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Subject: Shifting demographics/trends in BGG rankings? rss

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dave bcs
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Has anyone followed the changes in the types of games in the top rankings over time? I have been gaming a long time, though do not always follow BGG real studiously. I recently noticed that many of my favorite games, many of which are medium to heavy euros with high player interaction and theme immersion (examples: Nippon, Madiera, Voyages of Marco Polo, Mombasa, Signorie) seem conspicuously absent from the high rankings. Voyages of Marco Polo is fairly high, and Mombasa is next at 75th.

What seems to dominate the high ranks are co-ops, fantasy-theme, and low conflict/low theme (drier, if you will?) euros.

I am imagining that this is a recent trend?

If not, then what accounts for it: changing tastes, shifting BGG demographics, or something else?

Tell me what you think.

 
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Matt Brown
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Having played Scythe and Star Wars: Rebellion, I think the speed in which newer games enter into the Top 15 needs to get looked at. I'm not sure either are Top 30 or even Top 50 worthy. SW:R is about to surpass a game, Agricola, which literally has 10x the amount of votes. SW:R certainly won't spend 10 years in the Top 10 like Agricola did.
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jay
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Yeah these trends are something of a concern for me personally as a lot of these games I don't really love. Star Wars rebellion I really despised and Imperial Assault got old quick for me. I haven't yet played blood rage or scythe but high ratings for a recent thematic game make me think that I'll hate it.

I want to assume that these games have gotten polished over the last few years by learning from euros and euro games haven't really innovated much lately.
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Matt Brown
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Blood Rage at least felt impressive at first play and has held up. All accounts support this being the correct ending to a 4+ hour learning game of SW:R with 5 rounds of dice rolling for two X-Wings blowing up the Death Star.

(roll, roll)
Nope.
(roll, roll)
Nope.
(roll, roll)
Nope.
(roll, roll)
Nope.
(roll, roll)
Rebel player wins.

Yep, that's a Top 10 game worthy way to end a 4+ hour game. shake

FYI, Scythe has its own issues. Neither game is bad. I can see rating both in the 7-8 area, but Top 10 with so few votes? Craziness.
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dave bcs
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So is it that a relatively smaller and newer group of raters are giving rabid love for their favorite while those who aren't giant fans aren't voting?
 
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Nicholas Palmer
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"I don't like these games so something must be wrong with the system/voters/etc!"

I think Terra Mystica is trash, but a lot of people really like it, so it deserves to be as high as it is.

The same is true for any game you don't think is "top 10 worthy".
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Matt D
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This argument seems to come up and get beaten to death whenever something rises up to displace an existing number 1. If you want to see it beaten way way to death, check out threads from the lead up to and then once Pandemic Legacy: Season 1 assumed the top spot.

I think the best way to summarize this whole thing is, BGG uses a poor statistical model for its analysis, and as a result far too little weight is given to the body of votes versus the values.

There are plenty of statistical models that do account for this; if I were in charge, I'd probably go more towards the model that the IMDB uses.

No model is going to be flawless, but this one is more flawed I think than others.
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dave bcs
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Chill. I actually like many of the games cited, and I certainly don't expect my favorites to be shared by all. I was just curious about the trends.
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Nicholas Palmer
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drdranetz wrote:
Chill. I actually like many of the games cited, and I certainly don't expect my favorites to be shared by all. I was just curious about the trends.


I wasn't responding to you directly, apologies, I was responding to the people saying basically "x isn't a top 10 game" because they didn't specifically like it.

And none of my tied for favorite games are even in the top 100 . Though Dungeon Petz used to be (Other two are Prodigals Club and Millennium Blades.)
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Matt D
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drdranetz wrote:
So is it that a relatively smaller and newer group of raters are giving rabid love for their favorite while those who aren't giant fans aren't voting?


There is that; also, a smaller number of votes has a greater impact.

For example, the current #1, Pandemic Legacy, has a 8.4 average out of 11k votes. The current #2, Through the Ages: A New Story of Civilization, has a 8.23 average out of 4k votes. Compare that to Twilight Struggle, which had been #1 for many years, with a 8.229 average out of 24k votes.

