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Subject: Game Quality and Ratings rss

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Rob Herman
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Trying to rate games on a linear scale from 1-10 feels funny to me. One of the reasons is that the way I feel about games isn't really a linear scale of desirability. In fact, there are two big jumps:

1Games I would suggest playing vs. games I would not
2Games I would play willingly if someone else suggests them, vs. games I would advocate against or sit out.

As such, the way I think about games is on a 0-4 scale, which is nonlinear (the ranks could just as easily be E, D, C, B, A)...

4: One of my very favorite games.
3: A great game; one that I would suggest playing in an appropriate group.
2: A good game; one that I would willingly play although I might not be excited about it.
1: A bad game; one that I would not play except under coercion. (The standard I use for this is "would play if asked directly by girlfriend"/"would play to spend time with an attractive single woman", depending on circumstances)
0: A hypothetical game so bad I would not play it under any reasonable circumstances.

Intermediate ranks are denoted by 0-3 plusses, so a 1+++ means something like "would play with only minor grumbling if my friends were very excited about it", 3++ is a game I tend to suggest a lot, 2+++ is probably an almost-great game that tends to get overshadowed by something else, and so on. 4 is the top (there is no 4+) and there are no minuses.

To translate this into a BGG rating, I apply this transformation:
4 -> 10
3+++/3++/3+/3 -> 9.5/9/8.5/8
2+++/2++/2+/2 -> 6.5/6/5.5/5 (yes, the 7 rank is skipped entirely)
1+++/1++/1+/1 -> 3.5/3/2.5/2 (As is the 4 level)
0+++/0++/0+/0 -> 1.5/1.5/1/1 (the ratings get scrunched here but who cares to define levels of contempt?)

I feel good about skipping the 4 and 7 levels because this reflects the large emotional distances between the thresholds represented. One between a game that "speaks" to me enough to suggest, and one that does not; the other is between a game that's pleasant to play and one that's not.
 
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Russ Williams
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Sitnaltax wrote:
Trying to rate games on a linear scale from 1-10 feels funny to me. One of the reasons is that the way I feel about games isn't really a linear scale of desirability.

Sure. But I rarely have problems using the existing text descriptions suggested by BGG itself instead of having to come up with some personalized translation scheme like you've described...

BGG wrote:
10 - Outstanding. Always want to play and expect this will never change.
9 - Excellent game. Always want to play it.
8 - Very good game. I like to play. Probably I'll suggest it and will never turn down a game.
7 - Good game, usually willing to play.
6 - Ok game, some fun or challenge at least, will play sporadically if in the right mood.
5 - Average game, slightly boring, take it or leave it.
4 - Not so good, it doesn't get me but could be talked into it on occasion.
3 - Likely won't play this again although could be convinced. Bad.
2 - Extremely annoying game, won't play this ever again.
1 - Defies description of a game. You won't catch me dead playing this. Clearly broken.

For convenience and brevity, they are labeled 1-10, but that does not mean you have to think of them as being on a linear scale, any more than you have to think of your personal 0-4 system as being linear...

I guess I am confused how you feel comfortable classifying a game according to your personal descriptions:
Quote:
4: One of my very favorite games.
3: A great game; one that I would suggest playing in an appropriate group.
2: A good game; one that I would willingly play although I might not be excited about it.
1: A bad game; one that I would not play except under coercion. (The standard I use for this is "would play if asked directly by girlfriend"/"would play to spend time with an attractive single woman", depending on circumstances)
0: A hypothetical game so bad I would not play it under any reasonable circumstances.
yet have trouble classifying according the descriptions in the quoted BGG text. Perhaps I am not grokking your point...?
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Mika R.
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russ wrote:
yet have trouble classifying according the descriptions in the quoted BGG text. Perhaps I am not grokking your point...?


His point is that by making non-linear transformation, he tries to change the scoring dynamics to reflect better the perceptual differences in semantic ratings descriptions.

His new scale makes the difference between "a great game" and "favorite game" less pronounced than the difference between "a good game" and "a great game". He also muffles the variations in "bad game" scales so that the ratings at that level become largely indifferent.

Effectively using his scales would probably force games into more condense clusters in the ratings space, namely "good", "average" and "bad".
 
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Russell D
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russ wrote:

For convenience and brevity, they are labeled 1-10, but that does not mean you have to think of them as being on a linear scale, any more than you have to think of your personal 0-4 system as being linear...


Does the fact that the 1-10 ratings are used to create average ratings suggest that it is intended to be a linear scale?

i.e. If they numbers 1-10 were just shorthand for ten different things not on a linear scale, you couldn't create an average from them.
 
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Russ Williams
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angelgabriel wrote:
russ wrote:

For convenience and brevity, they are labeled 1-10, but that does not mean you have to think of them as being on a linear scale, any more than you have to think of your personal 0-4 system as being linear...


Does the fact that the 1-10 ratings are used to create average ratings suggest that it is intended to be a linear scale?

I'm not sure if that's a rhetorical question or a sincere question. Anyway I don't know the answer.

Seriously, people do a lot of arithmetical manipulations to the ratings; that doesn't mean they have statistical or philosophical validity or even meaning. They just seem to be sort of interesting and useful in practice.

Quote:
If they numbers 1-10 were just shorthand for ten different things not on a linear scale, you couldn't create an average from them.

Questioning the statistical/mathematical validity of the ratings system seems like an onion one can peel forever. E.g. the original post questions the "linearity" of the BGG scale, yet still seems to assume that one can order one's games by preference, when in reality there are nontransitive preference situations where someone prefers X to Y, prefers Y to Z, but prefers Z to X.

To me the ratings are obviously a useful fiction that have little mathematical "validity" in any serious deep philosophical sense (how can we seriously imagine assigning numbers to quantify subjective preferences for various games with a straight face? Truly we are geeks!), yet happily have some real-world application and interest. So a post like this leaves me puzzled, as it seems to be complaining that "Hey, if I take the ratings system too literally, it doesn't make mathematical sense... so I'm going to use it in a different way that pleases me more", but the result doesn't really seem to make mathematical sense either.

I guess I simply don't see the concrete practical point of deciding to stop using "4" and "7" ratings as a result of some mathematical/philosophical justification. (Why were 4 & 7 eliminated instead of 3 & 8 or some other numbers? I see no mathematical or other justification for it.) Are we to believe that the original poster's ratings are somehow mathematically "better" or more valid or more "linear" than people's who follow the suggested BGG interpretations of 1...10? If they're really "linear", does that really mean he likes a "10" game exactly 10 times as much as he likes a "1" game, and he likes a "9" game 10% less than he likes a "10" game? What would such statements even mean?

I don't mean to sound like I'm complaining. I'm simply puzzled at the motivation for jumping through such hoops (e.g. since the original poster has some games rated 4 & 7, does he need to now go through and change his ratings to conform to this new approach?), and I don't see what real-world gain results from it.
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