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Mission: Red Planet (Second Edition)» Forums » General

Subject: BGG Complexity Ratings rss

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Jonathan Gershuny
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Hi,

BGG's complexity ratings do not make any sense. They are very subjective, since it is up to the users to vote.
I feel that there should be more objective criteria to go by.

For example, I was comparing the Mission: Red Planet - 2nd Edition (this game) with the 1st Edition version of the game. After going through a few threads to research, it looks like there is not that much of a difference between the two editions. The biggest difference I see is that the 2nd Edition added the moon, as well as the ability to play the game 6-players.
This, in my subjective opinion, would make the 2nd Edition, if anything a heavier game than the First Edition.
However, when I compared the two editions on the complexity rating scales, I found the following ratings:
1st Edition: 2.32
2nd Edition: 2.22

Which would indicate the 1st Edition as being the slightly heavier game.

When I dug inside the data to determine why, I see that for the 1st Edition of the game, 59.6% of voters gave it a 2 - Medium-light rating, as opposed to 69.3% of voters giving the 2nd Edition that same rating. In addition, the 1st Edition has 35.4% of voters giving it a 3, as opposed to only 22.8% giving the 2nd Edition a 3 - Medium. (More voters giving the 2nd Edition a lower score of 2 - which means that there are less giving the 2nd Edition a higher score, of 3, for example).

BTW, I intentionally gave the 2nd Edition a 3 - Medium, just to try to get the complexity scores of the 2 games more in line, even though I really believe this game is in the 2 - Medium-light range.


Also, just to let you know, here is another reason why I believe the BGG complexity rating system to be screwy...
I looked at the complexity ratings of both Mage Knight The Board Game vs. its re-skinning - Star Trek: Frontiers. Obviously Mage Knight is the heavier game. In Star Trek: Frontiers they streamlined some things to make it slightly less complex.
However, according to the complexity ratings of BGG, voters gave Mage Knight a rating of 4.20, but gave Star Trek: Frontiers an even higher rating of 4.23, which makes no sense whatsoever.

I could go on. For example, Through The Ages: A Story of Civilization has a complexity rating of 4.17 while Through The Ages: A New Story of Civilization has a complexity rating of 4.29. Is there really that much of a difference between the two? I would not know.

But it would make more sense if there was an elemental type of table which could be used to add up different components of games which could help with these ratings.

Another suggestion I have is for BGG to extend the choices, and include the following options in the voter polls:

a) Light Rating = 1
b) Light to Medium-Light Rating = Between 1 & 2 = Midpoint = 1.5
c) Medium-Light Rating = 2
d) Medium-Light to Medium Rating = Between 2 & 3 = Midpoint = 2.5
e) Medium Rating = 3
f) Medium to Medium-Heavy Rating = Between 3 & 4 = Midpoint = 3.5
g) Medium-Heavy Rating = 4
h) Medium-Heavy to Heavy Rating = Between 4 & 5 = Midpoint = 4.5
i) Heavy Rating = 5

Adding more choices would shrink the number rating down to a more specific range. I started thinking of a way to include numbers over a continuous range.
For example, the complexity rating for Mission: Red Planet (2nd Edition) is currently 2.22. Currently, I have 2 choices. I could rate it a 2 - Medium-Light - and bring the average of the game down, or I could rate it a 3 - Medium and move it up. This scale would let them more closely match the rating by adding a rating of 2.5 (or 2 <= R < 3 where R = the Complexity Rating).
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Randy Espinoza
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There is no perfect complexity rating. Period. At least not one based on a single number. The distributions of weight carry much more information and are thus perhaps more important than their average values.

Having said that, the particular distributions you quote depend on many things: the past experiences of the players at the moment, the sophistication of the players at the moment, the type of games popular at the moment, the ideals at the moment of what is considered "medium", "heavy", etc.

So, I'm not surprised about the difference in the distributions: there's big differences in the variety of games today vs 2005 and as a result the perception of complexity has shifted over time. In this case it seems that what was considered by some as a "heavy" game is now not so much.

I think it makes more sense to take this data at face value and ask "can we explain why the ditribution changed (slightly) in 12 years?" instead of interpreting the differences as a "problem" with the data or the methodology.

I think you are overthink it.
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Jonathan Gershuny
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Most people who come onto a game page looking at a game's complexity only care about it's weighted average complexity rating (i.e., the rating which appears on the game's page on BGG), because that is all most people care about. Most people would not (and do not) dig deep into the low-level data which shows the distributions of the amount / percentage of people who voted for which way. Some people are intimidated by numbers. It takes a special type of person to want to go through that.

