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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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10/12/14, 18:22    Edited: 10/12/14, 18:20
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For Skyward Sword I just went through the NW rating guidelines thing and picked the one that best described my experience with the game.
10/12/14, 18:46   

Hey man...that's cool. I know you've been getting some flak - hopefully you are taking that with a grain of salt and you still feel confident with your score. We like to tease. Do you always go through NW's rating guidelines or do you have something else you gravitate too?

I think, for myself, I don't really think about it (a personal rating) too much unless I'm forced (or choose) to give a rating out to the public. I have games in my collection that I enjoy.. games I don't like..I don't have. I'm pretty sure most of us feel the same way.
10/12/14, 18:54   
I've been thinking about making a thread like this for over a year, but couldn't quite figure how to word it. So thanks for setting this up

I only score games on the NW backlog. To determine a score, I go with my gut feeling of how much value I place in the experience of playing the game. Any sort of "objective quality' has nothing to do with it. I derive meaning from the numbers I use to rate games by comparing them relative to the score I give other games.

What I mean is that I establish my favorite game, Majora's Mask, as a 10. That's the ceiling. And then I look at other games that I like almost exactly as much. Banjo Kazooie, Pikmin, and Mother 3. Those are the only other 10's. Then I look at games just below that. Games that aren't quite on the same level, but very very close. And that's how I get my 9.9's. I do the same when establishing the bottom level of my scores (with the non-functioning Wario Ware Snapped being 0.0). Towards the middle I kind of go with general feelings. I put games that I enjoy a fair amount, but have some considerable flaws at 6. Games that are less enjoyable and more flawed than that get a 5. Games that have some good qualities that are outweighed by negative qualities get a 4. And then ratings 3-0 are for when I dislike the game as a whole.

Of course, this is open a wide variety of problems. How do I rate MGS2? That's a game that I love everything about except for the gameplay. In fact, if the gameplay were on par with the rest of the game, I'd probably give it a 10. How do I rate Spec Ops: The Line, a game that engages the player, but is by no means supposed to be enjoyed? How do I rate Bravely Default? That game is great for the first half and falls apart in the second. How do I rate Hyrule Warriors? When playing story mode co-op with a Zelda fan, it's a 9. When playing story mode and some of adventure mode single player it's an 8. When playing through story mode and all of adventure mode, it's a 6. How can I justify giving Mother 3 a 10 when its 7th chapter runs a couple of hours longer than I would like it to? In that case, it's because I like the rest of the game enough that that fact doesn't push it below my 4th favorite game.

I try not to worry about this stuff too much because I rate games purely for fun. I like to be able to look at what I've scored as my top 10 favorite PS2 games or my top 10 favorite Wii games. If trying to figure out how I score a certain game isn't fun, I don't give that game a score. I only rate games because I like reflecting upon my time with them.
10/12/14, 19:41   
Edited: 10/12/14, 19:41
99 point scale, mostly gut. I can like a game and rate it down, and I can also hate a game and rate it up. Some games though, depending on the pile of hair next to me, will get dropped regardless of how many others think they should be (ie: Kid Icarus, Twilight Princess, etc.).

Its tough to score objectively sometimes. I know a lot of stuff is skewed, or maybe gets a bump for being "a Zelda game" or "a Metroid game." Nintendo Quality is usually there though, which is why I don't know how Skyward Sword could hit 4.2 in anybody's system.

My number is also nestled closely to the American School System. A lot of people don't like that because 0.1-4.5 probably won't get used at all. I disagree, just let me get to 'em. What would those guys score Adventures of Tom Sawyer on NES? Let me know.


Those are just words that Zero picked. Is that game really more bad than good? C'mon.
10/12/14, 20:26   
I don't think of a 10 as this special beast that has to be treated differently, that doesn't make sense to me. Why should one score be weighted differently than the rest? In my eyes it should be just as easy for a game to go from a 9.9 to a 10 as it is to go from a 9.8 to a 9.9. And this becomes even more true if it is a 20, 10, or 5 point scale. If we were using a 10 point scale here, for instance, I'd probably be giving stuff like Super Mario 3D World a 10, not because it is perfection, but because it is closer to 10 than it is a 9 for me. But part of why I argued for the (somewhat?) unpopular 100 point scale is that I like having more options than just giving 9s and 10s to every game I really like.

So with all of that said, a 10 doesn't mean "perfect" to me since obviously perfect is an impossible thing. It just means like cream of the crop type games. I don't give out many 10s, but then again I don't give out many 9.9s and 9.8s either. I guess I just don't get blown away by games often.

