Announcement - Ratings System

A month or two ago, someone mentioned I should have a ratings system, so that people could know at a glance which games I like, and compare them to each other. At the time, there were a couple reasons I was opposed to the idea.

The first reason was the most obvious - I am pretty damned lazy. Creating a whole system for rating games is way too much like work. I can make a couple snide jokes at the end of a review and call them my summary, but an actual ratings system might require some effort. And I'm generally opposed to effort.

The second reason was a little more highbrow. It's my opinion that you cannot sum up a game with a single number. That's like if someone asks how the weather is in Tahiti, and you answer, '3'. Numbers should only be used as answers when the question has to do with counting things, usually money, but best-case, tequila shots.

I mean, look at Puerto Rico. This is a brilliantly designed game with lots of strategy and quick-thinking plays, but with a theme as dry as Mojave sand. Compare it to something like HeroQuest, where your decisions are virtually pointless, as long as you choose to kill something, but you get to play a story. How do you compare those two games with a single number? You don't, is what I'm saying. The only thing both those games have in common is that they're both games. Rating them both on the same scale would be like comparing apples and boobs.

But over time, the idea began to sound better and better. Not because it would be some wicked handy reference, because I'm not going to go back and rate all the old games (see reason number one). No, it's worth doing because it has potential humor value. If it's also useful to you, well, I would say that was gravy, except that I really only care if it's funny, so it's gravy I'll take on the side so that it doesn't get in my vegetable medley.

So to make the ratings system good for something, my ratings will not be a simple one-dimensional scale from one to ten, because that's for erudite board game geeks who like to argue about statistics because they have small penises. My ratings system, which will obviously be far superior, will rate games based on a variety of factors.

The first factor will be theme, because that tends to be a pretty considerable separation point between lots of game nerds. This rating will go from 1 to 10, and will be in whole numbers, unless there's bloodshed in the game. Violence, which is awesome, will automatically add .5 to any score. So actually, I suppose the scale goes from 1 to 10.5. Of course, I also reserve the right to put whatever number I want. I might rate a game 3.14, just to be obnoxious, or -25, in cases where I'm irritated that I ever opened the box.

After theme, I'll rate gameplay. If the game is brilliant and tense, with critical decisions all the way through, I'll slap a 9 or 10 on it. If it's Candyland, it gets a 0, because the only strategy you can exercise in Candyland is to hide it from your children and hope they forget it exists.

Production value is the third thing. This is a conglomerate score based on the quality of the components, the appeal of the art, and whether there are any naked girls. Naked girls, like violence, will add .5 to any score. Usually naked girls in games are strategically hidden behind bushes or fabric, but games where you can actually spot a nipple might go past 11, unless they're ugly, strung-out crack whores, but that almost never happens in games. Vegas, sure, but not games.

Finally, I'm reserving room for a floating fourth thing. This could be anything from Component Overload to Short Bus Rating, and will be used almost exclusively as a place to make stupid, puerile jokes about body parts or the handicapped. It won't be much use as a comparative rating, but it might make me giggle, and that's enough for me.

Look for the new ratings system to go into effect on my next review, at which time you can prepare your arguments to tell me that I'm crazy for giving that game a 7 when I gave something else an 8, and then I can tell you to shut up, because I'm too lazy to fix it.