Monday, July 26, 2010

Announcement - Ratings System

A month or two ago, someone mentioned I should have a ratings system, so that people could know at a glance which games I like, and compare them to each other. At the time, there were a couple reasons I was opposed to the idea.

The first reason was the most obvious - I am pretty damned lazy. Creating a whole system for rating games is way too much like work. I can make a couple snide jokes at the end of a review and call them my summary, but an actual ratings system might require some effort. And I'm generally opposed to effort.

The second reason was a little more highbrow. It's my opinion that you cannot sum up a game with a single number. That's like if someone asks how the weather is in Tahiti, and you answer, '3'. Numbers should only be used as answers when the question has to do with counting things, usually money, but best-case, tequila shots.

I mean, look at Puerto Rico. This is a brilliantly designed game with lots of strategy and quick-thinking plays, but with a theme as dry as Mojave sand. Compare it to something like HeroQuest, where your decisions are virtually pointless, as long as you choose to kill something, but you get to play a story. How do you compare those two games with a single number? You don't, is what I'm saying. The only thing both those games have in common is that they're both games. Rating them both on the same scale would be like comparing apples and boobs.

But over time, the idea began to sound better and better. Not because it would be some wicked handy reference, because I'm not going to go back and rate all the old games (see reason number one). No, it's worth doing because it has potential humor value. If it's also useful to you, well, I would say that was gravy, except that I really only care if it's funny, so it's gravy I'll take on the side so that it doesn't get in my vegetable medley.

So to make the ratings system good for something, my ratings will not be a simple one-dimensional scale from one to ten, because that's for erudite board game geeks who like to argue about statistics because they have small penises. My ratings system, which will obviously be far superior, will rate games based on a variety of factors.

The first factor will be theme, because that tends to be a pretty considerable separation point between lots of game nerds. This rating will go from 1 to 10, and will be in whole numbers, unless there's bloodshed in the game. Violence, which is awesome, will automatically add .5 to any score. So actually, I suppose the scale goes from 1 to 10.5. Of course, I also reserve the right to put whatever number I want. I might rate a game 3.14, just to be obnoxious, or -25, in cases where I'm irritated that I ever opened the box.

After theme, I'll rate gameplay. If the game is brilliant and tense, with critical decisions all the way through, I'll slap a 9 or 10 on it. If it's Candyland, it gets a 0, because the only strategy you can exercise in Candyland is to hide it from your children and hope they forget it exists.

Production value is the third thing. This is a conglomerate score based on the quality of the components, the appeal of the art, and whether there are any naked girls. Naked girls, like violence, will add .5 to any score. Usually naked girls in games are strategically hidden behind bushes or fabric, but games where you can actually spot a nipple might go past 11, unless they're ugly, strung-out crack whores, but that almost never happens in games. Vegas, sure, but not games.

Finally, I'm reserving room for a floating fourth thing. This could be anything from Component Overload to Short Bus Rating, and will be used almost exclusively as a place to make stupid, puerile jokes about body parts or the handicapped. It won't be much use as a comparative rating, but it might make me giggle, and that's enough for me.

Look for the new ratings system to go into effect on my next review, at which time you can prepare your arguments to tell me that I'm crazy for giving that game a 7 when I gave something else an 8, and then I can tell you to shut up, because I'm too lazy to fix it.


Anonymous said...

Now that you're going to do a ratings system, I'd like to request that you don't.

Matt Drake said...

Shut up. I'm too lazy to change my mind.

Besides, it should end up about as useful as a fart in a whirlwind. I don't have any intention of using an actual scale. I'll give Warhammer Quest a 127, and Mutant Chronicles CMG a 0.035. Those won't compare well at all.

ninthdoc said...

OMG! I'm crying over here! I hate you for not going to Gencon and getting drunk with me!

Clay Hales said...

I listened to a radio station that would have a junkie's movie review. The movies being reviewed were truly horrible. His rating system at the end was how much illicit drugs were required to make it through the movie without killing himself. Could be an option for the undeclared category.

Anonymous said...

Need to rate some games you've already reviewed with the new system.

Matt Drake said...

I already said I am far too lazy to rate games I already reviewed once. That still holds.

And drugs for the undeclared category - great idea! I might try that now and then.

Anonymous said...

A thing that would be of interest is the "buzz" or "tension" of the end game. Are we all going to sleep because there's a runaway winner, or are we sniping and jabbing right up to the last? Seems to divide a lot of new games from the golden oldies.

Anonymous said...

You need to play Funny Friends.

Anonymous said...

I give this post an A out of 5 stars.

ninthdoc said...


David N. said...

Having read the first two reviews using the new ratings system, I have to say I miss the old Pro/Con breakdown. It was one of the things that differentiated your reviews from those elsewhere. I also got a much better and much more nuanced summary from your old system. These new numbers just don't seem as helpful.

More importantly, I just don't think there's much humor value in numbers. A -25 for Theme just isn't as funny as "Has a penis."

I thought the old system fit both your style and philosophy better. Stylistically, it provided you more room to be as snarky in summary as you were in the review. Philosophically, it reflected your attitude that games are too differentiated to be easily compared with numbers alone.

If you really want a way for people to compare your opinions across games, why not just create a Drake's Hall of Fame / Drake's Hall of Shame page listing your current favorite and most hated games, with links to their reviews?

Anyway, I liked the old way better.

Matt Drake said...

David, I think we'll try it one more week, and if I'm not feeling it, I'll drop it and go back to the old summary. Thank you for your feedback.