In addition, I am taking a general stance on this topic: See my example in the post above regarding Mage Knight and Star Trek: Frontiers, which are two closely related games in which Star Trek: Frontiers is a complete re-theming of Mage Knight, streamlined to eliminate some of the complexity. These two games were released closer time period wise than the two editions of Mission: Red Planet. You cannot explain the intuitive difference in complexity ratings between these two. By "intuitive", I mean the fact that 99% of people would say that Mage Knight is of higher complexity than Star Trek: Frontiers. However, according to BGG, and the so-called actual complexity ratings, Star Trek: Frontiers has a complexity rating of 4.23 whereas Mage Knight only has a rating of 4.20.
Before you go ahead and say that I am being picky and that these numbers are essentially the same, I will remind you that I am talking from an "intuitive" standpoint. Let's suppose for a minute that both ratings were exactly the same: 4.20 or 4.23, whichever you would prefer. Even then, with BGG claiming that both of these two titles are exactly the same, would make absolutely zero intuitive sense. Again, because if you were to ask (outside BGG) lots of people who have played both Mage Knight and Star Trek: Frontiers, about 99% of them would agree that Mage Knight is the heavier game.
It is only when you start playing around in the system which BGG has implemented that you have a result which shows that both of these games are of equal complexity.

That is why I am just making a suggestion that BGG should either implement a more elemental / componental type of guide in order to more objectivize this rating, or at least allow users more choices, to rate games not just as 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, but also to rate them in the continuous interval range between those numbers: Between 1 and 2 [Light to Medium-Light], Between 2 and 3 [Medium-Light to Medium], Between 3 and 4 [Medium to Medium-Heavy], Between 4 and 5 [Medium-Heavy to Heavy], etc. which was my suggestion above.
 
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Randy Espinoza
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JJ_PingPonger wrote:
In addition, I am taking a general stance on this topic: See my example in the post above regarding Mage Knight and Star Trek: Frontiers, which are two closely related games in which Star Trek: Frontiers is a complete re-theming of Mage Knight, streamlined to eliminate some of the complexity. These two games were released closer time period wise than the two editions of Mission: Red Planet. You cannot explain the intuitive difference in complexity ratings between these two. By "intuitive", I mean the fact that 99% of people would say that Mage Knight is of higher complexity than Star Trek: Frontiers. However, according to BGG, and the so-called actual complexity ratings, Star Trek: Frontiers has a complexity rating of 4.23 whereas Mage Knight only has a rating of 4.20.
Before you go ahead and say that I am being picky and that these numbers are essentially the same, I will remind you that I am talking from an "intuitive" standpoint. Let's suppose for a minute that both ratings were exactly the same: 4.20 or 4.23, whichever you would prefer. Even then, with BGG claiming that both of these two titles are exactly the same, would make absolutely zero intuitive sense. Again, because if you were to ask (outside BGG) lots of people who have played both Mage Knight and Star Trek: Frontiers, about 99% of them would agree that Mage Knight is the heavier game.
It is only when you start playing around in the system which BGG has implemented that you have a result which shows that both of these games are of equal complexity.
I understand your point: you want an objective and absolute measure of complexity based only on the game and its gameplay. My point is that no such thing exists, that even if the gameplay was identical for 2 games, unless the exact same players play both games, the perception of complexity will be different due to many factors (type of gamers attracted to either theme, when the game was released, etc).

Regarding these two games, let me first point out that we shouldn't be simply comparing the averages of a distribution with 1700 entries and other with only 30.

That notwithstanding, I would argue that the samples are made up of very different gamers. Those attracted to Mage Knight are overwhelmingly "heavy gamers" while a good amount of those attracted to Star Trek: Frontiers might simply be into Star Trek. In that sense its's not surprising that the distribution of Start Trek: Frontiers skews towards the heavy end: those gamers think it's really heavy! (again, this is all meaningless without a more refined analysis, given the huge difference in the sample size)

My question instead is this: is that kind of discrepancy a "bad" thing? We disagree here, but I actually think that, even if the two games were identical except for theme, the fact that Star Trek: Frontiers seems "heavier" is a good thing because that's what the audience attracted to the game thinks about THAT game.
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Jonathan Gershuny
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Yeah, but again. If I am a regular gamer who just wants to know about a game. Maybe I just heard about a game, but I wanted to know whether it would be a game for me. So the first thing I do is look on BoardGameGeek. I read about the game, maybe watch a review, and then I decide to check the complexity rating in order to determine whether that particular game falls into a range of games which I play. Putting deceptive, meaningless rating numbers on a website in this way does nothing as far as the integrity goes. A lot of people come here for a standard for comparison, and that is what a system such as this should be used for.
If you want proof of that, do a Google search for the heaviest games on BGG (let me help you out: https://boardgamegeek.com/geeklist/188270/heaviest-games-gee...), and you will see a list sorted specifically by the game's complexity rating. In order for these types of lists to have any basis, the games have to be believed to be "heavy" or "complex" games.

