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Subject: What is game weight? rss

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Just Lucky
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Game weight is an important measure on BGG but I have failed to find a good definition of what it means. Maybe someone could direct me to a definition.

I have tried to reverse engineer what people mean by game weight by looking at ratings for particular games. What I have found out is that in general, longer games are heavier games.

Carcassonne, 45mins, 2.0
Agricola, 120mins, 3.6
Twilight Imperium, 240mins, 4.1

Surely there is more to it than length. What about randomness. Are games with more randomness heavier than those with none. The data do not support this:

Citadels, Random hands, 2.1
Bohnanza, Random hands, 1.7
Quarriors, Dice game, 1.9
Blokus, No random element, 1.8
Pentago, No random element, 2.0

Maybe it is the complexity of the rules that make the game heavy. I find the rules to 7 Wonders very complex compared to other games. This is reflected in a higher weight. Similarly for RftG. Maybe it is the iconography that makes a game heavy.

7 Wonders, 2.3
Race for the Galaxy, 2.7

My conclusion so far is that heavy games are long games with complex rules. There are however exceptions:

Go,90mins, 4.0
Chess, 60mins, 3.8

So must we add: ancient games are alway heavy? No, there are exceptions:

Mancala, 1.7
Checkers, 1.8

Ultimately, of what use is the term game weight when Blokus and Chess (both simple open information 2 player games) have such different ratings?

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Weight could be said to be the answer to "how much does this game feel like working?" where weight of one is "not at all" and five is "it's worse than working".
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Richard Morris
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Weight is a measure of how difficult it is to play a game well. The more you need strategy and the more choices of strategy there are, the heavier a game will tend to be.

Long games tend to be heavier, not because length itself is a measurement of complexity, but because shorter games tend not to be around long enough for there to be complex strategies.

Randomness, if anything, should have an inverse relationship to weight. The more randomness there is in a game, the harder it becomes to have a complex strategy, because you are not wholly in control about what is happening.

Complex (ie long and with lots of stuff) rules tend to add to the weight, but the inverse is not necessarily true. Games with fairly simple rules, but open information, no randomness and complex strategies (say, go, and chess) are often weighty.

Both mancala and checkers should probably have higher weightings. Certainly there is depth to them, though neither seems as deep as go or chess. But then I am a very casual player of all those games, so my view of weight is not necessarily accurate. Older games that have stood the test of time (like those mentioned above) tend to be because they are weighty. There are lots of old board games that are all light - simple roll and move stuff - but no one plays them any more.

And as for Blokus vs Chess? Well, there is some ageism here. Chess is understood by all to be a deep game, with lots of history. Had blous been invented hundreds of years ago, and survived through time until now, then it seems likely that we would think of it as being deeper than we do now, because people would have studied it, and understood the depth. Very few players spend long studying any single game these days, because (I assume) there are so many other games to play as well.

Another way to consider weight may be how complex it would be to write a top level computer program to play it well. Chess is close to being cracked now, but such programs are difficult to write to beat top level human players. Though 99% of us on here, I suspect, would usually be beaten by the top level of commercially available chess programs (not to mention deep blue).
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Martin Manning
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Good question with no simple answer. My understanding is that "weight" is an attempt to quantify a couple of disparate factors that could contribute to the ease of achieving mastery of a game; imagine a Kniziaesque scoring metric that assigns values to factors such as game length, rules complexity, and depth of strategy; "weight" is essentially the highest value from among those factors. In other words, two games might have similar rules complexity and play times, but if one somehow has greater depth of strategy, it'll still have a higher weight rating.

I will say this though: it's all pretty meaningless, due in no small part to the subjectivity of it all. The difference between Go and Chess and similar games is that Go and Chess have been around for a long time and have had their strategies studied in considerable depth. This probably leads some users to presume that these games must be more "weighty" than their contemporary peers, and this is reflected in their weight, whether it is true that Blokus is lighter than Chess or not (and who knows... has anyone tried writing a Blokus AI that can beat any human player yet?).

Looking past the obvious problems of bias, the metric is really only useful when comparing games of similar genres. People who play wargames exclusively, for instance, are likely to be accustomed to the long playtime and rules complexity of that genre, and will evaluate weight in that context. A wargame with a weight of 1.5 might be easy for a wargamer to pick up and learn, but that's no assurance that a family of Catan players will have any success learning/playing it.
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AnnuverScotinExile wrote:
...(not to mention deep blue).


Not all life's problems can be solved with chess, Deep Blue. Someday you'll understand that.



CHECK!!
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See the BGG wiki page Weight.
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Lacombe
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In terms of how the [very very small sample size] BGG weight ratings work out, it is roughly an approximation of the "bigness" of a game... in any possible sense of the word.
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Russ Williams
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NateStraight wrote:
In terms of how the [very very small sample size] BGG weight ratings work out, it is roughly an approximation of the "bigness" of a game... in any possible sense of the word.

Instead of "bigness" I might call it... "heaviness".
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Lacombe
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Well now that's just tautological.

Plus, "big" has so many easy connotations that essentially all work.
 
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A weird amalgamation of complexity and depth.

My guess, just off the top of my head, is that weight is a measure of either depth or complexity: whichever the game has more of. So a complicated game that isn't very deep gets a high weight rating. A simple game that is very deep also gets a high weight rating (Chess and Go). Only a game that is both relatively simple *and* not too deep gets a low weight rating.

EDIT: So, what Martin Manning already said.
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Tomello Visello
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what is game weight?

a subjective assessment of how heavily it burdens your brain to learn and perform the calculations necessary to play it.

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Just Lucky
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russ wrote:
See the BGG wiki page Weight.


