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Subject: Scrabble Gets the Word Bubble Treatment rss

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Randy Cox
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A couple of days ago, I paid homage to Joe Grundy and his "10 Words" reviews.

Well, I didn't really, because I got way off track and did it my way, so to speak. And I kinda enjoyed it, in an odd OCD sort of way. So I'm doing another one. I'm doing a "review" by analyzing games played, comments, and ratings for the venerable game Scrabble.

The Words

Let's get right to the word bubble. Here are a bunch of the most common words used by BGG users who left comments. Now, I included only the comments from those who own or had previously owned the game and who had both rated and commented on the game. Sorry, but that left out several users' comments. But it DID give us something like 2600 user's comments to go with.



The words are sized based on how frequently they were used. The green words were used far more frequently by those who rated Scrabble highly. The red words were used far more frequently by the Scrabble haters. Let's see what the most common words were (after removing noise words and such).

Game, play, word, and Scrabble were the most common words used, which is unsurprising. Combined, these four words were used twice for each comment left. That's a pretty high rate.

No and not would normally be removed from my word list because they are noise words. But because they were so overwhelmingly used by the Scrabble haters, I included it.

Classic - Those who love the game pushed this word to the number six spot on our list. They used it 21 times for each 100 reviewers, compared with fewer than five times per 100 negative reviewers. What can you say, this is a classic game.

Good - Another word which is probably more a noise word and probably doesn't belong on the list, but I was checking to see how it fared on the like/hate split. Turns out, the haters use it more frequently (as in, "not a good game").

Player - Like game, play, and word, I would expect this to be quite high. I would not expect those who dislike the game to ignore this word so much, though. In fact, the Scrabble bashers tended to use language more about "the game" than about "those who play the game." Interesting.

Fun is our next word. While I agree with the sentiment, I'd say a goodly portion of those who used this word in their comment were not praising the game.

Letter, like "word," is a natural fit for any talk about this word game.

Time and timer and similar dirivatives. Apparently, the issue of limiting turn length is important to all who speak of this game.

Other words which rated highly were vocabulary and dictionary, spelling, tiles, and family..

For the record the most commonly used word was NOT "the" but was, instead, "I."

The Players

If cutting and pasting almost 3000 user ratings and comments were not enough, I also cut and pasted 9000 sessions worth of logged Scrabble plays. After removing ridiculous entries (more than a half-dozen plays on a single day, e.g.) I had over 8600 sessions, tallying almost 11,000 total plays.

Now, if you take those who logged plays (Galion is at the top of this list, with 861 plays) and pull the ratings from the list of those who entered comments (the data used for the word bubble), you can come up with a weighted game rating from those who actually play the game. Galion gets 5 votes (the weighting) and the people who dutifully rated, commented, and logged only one play get 1 vote. When you calculate a game rating with these weighted votes, Scrabble gets a 6.98 rating.

Scrabble's average rating - 6.46
Scrabble's average for those who have owned, commented, and rated the game - 6.57
Scrabble's average among those who logged games, owned, commented, and rated - 6.72
The weighted average of that last group's numbers - 6.98

I guess this tells us that those who bother to say something about the game rate it slightly higher than those who just give a drive-by rating and those who invest in playing the game like the game quite a bit more. Finally, those who play it a LOT give it even higher marks. Nothing earth shattering there, but I pulled all that data, dammit, and I had to do something with it.

Other tidbits about the logged plays of Scrabble... though the Christmas/New Years holidays make up only 3.3% of all days in the year, 8% of all the logged plays occurred on those days. Other than the Winter Solstice, the most common times to play Scrabble are during July and August. Seventeen BGGers have logged a legit play of Scrabble in all 12 months. I, somehow, have never logged a play in the month of April.

Of the 9 most frequent Scrabble players, 8 of them rate the game a 10. The other rates it only a 6, but didn't comment on the game, so didn't get into the free-for-all ratings frenzy. Eight users have legitimately played and logged 100 or more games of Scrabble.

