highly? What's so special about this "Netrunner" thing, to deserve such a high rating? What are all those games that start with "18" and that get so high ratings? That kind of stuff. It's just useful.

Because, well. Most people don't know. Most people only know about the games they see in stores and the look at games in the only way they have been told it's possible. And I want to change that, even if it's just a little bit.
Last edit: 26 Jul 2018 18:02 by Erik Twice.
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27 Jul 2018 07:13 #278487 by southernman
Replied by southernman on topic Jim Felli - On Ratings

SuperflyTNT wrote: superflycircus.com/2012/07/petes-persona...phy-on-game-ratings/

I forgot I wrote this.


Well I'm glad I didn't get any games based just on your scores as if I saw a 7.5 - 8 rating (from someone who has similar gaming tastes) that would be a definite buy if I saw it for a reasonable price :-)

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27 Jul 2018 07:32 - 27 Jul 2018 07:33 #278488 by southernman
Replied by southernman on topic Jim Felli - On Ratings
If anyone treat people's game ratings as anything other than purely subjective (just like music and film and art and ...) then they are in for a lot of disappointment and hurt when they start spending their disposable income. In one of my gaming groups most of them are dedicated euro-gamers and I would not even bother looking at their rating for games I was interested in (and I have the empirical evidence of not being able to get probably 90% of my games played with them, and the few I do get a mixed reception).

As with most sensible people I listen to advice from people with similar interests, thoughts or outlooks so for a feeling about a game I have seen or become interested in it is the ratings and comments from 'geekbuddies' list (that many of you here are on) that will put me, or not, into 'I may buy this' mode. There will probably be a bit of reading of comments only of people on that game database site just to see if any red flags come up and maybe a skim of the rules to get a gist of the structure and mechanics but this will usually only be important if few of my geekbuddies had played it.

And I do get a good laugh out of people/reviewers who get a bit snotty when someone disagrees with their 'opinion', either insecurity or they just haven't got it that everyone is different in this world - and that's what makes it so interesting.
Last edit: 27 Jul 2018 07:33 by southernman.
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27 Jul 2018 09:45 #278501 by hotseatgames
Replied by hotseatgames on topic Jim Felli - On Ratings
Great article, as always!

For me, a review's value is generally based on the reviewer. I need to read / see several reviews by that person, hopefully juxtaposing my own experiences with those games. Only then can I reasonably assume that if reviewer X likes a game, I will also like that game.
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27 Jul 2018 09:52 - 27 Jul 2018 09:52 #278503 by LazarusTNT
Replied by LazarusTNT on topic Jim Felli - On Ratings

Southernman wrote:

SuperflyTNT wrote: superflycircus.com/2012/07/petes-persona...phy-on-game-ratings/

I forgot I wrote this.


Well I'm glad I didn't get any games based just on your scores as if I saw a 7.5 - 8 rating (from someone who has similar gaming tastes) that would be a definite buy if I saw it for a reasonable price :-)


To be fair, the Circus always had clear metrics:
superflycircus.com/index-of-articles-and-attractions/

0.00 – 1.00: Games That Should Come With Suicide Kits

1.00 – 2.75: Failures, In A Great Many Ways

2.75 – 4.00: Sailing The Sea Of Mediocrity

4 .00- 4.50: Games That Everyone Should Play, At Least Once

4.50 – 5.00: The Most Fun You Can Have Without Sex Or Drugs
Last edit: 27 Jul 2018 09:52 by LazarusTNT.
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27 Jul 2018 19:13 #278589 by Sevej
Replied by Sevej on topic Jim Felli - On Ratings
For me there are two kind of ratings.

The first is the quick rating. When I'm too lazy to read an article, I just see the rating. This is especially useful either when I do research across whole lot of reviewers. For this one, fewer items is better. One number is excellent.

