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What the Smerd? Game Talk: Your Rating System [roundtable]
 
How do you come up with a score in rating games? How sacred..is your "10"?


"Yes....I'm still Perfect"

I don't think there is an absolute perfect way to rate games..let alone anything else. A rating given by someone is personal and therefore only ones opinion/point of view. When you search reviews on games, you hope to see a review from someone who likes the same games you do or has a reputation of giving out fair consistent scoring.

My personal scoring system is mostly math - that is I rate games out of 10 (itís more like a 20 point system as I do .5 increments) and break the points up into 4 categories with different point values to each. The more points you can get within that category, the more important it is for me personally in my enjoyment of playing games. Then of course I add it up for a score total:

Gameplay : Out of 4
If the game is not interesting, hard to play through, or originality is completely thrown out the window, the score will be low here. Gameplay is a big part of the game itself which is why itís heavy on points.

Play Control out of 3
This is easy...If I canít move or do what I want to when I want to then a low score it shall be.

Graphics and Sound. Out of 2
Yep, itís pretty basic...But Pong..for itís day, would get full points. Graphics and sound really donít mean much in the end. As long as I can see and hear what Iím doing. One could argue that by definition, any game will get the full two points but here I pay attention to graphical anomalies, sound distortion and overall quality.

Fun Factor - 1 point
This is an extra point I give... Most games will get this but there are a few out there that waste your time, you wonder what the developers were thinking. If Iím having fun..and will continue to have fun in the future with this game - it gets the full point.

With this system - you can get more 10 out of 10ís then most I think ..and to some that wrecks the effect of the perfect score but I went back on a few games Iíve reviewed (both publicly and privately) and this is what came up for games that scored the big 10:
Super Mario Galaxy 1 and 2
Zelda Ocarina of Time
A Link to the Past
Skyward Sword
Donkey Kong Country Returns
Chrono Trigger


Not to bad eh? Most of these 10's have some imperfections because the reality is there is no such thing as the perfect game. But If I applied all the minor gripes for any game..they would never achieve a 10 or any other high number on the scale.

**
Back to the main question though - how do you rate your games?
A-F? 1-10? Thumbs up/down? Where does that score come from - Purely math? Your Gut?
Discuss - blah blah.

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Posted: 10/12/14, 18:22:44  - Edited by 
 on: 10/12/14, 18:20:35
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Mop it up said:
Something I like to do however, is use the full scale, but I actually decided to chicken out on that here on NW. Instead, I tend to inflate most of my scores on here so that I don't look like a harsh critic based on everyone else's standards. Here, it's very rare to see anyone give a game a 5 or lower, and I think it's kind of pointless to have half a scale that is never or very rarely used.

I'm done that a bit too. Looking at the site awards, I hold that title of lowest ratings given out of anyone on the site . My average rating is 6.98. It looks bad because the first number in that is a 6, which is typically used negatively in game reviews. But to me, a 6 is still a positive rating. It's not strongly positive, but on the whole, it is positive. I hope people don't see that and think I'm a negative person, haha.

But that's part of the problem with a numbered rating system. The numbers act as symbols for complex and sometimes even conflicting feelings, but those symbols aren't going to mean the same thing to different people. What those symbols are representing will also vary between individuals. Is it being used to represent perceived quality or a subjective interpretation of experiences. And then we open up that whole debate about whether or not something can be judged 100% objectively* (it can't).

*Let's not open up that whole debate about whether or not something can be judged 100% objectively
Posted: 10/14/14, 22:28:17  - Edited by 
 on: 10/14/14, 22:32:19
@Hero_Of_Hyrule Yeah, since the scoring here goes from 0.0 to 10 then I would treat 5.0 as the average on the scale, and in that case your average rating is still well above the average score. Heh, looks like I'm on the list too with 7.42 as my average; if I were using the full scale then it would probably be in the 5 range. That said, I do think I am a bit of a harsh critic, but there's two sides to every player and I still do enjoy games even though I have some issues with them. It's also fun to critique games. I would imagine that you're similar to that. It has gotten me into some trouble on the Internet before though, since I've been accused of being a hater before and sometimes people assume the worst of me, but I try my best to not spew simple criticisms like "this sucks" and instead speak tactfully from my own personal perspective.