As for the scores themselves, I don't break it down into groups or anything like that, because I don't think my experience can be broken down like that. Take something like Art Style: Orbient which has these very barebones graphics that, realistically, would be hard to justify giving much more than a 5 or 6 for graphics. But I gave the game a 9.3 because I think it is an awesome game, regardless of graphics. I think in these cases a lot of reviewers who have to score different things and add it together for a final score just sort of start stretching to get to the score they want anyway, like yeah the graphics are barebones but uh... they're totally perfect for this game so they get an 8! Well, maybe that's even kind of true to how they feel, but chances are in a void those graphics would never get an 8, and if you have broken up scores aren't you kind of supposed to be giving each score a bit independently of the rest? Or maybe not, I dunno. Breaking scores up like that doesn't make much sense to me, not sure how it all comes together in a game that is awesome but has weak graphics or whatever. I know IGN used to do (still does?) "final score is not an average", which makes more sense to me than just mashing them all together and maybe being stuck with a score that doesn't reflect your overall experience.

Likewise something like 999 doesn't necessarily have what one would call the best "gameplay" but the overall experience was great so I scored it high. I just think about how much I liked the game and what score best reflects that experience.
10/12/14, 20:43   
Edited: 10/12/14, 20:48
I haven't given a game a rating in a very long time. Mainly because I feel giving it a score downplays what I have to say about the game.

I have been doing some short reviews of games in the past few months on my channel, but I still don't give them ratings, I just say my thoughts and whether the time was worth it and what kind of person might like it.

For an example of this just take a look at these (shamelss plug):

Yoshi's New Island
Kirby Triple Deluxe
Tomodachi Life

Shovel Knight

Not one of them have a score, because again, I just feel like it downplays the actual words of a review.
10/13/14, 01:49   

I don't know why a game has to be a "10" to make people go "oh Shhh--, I gotta pick that up!!" 9.5 is pretty darn good.
10/13/14, 04:06   
I don't use numbered ratings. If you are judging the entire review by simple numbers then you are missing the point of the review.
10/13/14, 05:32   
I don't think too much about my ratings, partly because I don't take them so seriously. They're mostly just how much enjoyment I've gotten out of a title, and sometimes I'll weigh in the technical aspects like graphics, sound, control, etc. if they are particularly good or bad. 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. There's no point reserving a section of the scale for glitchy games and whatnot, if the scale is going to have all these options then they should all be used. And personally, if a game is absolutely no fun but it is free of glitches and such and still runs fine, that game should still get a 1.

I'm a fan of smaller-point rating scales because they're more straightforward, and they put less emphasis on scores so that so much weight isn't put behind them.

@Zero It's technically a 101-point scale here, but who's counting? ;)
10/13/14, 21:25   
0 isn't a point, it is the lack of points.
10/14/14, 04:10   
@Zero Nice cover, but not how it works. :P
10/14/14, 04:15   
I don't split my total score up into different components (gameplay, graphics, controls, fun, etc.). I just assign a game a score that I feel that it deserves, starting with a 10 and working my way down in 0.5 steps.

For me, a 10 is a game that, upon completing it, nothing immediately comes to mind that I would have liked to have seen done differently. So, while there is no such thing as a "perfect" game in every respect, I feel that a 10/10 is justified when any existing imperfections have a negligible impact on the quality of the experience. Some examples for me are Ocarina of Time, Majora's Mask, REmake, Metroid Prime, Super Mario Galaxy, Portal 2 and A Link Between Worlds. Those are some games that left me totally satisfied, to the point where I wouldn't change a thing about them.

A 9.5 is just below that, and is generally the highest score I'll give a game. This is reserved for a game that I think is outstanding in every respect, but has some glaring weakness that holds it back from excelling at the highest level. Some examples for me are Donkey Kong Country: Returns, Bayonetta, Resident Evil 4, The Last of Us, and F-Zero GX.

A 9 is often a game that I probably enjoyed just as much as some games that I would give a 10, but has numerous problems that I can't overlook. However, the quality of the experience outweighs those issues such that while it doesn't deserve a 9.5 like other truly "excellent" games, my experience with it was overwhelmingly positive. Examples include Hitman: Blood Money, ZombiU, Deadly Premonition, Killer 7 and Viewtiful Joe. These are often games that I hold dear to my heart, while recognizing their faults.

Below a 9 is where factors like disappointment starts to set in. I consider an 8.5 a really good score for a game, but it's usually one that I would have expected more from. And then 8, 7.5, 7...these are mostly good games, but have varying degrees of problems and differences in expectations.

Games that I give below a 7 are not what I'd consider to be good games. The 5.0-6.5 range are mostly mediocre games that, while possibly still well-made and sometimes fun, just are not quality products. Games below a 5 are what I would consider "bad" games, which I thankfully don't play many of. I consider a game to really have to be total shit to be in that lower spectrum, and it consists of a ton of games out there that I'll never have the privilege of playing!