The mean time between sessions of Scrabble is about 11 weeks. User jmsr525 has been logging plays for over two years and has a MTBS of 4.3 days! Galion has been logging since April of 2005 and has an MTBS of less than a week.

Compatible Games

BGG has a wonderful analysis tool where you can find the top 100(ish) games of those who like or loathe a particular game. In the case of Scrabble, there are 764 people who rate it a 9 or 10. Taking all games that those 764 have rated and pulling out only the resulting games which were rated by at least 115 of them gives a list of 100 games, ranked from Puerto Rico (8.38) to Life (4.40). Doing the same thing for those who rate the game between 1 and 4 (883 users, with a magic number of 214 ratings minimum) gives a list from Power Grid (7.97) through Life (3.18).

What is interesting is to find games which either don't appear on both lists or which do appear on both lists but are ranked very differently between the two.

Here are games which appear on only one of the two lists:

Those who Like Scrabble also like:...... Those who dislike Scrabble like:
Civilization (#24) 7.70 ................ Dominion: Intrigue (#5) 7.79
Carcassonne: The Castle (41) 7.46 ...... Le Havre (7) 7.76
Boggle (50) 7.28 ....................... Battlestar Galactica (14) 7.46
Cribbage (59) 7.15 ..................... Railroad Tycoon (19) 7.33
Set (70) 6.98 .......................... Notre Dame (29) 7.11


Here are the big risers from one list to the other:

Chess (9) 8.00 ......................... Chess (78) 6.04
Go (8) 8.04 ............................ Go (59) 6.71
Poker (30) 7.58 ........................ Poker (80) 5.90
Can't Stop (32) 7.56 ................... Can't Stop (72) 6.39
Blokus (16) 6.75 ....................... Blokus (56) 6.75

Arkham Horror (65) 7.09 ................ Arkham Horror (47) 6.85
Small World (39) 7.50 .................. Small World (20) 7.30
Torres (64) 7.11 ....................... Torres (43) 6.89
Galaxy Trucker (46) 7.34 ............... Galaxy Trucker (24) 7.24
Amun-Re (53) 7.25 ...................... Amun-Re (15) 7.39


And there you have it, a look at Scrabble "by the numbers." And by the words.
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Ben Bateson
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Nice work, sir.

I, for one, would like to see more of these.
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William Crispin
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I read the whole thing without skipping to the end to see your conclusion. Yes, more of these.
 
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Steve Bernhardt
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Nice. Reminds me that I need to go rate Scrabble.... a 10 of course.
 
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Joe Neff
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Excellent, thorough treatment! I'm sure many Scrabble players will enjoy how you sifted through the numbers.

I am surprised that those who disliked Scrabble had higher opinions of Dominion and Notre Dame. All three of these games include making your best move with the hand you are dealt, and playing the probabilities to shape your next hand.

Note that 7 games in a day is very common at tournaments. Those recorded plays are probably accurate.
 
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Randy Cox
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drjoe1e6 wrote:
Note that 7 games in a day is very common at tournaments. Those recorded plays are probably accurate.
I agree, but in most cases, it wasn't tournament-type play logging. It was where someone logged 1000 plays to "make up for stuff they *know* they played long ago." In fact, of the 11003 redacted plays logged in 349 sessions, 112 sessions were thrown out for having more than 20 plays in a single day. Another 83 sessions had between 11 and 20. Another 59 had invalid dates (date = 0, "N/A"). That accounts for all but about 100 of the thrown out junk. The worst offender had a day when they logged 1000 plays.

I really hate that and make every effort to weed them out and recalculate the true, deserving leaders in the play logging race. :)
 
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Judit Szepessy
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A very interesting review! Thanks for all the research you have done! Scrabble is not my favourite game, but I play it if we have company over. We have had some couples with whom we have played Scrabble and as a result, now they sometimes play it at home. Many people have Scrabble, they just do not play it. Exactly today we had a fun game with a couple who do not really play Scrabble, although they have the game.
 
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