Thanks, that was what I was looking for.
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Galaad Maal
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Just_Lucky wrote:

Go,90mins, 4.0
Chess, 60mins, 3.8


The longest tournament chess game (in terms of moves) ever to be played was Nikolić-Arsović, Belgrade 1989, which lasted for 269 moves and took 20 hours and 15 minutes to complete a drawn game. But I would not be surprised if other games have taken longer in terms of time.

And, correct me if I'm wrong, but I was under the impression that tournament Go games could last for days?

For a different approach to 'heaviness', see http://xkcd.com/1002/!
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Martin Larouche
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AnnuverScotinExile wrote:
Weight is a measure of how difficult it is to play a game well. The more you need strategy and the more choices of strategy there are, the heavier a game will tend to be.

Long games tend to be heavier, not because length itself is a measurement of complexity, but because shorter games tend not to be around long enough for there to be complex strategies.

Randomness, if anything, should have an inverse relationship to weight. The more randomness there is in a game, the harder it becomes to have a complex strategy, because you are not wholly in control about what is happening.

Complex (ie long and with lots of stuff) rules tend to add to the weight, but the inverse is not necessarily true. Games with fairly simple rules, but open information, no randomness and complex strategies (say, go, and chess) are often weighty.

Both mancala and checkers should probably have higher weightings. Certainly there is depth to them, though neither seems as deep as go or chess. But then I am a very casual player of all those games, so my view of weight is not necessarily accurate. Older games that have stood the test of time (like those mentioned above) tend to be because they are weighty. There are lots of old board games that are all light - simple roll and move stuff - but no one plays them any more.

And as for Blokus vs Chess? Well, there is some ageism here. Chess is understood by all to be a deep game, with lots of history. Had blous been invented hundreds of years ago, and survived through time until now, then it seems likely that we would think of it as being deeper than we do now, because people would have studied it, and understood the depth. Very few players spend long studying any single game these days, because (I assume) there are so many other games to play as well.

Another way to consider weight may be how complex it would be to write a top level computer program to play it well. Chess is close to being cracked now, but such programs are difficult to write to beat top level human players. Though 99% of us on here, I suspect, would usually be beaten by the top level of commercially available chess programs (not to mention deep blue).


You are confusing weight and depth.
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Martin Larouche
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Weight is simple to understand really:
It's simply an abstract measure of how difficult it is to learn to play a game with a minimum of skill.

A complex ruleset (Twilight Imperium 3, Advanced Squad Leader) will make the game difficult to learn.
The depth of the game (Go, Chess) can also make the game difficult to play with a minimum of skill. The metrics used for the "depth variable" used in measuring weight is less than the ruleset, though it's there. Hence why some will consider Go as "medium-weight".

The longer games will tend to be rated as heavier games because of their rulesets. I have never seen a game with a 100+ pages rulebook take only 1 hour to play. Length is an indicator of the rules complexity, but it's not directly linked to depth.

Being an abstract value, the weight is also relative.
7-Wonders is a really heavy game when compared to Candyland.
7-Wonders is a really light game when compared to Advanced Squad Leader.
 
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Richard Morris
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deedob wrote:
You are confusing weight and depth.
If we could assign a depth to a game I might agree with you.
 
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Laura Creighton
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AnnuverScotinExile wrote:
deedob wrote:
You are confusing weight and depth.
If we could assign a depth to a game I might agree with you.


This is the problem in a nutshell. Some people want 'weight' to mean depth. But some want it to mean 'how fiddly the game is', and some want it to mean 'how hard is it to teach newbies' and some want it to mean 'how well is the manual written, and how long is it'. Still others are interested in setup time, and how long the game plays. With so many people trying to make the same stat mean so many different things, no wonder we end up losing the signal in the noise.

The other problem is that for most of these things we really cannot judge much more than 'easy', 'hard' and 'very hard' or 'light', 'medium' and 'heavy'. There is no value in having people select on a scale that has more precision in it than the people themselves can perceive -- if you do so you end up with junk statistics.
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I've been doing a fair amount of thinking on the duality of weight, which BGG provides as a mashup between rule complexity and depth, as part of the Game Genome Project.

Really, the two shoud be seperated here on BGG as many others in this thread have pointed out - combining the concepts just leads to a high level of confusion.

Moving past symantics and trying to think about how to measure these two things is far more challenging, especially if we attempt to do so objectively. We kicked around some ideas for a deeper survey driven approach here: Assessing "Weight" - A Participatory Experiment, which I think could have some merit but needs more refinement before being a useful tool.

But essentially the idea is to develop a list of 25 or 30 representative games from across the complexity/depth spectrium and have people who have played those more carefully score the games using a defined rubric - and then use the results as a basis for establishing "guideposts" to say for another game under consideration which guidepost it is most like.
 
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Just_Lucky wrote:

My conclusion so far is that heavy games are long games with complex rules. There are however exceptions:

Go,90mins, 4.0
Chess, 60mins, 3.8


I think that the conclusion stated above is correct. Go and Chess are better called deep than heavy. (i.e. they have simple rules that produce complex strategies.)
 
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Gmaal wrote:

And, correct me if I'm wrong, but I was under the impression that tournament Go games could last for days?


Historically, significant games of go could last several days, and between the playing days there could be several non-playing days so that a game could take months. Nowadays, top games in go tournaments tend to be at most two-day games.
 
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A game's weight is its mass multiplied by the value of gravity at the point the game is being played. Advanced Squad Leader is easy-peasy if you play it on the Moon.
 
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I thought it was to help you calculate shipping costs.
 
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I'd like to approach this from a somewhat different angle. As I see it, weight is perceived effort, most notably how much thought and time that must be invested in a game to learn how to play it properly. The less effort, the lighter the game; the more effort, the heavier the game.
 
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Weight is substantiality and nothing besides.
 
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