Pete’s Personal Philosophy On Game Ratings

One of my former (or current, maybe) readers had an issue with some statements I made regarding ratings at the Circus:

Anyhow, he noted that it’s ridiculous that I should think a game that we rated a 7.5 is not shit hot. He said, in short, that if we were to give a 7.5 on a game, people should think it’s pretty good. Well, yeah, it’s pretty good, in the same sort of way that a Whopper is pretty good. It’s just good enough to make you wish you were eating a better fucking burger. Me, I’d rather have a fat, juicy Carl’s Jr. Double Western Bacon Cheeseburger. The kind of burger that can only be described as a mouthgasm, that leaves you satisfied all day. I mean, I eat one of them, I don’t even want a burger for a couple of weeks, because it’s just that awesome. And if I could have one of them or the Whopper, I’m going with Carl 100 times out of 100.

But, let’s get back to the Circus for a second, because you see, first and foremost, I don’t actually release my personal ratings, because they’re irrelevant to the Circus. The final Circus rating is, in essence, the average of all the scores taken over the three review plays that are required before I write a review. So, for a five player game, played with 5 each time, that would be the average of those 15 unique scores, minus the single highest and lowest vote. So, really, I don’t score shit myself, except the three votes that I always get, since I have to play it three times…after all, in almost all cases the game is mine.

Now this is how I, personally, characterize scores, in the frame of the ubiquitous “1-10” scale:

0-5: Don’t play this. Don’t look at this. For fuck’s sake, DO NOT BUY THIS.This should be sent to a recycler and made into a cereal box, since cereal boxes are often entertaining, and sometimes, if you’re lucky, come with something that someone will want to play with. If I bought it, it’s probably because it was on clearance somewhere and I wanted the bits for a real game. Or, perhaps I was just fucking stupid.

5-6.75: Something went very, very wrong. It might be kind of fun or maybe has some merit, but there’s a significant problem or problems with this. Maybe it’s kind of fun but fugly, maybe it’s fun only due to one facet or another, but in either case, it somehow fails to make the cut.

6.75-8: This had potential, but either failed in a substantial way, or had lots of little small issues that added up. Or maybe it’s a niche game that serves a sole purpose and does it pretty well. It’s definitely fun for some people. If I have this, it’s because it’s got a really bad ass theme that allows me to look past the flaws or maybe it just appealed to me for a unique reason.

8-9: This is an undoubtedly fun game. It’s got some problems, but they’re generally minor. In short, this is a game you should definitely seek out to play, because it’s likely that all of the Circus really enjoyed a lot about this game. It’s very possible that I own this, used to own this and replaced it with a game that does the same thing, but better.

9-10: This is the real cream of the crop. There is almost no reason not to own this game, unless you have some predisposition to not liking the setting or theme, or you simply don’t like the style of game (ie. Euro V. Ameritrash) or some such thing. And really, if you don’t like this game, there’s probably some serious deficiency with you. I definitely own this game, or owned it and played it in excess of 20 times and can’t get anyone to play with anymore. Short version: This is an epic game and you’re a fun murdering sucker-ass if you don’t have it, or want to have it.


My analogy is this: If you walk into the local whorehouse and there’s ten women there, all eager to serve you, you’re not going to even bother with any woman that doesn’t rate at least a seven or eight. I mean, why the fuck would you even waste your time with anything less? To see if their personality will somehow make you overlook the fact that she’s got an eye with a half-inch thick cataract on it or has a thick, black goatee on her face? You get one shot to take this chick in the back room, and there’s no refunds, so are you going to grab the fugly ones or the ones who sound like Fran Drescher?

No, you’re going to look at the eights through the dimes. And really, if they’re all about the same price, why the hell are you not going to just shoot for the dimes? Sure, that “seven” girl with the stellar body could possibly be able to tie a cherry stem with her tongue, but you know for SURE that the dime can. I mean, that’s her job, and that’s why she’s the dime. So, unless the seven does something for you so different than the other girls can, like perhaps Ms. Seven is black, and you really dig black chicks, well, you can overlook the pock marks that populate her ass and thighs because she has that extra “thing” that turns you on.

But me, I’m shooting for the dimes pretty much every time. Why settle for less than the total package? If you think I’m an idiot for rating something a seven and then saying that I’d probably never buy it, well, I guess I just have higher standards than you. That doesn’t make me snooty or an elitist, it means that I have a limited amount of space and I’m really not trying to spend a shitload of my hard-earned money on a bunch of games that will never again see a table. I generally buy only the best in a genre or the game that best uses a certain mechanic, and if a better one comes along, well, the previous top dog is relegated to the trade pile. I mean, I’m NOT a collector, unless you owe me money, in which case I’ll most certainly make house calls. I’m a player; a gamer. I want to play games, not just own them and read the rules on the shitter, or wax poetic on the elegance of the design. And I’m not saying it’s wrong to do that if that’s your thing…if you want to have a room with 500 games in it that never get played, hey, whatever floats your boat. It’s just not my thing.

