Community Focus: BGG Ratings Part 3: Hate Rating – That’s Just Stupid

Setup

If you are coming to this article first, you may want to start at Part 1 of this series to be sure you have the full context.

As mentioned in Part 2 of this series, not all ratings of “1” for Pandemic Legacy are examples of “hate rating” and not all “hate rating” of Pandemic Legacy was related to preserving Twilight Struggle as #1 on the BGG rankings (or the positions of other top rated games). Another significant rationale as expressed in comments and implied by the data is a dislike of “Legacy” or “disposable” games – or, more precisely, how stupid and wasteful they are. Let’s take a look at a few more stats related to this form of “hate rating” and some other characteristics of those who rated this way.

Round 1: Pandemic Ratings

The ratings data for Pandemic and Twilight Struggle for those who rated Pandemic Legacy a “1” illustrates the different communities of behavior and provides insight into the potential rationale for that behavior.

Pandemic Base

First let’s look at the ratings for what I will call “Pandemic Base”. For the purposes of this study and to provide greater context, “Pandemic Base” refers either to the original Pandemic, one of the expansions to the base game, or one of the variations on the base game (e.g., Pandemic Iberia). I captured the highest rating for these if more than one was rated by the user.  The thought is to consider the user’s highest perception of Pandemic. Note: I did not consider ratings for Pandemic the Cure since it is a significantly different game.

It is probably no surprise that some users who rated Pandemic Legacy a “1” also have a low opinion of Pandemic Base – everything Pandemic is a pariah. Ratings of “1” and “2” represent 22% of the ratings. As you might guess, comments from these users usually indicated distaste for cooperative games, but some also commented that Pandemic was a bad cooperative game due to quarterbacking issues.

Let’s compare this to the ratings pattern for all users who rated Pandemic.

The ratings pattern is skewed lower from that for all users, about 1 rating point, but is otherwise about what you would expect for most games – a Gaussian distribution centered on the average rating (Pandemic average rating is 7.67). Expected, that is except all of these users also rated Pandemic Legacy a “1”. Certainly there are any number of reasons for this disparity, but this area of the chart, particularly on the high end, represents those who don’t like the “legacy” aspect, the disposable aspect, of the game. Depending on where you might draw the line in the ratings for those who “liked” Pandemic, that community is roughly 45% - 70% (a “7” rating – “5” rating) of those who rated both games.

Twilight Struggle

In Part 2 we looked at the ratings of Twilight Struggle, but I have the chart repeated here so you don’t have to refer back to it.

As described in Part 2, the ratings of Twilight Struggle are generally very high with the exception of a significant number of those who rated it a “1”. Rating both of the top games on BGG a “1”? Surely there is something meta going on here…

Round 2: Pandemic Legacy Hater Communities

Pandemic Base and Twilight Struggle Combined Ratings

When we combine the data for those who rated both Pandemic Base and Twilight Struggle a few “rating communities” become evident. There are two charts below representing the same data; the first shows the exact ratings and the second has the ratings rounded to whole numbers since that is how they are represented in the individual rating charts and on BGG. We will work with the exact numbers since we have them. If you are unfamiliar with a “bubble chart”, the size of the bubbles indicates the number of data points at that value (in this case, the number of ratings).

Pandemic Legacy Ratings Communities

Let’s take a closer look at the areas on the exact numbers chart and describe the user rating communities that may be represented there. I suggest sentiments for each community. These are speculative – making generalities – but represent the general sentiment from comments and what is suggested by location on the chart. It doesn’t represent the feelings of any one particular user and admittedly includes some implied commentary on the comments of my own. I have also removed the expletives from user comments in my summary statements. Reminder: These are all users who rated Pandemic Legacy a “1”.

Some of these communities represent sentiments beyond specifics related to Pandemic and Twilight Struggle. Pandemic generally represents a game that is 90% the same. So the sentiments are presumably related to the 10% difference. Twilight Struggle generally represents a very different game in competition for the top spot. Both games have strong fan bases.

For brevity P= Pandemic Base and TS = Twilight Struggle.

A)     Pandemic Haters:

a.       P: Very Low

b.      TS: Very High

c.       Sentiments:

i.      Twilight Struggle is one of, if not the, best game ever.

ii.      I hate cooperative games.

iii.      Pandemic is a particularly bad cooperative game because it doesn’t solve the quarterbacking problem in my game group. (Subject for another article).

d.      Community: One of the 2 or 3 biggest among this user base.