And yeah, I agree about the numbers being interpreted in different ways by people. It's why I think something like a letter grade or five-star system is better despite having fewer measurements. They still aren't perfect, but I feel there's less of a difference in how people interpret them.
Posted: 10/14/14, 22:52:11
@Mop it up
Something that a lot of people on the internet forget is that it is completely possible to acknowledge the flaws and shortcomings of something while still enjoying it as a whole. Part of the fun of games is being able to look at what I do and don't like about them. To me, analysis is an enjoyable part of the experience of playing games. I like trying to figure out why my opinion of a game is the way it is. And the fact that I'm compelled to take the time to talk about what qualities I dislike in a game that I largely enjoy says something about how much it means to me. If I didn't care about a game, I probably wouldn't feel the desire to look any deeper into it than "oh, it was okay I guess." This desire to examine and critique comes from the value I place in my time spent with games.
Posted: 10/17/14, 00:30:01  - Edited by 
 on: 10/17/14, 00:33:44
@Hero_Of_Hyrule
@Mop it up

I must say, I'm baffled why anyone would bother finishing a game they dislike more than like and then give a game a bad score if they're not getting paid to do so. I know my own tastes pretty well and only choose to play games I'd likely enjoy, so if I ever chose to start rating games, I can't imagine I'd ever use the lower half of the scale. But that's just me, I suppose.
Posted: 10/17/14, 08:08:21
@Koovaps You don't need to finish a game to rate it.
Posted: 10/18/14, 01:50:58
@Mop it up

I suppose not, but I would hope most of a game was played before a verdict was rendered. That said, I'm still a bit baffled that anybody would end up buying all that many games they couldn't finish because the games were that bad.
Posted: 10/18/14, 02:07:15
@Koovaps Still, I just don't see a point in reserving part of the scale for games we never play, then those ratings have no reason to exist whatsoever. It sounds like a letter grade system would be more ideal for what you want, then you can give A, B, C, D (and + and -) to the games you play and use F for everything that'd be 5 and under for you.
Posted: 10/18/14, 02:38:19
@Mop it up

I do think the lower half of the scale is necessary, especially for paid reviewers. I am aware there's plenty if garbage out there. I just know my tastes well enough that I'd rarely expose myself to any media that I wouldn't like. That's why there are relatively few games or movies or books I've consumed that I would say I actively didn't like. So on an enthusiast site like this, I'd assume most people would be like me, is all, and usually play games they liked, and mostly use the top half of the scale. All that said, I do much prefer a 4 or 5 star system to any other numbered system.
Posted: 10/18/14, 06:33:34
pokepal148 said:
@Zero eh, the closer to a 10 that a game gets, the more likely I am to try and find a flaw strong enough to bring it down.

If I can't find said flaw then I leave the score as is.

I had a speech teacher who refused to give perfect scores on principal.
Oh you should just watch me pick apart Ocarina of Time and find every flaw with that game.
To me a 10 is a perfect game with nothing wrong, which (to me) dose not exist hence I will never give a game a 10/10, with that being said Xenoblade Chronicles Story got a 10/10 (from me) so I guess I do occasionally give a 10 but never to a whole game.
Posted: 10/18/14, 13:06:58
@Koovaps That's what I'm getting at, we're not using the same criteria to rate games as media sites so it doesn't make sense to me that we use the same scoring system when it results in having at least half the scale we don't use (though media sites probably don't use the full thing as much as they should). We would benefit from treating the scale differently or using a different scale, then we would have more measurements to use.
Posted: 10/18/14, 21:22:13
I know I've got a longer article on my feelings about ratings. When we're talking about making recommendations as a critic, I prefer the 5 star system, which for me would go something like this:

No Stars = Rare and reserved for games that are actively offensive (Examples: Think racist Stormfront games or exploitative shovelware knockoffs of other games designed to trick short-sighted grandmas and unsophisticated children.)

1 Star = This is the dumping ground for trash. To me, anything below about a 6.5 on the usual 100 point scale is a 1 star game on this scale. It's a game that's bad in almost every way. Distinguished from a 0 star game in that it's probably not actively offensive/exploitative, just poorly made. (Ninjabreadman, Dudes With Attitude, Dungeon Inquisitor)

2 Stars = A game that mostly fails, but may have some redeeming qualities. Fans of the genre may have mixed feelings about the game, but some might still find it worth a look. Skeptics should stay away, though. A two star score is clearly not a recommendation, but it's at least an admission that the game isn't garbage. (Examples: Other M basically defines a 2 star game for me. Dog Football too, if I'm being honest. Boogerman.)