So, that’s how I, personally, rate things, if you believe that it’s important to know. Each person who plays a game with me, whether they know it’s for review purposes or not, is asked the famous question that I always ask, “So, what’d ya think, scale of 1-10?” I have zero influence on how they vote, and therefore I can’t control if someone believes a 7 to be a stunningly good game with some minor niggles that kept it from greatness. But, remember that none of my regulars know anything about BGG, anything about the “game culture”, or have ever read a game review. Only one of all of them, my master-at-arms, has any interest in games above playing them, and I took him to GenCon just before he started cancer treatment. So, the ratings that we generate are all relative to the other games that we’ve played, since they have no experience whatsoever outside of the games that we’ve played together.

That’s the whole shebang, and I’m glad we had this little talk.

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6 thoughts on “Pete’s Personal Philosophy On Game Ratings”

  1. I’m still reading Pete. I still have some issue with the use of adjectives equating to “great” being paired with ratings that would be comparatively high on other sites/reviews equating to an “average” review for you, but you’ve been up front about how your scale works. At least I can read your reviews with that in mind and perhaps put a little more consideration on the “number” than what I normally would with a review. Thanks for taking the time to put this entry up.

    For what it is worth, I own about 70 games, some of them based upon reviews from your site. (excluding mainstream crap the wife won’t part with) I don’t intend to have a ballooning collection of 7’s. I think all of my games are 9s or 10s, or I’m looking to swap them out. But I also understand that what to me might be a 10 might be a 7 to someone else, so I’ll look at a few “ladies” other people rate a 7. They might not be into blondes like I am. I just need to downrate you a bit knowing how your scale works. Your 8.5 is a 7 to me, your 7 is my 5, at least as far as game ratings are concerned. Maybe your scale just works out to be a bit more logarithmic while mine is more linear. Or maybe since you just have players and not reviewers contributing to your average, they have a lack of exposure that makes them trend higher with the numbers. I can’t say.

    I know Internet arguments can get out of hand and become ugly really quickly, but I don’t take them personally. Hope you don’t as well.

  2. Read this again, Nate. I think you completely missed the

    The scores reflect the groupthink, where the article is mostly my rumblings with dashes of the group’s thoughts. When I ask what they think, it’s not just a score I get. For instance, the Darklion Pass game’s line about Rainbow Brite was lifted for the notes, Mickey said it. So the review is what it is. Usually, if it’s a pretty split decision I note it.

    For instance, I hate Cartouche. I rated it low, personally. We’re it not for the other players liking it more, it would be way lower than It was finally scored.

    And no, it’s hard to offend me, almost impossible. Larry the SuperSquiirel pissed me off a bit, but really, he’s such a retard that I really feel more sorry for him than anything. he was bragging that he really set me straight over at F:AT, which made him the laughing stock of Dice Tower con. But he’s too stupid to get the joke.

  3. I didn’t miss anything Pete. I shorthanded “your group” or “your group’s average rating with the highest and lowest scores thrown out” to “you” or “your” due to mobile device typing laziness.

    If you are referring to my issue with the disconnect between language used and score given: I get that it is you providing most of the thought behind the writing and the combined group providing the score and some added in commentary.

    It still stands that what your group defines and rates a 7, I would assign a 5 and have the same meaning.

    I comprehend fully everything that you are saying. In every standardized measure of intelligence that has ever been applied, I’ve measured in the 99th percentile. I don’t miss much. You’ll just have to trust me on this because I don’t intend to paraphrase and regurgitate your whole post back to you in order to demonstrate that I get it.

  4. Ugh.

    The reason I am saying I don’t think you got it is because this is merely a personal opinion, which is reflective of how I, personally, rate games. You say that “You would give a 5 to games I would give a 7 to”, but you have no idea what I would rate games at, since I don’t tell anyone what I voted. Now, if you’re saying that looking at the above scale, thinking that “A game that had potential but failed in a substantial way to make the cut” is a 5, that’s fine. We all have personal preferences. But what would be a 10, then? Does it need to come with a blowjob machine, because you’re setting the bar really, really high if you’re saying my “7” is your “5”. I’d be interested to see your ratings on BGG, email me at superflytnt~At~insightbbcom as it would be really informative.

    Now, the numbered ratings here aren’t reflective of my point of view. So, really, what you call a 5 and what I call a 7 is irrelevant to what the Circus scores are.

    I wrote this because you had mentioned that you thought it disingenuous to give a rating of a 7 to a game that I wouldn’t buy or didn’t think was a pretty good game.

    What I think has no relevance to the Circus scores. What I’m saying is that I am a cheap fucker, and a game has to be nearly perfect in every way, to my tastes, for me to want to buy it or keep it, unless it has some intrinsic value.

    Now, if you look at the BGG ratings, they’re pretty useless because there are SO MANY factors that go into that rating system that it’s ridiculous. There’s too many Euro guys and people with Anti-X agendas for the scores to be really meainingful. When Space Hulk gets a 7.375 and 7 Wonders gets a 7.8, there’s a serious deficiency in the system.

    So, really, the only ratings system that matters to anyone is what THAT INDIVIDUAL would rate a game.

    The fact that my group rates these games just means that a smaller, fairly unbiased group is doing the ratings on games. Now, is that useful? Maybe, maybe not. But even with this sites ratings being what they are, consider that many games here that have a pretty high score are games that I woulnd’t buy.

    So, really, what I say in this article really only reflects my personal view on games that I would buy, not really reflective of the Circus scores or my articles.

    And of course you’re intelligent. You’re HERE, aren’t you?

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