In Defense of 1
A recent post on the Board Game Geek Facebook group got me thinking about this, and I thought I would share a few thoughts on it.
The post was from a board game designer who balked at a 1 out of 10 rating on Boardgamegeek.com. It turned out that the person who had posted the low rating was basing it more on the fact that the game was on Kickstarter rather than how the game itself played. In spite of the fact that the rater was more than likely a troll than an actual reviewer, the comments about the post, and the reaction of the game creator got me thinking about the whole idea of the “1” rating.
Now, this is not a defense of people who use poor ratings to more or less mess with people. Or worse, people who use poor ratings to make some sort of personal political statement. I have seen someone on Amazon review a G.I. Joe figure poorly because they felt G.I. Joe was promoting war and blah blah blah. Political statements should not be made in toy reviews. Well, most times they shouldn’t be.
When it comes to games, I have yet to rate something a 1 out of 10. The lowest I have come has been a “3” rating on three games. That is not to say that I would not consider giving a game a “1” rating. When it comes to books, there are a few that I have given the dreaded “1 out of 5 stars” rating. Actually, quite a few… well, thirteen. And, if you ask me about any of them, I would defend my choice, backing each one up with reasons why I gave them that rating.
Still, for the most part, I tend not to fall onto giving that dreaded “1” unless I feel it necessary. A rating that low is a nuclear option. Something has to be so disastrously bad for me to even consider giving it a rating that low. It’s probably why I have given bad ratings to books more than I have come close to giving them to games.
As amateur reviewers (which, let’s face it, most of us who post on websites like Boardgamegeek and Goodreads), we do need to think carefully about how we rate games. It is very easy to simply rate good games as 10’s or bad games as 1’s. But, ratings like that deserve, no, demand an explanation as to why they got that low or high rating. And you need to be able to back up. If you ask me why I have the book One Second After a 1 star, I will tell you. You may regret getting me started as to why I hate that book (yes, I used the word “hate”), but you will know why I gave it that rating. Vengeance ratings (“I hate Kickstarter so I give this game a 1”) are never acceptable.
And game creators, you do need to realize that your game will not jibe with every player. You may have created the best deck building game in the universe, but someone who does not like deck builders will most likely not like your game, no matter how good it is. If you get a bad rating that is backed up by legitimate reasons, you just need to accept that and move on. Dwelling on two bad reviews among a hundred good reviews is not going to help your game. If your game is really that good, the law of averages will take over and the handful of bad reviews will be more than balanced out by the good ones.
And, if a bad review is just a troll in disguise, your supporters will make sure that those who need to know will know. At least, that’s what happened when someone used a product review for a toy as a soapbox for his own political view.