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Subject: Give users a vote on "playing time" rss

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Liam
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It seems like many game publishers... lie through their teeth when it comes to expected "playing time" so it would be helpful if the community could vote on the game's record. Called "user suggested playing time".

Bizarrely this is one of the only parts of a games record that users can't influence. Can we get a vote?

(Sure I'm not the first to ask for this.)
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Jeannis Leist
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I keep a separate list with the expected playing times of my games. As they sometimes differ a lot from the publishers values I support this feature request.
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Pater Absurdus
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This has come up before and should continue to in my opinion until it is fixed. I have run into this often.

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Rob Steward
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That'd be a good feature, but I wonder how much more accurate it might be. A lot of people, myself included, do a lot of rating/voting after only a couple plays.

For any game with a significant learning curve, it'll take 5-10 plays to have the rules and overall flow fully understood, allowing for smooth play.

Anecdotally, my wife and I regularly play my game, Denali, and it's nearly always under an hour. The number of tiles/moves in the game is constant, so multi-player time increases very little. So, I've submitted it to publishers with a 1-hour play time. One publisher complained that the game couldn't be played in less than two hours.

So, how should anyone decide the correct time to be listed on a game's box... the time it takes for a full complement of players who are all new to the game? Or the time it takes for the minimum number of players who are all veterans?

I suppose it should be like the age poll--where you vote on a minimum game time and a maximum game time.

(Of course, then chess or go could both be 5 minutes to 5 days...)

Wow, that was rambly. But I typed it so I'm going to post it!

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Jeff Miller
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I hope this doesn't come across as a reason not to enable this feature because I fully support it, but... A big problem with listing play-times is they come in two completely different categories:

1 Some play-times are the same no matter how many people are playing (examples: Tsuro, Carcassonne, 7 Wonders, etc.). If the listed/voted upon play time were 60 minutes it would be 60 minutes no matter if two people were playing or six.

2 Others scale in almost direct proportion to the number of players (Agricola, Formula D, Stone Age, Etc.). These are more helpfully listed as something like "30 minutes per player". A two player match of said game would last 60 minutes where a four player game would mean double the time commitment.

Granted there are other things that can affect play time as well as shades of gray in between those two types; but my point is to illustrate that if someone were to look up a brand new game that has a listed playtime of 90 minutes, there's no telling what that's relative too.
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Russ Williams
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mildthrill wrote:
1 Some play-times are the same no matter how many people are playing (examples: Tsuro, Carcassonne, 7 Wonders, etc.). If the listed/voted upon play time were 60 minutes it would be 60 minutes no matter if two people were playing or six.

2 Others scale in almost direct proportion to the number of players (Agricola, Formula D, Stone Age, Etc.). These are more helpfully listed as something like "30 minutes per player". A two player match of said game would last 60 minutes where a four player game would mean double the time commitment.

Not to mention:
3 The use of optional rules can significantly influence the play length in some games

4 The specific scenario played can significantly influence the play length in some games (especially wargames, e.g. a 2-hour scenario of Fighting Formations: Grossdeutschland Motorized Infantry Division or a 2-day scenario).
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Liam
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I agree with all of this. But the current system greatly limits information and is bias towards underestimation, IMO.

I'd rather have a user suggested time that can be clicked on - creating a graph of suggested playing times, that way I am better informed, even if the data is still subjective and with potentially misleading outliers.

Crucially, cases where the publisher's suggested playing time is well out should be easily revealed, when compared with the 'users suggested playing time'.
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Russ Williams
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monkeyhandz wrote:
I'd rather have a user suggested time that can be clicked on - creating a graph of suggested playing times, that way I am better informed, even if the data is still subjective and with potentially misleading outliers.

I understand the desire for such a magic answer, but what playing time would you click for a wargame which has various scenarios, including a 2-hour scenario and a 2-day scenario? Whatever you click is going to grossly mislead someone. Maybe have 2 statistics, a minimum time and a maximum time?

What about the many games where the playing time increases with the number of players? Have minimum and maximum times for each advertised number of players? (So e.g. if a game is for 2-4 players, there would be 6 statistics to enter.)

It starts to get more and more complicated...