Therefore, you need to have faith in the system if it is going to be used in this way.

Well, it is pointless arguing with you, and it is a waste of time.
Therefore, this is my last post here.
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Kenny Johnson
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JJ_PingPonger wrote:
Yeah, but again. If I am a regular gamer who just wants to know about a game. Maybe I just heard about a game, but I wanted to know whether it would be a game for me. So the first thing I do is look on BoardGameGeek. I read about the game, maybe watch a review, and then I decide to check the complexity rating in order to determine whether that particular game falls into a range of games which I play. Putting deceptive, meaningless rating numbers on a website in this way does nothing as far as the integrity goes. A lot of people come here for a standard for comparison, and that is what a system such as this should be used for.
If you want proof of that, do a Google search for the heaviest games on BGG (let me help you out: https://boardgamegeek.com/geeklist/188270/heaviest-games-gee...), and you will see a list sorted specifically by the game's complexity rating. In order for these types of lists to have any basis, the games have to be believed to be "heavy" or "complex" games.

Therefore, you need to have faith in the system if it is going to be used in this way.

Well, it is pointless arguing with you, and it is a waste of time.
Therefore, this is my last post here.


Your argument is silly. Do also want objective rating on how good the game is as well?

There's no "faith in the system." I either accept that most players think the game is less complex than some other games I've played and more complex than other games I've played and then I can make an assessment from that if I think game might be too light or too heavy for me or my group.

Trying to use BGG ratings or any ratings for that matter as anymore more than a high level guide is futile.

But you can have your tantrum because some people don't agree with you.
 
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Jonathan Gershuny
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kennyj wrote:
JJ_PingPonger wrote:
Yeah, but again. If I am a regular gamer who just wants to know about a game. Maybe I just heard about a game, but I wanted to know whether it would be a game for me. So the first thing I do is look on BoardGameGeek. I read about the game, maybe watch a review, and then I decide to check the complexity rating in order to determine whether that particular game falls into a range of games which I play. Putting deceptive, meaningless rating numbers on a website in this way does nothing as far as the integrity goes. A lot of people come here for a standard for comparison, and that is what a system such as this should be used for.
If you want proof of that, do a Google search for the heaviest games on BGG (let me help you out: https://boardgamegeek.com/geeklist/188270/heaviest-games-gee...), and you will see a list sorted specifically by the game's complexity rating. In order for these types of lists to have any basis, the games have to be believed to be "heavy" or "complex" games.

Therefore, you need to have faith in the system if it is going to be used in this way.

Well, it is pointless arguing with you, and it is a waste of time.
Therefore, this is my last post here.


Your argument is silly. Do also want objective rating on how good the game is as well?

There's no "faith in the system." I either accept that most players think the game is less complex than some other games I've played and more complex than other games I've played and then I can make an assessment from that if I think game might be too light or too heavy for me or my group.

Trying to use BGG ratings or any ratings for that matter as anymore more than a high level guide is futile.

But you can have your tantrum because some people don't agree with you.


Wow... This is exactly why I had just left the thread...
"But you can have your tantrum because some people don't agree with you."

First off, this is not a tantrum. I am not angry that other people may not see it this way. In fact, just the fact that others are intentionally coming here to comment about my opinion shows that they are just trying to get me upset, but I take no offense. /SHRUG/

I was just pointing out some inconsistencies from a logical standpoint. That is, Game A is intuitively heavier than Game B, that is, 90% of people who have played both would agree. However, according to the data (on BGG) Game A has a lower complexity rating than Game B. This clearly makes absolutely no sense. That is why this voting system makes absolutely no sense. The reason is because that people are voting on each game independently of one another based solely on their opinion of that particular game's complexity. But to say that two games which have around the same rating are about of equal complexity is not correct.

"Do also want objective rating on how good the game is as well?"
Well, the BGG rating system of a game is solely subjective to begin with, because different people enjoy different things about games. This is why I have not used BGG to rate my games. However, I could still tell you from a relative standpoint that I like Game W better than Game X better than Game Y, etc.

However, working on this comment is a waste of time since you'll never understand. That is exactly why I wasn't paying attention to this page anymore.
 
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Kenny Johnson
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JJ_PingPonger wrote:
[q="kennyj"][q="JJ_PingPonger"]

However, working on this comment is a waste of time since you'll never understand. That is exactly why I wasn't paying attention to this page anymore.


Apparently, that's not true.
 
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