Not talking about statistics, but from an eyeball test, which would you think is the more popular, higher rated game? The game that has a 0.001 out of 10 higher score, or the one that has 6 times as many votes that put it there?

That's part of the issue. With that kind of margin, 100 people voting TTA at 10 has a huge swing, versus 100 people voting TS at 10.

And manipulation of the BGG rankings is a somewhat newer phenomenon (it certainly existed back in the Twilight Struggle war, but not much before then I don't think). So games like TTA have more people giving it 10s to try to raise up its ranking, versus a game like Puerto Rico that has literally 11 times as many votes as TTA, most of which were probably more representative of actual opinion than a meta-effort to get it lifted to the top.
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Matt D
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drdranetz wrote:
Chill. I actually like many of the games cited, and I certainly don't expect my favorites to be shared by all. I was just curious about the trends.


The trend you are seeing, IMO, is that now people will, yes, rabidly rate games a "10" specifically to increase the average and increase the ranking. While back in the day (not sure when exactly it jumped the shark, but I do think it was with Twilight Struggle), the ratings were generally speaking more reflective of their actual opinion.

In other words, I really like Valley of the Kings, and would score it an 8. But I figure other people might not like it, but I want it to rise in the rankings, so I'll just rank it a 10 so it goes up.

It's a meta-game. And it does appear to be a (relatively) recent trend compared to the entire lifetime of BGG. It is further enabled by the poor statistical model that does not provide any additional weight to a large pool of rankings.
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Nicholas Palmer
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You are looking at the Geek Rating, not the Average Rating.

The new through the ages has an 8.86 average over ~4k votes.
Twilight struggle has an 8.36 over ~24k votes.

The 0.001 difference is the weighted rates, which is what the rankings actually use, and take number of votes into account (to a degree)

(also, a more weighted to more votes method would actually hurt the games the OP liked anyway, as Marco Polo and Mombasa don't have a lot of votes comparatively either.)

Also, the effect of the gaming the system isn't as extreme as you think, since plenty of people are also hate voting 1s on games intentionally to manipulate the scores as well. Also, there are apparently some antishill systems in place by BGG that aren't disclosed, so there may be even less of a problem with that than we think.
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dave bcs
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Thanks. I had suspected the magnified effect of fewer 10's, though did not consider that there could be organized efforts to boost a game to the top. Reminds me of GMT where games can be given 5 stars even before they are even close to being released!
 
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Ryan Keane
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lifelesspoet wrote:
Yeah these trends are something of a concern for me personally as a lot of these games I don't really love. Star Wars rebellion I really despised and Imperial Assault got old quick for me. I haven't yet played blood rage or scythe but high ratings for a recent thematic game make me think that I'll hate it.

I want to assume that these games have gotten polished over the last few years by learning from euros and euro games haven't really innovated much lately.


I don't really understand why people are concerned that games they don't love are in the top 10 or top 100. I pretty strongly dislike Through the Ages and Terra Mystica and am meh about Twilight Struggle, and don't have much interest in trying SW Imperial Assault or Rebellion. But people are gonna like what they like, not what I like. Of course I am happy when a game that I love jumps up in the rankings, I guess because I like the idea of a game I love getting more prominence and more people seeking it out to see if it's a good match for them, but other than that the rankings don't mean anything to me. I know what I like - whether a game is highly ranked or not doesn't change that.

To the OP's question, I think it's become harder for more classic Euro-style games to get up into the top rankings. They have to be the true cream of the crop like Terra Mystica or new editions of already loved games (Caverna, Through the Ages, and I would include Pandemic Legacy too). I personally am pretty happy with the Euro's I have - very few of the newer Euro's have been improvements enough to make me want to stop playing Caylus, Agricola, Power Grid, Puerto Rico, etc. Whereas hybrid thematic games with Euro mechanisms seem to continue to be improving for those players most interested in these, and the Star Wars license seems especially attractive to these players.
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dave bcs
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It is true that the games I mentioned have few votes also. Is it far-fetched to wonder whether folks who like Star Wars, Blood Rage, etc. would be more likely to give out a 10 as opposed to being more critical?
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Nicholas Palmer
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drdranetz wrote:
It is true that the games I mentioned have few votes also. Is it far-fetched to wonder whether folks who like Star Wars, Blood Rage, etc. would be more likely to give out a 10 as opposed to being more critical?