For some games this "playing time" is a feasible sounding idea. For others, it simply makes no sense. An interesting problem...
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Josiah Fiscus
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All of the objections mentioned so far are problems with the CURRENT system as well. I don't see the problem with letting users vote instead of just going by what is on the box.
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Steven
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I've advocated for this before and I continue to support it! It'll be no more or less accurate than the current "best with / recommended with" number of players. And honestly I don't care if there's a range of experienced players and newbies, or a range of scenarios, etc. - the whole point is to get a useful reference number, and the publishers' numbers often don't do the job.
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Tom Hancock
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If this happens, it should be done based on the median, instead of the mean playtime.

That would avoid the people who go and put 15 hours on certain games, just because they dislike the idea of the game and want to say bad things about it.

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Hilal Malawi
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Let users enter the playing time and the number of players when they record a play, and use that data to calculate an average, graph, and standard deviation; just like ratings.

And there is nothing wrong with recording which scenario was played. I don't need to explain the possibilities this leads to...

This is simpe to implement and would give a lot more useful information than currently.
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Russ Williams
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"simple to implement"?

Hmm, so far I easily think of these very relevant factors:
* Number of players
* Scenario played (will BGG have a list of all selectable scenarios for each game? Or will people enter them as free text, leading to "Scenario one", "#1", "1", "first" all being considered different?)
* A list (of potentially arbitrary length) of which optional rules were used (with again the problem of whether BGG will have a list of all selectable optional rules for each game? Or will people enter them as free text, and the program must decide that "fog of war" means the same as "hidden units", and that "cheap builds" means the same as "intro version"?)
* Some popular games have players choose in advance how many rounds they'll play and then check who wins, which obviously directly affects playing length
* Some popular games have players choose in advance how many points is the winning goal after which play stops, which obviously directly affects playing length

Consider also error detection to avoid garbage data (e.g. some optional rules or scenarios are logically mutually exclusive, e.g. "cheap builds" and "expensive builds" cannot both be selected).

I'm not seeing this as simple to implement, neither for collecting data, nor for storing it, nor for presenting it conveniently... :/
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col_w
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monkeyhandz wrote:
(Sure I'm not the first to ask for this.)


Nope!

Playing time / setup time / teach time:
Learn Time & Teach Time (by sweden_guy)
Playing Time (by fhsIV)
Change Playing time from a fixed period to a range or per player? (by kneumann)
"User suggested playing time"? (by TheMob)
06/19 13-04-11 Real Game Length VS Box Game Length (by Castef)
Time to setup a game (by Oramon)
Suggestion: Add a Setup Time value to Board Game entries (by jmucchiello)
Showing "set-up" time on the game information page. (by krechevskoy)
Game play time (by curtc)
Real game length VS box game length (by Castef)
03/13 10-08-11 Display *ACTUAL* playing time in game information (by bill_andel)
04/08 20-11-11 It would be nice to have a "User Experienced Playing Time" Poll entry right under the playing time entry for each game on the geek... (by dspringer13)
06/19 19-02-12 Why Are Set-Up time and user suggested playing time not added to Game Info? (by mace92)
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Hilal Malawi
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russ wrote:
"simple to implement"?

Hmm, so far I easily think of these very relevant factors:
* Number of players
* Scenario played (will BGG have a list of all selectable scenarios for each game? Or will people enter them as free text, leading to "Scenario one", "#1", "1", "first" all being considered different?)
* A list (of potentially arbitrary length) of which optional rules were used (with again the problem of whether BGG will have a list of all selectable optional rules for each game? Or will people enter them as free text, and the program must decide that "fog of war" means the same as "hidden units", and that "cheap builds" means the same as "intro version"?)
* Some popular games have players choose in advance how many rounds they'll play and then check who wins, which obviously directly affects playing length
* Some popular games have players choose in advance how many points is the winning goal after which play stops, which obviously directly affects playing length

Consider also error detection to avoid garbage data (e.g. some optional rules or scenarios are logically mutually exclusive, e.g. "cheap builds" and "expensive builds" cannot both be selected).

I'm not seeing this as simple to implement, neither for collecting data, nor for storing it, nor for presenting it conveniently... :/


I disagree.

1. When recording a play, one has the option to enter the playing time. This is already in place, so the data is already being collected. It would help to make it part of the basic entry slip (right now it appears only if one clicks on "More..."), but that's not absolutely necessary.

2. Use this data to Calculate and add playing time Average and Standard Deviation to the Stats, and a button for a Graph. Exactly the same implementation and code currently used for Rating.

3. Change the name/label of the current Playing Time to Publisher's Playing Time (or whatever else makes sense) to preserve this data for those who value it more than the new system.

Forget about scenarios, players, rules... We aren't asking for a perfect system. We just want to improve on what we have.

