Rating Systems

I find rating systems for games are becoming rather pointless.

In its quest to transform from an intelligent and interesting online news/opinion site about games/tech/science to a rather annoying, baiting, and biased site, Ars Technica has spent another wasted amount of space on a pointless follow-up to a pointless initial article.

First they had an article on what games the editors thought were overrated.

And later they had an article on what games readers/commenters of the site thought were overrated.

They are some of the most pointless articles. I don’t care about that stuff. It adds nothing.

It seems like they have one goal with a couple articles per week now: incite flame wars. I don’t understand why, but it isn’t just those two articles.

A few weeks ago they had their annual reader survey. I had noticed the trend and asked in the suggestions for the survey that they do fewer trollish articles.

It seems they’ve read that, for now there are more than ever. Articles whose only point seem to be to troll the audience, to fan the flames of fan’s opinions on matters, to play to the audience, to demean those who don’t agree with them… it’s getting weird.

Ars has lost a dedicated reader. I used to read every single article every day, because they were all worth reading. Now, not so much. Black holes had an article today; I love black holes, they are fascinating and the science is completely out there.

Back to the original point, which isn’t¬†necessarily¬†about Ars and it’s fall into the editorial toilet. (Considering how much I used to love them, this recent change over the past few months is rather upsetting, and I only wish the editors could see this, realize they’ve been giving ear to pointless dribble, repent, and become good again. Please. Because I’d rather like it, but the trollish articles are really bringing down the rest of the site.)

Rating systems, when point based, are rather pointless. The two articles about overrated games were pretty much this:

Take a collection of 5-10 games that are from somewhere on the top 50 games of all-time list, and complain about how terrible/overrated they are.

The truth is, everything has haters. It is almost frightening how naturally people self-align into love/hate groups with near-perfect exactness.

Consider the greatest example of this: the elections. They have recently been 51/49 (I’m generalizing) in general. That’s insane. How in the world are people splitting themselves down the middle so evenly? Why is it 50% dems and 50% reps? It can’t be random, it’s much too organized to be random.

But anyways, it just illustrates in a grander way what people do, they split, and with surprising consistency they’ll split down the middle if you have a large enough segment of people.

It even makes me wonder what the % is on iPhone/Android haters/lovers. But in online debates, you certainly do see a split, there is rarely an overwhelming advantage in anything, with the rare exception of something especially correct being compared against something especially wrong, and both must be extremely obvious to all involved. It still isn’t 100%, ever, of course.

So, we can extend this to things people like. And we can even make a statement out of it. The more people that like (a), the more people that hate (a). Plain and simple.

Top 50 games? I’d bet they also have more people that hate them (numbers-wise) than many others. Exposure leads to people seeing, judging, then splitting.

So, let’s say we have a game that 100 reviewers online say the game deserves a perfect 10/10. Let’s say I play it and hate it, think it deserves 6/10, at best. Let’s also say that anyone who has professionally reviewed it agrees it should be 10/10, and that no reviewer (only some players) thinks it deserves less than 10/10.

But I hated it, right? But it’s a perfect game, isn’t it?

That review system is flawed. A numerical system for rating a game doesn’t really tell you much about it. And, of course, it’s based on current standards. I played some games in my youth that were perfect 10 games. Now people look at them and say “6 at best, story is flawed and graphics are meh.” They have no context that we liked that story, and the graphics were good for that era. And of course, they are part of the other sides’s 50%.

So, what do I want?

Game A ratings:

For people who require in depth plots, game A isn’t a great choice. For people who love shiny graphics, FPS, and a great multiplayer system, game A is the greatest game ever. For people that love adventure games, look elsewhere, game A isn’t an adventure game.

Why, if we rated games on their intentions (RPG/Action/Adventure/Plot/FPS/etc.) we may have reviews that are directed at the segment who likes those things first off, and then provides the rating for the segment that likes it already.

It doesn’t seem like there’s any reason to provide a general rating, as universal appeal isn’t common. You wouldn’t rate a puzzle game 10/10 for people who only played FPS, and you wouldn’t rate an FPS with multiplayer 10/10 for people who only play JRPGs. And a number system… is meh.

But if you say, “Hey, this JRPG has A, B, and C good points due to the system and story, but flaws D, E, and F because of a couple plotholes and a deus ex machina or two. Even with those it’s worth playing due to overall strength, interest, characterization, and general level of fun,” I’d find that much more useful.

How about a rating system that tells us how much fun we’ll have? I’d rather have fun with my entertainment, so please rate stuff on a fun scale in the correct segment/genre.

About James Ashman

I write books of the fantasy, heroic, and adventure types. So far. I'm an author who loves fantastic stories.
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