Sunday, July 8, 2012
Pete's Personal Philosophy On Game Ratings
One of my former (or current, maybe) readers had an issue with some statements I made regarding ratings at the Circus: http://gamerchris.com/2012/07/05/impartiality-in-writing-reviews.aspx
Anyhow, he noted that it's ridiculous that I should think a game that we rated a 7.5 is not shit hot. He said, in short, that if we were to give a 7.5 on a game, people should think it's pretty good. Well, yeah, it's pretty good, in the same sort of way that a Whopper is pretty good. It's just good enough to make you wish you were eating a better fucking burger. Me, I'd rather have a fat, juicy Carl's Jr. Double Western Bacon Cheeseburger. The kind of burger that can only be described as a mouthgasm, that leaves you satisfied all day. I mean, I eat one of them, I don't even want a burger for a couple of weeks, because it's just that awesome. And if I could have one of them or the Whopper, I'm going with Carl 100 times out of 100.
But, let's get back to the Circus for a second, because you see, first and foremost, I don't actually release my personal ratings, because they're irrelevant to the Circus. The final Circus rating is, in essence, the average of all the scores taken over the three review plays that are required before I write a review. So, for a five player game, played with 5 each time, that would be the average of those 15 unique scores, minus the single highest and lowest vote. So, really, I don't score shit myself, except the three votes that I always get, since I have to play it three times...after all, in almost all cases the game is mine.
Now this is how I, personally, characterize scores, in the frame of the ubiquitous "1-10" scale:
0-5: Don't play this. Don't look at this. For fuck's sake, DO NOT BUY THIS.This should be sent to a recycler and made into a cereal box, since cereal boxes are often entertaining, and sometimes, if you're lucky, come with something that someone will want to play with. If I bought it, it's probably because it was on clearance somewhere and I wanted the bits for a real game. Or, perhaps I was just fucking stupid.
5-6.75: Something went very, very wrong. It might be kind of fun or maybe has some merit, but there's a significant problem or problems with this. Maybe it's kind of fun but fugly, maybe it's fun only due to one facet or another, but in either case, it somehow fails to make the cut.
6.75-8: This had potential, but either failed in a substantial way, or had lots of little small issues that added up. Or maybe it's a niche game that serves a sole purpose and does it pretty well. It's definitely fun for some people. If I have this, it's because it's got a really bad ass theme that allows me to look past the flaws or maybe it just appealed to me for a unique reason.
8-9: This is an undoubtedly fun game. It's got some problems, but they're generally minor. In short, this is a game you should definitely seek out to play, because it's likely that all of the Circus really enjoyed a lot about this game. It's very possible that I own this, used to own this and replaced it with a game that does the same thing, but better.
9-10: This is the real cream of the crop. There is almost no reason not to own this game, unless you have some predisposition to not liking the setting or theme, or you simply don't like the style of game (ie. Euro V. Ameritrash) or some such thing. And really, if you don't like this game, there's probably some serious deficiency with you. I definitely own this game, or owned it and played it in excess of 20 times and can't get anyone to play with anymore. Short version: This is an epic game and you're a fun murdering sucker-ass if you don't have it, or want to have it.
THE SHORT VERSION:
My analogy is this: If you walk into the local whorehouse and there's ten women there, all eager to serve you, you're not going to even bother with any woman that doesn't rate at least a seven or eight. I mean, why the fuck would you even waste your time with anything less? To see if their personality will somehow make you overlook the fact that she's got an eye with a half-inch thick cataract on it or has a thick, black goatee on her face? You get one shot to take this chick in the back room, and there's no refunds, so are you going to grab the fugly ones or the ones who sound like Fran Drescher?
No, you're going to look at the eights through the dimes. And really, if they're all about the same price, why the hell are you not going to just shoot for the dimes? Sure, that "seven" girl with the stellar body could possibly be able to tie a cherry stem with her tongue, but you know for SURE that the dime can. I mean, that's her job, and that's why she's the dime. So, unless the seven does something for you so different than the other girls can, like perhaps Ms. Seven is black, and you really dig black chicks, well, you can overlook the pock marks that populate her ass and thighs because she has that extra "thing" that turns you on.
But me, I'm shooting for the dimes pretty much every time. Why settle for less than the total package? If you think I'm an idiot for rating something a seven and then saying that I'd probably never buy it, well, I guess I just have higher standards than you. That doesn't make me snooty or an elitist, it means that I have a limited amount of space and I'm really not trying to spend a shitload of my hard-earned money on a bunch of games that will never again see a table. I generally buy only the best in a genre or the game that best uses a certain mechanic, and if a better one comes along, well, the previous top dog is relegated to the trade pile. I mean, I'm NOT a collector, unless you owe me money, in which case I'll most certainly make house calls. I'm a player; a gamer. I want to play games, not just own them and read the rules on the shitter, or wax poetic on the elegance of the design. And I'm not saying it's wrong to do that if that's your thing...if you want to have a room with 500 games in it that never get played, hey, whatever floats your boat. It's just not my thing.
So, that's how I, personally, rate things, if you believe that it's important to know. Each person who plays a game with me, whether they know it's for review purposes or not, is asked the famous question that I always ask, "So, what'd ya think, scale of 1-10?" I have zero influence on how they vote, and therefore I can't control if someone believes a 7 to be a stunningly good game with some minor niggles that kept it from greatness. But, remember that none of my regulars know anything about BGG, anything about the "game culture", or have ever read a game review. Only one of all of them, my master-at-arms, has any interest in games above playing them, and I took him to GenCon just before he started cancer treatment. So, the ratings that we generate are all relative to the other games that we've played, since they have no experience whatsoever outside of the games that we've played together.
That's the whole shebang, and I'm glad we had this little talk.