So, that's mostly the model that I follow, more or less. Occasionally, I will budge a bit (i.e. for a sequel that is probably just as good as its predecessor, I just didn't enjoy it quite as much, I'll give it 0.5 less just to get some separation there).
10/14/14, 04:54   
Edited: 10/14/14, 04:55
@Mr_Mustache I think most people are pretty happy when games score 9.5s? Unless it was "supposed" to be a GOTG game or whatever.

I don't think 10s should be an untouchable score though.
10/14/14, 05:02   
I have way too many scattered thoughts on this topic.

I guess I'll start with the sanctity of the 10/10. It's garbage. There is this idea floating around that a game should only get a 10/10 when it is perfect, and has no flaws. So if someone gives Mario Galaxy a 9/10, how did they determine that the game was exactly one-tenth away from perfection? Did they travel into the future and saw the full extent of the improvements that all of gaming was going to go through before reaching ultimate perfection? What if they gave it a 9.9, and Mario Galaxy 2 is even better, but still not perfect - do they give it a 9.9999/10? I'm with Zero on this one: 10/10 just means "cream of the crop, get it now, I recommend it above all else right now".

Secondly, I don't really feel too good about scoring guidelines. If a person is as consistent as possible about following their own guideline, then their score would reflect accurately their experience with the game. But what if you're reviewing a game for a publication, say IGN? Now, your audience is not just comparing your score to the other scores you've reviewed according to your own guidelines, but also to the scores other reviewers have given the game according to their different standards. And it gets very confusing fast when Edge and IGN think a game is of exactly the same quality, but Edge gives the game a score 3 points lower because they're trying to make a point about score inflation or something. In my opinion, the more appropriate thing to do is to always rate a game in relation to other current scores for current games. Again with the Mario Galaxy 2 example, if I gave the first one a 9/10 and I think the second one is better, I'm pretty much obligated to give it either the same score (with a clarification that the game sets a new standard) or higher. And if I think the latest Resident Evil game is just about a 7/10 for me, but I see that IGN gave a game I absolutely consider inferior the same score, maybe I should rethink my score and increase it a little. People say that this has the effect of inflating scores, but in my experience it also deflates them when the score is adjusted in the opposite direction, balancing it out in the end.

Thirdly, Metacritic kind of ruined scores for me. After writing many reviews I ended up feeling disgusted with participating in the way that Metacritic sort of determines the success of developers, down to the employee level. I don't care for participating in the firing of talented designers and artists just because I didn't like the texture resolution in a brick wall in some back alley of an open world game.

I still respect people who give scores, though, and will look at them for games I'm looking for sometimes, but I just don't want to participate in them anymore.
10/14/14, 05:05   

That sounds about right. I wouldn't score a game in each individual area but rather as the sum of all its parts. A 10 happens when, as you said, I can't find any significant flaw in the game worth mentioning... the latest game to meet that criteria is quite recent, actually: Shovel Knight. That game is a 10.

At the end of the day, the most important factor for a high score from me is the gameplay, design, controls. Does it feel good? Is it fun? Does it avoid obnoxious or frustrating elements? Great graphics and music are like the icing and toppings on a cake, and I really don't care much about story and dialogue unless it is in a genre where that matters more... like an adventure game or an RPG.
10/14/14, 05:10   
@juegosmajicos Yeah I totally agree. Mathematically speaking you can't introduce "perfection" into your scale at all, or everything else is just a fraction of perfection... which is meaningless if perfection is unattainable. I think of "perfection" as being sort of like infinity. So a 9 out of 10, 10 being perfection, would be like a 9 out of infinity. What does that even mean?! That's not the most perfect example there but still, perfection in a scale makes no sense.

What is even more weird to me though is when people argue that perfection is attainable. I'm not sure that they are totally clear on the concept.
10/14/14, 05:14   
Edited: 10/14/14, 05:15

It sounds like you go from your gut the most - The only issue(s) I can think of (there are faults with every review style which is why it's fun to talk about) is that unless you are Spock - a game can (A) get a higher or lower score depending on your mood and (B) readers don't know how you came up with it unless you are a main reviewer on a game site and have explained before hand what each number on the scale means to you (like BigG did in his above post).

B would apply with any type of reviews I think - Someones 8 could be another ones 6.
I think I gravitated to breaking the game up into categories because of what I grew up with and it just made sense to me while reading it. It was easy to compare it to other games and gave me a base as to what the magazine reviewers like and don't like about a game. Magazines like GamePro and Nintendo Power both had reviews like this. At least for awhile.
10/14/14, 06:24   
@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.
10/14/14, 07:58   

I'm sure that I am, on a subconscious level, factoring every area in like everybody else... but yeah, I guess it is a gut feeling in the end. After so many years of playing these things, I kind of know what makes a good, mediocre, and bad game.
10/14/14, 12:48   
@Smerd Yeah, I liked when places used to assign scores to categories like that, it was a quick way to check more about a game than an overall score can provide. Sites like GameSpot used to do that also.
10/14/14, 22:05   
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