3 Stars = A positive review. A respectable game that does most things right, but may have a steep downside. A flawed would-be genre masterpiece might end up here, if the flaws are bad enough. 3 star games appeal to most fans of the genre, but that appeal may not reach very far beyond the genre. Still, in my view a 3 star review is not bad at all. It's either average or simply limited in appeal. A 3 Star review means I liked the game and I think a lot of people would like it, but I should be able to see a strong counterargument that it could have been better. (Examples: Dillon's Rolling Western, Super Luigi U)

4 Stars = A strong recommendation for a game that should be easy to love. Here's a game that's great and should appeal to most everybody, but which I don't see as quite a Hall of Fame game. It's worthy of high praise and gets a thorough recommendation from me. There should be areas where the game could have been better polished. It might simply be too long or too short. Still, no one should be disappointed by a 4 star review and I would still give some of my favorite games this score. (Ex: DuckTales, Final Fight, Super Mario 3D World, ToeJam and Earl, Guacamelee)

5 Stars = Games destined for the Hall of Fame. They don't have to quite be perfect, but they should be games that are overwhelmingly great and destined to be returned to even during future generations. Would it belong in an official Hall of Fame because of its high quality? If the answer is yes, it belongs here. (Examples: Super Mario Bros 3, Super Metroid, Wind Waker, Super Mario Galaxy, Pikmin 3)

There.
Posted: 10/18/14, 21:29:20  - Edited by 
 on: 10/18/14, 21:33:40
Sormon said:

....Oh you should just watch me pick apart Ocarina of Time and find every flaw with that game.
To me a 10 is a perfect game with nothing wrong, which (to me) dose not exist hence I will never give a game a 10/10, with that being said Xenoblade Chronicles Story got a 10/10 (from me) so I guess I do occasionally give a 10 but never to a whole game.

I think that's sad. That just tells me you will never be satisfied 100% with any game you play - and for most people who enjoy the hobbie that would be frustrating to never experience that.

**
@Mop it up@kriswright
@Koovaps

Comments to all: I would find it odd yes that on a site like this one, we would find reviews from members here using the bottom half of the 10 or Star scale simply because we tend to just play and review games we like (unless we are getting paid or have a ton of free time on our hands). Just because our personal collection/reviews never has a rating for a game under a 6 for example doesnt mean we are afraid to use those low numbers/star count.

With the number system - you would think that people would understand what it means for a game to be a 7 (good/B)...or an 8. It's right in front of you. Like a test score:
Billy got 8 out of 10 on his math test. That's 80%! That's great!!
Jimmy got a 6.5/10.. That's 65% and he's happy because he can't count.

With the silly inflation of scores - developers are so pressured to please because they know an 8 out of 10 can kill them in sales because some idiots ignore any game lower then a 9...
I'm starting to think that if/when I publish another review I will just talk with words and not even end the review with a score.

Side question/possible poll opportunity: Would you care if say IGN or another gaming site stop ratings all together? Would that drive you nuts? Would you celebrate?

Without Kris's explanation of what each star on his star rating system meant, I wouldn't know how to feel about a 3 star review...and I never knew there could be a zero star rating....I thought 1 star would be bottom of the barrel shovelware stuff.
I think that's the problem with a star rating - Even though Kris's feelings on each star made perfect sense, you have to create a mini legend for your readers to refer to so that you could guarantee that the reader understood the review.
Unless I'm missing something here and the other people on NW who favour (CDN spelling!) star reviews have the exact same definition as Kris's - including the dismal 0 star.

Posted: 10/19/14, 21:52:19
@kriswright Well said mate, and that's exactly how the star rating system is treated on another site I visit.

@Smerd I think no ratings would be better than the mess of a system sites use nowadays, so if they're not going to strive for a better rating system then I'll take no ratings. Also, not knowing what a star rating means to an individual isn't a problem limited to star ratings; number ratings have that issue as well, as this topic and the one I made about a score of 10 prove that people interpret the numbers differently. So anyone using the 10 number system should still have a guide to what those numbers mean (in fact, Negative World does), and since a star system has fewer ratings then there is a lot less room for misinterpretation.
Posted: 10/19/14, 22:01:47
@Mop it up

That is all very true - just like I mentioned that you would initially think a numbered system (or anything else) would be self explanatory but it's not anymore.. Which is why people freak out on sites for giving a 8.5 or the infamous 7.9.

In the end though, a review is strickly personal and can't be neutral/scientific in any way. It's just fun to get everyones viewpoints from here.
Posted: 10/19/14, 22:31:23
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