I don't think saying they are more like to be critical is as accurate as that perhaps they are looking for something else entirely in the game.

Someone who wants a heavy Euro probably wants a game that is very mechanically sound.

Someone who wants Star Wars: Rebellion probably wants a game that feels very Star Wars.

That is I think the major breakdown that people have when they do the "why is this game top 10 it has so many flaaaws". They aren't looking at it from the perspective of the person who would be attracted to that kind of game.
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Leo Zappa
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...some random thoughts regarding this thread...

...I have a hard time reconciling the expression of 'concern' in relation to boardgame rankings...


...I've never quite understood the attachment some people have to where their favorites are ranked compared to other games...


As to the OP, I would say that the heyday of the classic Euro has passed, and today's crop of games blur distinctions between genres more than ever, and that on a related note, BGG has continued to migrate away from its original core of Eurogame enthusiasts to encompass a broader demographic of boardgamers. That's probably a good thing, but it does deprive us of the enjoyment we used to derive from watching the old Ameritrash-Euro wars...ah, those were the days!
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Leo Zappa
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drdranetz wrote:
It is true that the games I mentioned have few votes also. Is it far-fetched to wonder whether folks who like Star Wars, Blood Rage, etc. would be more likely to give out a 10 as opposed to being more critical?


Why would fans of one particular sub-genre of boardgames be more prone to assigning 10's than any other? I don't understand the logic behind such a proposition.
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jay
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Ryan Keane wrote:
lifelesspoet wrote:
Yeah these trends are something of a concern for me personally as a lot of these games I don't really love. Star Wars rebellion I really despised and Imperial Assault got old quick for me. I haven't yet played blood rage or scythe but high ratings for a recent thematic game make me think that I'll hate it.

I want to assume that these games have gotten polished over the last few years by learning from euros and euro games haven't really innovated much lately.


I don't really understand why people are concerned that games they don't love are in the top 10 or top 100. I pretty strongly dislike Through the Ages and Terra Mystica and am meh about Twilight Struggle, and don't have much interest in trying SW Imperial Assault or Rebellion. But people are gonna like what they like, not what I like. Of course I am happy when a game that I love jumps up in the rankings, I guess because I like the idea of a game I love getting more prominence and more people seeking it out to see if it's a good match for them, but other than that the rankings don't mean anything to me. I know what I like - whether a game is highly ranked or not doesn't change that.

To the OP's question, I think it's become harder for more classic Euro-style games to get up into the top rankings. They have to be the true cream of the crop like Terra Mystica or new editions of already loved games (Caverna, Through the Ages, and I would include Pandemic Legacy too). I personally am pretty happy with the Euro's I have - very few of the newer Euro's have been improvements enough to make me want to stop playing Caylus, Agricola, Power Grid, Puerto Rico, etc. Whereas hybrid thematic games with Euro mechanisms seem to continue to be improving for those players most interested in these, and the Star Wars license seems especially attractive to these players.


I don't get to play a lot of games I don't own. I have a very small alloted space for games. Combined effect being I try to maximize the amount of quality I keep on the shelf. Ratings have a big effect on what people buy. Whether ebay user rating, amazon stars or netflix suggested viewing, they have meaning. People suggest finding reviewers that reflect your personal gaming preferences and the thing that most consistently match mine are the top ranked games. I have learned to filter them but that is changing.

I do like some hybrid plays like a euro but feels like ameritrash though and that is what I'm hoping for more of.
 
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Jake Blomquist
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Eh, it sounds like we have at least similar taste, and I've always been of the opinion that my favorite games were overall underrated by the BGG community at large. Although, I sort of suspect most people feel this way, after all everybody wants to be the underdog.

I also think there's been a strong recent trend of AT support, which goes against the story I've always been told that the euro fans run this site. A story that if enough people accept then the AT fans get automatic permanent underdog status, it's no wonder they perpetuate it.