B)      Twilight Struggle Fans who Appreciate Pandemic:

a.       P: Slight shift down from Pandemic average

b.      TS: Very High

c.       Sentiments:

i.      Twilight Struggle is one of, if not the, best game ever.

ii.      I’ll play Pandemic when I can’t play a deep strategy 2-player game.

iii.      Legacy games have limited plays, which is an injustice to the buyer.

iv.      Legacy games are disposable and therefore are not games.

d.      Community: This is the biggest community.

C)      I Love Games – Just not Pandemic Legacy:

a.       P: Very High

b.      TS: Very High

c.       Sentiments:

i.      Twilight Struggle and Pandemic are both awesome games.

ii.      I have so many favorites, it is hard to choose.

iii.      Legacy games are Legacy games have limited plays, which is an injustice to the buyer.

iv.      Legacy games are disposable and therefore are not games.

d.      Community: Measurable. About the middle of the pack.

D)     Both are Good Games:

a.       P: Average

b.      TS: Slightly Above Average

c.       Sentiments:

i.      Twilight Struggle is a great game.

ii.      Pandemic is a good game.

iii.      Legacy games have limited plays, which is an injustice to the buyer.

iv.      Legacy games are disposable and therefore are not games.

d.      Community: This is the heart of the community that put these games at their respective rankings on BGG.

E)      No-Man’s Land

a.       P: Low (but not 1)

b.      TS: Low (but not 1)

c.       Sentiments:

i.      <chirp>…<chirp>…<chirp>

ii.      I wouldn’t have played it, if it was that bad.

d.      Community: This is generally no-man’s land on BGG and partly why average ratings always head toward 7. Even so, the absence of ratings in this area indicates that the “1” rating is used differently than “2” or “3” or “4”.

F)      I’ll Play Anything Once – Just not Pandemic Legacy

a.       P: Very High

b.      TS: Mid

c.       Sentiments:

i.      Twilight Struggle is a good to great game, just not for me all the time.

ii.      Pandemic is a great game for my game group.

iii.      Legacy games have limited plays, which is an injustice to the buyer.

iv.      Legacy games are disposable and therefore are not games.

d.      Community: This is essentially a vacant community on this chart, but I suspect is heavily populated if I did the same analysis on the users who did not rate Pandemic Legacy a “1”. (Looking at the pure ratings for the games without the cross-over criteria informs us that this is true). I can speculate that this is the “omnigamer” crowd, which tends toward middle-weight games, but will try anything. Apparently, they are not judgmental or territorial about BGG rankings.

G)     These are not Chess or Go

a.       P: “1”

b.      TS: “1”

c.       Sentiments:

i.      Chess and Go are the only real 10’s.

ii.      This whole rating thing is stupid.

iii.      You couldn’t get me to play any of these games.

d.      Community: Small.

H)     “Oh, yeah?!”

a.       P: Not “1”

b.      TS: “1”

c.       Sentiments:

i.      This ratings race is stupid.

ii.      All you all should shut up, get a life, etc.

d.      Community: Small.

I)        Twilight Struggle IS “1”

a.       P: Whatever

b.      TS: Very High

c.       Sentiments: (in addition to the sentiments from overlapping communities)

i.      Twilight Struggle belongs at the top of the charts, Pandemic Legacy does not.

d.      Community: Very big. This is the community discussed in Part 2.

End Game: Hate Rating Revisited

At the outset of this series of articles I suggested the term “Hate Rating” to represent the activity and intent of many of these “1” ratings.  I actually don’t use the word/term “hate” often or lightly, but have used it here extensively to drive my point and to compare the practice of “hate rating” to “hate drafting”. The action of rating a game a “1” in the examples illustrated above is to deny someone else their desire or to counteract their action.

I think the data is fairly clear that this is what is generally going on in many of these cases. We see that the “1” rating is used differently than other low ratings. The area of the chart indicating a “hate rating” to deny a game’s position on BGG relative to another (Pandemic Legacy, Twilight Struggle or both) is significant, but probably smaller than the community who hate “Legacy” or disposable games. In Part 4 we will look into this sentiment a little more closely, in particular to test the arguments against “Legacy” games with the data from those who “hate” them.

Your Turn

How would you describe the user communities indicated by the ratings charts? If you rated Pandemic Legacy a “1”, is the community I described consistent with your sentiments? Do you think that the limited lifespan of a legacy game discredits the game? How do you use the “1” rating for a game on BGG?

If you find this article interesting, you may want to check out all the articles in the Analysis Paralysis category where we analyze and discuss issues in the tabletop industry and community.

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