You have crowd-sourced the playing time data, and people can now refer to the graph to see how wide the variation is. Tell me how this is worse than the current system.
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Liam
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As Russ says An interesting problem, with well thought out identification of the further pitfalls of adding a 'user vote'.

The counter I feel perfectly articulated by Josiah is that these new problems are not new but instead are also present with the publishers 'playing time' stat.

So we can agree that any suggestion of playing time is inherently flawed.

This for me, however, increases the need for a 'user vote' as it is ever so slightly less flawed than the publishers recommended playing time on account that it is less bias and will include a greater sample size of actual users.

Clearly it would need a disclaimer/qualifier and as Tom says a median value would be better than a mean. Ideally with access to a graph. We could accept the the median is by it nature representative of a common game - or better still label the variable "user suggested median playing time". Thus, a simple check to the publishers suggested playing time is created and more information is given to the user albeit, with a warning about interpretation.

So, When I say simple to implement, I mean the voting system for variables and even the graphing of inputs already exists - the system is simple to implement even if interpreting the results is more complex.

To conclude, definitely an interesting problem without a definitive solution but surely more information from this community is more useful than less information overall and with the only information given open to a single party's bias and potential manipulation.

PS: I think Hilal may know something I don't - Standard Deviation for me is the guy from the X-men who can deviate.

Cyclops: "I'm going to use my laser eyes to hold him off! Quick - Standard help jean"

Standard: "Sure will do, right after I pick up this rock... and get a hair cut."
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Russ Williams
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hmva wrote:
Forget about scenarios, players, rules... We aren't asking for a perfect system. We just want to improve on what we have.

OK, I was responding to your previous comment with:
hmva wrote:
And there is nothing wrong with recording which scenario was played. I don't need to explain the possibilities this leads to...

where it sounded like you did want the system to track scenarios etc. Apparently I misunderstood what you meant.

If all you want is a mean of whatever single time people enter with logged plays (regardless of scenario, number of players, number of rounds, and all that jazz), then sure, I agree that's not complex to do.
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Jennifer Schlickbernd
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As mentioned people keep asking for this and fortunately it's never implemented. The resulting number would be as meaningful/meaningless as the already shown publisher's estimate.
 
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Pater Absurdus
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jschlickbernd wrote:
As mentioned people keep asking for this and fortunately it's never implemented. The resulting number would be as meaningful/meaningless as the already shown publisher's estimate.


For some games it would be very helpful and others it wouldn't but why not implement it. Anyone who thinks it is meaningless can ignore it. It would help those who like it and wouldn't hurt anyone.
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I'd like to see this implemented. It may not be perfectly accurate but at least we would get a range / distribution of times to give us something to go on.
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Jennifer Schlickbernd
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Redward wrote:
jschlickbernd wrote:
As mentioned people keep asking for this and fortunately it's never implemented. The resulting number would be as meaningful/meaningless as the already shown publisher's estimate.


For some games it would be very helpful and others it wouldn't but why not implement it. Anyone who thinks it is meaningless can ignore it. It would help those who like it and wouldn't hurt anyone.


So what are people likely to do when the 'vote' time is way off of their experience? Particularly if it takes twice as long or three times as long as the 'vote' says it will. If they put that number up there, it's going to be given credibility that it may not deserve.

That's why I don't want it implemented, it's just going to cause a lot of churn.
 
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Jennifer Schlickbernd
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Awright, I thought about this more. If they implemented the vote as a scatter plot, I'd support it because then the reader could easily see the actual times that people reported vs some 'average' time that could easily not be relevant.

This is a scatter plot:



So that would work for me and truly be helpful instead of an average that could include numbers all over the place.
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Yeah, a scatterplot would be great, or a bar chart as there currently is for ratings and game weight.
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Pater Absurdus
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jschlickbernd wrote:
Awright, I thought about this more. If they implemented the vote as a scatter plot, I'd support it because then the reader could easily see the actual times that people reported vs some 'average' time that could easily not be relevant.

This is a scatter plot:



So that would work for me and truly be helpful instead of an average that could include numbers all over the place.


That is a superb idea!
 
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Russ Williams
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jschlickbernd wrote:
This is a scatter plot:


One dimension would presumably be the length of the session, but what would the other dimension be?

On the face of it, I'm not getting why a scatter plot makes sense.

It seems like this is inherently more of a histogram (bar chart) kind of thing, right? The collected data is one-dimensional (it's simply lengths of sessions), not two-dimensional.
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