But honestly I really can't be bothered too much by any of this. I think the healthiest outlook is that the rankings are an interesting curiosity, but not much more than that. Almost everyone's taste is going to be fairly idiosyncratic. To me the people who always surprise me are the ones who say that they feel like the rankings are a good representation of the best games. Of course this is fine too. And actually if you feel that way then I'm a bit envious as it makes researching games a lot easier.
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Matt Brown
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Touchfuzzy wrote:
"I don't like these games so something must be wrong with the system/voters/etc!"

I think Terra Mystica is trash, but a lot of people really like it, so it deserves to be as high as it is.

The same is true for any game you don't think is "top 10 worthy".


I wouldn't call it trash, but my initial play was far more favorable compared to Scythe and SW:R. This isn't about beating out my personal favorites. It is more about how a game gets higher ranked while having 1/10 the votes.
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Nicholas Palmer
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I disagree that 4k votes is not many.

There are less than 500 games on the entire site with 4k or more votes.

See, here is the thing, when you compare that 40k to 4k it sounds like a big jump, but when you look at it from a perspective of how many games have more or less rankings.

Agricola has more ratings than roughly 99.9% of other games on the site. Star Wars Rebellion has more ratings than roughly 99.5% of the other games.

Both have incredibly large amounts of votes compared to the majority of the games on the site.

If you continue to make the number of votes more and more important, the rankings will just turn into "what games have the most rankings" rather than having much to do with how they are rated by users.

And people said the SAME thing about Pandemic Legacy "Oh, it is because it has so few votes", except look at it now. It has 11k+ votes. And guess what it is still rated #1. There wasn't this magical drop in rank once more people had rated it. There are only 125 games on the site that have 11k+ votes.

So tell me: How many votes should a game have to have before you consider it to have "enough" to count?
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Nicholas Palmer
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Also also: If you take the curve that Agricola has of percents of vote for each rating 1-10, and you shift it up based on the difference in average rating of Scythe or Star Wars Rebellion, you'll find the curve is not that different.

The concept that it is a mass of people voting 10s just isn't true. It is consistent with how the curve would have to shift for the rate to hit where it is.

(In fact Scythe has LESS 10s by percent than you would expect based on the shift, it just has more 9s and 8s by percent than most games)
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CARL SKUTSCH
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Check out Clockwork Wars. It's a pretty darn good dudes on a hex map Euro'ish steampunk game. Quick and fun.
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drdranetz wrote:
Has anyone followed the changes in the types of games in the top rankings over time? I have been gaming a long time, though do not always follow BGG real studiously. I recently noticed that many of my favorite games, many of which are medium to heavy euros with high player interaction and theme immersion (examples: Nippon, Madiera, Voyages of Marco Polo, Mombasa, Signorie) seem conspicuously absent from the high rankings. Voyages of Marco Polo is fairly high, and Mombasa is next at 75th.

The only one I know but it seems very low on theme to me. I've heard similar things about Nippon and Mombassa.

If anything, I think the trend on BGG is for more actually thematic games than those you like. Scythe, Blood Rage, Star Wars Rebellion, etc. I wonder how far up Terraforming Mars will shoot. (Just starting playing this weekend: loads of fun, very thematic, Euro.
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dave bcs
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I am not defending one genre of game or gamer versus another. I am just coming up with hypotheses that might explain what seems to be a trend.

I do thank you all for your input. It seems that there are some of you who see the trend as an artifact of the polling system (smaller numbers of fanboys giving 10's, for example), while others see a shift in gamer preferences, while still others see an expansion and shifting of the BGG audience itself (the latter confirmed to me in some way by my inability to get passes to BGG this year!).

I wonder if there is a scientific way to test which of the above three basic hypotheses are true? My curiosity is not because I want to defend certain game genres (I actually have Scythe and Terraforming Mars on preorder), but rather to see if, how, and why the BGG community is changing.

Is the heyday of the classic euro truly over? Compared to all the years I played war games, euros have been around as the dominant game genre a much shorter time. While I no longer play war games very much despite having many still on my shelf, die-hard war gamers and war games have survived the fantasy role play, collectible card, Games Workshop, and euro explosions. What will become of the Euro?

One trend over the decades has been toward less and less direct player conflict. Will Co-ops be the next dominant trend? I will play many games, but I do hate co-ops! I don't care much for RPG's or deck builders either, though will play some of the latter.
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