On Numerical Ratings

Some time ago, I began thinking about how video games are rated. I had read about the TV Tropes article about the “Four Point Scale“. From there, I realized that games weren’t being judged in a useful way. If the scale was thus compressed, what use was the scale. I soon thereafter read about the dread “8.8 rating” and how the scale was even further compressed–or perhaps bi-modal–when talking about the very best games.

With this woeful conundrum in mind, I set about to consider how games might be rated so as to be useful to end readers. In my mental wanderings, I eventually happened upon the most precise and useful scale that I’ve yet seen: the binary scale.

Here, we have only two(ish) choices.

0 – A game that isn’t worth your time. Find something else to do. Read a book.

1 – A game worth playing, something where the time spend seems well invested, a game you won’t regret having on your shelf.

Once I had this scale in mind, I realized that, though the scale was complete, it lacked nuance. Many games are worth playing, but some are truly special. How could we expand the choices without expanding the scale? Luckily, I’ve had enough mathematical training to recognize the perfect solution.

1! – One factorial. A game which is not merely good, but also important. These are the games which define genres, revive genres, set the bar for other games and become cherished parts of a collection. I’d note that these games are not necessarily better than other games which get a 1 rating, they are merely more important. A perfectly executed game might earn a 1 because it is good but derivative, while a slightly flawed but innovative (and still good) game  would land here.

With that, I had a toolkit simple and concise, yet complex enough to handle essentially every game that I’ve played since I created it. Here, I record the games that I’ve played my assessment on this scale.


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