The second, is when I need to see what exactly a game is, without reading the review. Never seen this because I don't think this is viable. Most of the time a paragraph does a better job at this. But if you like to play with numbers, a paragraph won't do. Sometimes I just like using numbers. The thing is, the more I think about it, the worse it gets. Once I think about a rating system (for fun) to value my collection, I ended up with an archaic system that can be very abstract and imbalanced. For example last time I think about it (again, for fun), I ended up with something like: Freedom (is the player railroaded?), social (the game relies more on the player?), interaction (can you screw/help people?), interface (are you playing the game, or the interface?) and other useless nonsense, while I was trying to make sense out of it.

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29 Jul 2018 23:34 #278706 by BaronDonut
Replied by BaronDonut on topic Jim Felli - On Ratings
This was a fascinating article, and I've really dug the conversation happening here. I wanted to jump in and offer my two cents.* Before we can really evaluate the efficacy of a particular rating system, I think it's important to establish what exactly reviews are for. The least interesting reviews, to me, are reviews that are primarily concerned with whether or not a game is worth your money. I also think these are like 90% of the game reviews out there, and the ratings system that are developed in pursuit of this goal tend to exist mostly to rank, prioritize, and evaluate games in some sort of objective hierarchy as a necessary means of making "smart purchases." As other folks have mentioned, this can only lead to disappointment, because it's fundamentally just not how human beings interact with art.

And I do think that games are art, and that even the bad ones have something interesting to say about people and the way we think. But the joy and beauty (and irritation and frustration) of art is that it is subjective at its core. Every time one of us comes into contact with any kind of art, we create a unique conversation, engaging with what the art is presenting and bringing into dialogue with it all our experiences, ideas, influences, and biases. So while we might be talking about the same game/painting/novel/film, we are probably having very different experiences. This is great! Art helps us bridge the gaps between each other and gives us common ground from which we can explore ideas and experiences. It's also tough, because it means we'll never be on entirely the same page about the thing in question. In any case, the nature of this conversation makes any kind of "objective" critique not just irrelevant, but impossible, especially in a hobby that is focused not simply on one person's experience, but the unique alchemy that happens when you play a game with a bunch of different human beings at the same time.

I think the ideal kind of criticism is based on conveying personal experience and exploring the ideas and mechanics that drive a game (as well as the ideas and feelings these mechanics produce). Every time we play a game we briefly step into a parallel world, one in which the normal processes of our perception and problem-solving are altered and directed in new and interesting ways. How does this feel? How does this change how we think? What kind of pleasure, excitement, boredom, or frustration does this system create? There's a wealth of fascinating shit to explore in each game we play, and most reviews barely scratch the surface in their rush to tell you whether this box is worth 60 bucks or not.

I don't wanna talk too much shit about "buyer's guide" type reviews, though, because even if they're mostly uninteresting pieces of writing, they're still kind of necessary in the game world, I think? Because unlike movies or books or video games, it's not like there's a wealth of information out there, and the high cost of a game means that having limited resources is a very real problem. A person with a decent income can probably see most of the "best movies" that populate year-end lists without bankrupting themselves. Even a dedicated gamer can only play a fraction of what's released, and folks are rightfully interested in making sure that fraction is as fun or interesting as possible.

So what to do? I tend to compromise when I write reviews, balancing my own associative and experiential thinking with more "hard" details about a game that might prove useful to folks wondering if it's a thing worthy of their time. Star reviews are another compromise--they seem to be essential to the review's discoverability, so I'll put a rating on there (usually a torturous process) in hopes that it will be the first word of a conversation and not the last one. I think games criticism is still in its infancy, and I'm interested in the conventions, style, and function it develops as it matures.

*Note: I'm an insufferable English teacher who writes about games for this site (and therefore, thinks that Writing About Games is Important), so this screed is written through the lens of a navel-gazing humanitarian who could probably use the rigor of the hard sciences. Also, it's worth noting that my first widely published piece of writing a decade-plus ago was explicitly about how games are not art so, you know, I reserve the right to change my ideas.
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