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Do averages determine scores?

September 10, 2010

One of the unique aspects of flash gaming is that you get to interact with the developer directly by rating their games (on certain sites). These ratings are then averaged out to get a median score for the game and on that basis the game is then recommended to other gamers. Therefore, having a high rating game isn’t just about ego, it also becomes about exposure because the better your game is, the more people will see it.

This factor becomes even more important when you bring in the social media aspect. Having links to “tweet” or “digg” it directly (much like these blog posts do) will allow you to capture people from other sites and bring their attention to your game or article.

However, one of the strange things that strikes me is when I encounter a game that has a relatively low or high score average that doesn’t reflect the game at all. I know it could be argued that my tastes are eclectic, of which they are, but I’ll still give a great rating to a game genre I’m not enthusiastic about because as an ex-programmer I can appreciate the merits of it composition and the effort involved in production.

The problem is that the average rating for a game is already displayed BEFORE you’ve cast your vote.

This is a problem.

A massive problem because this rating now influences how you’ll cast you’re vote. Not only that, the people who just vote for the sake of getting the voting reward will usually just click close to the average and this also applies to the people who don’t have any idea of what the game is worth.

Below is an example of a rated game with the average on top:

You can clearly see that the game in question I’ve rated far higher than the average. A few points deviation isn’t that much of a difference, but when the game has a score of 2 or less and I rate it as a 6, there is something very amiss with the score aggregation.

There is also a problem with people rating their own games to garner higher scores and more exposure, this is pretty much what we have with social media marketers and their insidious use of the internet. Perhaps like the instant experts, games themselves will now become instant classics despite their worth.

A solution to the problem would be to not show the average until you’ve cast a vote, but then you run into the problem of recommendation, how can the system recommend something on a rating that it doesn’t even show you?!

A better solution would be to only allow certain members of the gaming community to vote, or have their vote taken seriously. Perhaps these select people would have to pass a basic intelligence test or something, which does make it seem rather snobby but will probably reflect the overall worth of a game with a much higher accuracy.

Perhaps there is no perfect solution and we just have to live with the reality of a broken system, but I refuse to take a bite out of that bitter defeatist apple. There must be a way that aggregate scoring can reflect a games true worth and be somehow immune to spammers, idiots and lazy people while still somehow not influencing the final score.

Yeah, I know a pipe dream.

I suppose you’re probably also reading this and asking why does it bug me so much, am I really that cantankerous that I can’t even leave the internet alone? Well yeah, but also I’ve got a history in reviewing games in magazines and online publications and I know how much money is reliant on a fixed scoring system. Companies (cough EA cough) will release utter tripe into the market and pretty much demand that reviewers give them a rating of 80% or higher otherwise they’ll be blackballed from future releases. The gaming industries figureheads can no longer be trusted for impartial reviews, if they ever could (I still maintain there was a golden age where reviewers could be trusted).

This is why I’ll always check out GameFAQ user reviews and give them much more credence and credibility over magazines and marketing game review sites like Gamespot. Furthermore the fact that GameFAQs doesn’t clutter you screen up with spam is also a brilliant incentive to me.

Anyway, I digress. Ultimately the average rating has some bearing on the outcome result because even if I’m voting against the trend, I’m still being influenced by the trend, so there really is no escape for me.



From → General

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